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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)


They're young. They're in love. They rob banks.

One of the landmark films of the 1960s, Bonnie and Clyde changed the course of American cinema. Setting a milestone for screen violence that paved the way for Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, this exercise in mythologized biography should not be labeled as a bloodbath; as critic Pauline Kael wrote in her rave review, "it's the absence of sadism that throws the audience off balance." The film is more of a poetic ode to the Great Depression, starring the dream team of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the titular antiheroes, who barrel across the South and Midwest robbing banks with Clyde's brother Buck (Gene Hackman), Buck's frantic wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons), and their faithful accomplice C.W. Moss (the inimitable Michael J. Pollard). Bonnie and Clyde is an unforgettable classic that has lost none of its power since the 1967 release. --Jeff Shannon

Warner Home Video is releasing newly remastered transfers of Bonnie and Clyde, with new special features, in several editions. Amazon is taking orders at the following links:

Standard DVD 2-disc Special Edition
Standard DVD 2-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition
Blu-ray
HD

The first three were released on March 25th; the HD version is due out on April 15th. Warner Brothers has announced that it won't support HD after May 31, 2008, so there may be a limited window to get the HD version.

The new transfers have been made from the "original elements," meaning stuff like original negatives or original prints. (See below for an update on the video and audio quality.) The special features announced, included in all the new releases, are these:

  • the full-length History Channel documentary about the real Bonnie and Clyde called "Love and Death: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde" (43:10)
  • a new three-part documentary about the making and releasing of the film and its relation to the real Bonnie and Clyde:
  • "Bonnie and Clyde's Gang" (22:35)
  • "The Reality and Myth of Bonnie and Clyde" (24:07)
  • "Releasing Bonnie and Clyde" (18:06)
  • two newly discovered deleted scenes (5:23)
  • two trailers (4:11)
  • Warren Beatty's wardrobe tests (7:39)
The HD and Blu-ray editions will also include as a "high-def exclusive" a hardcover book (34 pages according to Amazon, 32 pages according to dvdbeaver) with a detailed production history, star/director filmographies and rare archival behind-the-scenes photos. The book is an integral part of the case. This isn't included in the standard DVD Special Edition.

The Ultimate edition will also include some non-DVD extras. Details are given in the earlier reviews of the Ultimate edition (January 17, 2008).

No commentary was announced, so I subtract one star. For some the making-of features may partially make up for the lack of commentary.

As for the movie itself, it's a landmark, but there are already many helpful reviews here about that ....

Update on the video and audio quality of the new releases (March 27th)

I haven't got my copy yet, but I've checked out some early professional reviews. All the ones I've seen that compare to the older DVD agree that the video quality of the new releases is much improved. I'll give some details from a sampling of reviews here for anyone interested, but the upshot is that everyone is pleased with both new transfers (HD not being out yet).


Standard DVD

DVD Beaver, which specializes in DVD image evaluations and comparisons, says the standard DVD 2-disc Special Edition video is "very strong," clean, with minimal noise. They report improved detail, contrast and color from the older DVD. Skin tones are said to be a bit on the red side (which is what most people prefer to accurate color). The image is said to have a glossy look at times, perhaps the same look described at DVD Town as "a little glassy."

The sound is the original mono, described by DVD Beaver as "clear and consistent." No one raves about the sound, but everyone finds it good overall, for mono.

The review at DVD Town finds the new transfer "excellent for a movie some forty years old." It mentions noticeable grain in some shots, but this may refer to scenes in which there was intentional grain introduced for effect. Also mentioned are occasional softness, skin tones a touch dark, but overall color "quite realistic." Says the definition is superb for standard DVD, contrast strong.

DVD Verdict says, "The remastered print looks very good, with strong colors and high contrast, and superb detail ...," with a little grain at times.


Blu-ray

DVD Beaver says the Blu-ray version is, as would be expected, even better. The darks are darker than on the new standard DVD, the brights brighter, very strong detail, with a touch redder skin tones, very minor noise. The image is said to retain a natural look.

The sound is described with very same adjectives as for the standard DVD: clear and consistent.

Home Theater Forum's reviewer calls the Blu-ray transfer's color fidelity "outstanding" and overall quality "excellent," including sharpness and detail. Blacks are said to be very black, though less so in the later part of the movie.

A review at High-Def Digest praises the Blu-ray image quality very highly, particularly the color, which it describes as vibrant, smooth and natural. By Sanpete

IMDb
Amazon

Bonnie and Clyde 1967 Trailer



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Legal Eagles (1986)



Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah.

Robert Redford, usually a pretty good judge of material, got snookered badly in this Ivan Reitman comedy that also starred Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah. Redford is a rising assistant D.A. who is prosecuting a woman (Hannah) for theft of a painting by her father. Before he knows what hit him, he's involved romantically both with the defendant and with her scattered lawyer (Winger). Redford is as good as he can be, given the circumstances, but this is a movie that doesn't know where it's going. Originally intended as a serious film about the legal wrangling over the estate of the late Mark Rothko, this film quickly degenerated when the script was turned over to Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., whose sparkling oeuvre includes Turner and Hooch. --Marshall Fine

Romantic Charmer With Hi-Jinx!!! 4

I have always liked this film and I was so glad when it was finally released on DVD--especially the newer version w/a few extras (blue background on the cover). Redford & Winger are a charming, combative romantic duo with real spark & heart. Some of the antics are a bit overplayed--especially in relation to Darryl Hannah's femme fatale character, Chelsea. But, it's a winning film nonetheless, thanks to Redford & Winger and the smash soundtrack "Love Touch".

