Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Studio: New Video NYC

Aug 14, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

In the middle of 2008, when most of the country was caught up in presidential politics and new episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, Joss Whedon launched the year's most inventive piece of televisionon the Internet. Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, among others, debuted Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Hulu, offering the three-act superhero musical comedy for free in one-act installments over the course of a week. More

Momma’s Man DVD

Studio: Kino

Jul 22, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

It’s refreshing to see a film get made and released that feels very personal and truly independent. Azazel Jacobs’ Momma’s Man achieves both of these qualities for primarily the same reasons: It’s a fairly simple story, told in a reserved manner, of a thirtysomething man named Mike (Matt Boren) who is terrified of the responsibility that comes with marriage and a newborn child. More

Wendy and Lucy DVD

Studio: Oscilloscope

Jul 17, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

Wendy and Lucy is barely a movie. The story? Woman on the outs loses her dog and life sucks, and that’s pretty much it. Kelly Reichardt (director and film teacher at Bard College) has prided herself in making sparse minimalist films (Old Joy) that make critics swoon but leaves this viewer cold. More

Jun 23, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

One of the most acclaimed and innovative documentaries of 2008 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir is an animated documentary about his experiences as an Israeli veteran in the First Lebanon War. More

Dodes’ka-den DVD

Studio: The Criterion Collection

Jun 23, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

Akira Kurosawa is probably the best known and most well loved director from Japan. He worked consistently from 1943’s Sanshiro Sugata to 1965’s Red Beard, making nearly two dozen films in that period; all in black and white and mostly shot in scope. At that point in his career, Kurosawa was ready for a change and decided to come to America and make his first film in color with an American cast. He wrote the script for Runaway Train and began pre-production. The American money men, however, didn’t see eye to eye with his budget predictions, and didn’t understand why the film needed to be in color, so the project was scrapped. (In 1985, a film based on the screenplay was made by Andrei Konchalovsky starring Jon Voight). This brought Kurosawa to another American co-production, also a chance to work with color film.  He was hired to direct the Japanese portions of Tora! Tora! Tora!, a big budget WWII epic from the point of view of American and Japanese soldiers. Kurosawa worked for two years building sets, writing, and shooting sequences before he was fired due to being behind schedule and a feeling from the American producers that he was difficult. 

     All of these circumstances led to Kurosawa’s 1970 film Dodes’ka-den.
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Crescendo DVD

Studio: Warner Archive

Jun 23, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

Generally, film studios have never accumulated a rabid fan base in the way actors or directors do, except perhaps for Hammer Films. This British company, primarily known for their gothic horror films produced from the late 1950s to the mid-70s, had a period of almost 35 years without a theatrical release, but they still have books and magazines being published about their output. Hammer also produced pirate films, comedies, actioners, and what they liked to call “mini-Hitchcocks.—essentially these were non-supernatural horror thrillers with twist endings in the vein of Psycho.

Crescendo, just recently released from the Warner Archive Collection, would fall into this latter category. More

Valkyrie Blu-ray/DVD

Studio: United Artists

Jun 23, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

After ruining the return of Superman in Superman Returns, Bryan Singer attempts to do the same with Tom Cruise’s career with Valkyrie. The (kinda) based-on-a-true-story tale focuses on German Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (played by Cruise sans German accent, thankfully), who masterminds a plot to kill Adolf Hitler with the aid of fellow officers played by a rogues’ gallery of cool character actors such as Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and Eddy Izzard. Too bad they’re sandwiched inside this inert and dramatically flat movie. More

Jun 10, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

Stacey Peralta has reinvented himself a few times, going from child skateboarder to team surfer to successful documentary filmmaker. His first two films, Dogtown and Z-Boys and Riding Giants, took his love of skating and surfing to the big screen with largely successful results. It saddens me to report that his third and latest documentary, seemingly about the Crips and Bloods gangs in Los Angeles, is his weakest effort to date. More

May 19, 2009 DVDs Web Exclusive

Enigmatic and controversial modern-day composer Philip Glass is, unsurprisingly, a complicated, intelligent, and talented man, as shown in the documentary glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts by director Scott Hicks (Shine, No Reservations). More