Brad Bird’s fabulous re-launching of the Mission: Impossible series, Ghost Protocol, comes out on Blu-ray/DVD tomorrow. Hopefully some of you got the chance to see that in an IMAX theater – it was quite spectacular. Feel free to order Ghost Protocol below through the LFM Store.
In related spy news, this fall brings the release of Bond 50, the new Blu-ray set commemorating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film series – which launched in 1962 with the release of Dr. No. This new Bond 50 set (see the trailer above) features all 22 James Bond films on Blu-ray disc in one set for the first time, including nine 007 films never before available on Blu-ray: The Spy Who Loved Me, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, A View to a Kill, Octopussy, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Needless to say, the Sean Connery and Roger Moore films will be the best.
The set also includes more than 130 hours of bonus features – so it should be quite comprehensive. You can pre-order the set above.
Posted on April 16th, 2012 at 3:07pm.
Some good new promotional teasers are appearing for the forthcoming season of Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies on TNT. Check out this new one above. Hopefully the new show will actually be as good as the promos. Falling Skies has its two-hour, season 2 premiere on Sunday, June 17th.
And the alien invasions just keep coming. Check out the new sci-fi short film Chameleon that’s making the rounds, and also a teaser for the indie film Ombis. (Hat tip to io9 for those shorts.) And if that’s not enough for you, check out this set video of Toronto being transformed into Tokyo for Guillermo del Toro’s forthcoming Pacific Rim; plus, you can catch this new video on the creature design for Peter Berg’s Battleship, or watch Ridley Scott, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace conduct an interesting, 36-minute discussion of Prometheus at a Paris press conference on April 11th.
Posted on April 16th, 2012 at 3:02pm.
[Editor's Note: We want to wish everyone a Happy Easter & Passover. Below is a re-posting of LFM's Blu-ray review of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956), from March 27th, 2011. Also: Turner Classic Movies is showing Easter- and Passover-themed films all day today. Check the TCM website for details.]
By Jason Apuzzo. The new Ten Commandments Blu-ray comes out this Tuesday, March 29th (see the trailer for the Blu-ray at the bottom of this post). Paramount will be releasing a 2-disc Blu-ray set of the classic film, and also a Limited Edition 6-disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo set, that features both Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 and 1923 versions of the film – and a host of goodies, including a handsome archival booklet that may be worth the price of the set on its own.
The Ten Commandments is a special favorite of mine. Not only is the film one of Hollywood’s greatest epics of the 1950s, the film is also a timeless and enduring ode to human freedom – and one which seems to grow only more timely and urgent as the years go by. The Ten Commandments is a film that will always remain powerful and ‘relevant’ so long as there are souls yearning for freedom – even, as we’ve seen recently, in contemporary Egypt and North Africa where so much of The Ten Commandments was filmed.
We had the pleasure of showing what was then the best existing print of The Ten Commandments at our first Liberty Film Festival in 2004, when we invited cast member Lisa Mitchell to talk about her recollections of Mr. DeMille – and how influential he was in her life. Several years later Govindini and I spent time with Cecilia DeMille Presley, granddaughter of Cecil DeMille and a caretaker of his legacy – who shared some wonderful memories of her grandfather with us. Most special, however, was the opportunity Govindini and I had years ago to meet Charlton Heston himself at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, when he introduced a special screening of The Ten Commandments. (We actually sat right behind him during the screening – and watched his reactions to the film, which he still seemed to take great delight in so many years later.) It was an extraordinary thrill to meet him; even late in life, he was still handsome and rugged, with a biting wit – but also a warm and generous spirit. He was the consummate gentleman.
The Ten Commandments is without a doubt one of the best films Hollywood has ever produced, and a carrier of important ideas about freedom, so I thought we’d take a little look back at it today. It also happens to be a magnificent showpiece for the Blu-ray medium – with the film’s rich, saturated colors, beautiful costumes and production design, endless desert vistas, and iconic visual effects sequences. To put it mildly, The Ten Commandments is not only an emotional spectacle of the heart … it’s also an eyeful.