Favorite Flick 5
This is one of my all time fave flicks and the character of Thom Logan is indeed my all time favortie male character. I just wish they would release this movie in the extended letterbox format. The movie has a lot of nice twists and turns and with the additional footage it really has a good curve at the ending.

80's Flashback 4
I remember watching this movie on cable and on T.V., I was too broke to go to the movies back then and I was only thirteen at the time so on a personal level it takes me back to a nice time,plus that ROD STEWART SONG " LOVE TOUCH " plays on my head especially the previews when DEBRA WINGER and ROBERT REDFORD plunge into a lake on a forklift or something like it..ITs like "WHO's JOHNNY" and "SHORT CIRCUIT " . You hear one and think of the other.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Peter, Paul and Mary Chronology - the 7 first studio albums


PP&M Chronology

The trio Peter, Paul and Mary (often PP&M) is an American musical group that was one of the most successful folk-singing groups of the 1960s. The trio comprises Peter Yarrow, Noel "Paul" Stookey, and Mary Travers. The group was created by manager Albert Grossman, who sought to create a folk "supergroup" by bringing together "a tall blonde (Travers), a funny guy (Stookey), and a good looking guy (Yarrow)." He launched the group in 1961, booking them into the Bitter End, a coffee house in New York City's Greenwich Village that was a favorite place to hear folk artists.


Kuthumi wrote:
I made this compilation for my mp3 player from my CDs, so I may as well share it with the rest of you. I am so old that I remember rushing to the record store to get each new PPM album when they were first published on vinyl, and I want to hear each track in its proper context, not randomly selected on a "best of" edition.

If I remember correctly, these recordings were made with the very latest state-of-the-art analogue master tape recorder at Warner Bros, with surprisingly good stereo quality and dynamics for the pre-digital area. As a comparison, Simon and Garfunkel's original recording of "Bridge over Troubled Water" (CBS 1970) has audible tape hiss and lacks dynamics in the more silent parts, especially in the beginning.

Typical for Peter, Paul and Mary was that Peter (tenor) sang in the left channel, Paul (basso) in the right and Mary in the middle. Mary's rich, deep alto often crossed and went under Peter's high falsetto. Both guys were perfectionists on the guitar; you can sometimes hear them competing. In addition they had only a base player on the first records and later added more instruments as their work developed. Their musical arrangement is among the finest ever made of the songs that they chose from artists like Bob Dylan and Donovan.

More details with full track list, composers etc. here

Additional info with full texts and guitar chords here

Albums included, 12 tracks on each:

1) 1962: Peter, Paul & Mary
2) 1963: Moving
3) 1963: In the Wind
4) 1965: A Song Will Rise
5) 1965: See What Tomorrow Brings
6) 1966: Album
7) 1967: Album 1700

See the full track list: here

This chronology is made for their first 7 proper studio records only, each with 12 tracks. Missing here is "In Concert" (1964), a double album with mostly previous songs. I bought this on double vinyl with such a good quality that I never got around to buying the CD edition. Missing are also "In Japan" and "Late Again", mostly with new recordings of previous songs, and "Peter, Paul and Mummy" mainly with children's songs.



MySpace Player:

Naked in New York (1993)


Funny, honest, appealing

Naked in New York is a likable, intimate look at the young couple Jake and Joanne (Eric Stoltz and Mary-Louise Parker), who meet in college and slowly see their lives pull apart. A romantic comedy with a New York attitude, it's a more realistic version of Reality Bites. A struggling playwright with a rich imagination, Jake has a laziness factor that's holding him back, and, in part, that's the underlying feeling of the movie: Things just happen. But it's a great showcase for the underappreciated Parker (Fried Green Tomatoes) and for Tony Curtis as an off-Broadway producer. In addition to the hugely likable cast are many catchy cameo appearances. --Doug Thomas

The sponsorship of noted filmmaker Martin Scorsese helped the novice filmmakers making this film get it produced and receive mainstream distribution. In addition, it features a vast number of appearances by well-known performers, who took an interest in the project, taking union minimum pay. In the story, Jake (Eric Stoltz) has grown up in a wonderfully neurotic household. It is just as well that he has developed a fondness for drama, as this material is excellent fodder for his playwriting. He has spent a lot of time collaborating with his friend Chris (Ralph Macchio) writing plays, and eventually is given his chance to prove his stuff in New York City. There, he discovers that Chris wants to be more than just a friend, and an important stage actress (Kathleen Turner) also has the hots for him. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide

Death and the Maiden (1994)



Sad and serious and ultimately meaningful on many levels

This 1994 film was adapted from a play by Argentinean playwright Ariel Dorfman and was directed by Roman Polanski. Set in an unnamed South American country, three people are thrown together in an isolated house on a dark and stormy night. The woman, played by Sigourney Weaver is clearly troubled and sad. Her husband, played by Stuart Wilson, is late for dinner. Turns out he had a flat tire and a stranger helped him out. That stranger, who is a doctor, played by Ben Kingsley, soon befriends the husband. The woman thinks the stranger is the man who tortured her while she was a political prisoner many years before.





