Oscar History

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Entries in DVD (92)


DVD Review: "Cafe Society"

by Chris Feil

While never reaching the heights of his other showbiz-adjacent comedies, Woody Allen's Cafe Society has charm and gloss to spare. Allen is marking the same thematic territory and era fascinations as he has frequently visited in the past, here with more hidden snideness than much of his recent works. Under its sparkling surface, Society is a subtly mean-spirited film.

Much of that tone comes from Jesse Eisenberg's central performance as Bobby Dorfman, a transplant to 1930s Hollywood under the not so watchful eye of his talent agent uncle (Steve Carell). Bobby is quick to chase girls, ultimately arriving to (or creepily wearing down) secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), who also is secretly having an affair with his uncle. Vonnie becomes Bobby's girl on an eternal pedestal, always more an idea of a person than the woman before him...

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Swiss Army Man Washes Ashore To Blu-ray & DVD

by Daniel Crooke

I suppose this is the part where I’m to mention that Swiss Army Man prompted walkouts at its Sundance premiere, features Paul Dano propelling across the ocean on the back of Daniel Radcliffe’s farting corpse, and that its sophomoric scatology dominates the runtime of the film. All of these things are true. But if you’ve been avoiding Swiss Army Man out of fear of offending your eyeballs, I implore you to clutch your pearls and give it a shot anyway now that the film has arrived on Blu-ray and DVD...

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New to DVD: The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum

By Daniel Walber.

What makes a film theatrical? It’s a word that gets bandied about a lot. Often it just means that the script is like that of a play, with a limited number of locations and lots of dialogue. Or it can be used to describe a style of acting, playing to the rafters rather than the more intimate audience of the camera lens. Rarely, however, do we use the word “theatrical” to describe elements of direction, cinematography and editing.

Yet this underserved implication of the term is the key to understanding The Story of The Last Chrysanthemum, an early triumph of iconic Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi that has just been released by the Criterion Collection. This epic family drama was a proving ground of sorts for the filmmaker’s signature use of long takes, which would elevate such later masterpieces as Ugetsu and The Life of Oharu. But first he took a much narrower approach, crafting the style of The Story of The Last Chrysanthemum from the conventions of kabuki theater.

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DVD Review: The Meddler

By Chris Feil

Earlier this year, Lorene Scafaria's The Meddler sadly came and went quietly before summer kicked (and punched and brooded) into high gear. Unlike Susan Surandon's needling mother at its center, the film is laidback and unimposing, the kind of lovely simple comedy we beg for more of and too often ignore once it arrives. Now on DVD, the film is a gem that you'll need to catch up with...

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New to DVD: April and the Extraordinary World

by Tim Brayton

As even the quickest look at a box office report shows, 2016 has been a great year for the popularity of animated films. But outside of the heavyweight American studio tentpoles, there have been genuine treasures that have still managed to slip through the cracks. Thus it's my pleasure to introduce to you the crackling Franco-Canadian-Belgian sci-fi fantasy April and the Extraordinary World, new to DVD this week, thanks to the endlessly wonderful folks at distributor GKIDS.

The film takes place in an alternate world where Emperor Napoleon III of France died in a lab explosion in 1870, just before our history had him falling from grace in the eyes of the French legislature; here, his son ascends as Napoleon IV and ushers in a bold new era of European diplomacy that manages to prevent both of the 20th Century's World Wars, but also results in an era of scientific stultification, meaning that by 1931, when the film proper begins, the world is still in an age of steam.

Here we meet young April, whose parents are working on a serum to prolong life...

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Streaming: J Edgar Drinking Games & Elizabeth's Golden Foreshadowing

Do you purchase or rent DVDs movies anymore or just wait for streaming -- however long that takes? If you do the following titles have emerged in the past week on Blu-Ray or DVD: The Finest Hours in which Chris Pine gets a man vs. ocean movie cuz Chris Hemsworth got one;  Gods of Egypt which is terrible but in so-bad-it's-great way; How to Be Single which is better than you'd think but way overstuffed but you should probably see it for another great performance variation on "the boyfriend" by Jake Lacy (he's got that market covered but he's so good at it with no two characters feeling like the same guy); Pride & Prejudice & Zombies which is fun for what it is if nothing more; also new are Race, Risen, Triple 9, and Zoolander 2

But on to the fun part, New to Streaming. Because, to quote the one and only Carrie Fisher:

Instant gratication takes too long.

Let's do our fun little freeze frame game on new streaming titles. The following films were frozen on one image completely at random to see what showed up. They're all new on either Netflix of Amazon Prime. Ready? Let's play!

J Edgar (2011) on Netflix

Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh's baby has been kidnapped.

A fun drinking came while streaming J Edgar in five easy steps
1. Take a drink every time you wish Clint Eastwood wasn't terrified of color
2. Take a drink every time you wish Tom Stern would throw a damn light on the set for once
3. Take a drink every time you see bad old age makeup in closeup
4. Take a drink every time you're glad AMPAS dodged a bullet on this one and it's not part of Oscar history
5. Die of alcohol poisoning. 

Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

You said when artists dream they dream of money.
...I must be such an artist.

Love this movie. Stockard Channing was just sensational in it. (And what a great Best Actress year 1993 was)

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) and more after the jump...

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FYC: Kate Dickie and the Raw Emotion of "The Witch"

Out this week on blu-ray/dvd is Robert Eggers's The Witch. Warmly received by critics, but divisive for general audiences, the film is a marvel of craft and inescapable dread. But the film is more than its horror elements and immaculate period detail - at the center is a potent family tragedy as well-developed as any drama you'll seen this year. And the bruised soul of that tragedy is actress Kate Dickie.

Dickie stars as the matriarch of a Puritan family banished from their New England settlement in the 17th century. Her Katherine begins the film essentially wordless during the excommunication, then is defined by her off-screen sobs after the film's first punishments. Once Katherine collects herself, she quickly reveals herself to be a devout believer firmly planted in her role as wife and mother. As things quickly turn from bad to worse, her agony surges with authentic depth until she becomes willingly deluded by her own suffering.

Dickie's portrayal is a prime example of The Witch offering more than its horror contemporaries...

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