Showing posts with label 1963. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1963. Show all posts

12 August 2017

13 March 2015

DVD Review - Child is Waiting (1963)

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Genre:
Drama
Distributor:
Simply Media
DVD Release Date:
16th March 2015 (UK)
Rating: PG
Director:
John Cassavetes
Cast:
Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Gena Rowlands, Steven Hill, Paul Stewart,
Buy:A Child Is Waiting [DVD]

John Cassavetes is considered by many to be the father of American Independent cinema; he isn’t in my opinion, as Roger Corman and Sam Fuller predate him, amongst many others. He is however a pioneer in the fact he made these rich, character based dramas that he wrote, directed and put his own money into them. He had a couple years in the early ‘60s before he made his groundbreaking Faces where he almost became a studio director with films like Too Late Blues and A Child in Waiting.

The noted director Stanley Kramer produced A Child is Waiting and they butted heads over the final cut. Despite the post-production turmoil, Cassavetes (who disowned the film), admitted it wasn’t too bad, just a bit overly sentimental for his own taste. It’s a fascinating film for many reasons. Firstly, as a historical depiction of disability on screen, uncommonly (even shamefully today), most of the disabled children are played by actual disabled children which is in tune with Cassavetes’ realistic, improv style.

Judy Garland and Burt Lancaster star in the film, and both gives some of their finest performances in their respective, extraordinary film careers. Lancaster plays the head of the school, Dr. Matthew Clark, and clashes with Garland’s Jean Hansen over his strict teaching methods. Hanson also becomes emotionally involved with one of the kids who Clark considers to be one of their big failures, and they battle over how to education him. Lancaster brings the physicality that he always did due to his background in the circus. Garland also really shows off her acting chops, something that was rarely on display in other films she did.

A Child is Waiting deserves to be re-analysed as one of Cassavetes’ finest films and of his two “Hollywood” films it’s certainly his best, despite obviously being toned down from Cassavetes’ original intentions. Cassavetes had an extremely forward thinking take on the material, stating in the book Cassavetes on Cassavetes, “My film said that retarded children could be anywhere, any time, and that the problem is that we're a bunch of dopes, that it's our problem more than the kids. The point of the original picture that we made was that there was no fault, that there was nothing wrong with these children except that their mentality was lower." The finished film, which Kramer edited, had a bent that was more of it’s time, basically saying the kids are better off in the institute than in the main population.

★★★★
Ian Schultz


29 August 2014

Seijun Suzuki's cult-following film Youth Of The Beast To Join Eureka's Master Of Cinema Family

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Eureka! Entertainment have announced the release of YOUTH OF THE BEAST [Yajû no seishun], the breakthrough film from Suzuki, the director of such '60s New Wave Japanese classics as Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill. Starring Jô Shishido, the iconic star of countless Suzuki and Nikkatsu Films pictures throughout the 1960s, this is the first release of the cult film, and will be released on Blu-ray in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition on 27 October 2014.

Right on the heels of the riotous Go to Hell, Bastards: Detective Bureau 2 3, Seijun Suzuki unleashed what would come to be seen as his true breakthrough, the film that would cement "the Suzuki sensibility": Youth of the Beast [Yajû no seishun]. A kaleidoscopic fantasia that contains "youth" and "beast" only insofar as 1963 pop/youth culture was that violently upstart thing, — not unlike the yakuza?

And so Youth of the Beast is a yakuza tale with a premise like Akira Kurosawa's Yôjinbô, but denuded of an easy definition of which side is which. It stars Suzuki's iconic '60s regular Jô Shishido, with his dare-you-to-call-them-out artificial cheek implants like new acting blasphemy. There are drug-addled whores, gunfights in a new colour apocalypse, and at least one alien landscape: the sudden mind-searing eruption of a sulphur yellow desert like an action-figure playset with overspill of unbridled lust...

Suzuki's infectious go-for-broke energy is assisted by a telephoto lens that serves at once as phallus and yoni in the masterful, Minnelli-worthy 'Scope framing. His film would go on to inspire John Woo's forthcoming remake titled Day of the Beast; Nikkatsu have in recent times deemed this movie one of their treasures. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Youth of the Beast in a Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) edition based on their new HD master.



