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Classic Movie Review: Le Samouraï (1967)
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Le Samouraï Criterion

Le Samouraï
Blu-ray
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring: Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Michel Boisrond
Release Date: October 25, 1967
Criterion Blu-Ray Release Date: November 14, 2017

– Why, Jef?
– I was paid to.

A simple line of dialogue like this has a tremendous amount of substance behind it. The hitman’s ruthless, taciturn response here embraces the rigid mentality of almost all of French director Jean-Pierre Melville’s characters. In essence, they all remain true to their word. His characters are obsessively dedicated to their particular craft or talent, rendering them masters at what they do.

Just like some of his most memorable ones, such as the priest in Leon Morin, Priest, the gangsters in Le Circle Rouge, the resistance fighters in Army of Shadows, and the Nazi officer in Silence de la Mer, the hitman in Le Samouraï is governed through an austere, lonely landscape by an inexorable code they must adhere to. His code and his talent as a scrupulous assassin are everything he owns.

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Classic Movie Review: Come and See (1985)
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Come And See review

Come and See
Directed by Elem Klimov
Starring: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius, and Juri Lumiste
U.S. Theatrical Release Date: February 6, 1985
Available on FilmStruck

Often my daughter comes running to me in a state of pure excitement prompting me to either “come and see this” or “come and see that.” She’s undoubtedly enthralled by whatever it is that seems to have captivated her for that specific second. She’s a child with boundless wonder, finding everything very fascinating.

A similar childlike wonder is on display in the 1985 Russian film Come and See, which documents the ruthlessness of the Nazi forces as they tear their way through Belarus villages in 1943. Aptly titled, writer and director Elem Klimov’s film is told totally from the perspective of a child. It just so happens the child, Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko), roughly 12 or 13 years old, is completely enraptured by war and the valor and courage that he believes comes with it. He can’t wait to tell his mom to “come and see what I’ll be doing.”

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Classic Movie Review: High Noon (1952)
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High Noon review

High Noon
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Starring: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell, Lon Chaney Jr., Katy Jurado, Ian MacDonald, Lee Van Clef, Robert J. Wilke, Sheb Wooley
Theatrical Release Date: July 30, 1952
Available now on Blu-ray

There it is, that faint, catchy tune written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, and sung by Tex Ritter that continuously makes its way back in High Noon. It’s beautiful, it’s in nearly every frame, and finally is pervading the entire film, pretty much conquering it. Do not forsake me oh my darling. There it is again. It’s a most haunting tune that astonishingly places us inside the head of Will Kane (Gary Cooper), a well respected marshal of a well established Wild West town desperately seeking to maintain its civilization rather than succumbing again to barbarism.

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Retro Movie Review: Across The Universe (2007) – Fathom Events
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Across The Universe 2018 banner

Across the Universe
Now available on: 4K Ultra HD | Blu-ray | Digital
Directed by Julie Taymor
Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, T.V. Caprio
Columbia Pictures
Original release date: October 12, 2007
Fathom Events screenings: July 29 & 31, August 1, 2018

Thanks to Fathom Events and Columbia Pictures, I got to see one of my favorite films, Julie Taymor’s gorgeous 2007 musical drama Across the Universe, in theaters again. Finishing up a 3-day run on August 1, the limited-edition screenings included a special exclusive introduction from Taymor celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1968.

Across the Universe uses the spectrum of classic Beatles songs to take our characters through the turbulence of late 1960’s America as we fought the unpopular Vietnam War abroad and waged cultural wars at home. Starring Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood, the film allowed Taymor to showcase her artistic style, and the array of songs by arguably the greatest band of all time show the wide range of human emotions that that era was dealing with.

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Classic Movie Review: Night Moves (1975)
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Night Moves (1975) movie review

Night Moves (1975)
Blu-ray | DVD | Digital HD
Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring: Gene Hackman, Melanie Griffith, Janet Ward, James Woods, Harris Yulin, Anthony Costello, Susan Clark, Edward Binns, and Jennifer Warren
Theatrical Release Date: June 11, 1975

– Who’s winning?
– Nobody. One side is just losing slower than the other.

By the time this dialogue occurs you begin to wonder why it took so long for it to be uttered. In 1975 America was striving to overcome the Vietnam War and still reeling from the pungent behavior of those corrupt individuals involved in the deceitful doings of Watergate. The influence of these events were inescapable, thus creating turbulent times all around, especially in cinema.

