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HOME VIDEO HERALD: TONIGHT YOU'RE MINE (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 29, 2012 (San Diego) – The first half of 2012 saw the release of not one but two films by British director David Mackenzie, although the second one never played in San Diego. The first was Perfect Sense, released in February. Although small in scope, it was quite a cinematic trip, a melancholia-saturated tale of two people who fall in love, a love tested when the whole world loses their five senses one by one. Perfect Sense was in some ways pretentious, it was heavily restrained in every respect (mood, acting, writing, etc.), and it was dead serious in tone. It's the type of movie that you either mock or you buy into and relish; I did the latter.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: IN DARKNESS (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 29, 2012 (San Diego) – A harrowing sequence of events transpire during the first thirty minutes of In Darkness, atrocities that I could describe but I won’t. That’s because as shocking as they are, there is only one shot, seen later, that remains entrenched in my mind.

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE RAID: REDEMPTION (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 29, 2012 (San Diego) -- Watching The Raid: Redemption is like watching someone assemble a house of cards: one mishap and the structure crumbles. I'll start with the tone, a major balancing act for first-time director Gareth Evans. He militantly adheres to a serious tone. A few times the film comes dangerously close to slipping into the Realm of the Not So Serious, but through sheer will, Evans maintains the desired disposition. The same extends to the action scenes, the backbone of The Raid, and among the best executed I've seen since I became a film critic: not a single shred, inch, or drop of laziness. Otherwise, it would be close to worthless, no better than the offensively manufactured video game drivel that Hollywood is so content to pump out to American audiences.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE BLACKBIRD (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 16, 2012 (San Diego) – Tod Browning is a director whose career I lament as much as I admire. He began as a comedic actor who appeared in dozens of shorts (almost all of them directed by Edward Dillon) for Mutual Film Company. Then he turned his eye to directing, where he slowly established himself as a reliable helmsman of mostly crime and mystery films. He’s best known, however, for his work in the horror genre. In 1931 he directed the now-immortalized Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. After many years pounding the pavement, he seemed destined for even more greatness.

 

Then he directed Freaks.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (BLU-RAY)

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 5, 2012 (San Diego) – The Adventures of Tintin is Steven Spielberg at his purest…and fluffiest. It’s a throwback to the early half of his career, when his forte was adventure tales filmed with the verve of a young boy with quite an imagination, particularly the first three Indiana Jones films. This also extends to films like The Goonies that Spielberg didn’t direct, but his involvement was so pronounced they might has well have.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: RAGE IN HEAVEN (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 5, 2012 (San Diego) – There is a scene in Rage in Heaven in which Philip (Robert Montgomery) lures Ward (George Sanders) up to a scaffold at a steel mill where a worker fell and instantly perished in a pile of molten steel. According to the workers, the scaffold’s oblique positioning is such that it’s impossible for anyone to see anything. As Philip convinces Ward to lean over and look down, he’s ready to push the man to his death.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: ...TICK...TICK...TICK... (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 24, 2012 (San Diego) – Alfred Hitchcock once opined that a great film requires three things: the script, the script and the script. I would also add a fourth element, the title. A movie’s title need not be catchy, but it must hook the potential moviegoer while describing what it’s about. It could be as simple as Titanic or it could be as long as The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: MONEYBALL (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

April 24, 2012 (San Diego) – As a die-hard San Diego Padres fan, I sympathize with Billy Beane, the subject of Moneyball. I can understand the frustration with the financial constraints that can befall a small-market team like the Oakland As. It’s unfair that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox happen to be situated among the nation’s top media markets and can afford to spend ample amounts of dollars to lure in free agents.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

March 6, 2012 (San Diego) – Anthology films are like short story collections and concept albums. Like the former, they offer an eclectic selection of stories. Like a concept album, an anthology film’s stories can sometimes be connected to a certain theme or share similar qualities.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE CHANGE-UP (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

January 23, 2012 (San Diego) – The Change-Up is like murder…it’s indefensible. It is the worst “comedy” of 2011 and it would have been the worst movie if Zack Snyder didn’t make the equally misogynist, but more self-indulgent, Sucker Punch. It starts out with the worst scene of the film – Jason Bateman getting a mouthful of poop – and it only gets worse from there.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE PACK (DVD)

By Brian Lafferty

 

October 12, 2011 (San Diego) – The 1950s spawned a then-novel horror subgenre. Many of these movies involved everyday animals and insects attacking entire cities after being transformed into giants (usually thanks to atomic testing or laboratory experiments).

 

After years of dormancy, this subgenre made a comeback in the 1970s, only this time the animals tended to be their normal sizes. However, they were just as deadly. Films of this kind included Frogs (1972), Grizzly (1976), Day of the Animals (1977), and The Pack (1977), the latter of which is now available from the Warner Archive Collection.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: HEARTS OF THE WEST

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – Hearts of the West, available from the Warner Archive Collection, is a film about westerns that was released at an inopportune time. The year was 1975, a time in which the western genre was falling out of favor with audiences and studios alike. Over the three-plus decades since, there have been some notable exceptions, such as Unforgiven. But the genre has been nowhere near as popular as it was from the 1930s to the 1960s.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – The first five minutes of The Woman on the Beach are ominous, spellbinding and foreboding. Hanns Eisler’s booming and menacing score accompany the opening credits. The frame is backdropped with shots of the alluring beach and its forceful, foamy, and frothy tide. It’s a simple sequence of shots, but they’re chilling.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: DARK OF THE SUN

By Brian Lafferty

 

August 9, 2011 (San Diego) – Dark of the Sun (1968) was one of the first films to cash in on The Dirty Dozen’s success. Both films are set in war-torn countries, both are about do-or-die missions, and both feature football great Jim Brown (his second film after his retirement). The similarities end there. Judging it on its own terms, Dark of the Sun is uneven but when it’s good it makes you wish the rest of the movie were just as brutal and action-packed. When it drags, it really suffers.

 

HOME VIDEO HERALD: SUCKER PUNCH

By Brian Lafferty

 

July 15, 2011 (San Diego) – Sucker Punch is what happens when you give Zack Snyder carte blanche to do whatever he wants. 300 was my first exposure to Snyder. It wasn’t a masterpiece, or even a great movie, but if you were looking for a good sword and sandal epic with lots of slicing, dicing, and blood, then you couldn’t miss.

 

THIS WEEK ON DISC: "I AM NUMBER FOUR" AND "GNOMEO & JULIET"

By Brian Lafferty

 

June 1, 2011, (San Diego) – For over a year and a half I’ve been reviewing theatrical releases. Last month I introduced the Netflix Streaming Pick of the Week, a column that spotlights worthy cinema available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

 

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