Youth Of The Beast will arrive in glorious 1080HD on blu-ray with improved optional English subtitles,as the release is in dual format so even the DVD has had an upgrade too. The whole package comes with a 36 page booklet featuring a new essay by Frederick Veith, and rare archival imagery making this release an essential release for fans of Japanese crime genre get your copy from 27th October 2014.

Pre-0rder/Order Youth Of The Beast [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) (1963)

10 November 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Federico Fellini's 8½

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Genre:
Arthouse, World Cinema, Drama, Classic
Release Date:
11th November 2013 (UK)
Distributor:
Argent Films
Rating:
15
Director:
Federico Fellini
Cast:
Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimee, Sandra Milo, Barbara Steele
Buy 8 ½: [DVD] or [Blu-ray]


8 ½ is one of those films like Citizen Kane or 2001: A Space Odyssey that every film critic pretty much agrees is one of the films that changed film forever. It’s a film that influenced a wide range of films from Brazil to All That Jazz and Woody Allen’s unfairly maligned Stardust Memories. The great Italian maestro film director Federico Fellini was at the helm and it’s quite possibly the greatest film ever made about making a film. 8 ½ was later adapted/remade at the musical Nine but the less said about that the better.

The plot concerns Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) who is a director who is having “director’s block” while trying to finish a science fiction film. Guido is quite obviously based on Fellini and Mastroianni was always director’s alter ego on screen. Guido’s marriage is failing apart and has lost interest in finishing the film. The film is a classic mixture of fantasy, memories and reality and at times it’s never clear which is which.

8 ½ like many of the truly great films like Citizen Kane or Brazil it’s all really a great big magic trick. Fellini was first and foremost a dreamer like Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam, who cites Fellini as his biggest influence and 8 ½ as his favourite film. He tried to make cinematic dreams with his great films and he plays around with time and space but also the form of cinema itself. Its both a film that plays with avant-garde film techniques but simultaneously is also extremely watchable and relatively commercial and in turn it’s a pitch-perfect juggling act.

Fellini was also a cartoonist (like Gilliam) and his post-Neo-Realist films certainly have a cartoonish take on life. The characters at times especially the female characters have an also caricature quality to them in the best possible way. It’s all shot in truly beautiful black and white widescreen by Gianni Di Venanzo who was the Italian cinematographer of the early 60s but he died very young sadly.

8 ½ has rightfully earned its reputation at simply one of the greatest film ever made. It’s really THE Fellini film and you really must experience the film if you haven’t already. It’s film like Citizen Kane that was one of the building blocks of modern cinema.

★★★★★

Ian Schultz



25 October 2013

The White Dove (1960), Josef Kilián (1963) DVD Reviews

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The White Dove (1960)
Rating:
PG
Director:
Frantisek Vlácil
Cast:
Katerina Irmanovová, Anna Pitasová, Karel Smyczek
Josef Kilián (1963)
Rating:
n/a
Director:
Pavel Jurácek, Jan Schmidt
Cast:
Pavel Bartl, Pavel Silhánek, Stanislav Michler
Buy The White Dove & Josef Kilián: DVD

Second Run has continued it’s love of 60s Czechoslovakian New Wave cinema with films by two of it’s key players. The people in question are František Vláčil and Pavel Jurácek. Vláčil would later direct what is often considered the greatest Czech film ever made Marketa Lazarová and Jurácek is more well known as a writer for his screenplays for Ikarie XB-1 and Daisies. All of these films are available from Second Run and all are highly recommended.

The first film is The White Dove. It’s a very simple story it’s about a boy who nurses a dove after he injures it so it can return back home. It contrasts his story and the girl Susanne waiting for it’s return to his home in the Baltics. There really is much more to that story than that, it’s only slightly over an hour. It exceeds its simplistic story which wonderful cinematic touches throughout. It’s compared to Kes in the press notes but it’s a very strange comparison cause it has tons of surrealistic touches, which is the complete opposite of Ken Loach’s great film. It’s photography is truly stunning and leaves indelible marks on the viewer’s memory, it won award for it’s cinematographer Jan Curík who would later shoot Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and The Joke.