Interestingly,The Ten Commandments happens to be the fifth highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation. When the film was released in 1956, theater tickets cost about 50 cents – and the film still grossed over $65 million. What this means is that at today’s ticket prices, The Ten Commandments would have grossed over $1 billion at the domestic box office. In the history of American moviemaking, only Gone With the Wind, Star Wars, The Sound of Music and E.T. have fared better at the box office than did DeMille’s extraordinary film.
I don’t mention The Ten Commandments‘ box office success because that denotes anything in particular about the film’s merits – success at the box office can always be misleading – but to suggest the kind of powerful bond this film has with the public. The Ten Commandments is, as it turns out, a beautifully written, directed, acted, photographed and scored film – a majestic and emotional voyage into one of the primary myths of Western religious life. It’s also the crowning achievement of one of America’s greatest moviemakers. At the same time, The Ten Commandments is something else: it’s a part of American popular mythology, as important to America’s filmic conversation about freedom and individual dignity as Casablanca, Gone With the Wind or On the Waterfront.
By Jason Apuzzo. We wanted Libertas readers to know that a movie we were very excited about last year, the new Cold War thriller Farewell, just recently came to Blu-ray/DVD – and is available now here through the LFM Store. Special thanks to reader Vince for tipping me off about Farewell’s release.
Farewell tells the true story of a disenchanted K.G.B. colonel — code-named ‘Farewell’ by Western spy agencies – who decided that he could no longer serve the Soviet state, and consequently chose to funnel classified information to French intelligence agents. This intelligence apparently included information on what the Soviets knew about our air defenses, how much the Soviets were spending on defense, what defense technologies they were stealing from the United States, and also a list of highly placed K.G.B. agents who’d infiltrated government and industry in the West.
The leaking of this information, when later combined with President Reagan’s public commitment to create the ‘Star Wars’ missile defense system, were crucial elements in the winning of the Cold War. In fact, President Ronald Reagan himself called L’Affaire Farewell “one of the most important espionage cases of the 20th century.”
Farewell stars Willem Defoe, David Soul and Fred Ward as Ronald Reagan, and you can read Joe Bendel’s glowing Libertas review of the film here. The film is available on Blu-ray/DVD, and through Amazon streaming. Give it a look!
Posted on April 22nd, 2011 at 12:04pm.
By Jason Apuzzo. Special thanks to reader Vince for alerting me to the fact that Peter Weir’s The Way Back, an epic saga starring Ed Harris and Colin Farrell about a breakout from one of Stalin’s gulags, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 22nd. You can pre-order the film below through the LFM store.
We greatly admired The Way Back here at Libertas (see our review here), along with the courage it took to make it, and are glad to see the film making the transition to DVD/Blu-ray so quickly. It’s often frustrating for us to recommend indie films of this kind here on this site, and then have to wait 6 months from their appearance in a film festival or in limited theatrical release for people to be able to see them. Bravo to the team behind The Way Back for making it available so swiftly. This, one hopes, is the way of the future for indie releasing.
Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 9:17am.
By Jason Apuzzo. I wanted people to be aware that Chris Morris’ brilliant satire on Islamic terrorism, Four Lions, is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on March 8th. We loved the film here at Libertas (see the LFM review here).
I’ve embedded a clip of one of my favorite scenes from Four Lions above. (Note: the language gets a little rough.) You can pre-order the film now below in the LFM Store.
Posted on February 11th, 2011 at 12:28pm.
By David Ross. Documentary film seems to shift between nature puffery with a rueful environmental subtext, vaguely condescending anthropological examinations of red state weirdos, and aggressive leftwing political polemics. As usual, conservatives have ceded the field without much of a fight. I am not in favor of conservatives answering leftwing polemics with rightwing polemics. I am in favor of conservatives answering clichés with non-clichés, answering tendentious narratives with non-tendentious narratives. With this mind – and with the caveat that my documentary viewing has been far from encyclopedic over the last ten years – let me offer my list of the decade’s best documentaries. Please note that ‘best’ in this case is a cinematic assessment; it has nothing to do with political point of view.