Night Moves, where the aforementioned quote is from, in particular, directed by Arthur Penn and scripted by Alan Sharp, is a feverish noir that was fully aware of the incessant confusion and mournful distress swallowing up our world at that time, rendering the population hopeless. It’s this kind of cinema, so inextricably tied to its era, that still manages to achieve a sense of timelessness. That’s because of its inquisitive nature to discern truth even if it means losing every now and then.

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Classic Movie Review: A Woman Under The Influence
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A Woman Under the Influence

A Woman Under the Influence
Directed by John Cassavetes
Starring: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Katherine Cassavetes, Lady Rowlands, Fred Draper, Eddie Shaw
Theatrical Release Date: November 18, 1974
Criterion Collection Release Date: November 4, 2008

American director John Cassavetes once stated that “marriage isn’t a romance totally. Very sparse moments do you have to be romantic in a marriage.” His 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence beautifully reiterates his philosophy tremendously. The idea of love and relationships always had an enormous impact on all of Cassavetes’ pictures. While watching A Woman Under the Influence while being familiar with the aforementioned quote you realize how little romance is shown in the quintessential romantic way.

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Classic Movie Review: Taipei Story
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Taipei Story

Taipei Story
Directed by Edward Yang
Starring: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, Chen Tsai, Su-Yun Ko
Theatrical Release Date: April 22nd, 1985
Criterion Collection Release Date: May 30th, 2017

There is such an abundance of longing lingering within each frame of Edward Yang’s 1985 film Taipei Story. It is impossible to neglect since each scene that passes tends to be more sorrowful than the last.

The Taiwanese nights, filmed impeccably and beautifully by Wei-Han Yang, tend to be grieving and pulsating with life. Still, nothing seems to truly satisfy the city (it always wanting more on its way to modernity and being globalized) or the characters (who are not pleased with the present). Hence, their infinite longing. There is always going to be a particular something, be it the past, a career, or an ex-lover, that will be in the way of not only happiness but of contentment as well.

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Classic Movie Review: Only Angels Have Wings (The Criterion Collection)
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Only Angels Have Wings review

Only Angels Have Wings
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Howard Hawks
Starring: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, and Richard Barthelmess
Criterion Collection Release Date: April 12, 2016

The treacherous landscape of a South American village is where our adventure takes off. Nothing new here. Chameleonic director Howard Hawks has an unmatched affinity with environments that have such an immediate influence on his characters. Sometimes rendering them helpless and other times it influences his characters to rise to the occasion. Think of the ruthless wild west evidenced in Rio Bravo, the unforgiving terrains in Red River, the extraordinarily corrupt neighborhood in The Big Sleep, or the abundance of violence running amuck everywhere in Scarface. All of his films are completely disparate when it comes to genres and themes. The one commonality all of them abide by is the ferociousness of their landscape. 1939’s Only Angels Have Wings is no different.

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Classic Movie Review: Sweet Smell Of Success
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Sweet Smell of Success

Sweet Smell of Success
Blu-ray l DVD
Directed by: Alexander Mackendrick
Written by: Clifford Odets
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner, Jeff Donnell, and Sam Levene
Release Date: July 4, 1957

They live by night. It is odd to see Sydney Falco or J.J. Hunsecker out during broad daylight. They do the bulk of their work when the moon comes up. It would be an apt comparison placing their names in the same sentence as Dracula. They prowl the city streets confidently, with an abundance of swag and an overwhelming sense of determination guiding them towards their blood – the one thing that keeps them alive: gossip, which evidently leads to crushed souls all around.

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Retro Movie Review: ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan’ Director’s Cut – Fathom Events
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Director’s Cut
Available now on Blu-ray
Written by Jack B. Sowards (Uncredited: Nicholas Meyer)
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Bibi Besch, Paul Winfield, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo Montalbán
Paramount Pictures
Original release date: June 4, 1982
Fathom Events screenings: September 10 & 13, 2017

In honor of the 35th anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Paramount Pictures and Fathom Events are bringing the Director’s Cut version of the film to theaters for two days only this month (9/10 & 9/13). I got the chance to see the film at my local theater at the Sunday afternoon screening, and even though I’ve seen this movie — which is one of my favorites of all time — countless times, getting to see it on the big screen again was elating.

The screenings all include a new interview with the film’s star William Shatner, who played the iconic role of James T. Kirk. In the interview, which begins about 15 minutes prior to the screening times (2pm and 7pm local time), the actor talked about making the sequel and how it reinvigorated the Star Trek franchise.

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