There is a new kinder and gentler government now, which is investigating atrocities from the past. The woman's husband is in charge of the investigation, which is basically focused on identifying bodies and is giving amnesty to many of the worst criminals. Naturally this complicates the situation.

What follows is not a simple story though because, throughout, questions are raised that have no easy answers. Is the doctor really the torturer or an innocent man? After all, it all happened at least ten or more years in the past and the woman has never actually seen her torturer's face as she had been blindfolded the whole time. The doctor declares his innocence. At times, he's even charming. But she has tied him up and is determined to get a confession out of him.

There are many interwoven themes. The basic one is wondering if the doctor is, indeed, the right man. But then there is the relationship between the husband and the wife. We discover he and his wife were both members of the revolution but only she was caught and tortured. He has been trying to make that up to her for their whole marriage. We also get to hear a lot about the details of the torture. It is chilling and disturbing and, even though the only violence in the film is against the suspect who is tied up, the woman's prison experience, which is only talked about and not shown, is excruciatingly painful to hear about.



There are other questions raised too. What happens to a society when it gives someone power over a helpless person? Now, we see the woman with power over the tied-up doctor. And we are forced to think about how this kind of power corrupts a whole society. This is a concept that is universal, as fresh today as it has always been. And the director certainly knows how to bring it out. All of the actors were sensational. I soon forgot they were performing and was completely swept into the story. I could feel the pain of all three characters as well as the horror of the electric shocks of the past.

The title comes from a string quartet by Franz Schubert called Death and the Maiden. This piece of music had been played during the woman's torture. She has found a tape of it in the doctor's car and plays it throughout. It helps to frame the action, right down to the film's excellent and satisfying conclusion.

I was surprised to discover that this film had won no significant awards and got little recognition when it was released. It wasn't even given a high rating from the critics. That's too bad. I think that it is an important film. I'm glad I discovered it though. It's sad and serious and ultimately meaningful on many levels. And I give it my very highest recommendation.


Death and the Maiden Trailer



Friday, January 2, 2009

In the Shadow of the Cobra (2004)


BT-Request

IMDb

Director: Ted Nicolaou
Screenplay: Ira Schwartz

Main Cast:
Rutger Hauer - Philipe Gallo
Sean Young - Samantha "Sam" Kincaid
Michael O'Hagan - Professor Hyde-White
James Acheson - Jake Whitcomb
Gulshon Glover - Kabir




Plot:

An ancient tablet found by famous British Archeologist Professor Hyde-White is believed to be a roadmap to the legendary Lost Temple of Faramundi and its hidden treasures. But before he is able to set out on his expedition, the Professor, along with the tablet, is taken hostage by a group of mercenaries, led by the vicious Philipe Gallo.

When the Professor disappears, one of his students, Jake Whitcomb, finds the Professor's journal, inside of which is a copy of the map. Jake decides to take action.

Knowing that the legend of the Temple describes ancient mystical music as the key to unlock its secrets, Jake enlists the help of Samantha "Sam" Kincaid, an expert musicologist. The two are catapulted into the chase of their lifetimes in pursuit of the kidnapped Professor and the Lost Temple.

Nothing is easy for this pair. As Jake and Sam bicker throughout their trek across majestic India, they find Kabir, a museum curator who possesses an artifact which he claims can produce the musical tone required to open the door to the Temple. Throughout their journey they survive gun battles, vicious hand to hand fighting, vision blurring car chases and a heart stopping train wreck hundreds of feet above a rocky gorge.

Tired, bruised and out of breath, they finally free the Professor and arrive at the Temple of Faramundi scant minutes before Gallo and his men.

Inside the breathtaking structure, they discover wondrous artifacts of an advanced, but long dead, civilization. Amid a towering forest of shimmering crystals, they begin to explore this ancient marvel.

When the mercenaries catch up, Sam, Jake and the rest of their entourage find themselves in the clutches of the blood thirsty Gallo. However Gallo's men, in their rush to steal as much treasure as possible, trip the Temple's ancient, but deadly, security systems.

One by one, the mercenaries are eliminated by the Temple's defenses until only Gallo and our heroes are left. As the echo of Gallo's gun shots reverberate throughout the temple, the sound waves trigger the Temple's final defense, a sonic blast which sweeps across the Temple chamber, threatening to pulverize everyone to dust.

As they race through the corridors trying to escape the sonic wave, our heroes attempt to jump through the Temple doorway as it slowly closes and fight for their lives as the blast waves and Gallo closes in on them.

Will they survive? Will they ever be able to unravel the secrets inside the Temple of Faramundi? And the biggest question of all... can Sam and Jake survive each other?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

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