• Jazz (2000, Ken Burns).
• Mark Twain (2000, Ken Burns).
• Dogtown and Z-Boys (2002) is the surprisingly interesting story of the birth of skateboarding. You will come to view the annoying punks who nearly run you down on the sidewalk with a new respect.
• Stone Reader (2002) chronicles the search for the forgotten novelist Robert Stone.
• The Art of Piano: Great Pianists of the 20th Century (2002) is like a Pharaonic tomb in its wealth of archival footage: Horowitz upon his return to Carnegie Hall in 1965, Rubinstein in Moscow, etc.
• The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002, Robert Evans) is a lubricious exercise in autobiographical self-indulgence from film producer Robert Evans, a live wire even by Hollywood standards.
• Architectures (2003), a four-disc series, presents case studies in modern architecture, each about twenty-five minutes long. Much of the architecture is rebarbative, and the film itself may be a bit dry and technical for some tastes, but few films about art and culture are this detailed and intellectually serious.
• Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog). Nutcase lives with the bears and gets eaten
– go figure. Even so, the film provides a compelling critique of a certain kind of romantic idealization of nature, which poses dangers for us all.
• Ballets Russes (2005) is a moving history of one of the twentieth century’s great ballet companies, featuring interviews with many of the dancers who made the company legendary. The film becomes an examination of – and finally a paean to – artistic dedication of the highest order.
• Into Great Silence (2005) is at once silent, static, and epic, a grand glimpse of life in a Carthusian monastery in the mountains of France. It is one of the more difficult and beautiful films ever made, and perhaps film’s most sincere and respectful attempt to portray the life of religious devotion.
• Encounters at the End of the World (2007, Werner Herzog) brings the Werneresque hermeneutical apparatus to bear on the McMurdo research station at the South Pole, with reflections on the soullessness of technology and the fate of humanity. This sounds deep – and in fact it is deep.
• Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 (2007, Ben Niles) chronicles the construction of a Steinway grand piano, from lumber yard to Carnegie Hall. It is fascinating study of engineering expertise, but even more an homage to old-fashioned ideals of hand-craftsmanship. I plan to show it to my writing students, in the hope that its implicit ethic of perfectionism will teach them a lesson.
• Ballerina (2009, Bertrand Normand) chronicles the trials and triumphs of a gaggle of Kirov ballerinas at different phases in their careers. Among the featured dancers is Svetlana Zakharova, perhaps the greatest ballerina of her generation, and not incidentally one of the most beautiful women in the world. Here she is: ethereal in Swan Lake; sultry in La Bayadère; smoldering in Carmen.
Here’s an instructive documentary double-bill: The Kid Stays in the Picture and Derrida (about the French literary theorist and progenitor of deconstruction). Evans is charming, scabrous, lewd, and hilarious; Derrida is evasive and more spiritually sterile than imaginably possible. Sure, you’d rather have a beer with Evans, but with whom would you rather discuss Proust or Heidegger? I’m tempted to say Evans again. Derrida may be a genius in the strict sense, but he is a guarded genius. Personality, one realizes, is not incidental to genius; it may even be the essence of true genius.
If I had to give a decadal Academy Award, I would be deeply torn between Encounters at the End of the World, Note by Note, and Into Great Silence. The first is a film of intellect; the second a film of heart; the third a film of spirit. The latter must take the laurels, if only because its beauty is so unusual, its method so simple and yet so ambitious. Nearly three hours long, the film does not merely depict the lives of the monks, but attempts to induce in the viewer a sense of the monastic rhythm, the slowness and ceaselessness of the monks’ simple acts of toil and devotion. There seems to me a deep and central question in this, having nothing to do with matters of faith and observance. Breadth and depth exist always in opposition. Our culture has become a veritable cult of breadth, a crab-dance of scuttling lateral movement. The web is world-wide, but what remains world-deep?
Posted on August 31st, 2010 at 9:33am.