Jan Curík also shot the other film on the disc Josef Kilián. It’s directed by Pavel Jurácek and Jan Schmidt and is only slightly over half an hour. It’s obviously inspired by Kafka and it’s no coincidence that the year the film came out 1963 was the same year that there was a large conference which including a cultural reappraisal of Kafka’s work. It was later “banned forever” after the 1968 Soviet invasion.

It’s a Kafkaesque nightmare of bureaucracy. A young man goes to a cat rental place to rent a cat for a day (best idea ever for non cat owners) but when he comes back to return the cat. He then enters into a world of bureaucracy to try to solve his issue. There is a truly stunning shot of him against a wall of filing cabinets, which is reminiscent of the famous un-filmed deleted scene of Brazil, which was used for the criterion cover. It has cats and has a labyrinth of surreal bureaucracy so ticks 2 important cinematic boxes for me.

So overall another great release from Second Run and hopefully more hidden Czech gems will come in the near future. According to the booklet Karel Zeman’s A Jester’s Tale will be come out soon which Pavel Jurácek also wrote and hopefully The Joke comes out so I can see it.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


11 September 2013

Ikarie XB-1 DVD Review

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Release Date:
23rd September 2013 (UK)
Rating:
15
Distributor:
Second Run
Director:
Jindrich Polák
Cast:
Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Smolík, Dana Medrická
Buy:
Ikarie XB-1 [DVD]

Ikarie XB-1 is a fascinating piece of pre-2001: a Space Odyssey science fiction filmmaking. It was made 5 years before in 1963 and it’s from Czechoslovakia, which is not known for it’s science fiction with the possible exception of the writer Karel Ćapek. Ikarie XB-1 has never been released on these shores until now with Second Run’s (a label who specialises in Czech cinema) release. The film however has it admirers including esteemed directors like Joe Dante and Alex Cox. It has also been suggested its one of many space films Stanley Kubrick watched before he embarked on the task of making 2001.

The film’s source comes from one of the most world-renowned science fiction writers Stanislaw Lem, he also wrote the book Solaris is based on. Stanislaw like most great sci-fi writers dealt with philosophical themes and his work also at times were very satiric. He is also considered one of the most difficult writers to translate because of his elaborate word formulations. The book Ikarie XB-1 is based on The Mangellanic Cloud that has not yet been translated into English.

Ikarie XB-1 is not that dissimilarly to the better-known Solaris as both films are set almost entirety on a space ship. It is equally a journey though space to discover new worlds (in Ikarie XB-1 they are trying to find alien life on star near Alpha Centauri) and a mental one. Solaris is definitely a more artistically successful film but that’s part of the mastery of its director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Ikarie XB-1 has fantastic production design that at times is almost hallucinatory with its shapes and patterns of the interior of the ship. The cinematography throughout is really stunning with lots of strange disorienting angles that get the viewer into the mind-set of the crew. The outer space sequences are surprisingly effect and don’t seem too cheesy.

It’s overall a really surprising piece of early intelligent science fiction in cinema (they’re was already lots in the fiction world) that will really surprise a lot of people. The film was cut down by the US distributor and retitled Voyage to the end of the universe. The twist ending was cut and was replaced with a much happier ending but of course Second Run has released the original cut. The DVD is under £10 and it’s certainly worth you investment.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

10 July 2013

BFI To Bring Satyajit Ray’s The Big City To Cinema's Across UK.

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On 16 August the BFI brings Satyajit Ray’s The Big City to cinemas across the UK. This richly absorbing tale of family and city life from the master of Bengali cinema is set in mid-50s Calcutta, a society still adjusting to Independence and gripped by social and financial crisis.

The film’s nationwide release will coincide with a two-month complete retrospective of the director’s work at BFI Southbank during August and September.

