Band of Outsiders (Bande à part) review at PopMatters

Last week, my review of The Criterion Collection Blu-ray Edition of Band of Outsiders (1964) posted:

Clearly for these French youth, and for Godard, America, and not so much Paris, was the romantic place, or at least America as imagined through its stories and heroic archetypes. In addition to the cultural fixations of its characters, whenever the movie wants to convey a sense of whimsy or coolness, Michel Legrande’s jazzy musical soundtrack erupts to accompany the action. And yet, the way that Arthur and Franz’s Hollywood plot plays out, the emptiness of their fantasies, suggests that there are severe limits to utopian ideals about distant, and all too real, places.

Read the review

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Review: OBJECTIFIED on Blu-ray

My first Blu-ray review of 2013 for PopMatters posted today. I look at the design documentary, Objectified.

In her review of the film for PopMatters, Cynthia Fuchs characterizes Objectified as “illustrative rather than provocative” (24 November 2009). Another way to think about the film is as a general primer on the design of everyday objects. In serving that function, the movie is likely to prompt reactions such as, “That’s interesting”, or, “I hadn’t thought of that”, but doesn’t examine any aspect of its topic critically or deeply enough to engage in much beyond the raising of key questions on topics such as sustainability or consumerism.

Read the full review.

Blu-ray review: HARD CORE LOGO

At the end of last week, my review of the new “All Access Edition” of Hard Core Logo (1996), which includes Hard Core Logo 2 (2010), posted at PopMatters.

Hard Core Logo contains a surprise, a moment of shock, that strikes me, both as an individual critic and as someone who teaches the film, as important to any initial viewing. I think that this moment has value not because of plot reasons, akin to learning that Verbal Kent is Keyser Soze, but because it’s a moment about character, one that will influence how you understand the nature and motivations of, particularly, main character, Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) (Bruce McDonald’s film is, in any case, essentially plotless).

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Blu-ray review: THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO

On Friday, my review of The Last Days of Disco (1998) on Criterion Blu-ray posted to PopMatters:

While Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco, and his other ‘90s films, Metropolitan (1990) and Barcelona (1994), would seem on the surface to be yet another work about privileged people masquerading as universal drama, Stillman’s films are better seen as rare cases of works that actually explore the lives of white, middle class individuals in their particularities and not as universal avatars.

Read the full review.

Blu-ray review: LA JETEE/SANS SOLEIL

My review of the Criterion Blu-ray edition of La Jetee/Sans Soleil is up at PopMatters. In addition to addressing the films and the disc, I also offer pointers to further reading and criticism on Chris Marker.

A case can be made for going into La Jetée and, especially, Sans Soleil, “cold”; that is with almost no idea of what one is about to watch. Of course, if you have been reading this, that option is foreclosed. In either case, these are films designed to provoke the viewer into thinking about their subjects and themes and to asking questions about what they have watched—What do the images, and their juxtaposition, mean? Who are we listening to when we listen to the narrators?—and here is where many viewers will want to engage in debate and conversation and to seek more explication than a conventional review can provide.

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New Blu-ray review

I have a review of the Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) Blu-ray at PopMatters:

In digital high definition, the picture reveals details, particularly in the weathered, ruddy, often grimy faces of the actors, that have likely not been seen with this kind of clarity before. This in no way detracts from the viewing of the film, if anything it highlights the care and craft that went into the production, but Once Upon a Time in the West is, literally and figuratively, a movie about the dirt under the fingernails of its characters, and how everyone has some of that dirt, no matter how they might appear on the outside or to those in society at large. Somehow that deliberate moral ambiguity, that greyness and imperfection, seems more at home in an analog context than in a digital one.

Read the review. (As an additional point of interest, I adapt Nicholas Rombes’ 10/40/70 experiment for the review. Details in the full article).

Blu Ray review at PM

I have a review of the Blu Ray for The Hustler (1961) up at PopMatters:

As much as The Hustler is a “man’s film”, the audience has Piper Laurie’s Sarah Packard from which to see the dark underside of the gaming and gambling subculture inhabited by the male characters. Introduced to viewers and to Eddie as a loner and a drinker, Sarah desperately wants to be loved, telling Eddie at one point that she needs those words from him, “… and if you ever say them, I’ll never let you take them back”. By implication, Eddie does not utter, “I love you”, to Sarah until after she kills herself in Bert’s hotel bathroom, an act she takes after scrawling, “Perverted”, “Twisted”, and “Crippled” on the mirror in lipstick.

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