By David Ross. Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (2006) is a lively little documentary about Teri Horton, a feisty, gravel-voiced grandma who embodies every red state stereotype. She purchased a large drip painting for $5 in a thrift shop in San Bernardino. Somebody naturally mentioned Jackson Pollock, of whom she had never heard, and she took it into her head that she’d purchased a lost masterpiece worth tens of millions. There ensued an epic battle as Horton pestered the skeptical and obnoxiously condescending mandarins of the art world, demanding the canonization of her painting. The whole business might have been filed under the heading “crank makes a pest of herself,” except that Horton had an ace up her sleeve: the forensic art expert Peter Paul Biro claimed to have found a fingerprint on Horton’s painting that matched a fingerprint he had lifted from Pollock’s studio. At this point the controversy becomes fascinating, as it pitches curatorial instinct against forensic evidence and raises basic questions about art authentication and even more basic questions about epistemology. The film, of course, is interested in none of this, at least not in a serious way; it unhesitatingly sides with the feisty granny against the insufferable Ivy League boors, liking the entertainment value of its own populist narrative.
Having watched the film and weighed its evidence, I was torn and confused. A fingerprint is a fingerprint. On the other hand, I’ve spent time among collectors, curators, and scholars, and I know that the aesthetic eye is not a myth; what seem like snap or arbitrary judgments are a matter of the brain instantly acting on tens of thousands of hours of looking and thinking and comparing. There really are experts in this sense. Thomas Hoving, a former director of the Metropolitan Museum, is an example. He appears in the film as the chief witness for the prosecution, calling Horton’s painting laughable and ridiculing Horton’s right even to hold an opinion on the matter, in what must be one of the most uninhibited displays of pomposity ever captured on film. But Hoving’s personality does not, as the film seems to insinuate, invalidate his judgment. Nobody should doubt that a director of the Met knows incalculably more than a former truck driver, and that this knowledge is substantive and meaningful.
Like Hoving, I had the sense that the painting was off. I am not an expert on Pollock, but I know what one is supposed to feel in the presence of a great painter’s work – a certain flood of beauty and meaning, a sense of intricacy too great to be immediately digested. I was feeling none of it. The painting seemed to lack drama, presence, rhythm. It occurred to me that if the painting struck my dull eye as dubious, it must be very dubious indeed. Could the painting have been authentic, but for some reason botched? Could Pollock’s seminal energies have been dammed by a migraine or a hangover or a tiff with the wife? Perhaps he knew the painting stunk and dispatched it to the dump or gave it to the milkman. This would explain why the painting is unsigned, and begins to explain how it wound up in a thrift store in San Bernardino. In sum, I didn’t know what to think.
The New Yorker has thankfully rescued me from my uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. In a superb piece of investigative reporting (see here), David Grann brought a different kind of skepticism to the controversy, assailing the fingerprint evidence and finding plenty in Biro’s past to raise the possibility that he is an outright charlatan. The article does not merely supplement the film, but supersedes it entirely. Skip the film – read the article.
Those who enjoy the whodunit aspect of art authentication should have a look at Hoving’s False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes (1997). Hoving’s brashness plays better on the page than it does on film, lending a humorous derision to his many anecdotes of stupidity, arrogance, and low cunning. The book is a very useful prophylactic; anybody who reads it will be cured of the fantasy of the lost masterpiece. You can take it for granted that the thing’s a fake.
While on the subject of art authentication, let me note the documentary F for Fake (1973), Orson Welles’ last and least celebrated directorial effort, and by far the strangest and most problematic of his films. It is a postmodern phantasmagoria on the theme of fakery, centered – precariously – on the activities of the Elmyr de Hory (see here), one of the premier art forgers of twentieth century, and his equally shady biographer Clifford Irving, author of a fraudulent autobiography of Howard Hughes (see here). Elmyr is a whirl of joie de vivre as he whips up Matisses and airs his laissez-faire philosophy (“I don’t feel bad for Modigliani – I feel good for me”), but the interesting question is why Welles felt drawn to his subject matter. Does the great director conceive the great forger as a fellow illusionist or as an object lesson in the temptation of shortcuts, partial mastery, pastiche? Or is the motive ironic – a commentary on the world’s tendency to muff the distinction between true art and fake art, with the implication that Welles himself has been the victim of this incompetence? Students of Welles will find much to consider in this barmy, brilliant experiment in documentary, as well as much to enjoy: particularly a lascivious segment that provides more than an eyeful of Oja Kodar, Welles’ lover for the last twenty-four years of his life and a woman clearly born to be a Bond girl.