Subrata Mazumdar (Anil Chatterjee), a young bank clerk struggling to support his entire extended family on a meagre salary, firmly believes that ‘a woman’s place is with her cooking pots’. Unsurprisingly, he experiences conflicting emotions when his wife Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee) helps out by taking a job as a door-to-door ‘salesgirl’ peddling knitting machines to rich housewives. Though shy and nervous to begin with, Arati soon proves a huge success, relishing her new-found independence (not to mention the joys of lipstick) and thoroughly upsetting the family dynamic.

Bengali star Madhabi Mukherjee, with her expressive frown and mischievous smile, gives a ravishing, spirited performance as Arati. This was Mukherjee’s first film with Ray (she was later to star in his Charulata) and she confessed herself ‘stunned’ by his extraordinary ‘woman-centred’ screenplay, so different from anything she had previously encountered. Indeed, Ray originally considered calling the film ‘A Woman’s Place’.

Yet, for all his focus on Arati’s problems, Ray – who is renowned for his breadth of sympathy – also deploys warmth, abundant humour and deep psychological insight in his depiction of a large, multi-generational cast of characters, including Arati’s conservative old father-in-law, her studious teenage sister-in-law, her feisty Anglo-Indian colleague and her benevolently despotic boss.

For this new restoration of The Big City, undertaken in India, the original negative was scanned at a high resolution (2K), enabling the film’s epic scale and intimate detail – from the portrayal of bustling urban life to the exquisite play of emotions on Arati’s face – to emerge in greater beauty and clarity.

Now re-released by the BFI to mark its fiftieth anniversary, The Big City, with its emphasis on conflicting social values – and most particularly on the role of women – feels as fresh and relevant as ever.



The Big City is part of The Sayjit Ray season next month at The BFI Southbank from 16th August, more details here.For listings of when The Big City will be playing near you please check with your local independent/Arthouse cinema for exact dates.



21 May 2013

Cinematic Masterpiece Cleopatra To Get Limited Cinema Release

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The 50th Anniversary of the 1963 masterpiece CLEOPATRA will be celebrated with a limited engagement theatrical release; it was announced today by Twentieth Century Fox. Screenings will be held from the 12th July at Curzon May Fair, London and select cinemas nationwide. The 243-minute original theatrical version of CLEOPATRA has been meticulously restored to commemorate its golden anniversary. This new digitally restored transfer received a world theatrical premiere as an official selection of Cannes Classics at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 21.

Directed by Academy Award® winner Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the historical epic shot on 70mm film took home four Academy Awards and was the highest grossing films of 1963 earning more than $57 million in its initial release. CLEOPATRA infamously cost an unprecedented $42 million to make (equivalent to over $300 million today) and was racked with scandal as the onscreen love affair between Cleopatra (Taylor) and Mark Antony (Burton) spilled over into real life during the three-year production in Rome. Burton celebrated his great love for Ms. Taylor with exquisite gifts from Bulgari.

In 51 BC, Cleopatra became queen of the Egyptian Empire: the wealthiest and most revered kingdom the world has ever known. More than 2,000 years later Twentieth Century Fox Studios set out to tell her epic story in what would become, at the time, the most ambitious and lavish moviemaking endeavor in Hollywood history. Elizabeth Taylor signed a one million dollar contract to play the title role of Cleopatra, becoming the first female star to command such a sum for one picture. Elaborate sets and costumes, production delays and the relocation of principal filming from London to Rome added to the skyrocketing budget.

CLEOPATRA will be available for the first time ever on Digital HD beginning 28th May 2013. In addition to the film, this HD premiere on iTunes features the 80-minute documentary “Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood,” made up of film clips, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews that explore the fascinating stories behind this 5-year production.

The CLEOPATRA 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is currently available to own. The 2-disc set is packed with dazzling bonus materials featuring never-before-seen exclusive content including Cleopatra’s lost footage, commentary from Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz, Martin Landau and Jack Brodsky, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more. Additionally, fans can watch footage from the film’s original theatrical premieres in both New York and Los Angeles.