Monday, August 19, 2013

Blu-Ray Review: Charulata

If Criterion's recent releases sometimes feel a bit too safe (the forthcoming gargantuan Zatoichi box set and Bergman/Rossellini collabos not withstanding), their acquisition and planned release of a massive portion of Satyajit Ray's filmography represents a major coup and an essential service for American cinephiles. Charulata tops even The Music Room in both the quality of the film and the breathtaking perfection of a restored transfer that forever obliterates memories of horrid DVDs that looked worse than bootlegs sourced from VHS. And thank God for the revitalized image: this Ophülsian melodrama is told so beautifully through its frames that surely the film's power would be sapped by awful AV quality. Some nice extras round out the disc, one of Criterion's best and most important releases in years.

Read my full thoughts at Slant.

Blu-Ray Review: The Muppet Movie

Over at Slant, I reviewed the new Blu-Ray of The Muppet Movie. It's a fine disc from Disney, with a transfer that faithfully preserves the occasionally questionable quality of late-'70s film stock while restoring a great depth of color and texture. As for the film itself, what is there to say? I instead wrote a little about what the Muppet mean to me, and how The Muppet Movie reflects that better than any of the other big-screen adaptations of Jim Henson's creations, fun as so many of them are.

Read my full review over at Slant.

Crystal Fairy (Sebastian Silva, 2013)

Yet another catch-up, this time with an odd film that only grabbed me intermittently. Michael Cera's subtly self-lacerating corruption of type is great, but it is Gaby Hoffman's bizarro neo-hippie who steals the show, so good at pushing through her awkward insistence on good vibes to actually create some that offset Cera's spiky narcissism. She's so good that a final revelation about her character seems an especially cheap maneuver to give her character context that the actress was creating well enough on her own.

Read my full thoughts over at Spectrum Culture.

Museum Hours (Jem Cohen, 2013)

Stretching way back into July to belatedly update this blog (sorry gang, it's been a hectic month and a half) to post this review of what is, so far, my favorite film of the year, Jem Cohen's elegant and elegiac Museum Hours. An excerpt:

The parallels start simply: a match-cut of painted birds in mid-motion and real ones taking off from a branch; a close-up on some extraneous details of a Bruegel epic that catch Johann’s eyes echoed in similar shots of refuse in the Viennese streets. Yet even these moments do not settle for mere reflection. To notice Bruegel’s carefully ordered, almost imperceptible waste adds a form of grace to the real world, not only the mirroring details interwoven into the montage but in earlier shots like the reflection of a tower seen in a litter-ridden puddle. Centuries-old art pulled from around the world make the reality outside seem that much livelier and in the moment.

Read the full thing here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Netflix Instant Picks (8/8/13—8/15/13)

This week's Netflix picks are up now at Movie Mezzanine.

Netflix Instant Picks (8/2/13—8/8/13)

Another round of Netflix picks from me and Ty Landis. Peep them here.

Netflix Instant Picks (7/27/13—8/1/13)

Some Netflix picks from a few weeks ago. Read 'em here.

Alternative Westerns

Catching up on month-old articles to post here. I don't like the headline for this piece for (it's hard to argue that many of these films in question "aren't racist" when they cast whites in Native American roles), but in response to The Lone Ranger I sought out some Westerns that actually try and delve into deeper depictions of American Indians than savages or noble sufferers. Check out my full piece here.