Finally, let us not forget William Wyler’s How to Steal a Million (1966), starring Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn, a heist/forgery flick that has the distinction of being the least gritty crime film ever made. If any film is made of spun-sugar and Givenchy finery, this is it. It includes several charming witticisms on the subject of forgery:
Charles Bonnet: Don’t you know that in his lifetime Van Gogh only sold one painting? While I, in loving memory of his tragic genius, have already sold two.
Charles Bonnet: I doubt very much if Van Gogh himself would have gone through so much trouble.
Nicole Bonnet: He didn’t have to. He was Van Gogh!
Charles Bonnet: What have I done? I’ve given the world a precious opportunity of studying and viewing the Cellini Venus.
Nicole Bonnet: Which is not by Cellini!
Charles Bonnet: Ahh, labels, labels. It’s working with the Americans that’s given you this obsession with labels and brand names.
It’s interesting that all of these films and books slip into a kind of merriment. Forgery, it seems, is very close to comedy and the carnivalesque. It makes asses of those in authority, jumbles categories, upends assumptions. The forger is very much like the court jester or the Shakesperean fool, and even those like Hoving, who have millions of dollars at stake, cannot help but smile.
Posted on August 17th, 2010 at 10:36am.
By Jason Apuzzo. • If you’ve been looking for reasons to move to Blu-ray, you now have them: both Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts and Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux (see here and here) are coming to Blu-ray. For what it’s worth, Jason and the Argonauts was the first movie I ever owned on DVD – it’s what sold me on the format, actually, and this is the first digital upgrade of that film since the 1990s. [Footnote: check out Greenbriar Picture show's fine recent post on the great Ray Harryhausen here.]
On the Apocalypse front, Lionsgate will be releasing the film along with a variety of other American Zoetrope classics in a new deal struck by the two companies. The best news here is that Hearts of Darkness, the behind-the-scenes documentary by Eleanor Coppola on the making of Apocalypse, will also be included in one of the new Blu-ray sets.
Govindini and I had the pleasure years ago of sitting in on the editing and remixing by Walter Murch of Apocalypse Now Redux – and what an education that was! I’ve never learned so much about sound mixing in such a brief, concentrated period of time. As a sound and picture experience, Apocalypse is easily one of the greatest films ever. So whatever hesitations you’ve had about Blu-ray, jettison them now. The classics are truly now arriving on this format.
• A new DVD box set, The Kim Novak Collection, is coming out … and the lovely Ms. Novak has a long interview up today over at The New York Post. What a star! We’re so glad she’s still around and looking so lovely.
• Some of the very best Errol Flynn action pictures from the World War II period are finally coming to DVD in a new box set. What took so long? I’ve owned most of these for years – recorded off Turner Classic Movies – but it’s a shame it’s taken so long to get Desperate Journey, Edge of Darkness, Northern Pursuit, and Uncertain Glory to DVD (another film in this set, Raoul Walsh’s Objective Burma, has already been out for a while). I’m a lifelong, confirmed Flynn fanatic, for those of you who don’t know. [Side note: we showed a pristine print of Desperate Journey, featuring Flynn and Ronald Reagan, at the 2004 Liberty Film Festival.] This box features some neglected Flynn classics – Desperate Journey and Northern Pursuit in particular are really crackling pictures, while Objective Burma is already widely regarded as one of the great World War II action spectacles. Most of Flynn’s greatest films finally now have decent DVD releases … although there are still a few left that should get better treatment (such as Against All Flags with Maureen O’Hara).
• A handsome new coffee table book about Duke Wayne is being released, called John Wayne: True Grit American. Click on over and check that one out.
• Several of director Clarence Brown’s movies are just coming to DVD, including Conquest with Greta Garbo, and The Gorgeous Hussy with Joan Crawford.
• Chuck Heston’s early noir thriller Dark City is finally getting a DVD release – it was his first major starring role – along with the underrated Warner Brothers World War II thriller Background to Danger, starring Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in an adaptation of the Eric Ambler novel. The film was directed by a favorite of mine, Raoul Walsh, and otherwise stars the lovely Brenda Marshall from The Sea Hawk (who was also at that time Mrs. William Holden).
• Kimberly Lindberg’s has a great piece over at TCM’s Movie Morlocks on photographer Julius Shulman, who was so influential in defining the ‘L.A. modern look.’ Check that out. I really love Lindberg’s writing.
• On the book front, a new biography is coming out on Josef von Sternberg, the LA Times has a review of the new book Furious Love about the Burton-Taylor romance, and a great-looking new book called Confessions of a Scream Queen is coming out, featuring interviews with (among others) Carla Laemmle, Coleen Gray, Kathleen Hughes, Karen Black, Ingrid Pitt, and Adrienne Barbeau! Fabulous. Govindini and I met Carla and Coleen a few years back, and I would love to meet the others – especially Ingrid Pitt! She played Heidi the Barmaid in Where Eagles Dare. Yowza.
• New York Times film critic and Libertas reader A.O. Scott takes a look back at the Jean-Luc Godard classic, Contempt this week. It’s one of my favorites from Godard – possibly my all-time favorite. Or is this simply my overreaction to Bardot? Tough to say. One thing’s for sure: Palance is quite a crack-up in that film. Makes me laugh every time. I also love how the limp, pitiful husband is a Communist.
• The great Italian writer Cecchi d’Amico has died at age 96 in Rome. She wrote the screenplays for The Bicycle Thief and The Leopard, among many other classics. Our condolences to her family, and to the Italian film community.
And that’s what’s happening today in the world of classic movies …
Posted on August 2nd, 2010 at 2:38pm.
By Jason Apuzzo. Filmmaker, best-selling author and former rock drummer Larry Schweikart recently sent me the trailer (see above) for his forthcoming documentary, Rockin’ The Wall. Rockin’ The Wall is about the liberating force of rock music for young people living behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. The film is based in part on a segment of Larry’s book, Seven Events That Made America America. Many of you also may remember Larry as the co-author of the #1 New York Times best seller A Patriot’s History of the United States. [Both of these books are available in the LFM Store below.]
Rockin’ The Wall deals with how rock music served as a source of hope for young kids growing up in the communist world, and how the music subverted the grip that totalitarian regimes held over societies within the Eastern Bloc. Larry and his team interview rockers from the Cold War era, including the band Mother’s Finest – a black funk-rock band out of Atlanta who played East Berlin two weeks before the Wall came crashing down. Also interviewed are young eastern Europeans from that era whose lives were changed irrevocably by rock music and the cracks that music opened up – literally and figuratively – in their otherwise repressive world.
One of the great details that Rockin’ The Wall apparently goes into is how the communist regimes – seeing what a powerful force rock music was among the youth – tried to co-opt the music for their own purposes. In the Soviet Union this lead to the Russians actually creating a ‘Ministry of Rock’(!). I’m hoping Larry has some samples from that Ministry’s music – it must be hilarious.
Rockin’ The Wall reminds me of a marvelous film from the Los Angeles Film Festival that we recently reviewed here at LFM, called Disco & Atomic War. Disco & Atomic War is an extraordinary new Estonian documentary about the so-called ’soft power’ influence of American and Western culture on the minds of Soviet citizens living in Estonia during the Cold War, who were able through clever means to watch Finnish television broadcasts emanating from just over the border. As Disco informs us (in amusing detail), American popular culture – especially in the form of glamorous TV shows like “Dallas,” or movies like Star Wars and even Emmanuelle – was deeply feared by Soviet authorities due to the ideas and expectations such programming planted in the minds of Soviet citizens. This led to amusing co-optings, such as the Soviets creating their own officially sanctioned disco instruction course for TV (shades of the ‘Ministry of Rock’?).
Rockin’ the Wall premieres in Washington, D.C. on September 9, at the national Tea Party “March on D.C.” event. You can also pre-order the DVD here, and follow the film on Facebook here. We wish Larry and his creative team the best with this project.
Posted on July 27th, 2010 at 11:49am.
By David Ross. The word “neo-conservatism” suffered a wild and unfortunate distortion during the last nine years, coming to mean something like “the neo-fascist philosophy of George W. Bush and his Satanic cohort,” or even more simply, “the wicked tendency to invade other countries.”
Given this slippage of meaning, I cannot recommend highly enough Joseph Dorman’s documentary Arguing the World (1998), which provides a thoughtful and accurate account of neo-conservatism as it traces the careers of literary critic Irving Howe, political thinker Irving Kristol (father of Bill), Columbia/Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell, and Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer. The story will be familiar to conservatives who know their own lineage: bookish, Jewish New Yorkers arrive at City College; fall under the spell of Trotsky; revolt against the murderous tyranny of Stalin; begin to qualify their leftism; cast their lot with the high modernism of Partisan Review; found Commentary; begin to take seriously the Soviet threat; increasingly recognize the perverse incentives and disincentives created by LBJ’s Great Society; recoil from the brainless nonsense of the counter-culture; begin creating the intellectual foundations of modern conservatism in a series of groundbreaking books and articles; preside over conservatism’s return to power on the back of their own ideas.
While remaining strictly neutral and objective, Arguing the World explains these weighty developments in American political and intellectual history and rescues an important tradition from cartoonish caricature.
Posted on July 27th, 2010 at 10:11am.
By Jason Apuzzo. • A Star is Born is coming to Blu-ray. This gorgeous film – still, alas in incomplete form – is really the perfect sort of film for high definition viewing. A Star is Born takes its place among the very best films made about the culture of filmmaking itself – surpassed only, in my opinion, by 8 1/2 and Sunset Boulevard. (Another now-forgotten classic of this genre is Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command.)
• The Criterion Collection is finally putting out more of Yasujiro Ozu’s work onto DVD. Avail yourself of Ozu’s films if your tastes run toward the quieter, more contemplative moments of domestic life – particularly in terms of how parents relate (or are sometimes incapable of relating) to their children.
• Did you know that this is the 75th anniversary of the release of Merian C. Cooper’s classic fantasy-adventure film, She? Neither did I. I recommend the newly colorized version of the film, the colorization of which was supervised by Ray Harryhausen.
• I recently posted on the new exhibit of Norman Rockwell’s work taking place in Washington D.C., which features the Rockwell paintings owned by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. MUBI, one of my favorite movie blogs, recently did a post on Rockwell’s movie poster art. I hadn’t been aware that Rockwell did the posters for so many famous films – including Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (weirdly fitting). Click on over for more. MUBI also reports this week on the forthcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival, one of the world’s finest such festivals.
• And speaking of silent film, a long-lost Charlie Chaplin silent short film called “A Thief Catcher” has just been discovered. In this 1914 film Chaplin makes a brief cameo appearance as a Keystone cop. Turner Classic Movies also reports this week on restoration efforts involving Alfred Hitchcock’s early work, efforts you the public can assist in with your donations. [ We've spoken here previously at LFM about the importance of preserving our film legacy.] We encourage LFM readers now to donate toward the restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s silent films.
• Ilene Woods, the voice of Cinderella from Walt Disney’s classic film, has died at the age of 81. We mourn her passing; her delightful voice, however, will certainly live on for generations to come.
• Turner Classic Movies has an interesting blog post up this week on the Clint Eastwood Cold War classic Firefox; on a somewhat related note, there was an interesting article over at The Wrap this week on the recent evolution of the action film. Click on over for more.
Posted on July 18th, 2010 at 12:39pm.