3 items from 2014
Directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski revealed an exceptional eye for gripping visual design in his earliest films. In those works, like Knife in the Water, Cul-de-sac, Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and, somewhat later, The Tenant, most of this pictorial construction was derivative of themes, and subsequent depictions of, confinement, claustrophobic paranoia, and severely taut antagonism. In terms of visual and narrative scope, Chinatown opened things up somewhat, but it was with Tess, his 1979 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” that Polanski significantly broadened his canvas to encompass the sweeping tale of the Victorian era loves and conflicts of this eponymous peasant girl.
Polanski speaks to this distinction during an interview in the newly released Criterion Collection Blu-ray/DVD of Tess. In discussing the film for the French TV program Cine regards, the director »
- Jeremy Carr
We have Frank Miller to thank for reminding us of the valiant tale of the Battle at Thermopylae as 300 Spartans fought off an invading force from Persia. His 300 graphic novel is a wonderful retelling of the tale and a pretty damn fine film from Zack Snyder. With the film sequel forthcoming any second now, 20th Century Home Entertainment has wisely issued the Blu-ray debut of the film that inspired Miller when he first saw it as a kid. The 300 Spartans may lack the visual panache of Snyder’s version but it makes for compelling viewing.
Oh, the script is nowhere near interesting although it does a nice job of sticking to the historic facts as Leonidas (Richard Egan) is asked by Themistocles of Athens (Ralph Richardson) to lead the army against King Xerxes (David Farrar). Not a single soldier is as ripped as Snyder’s army nor is Gorgo (Anna Synodinou), Leonidas’ wife, »
- Robert Greenberger
The production partnership of John Brabourne (the Eton-educated seventh Baron Brabourne) and Richard B Goodwin (who started out as a teenage tea boy with the Rank Organisation) is one of the most interesting in the British cinema. Its highlights include David Lean's A Passage to India and the two-part Little Dorrit, but its most popular works were the period Agatha Christie pictures that brought all-star casting and unfashionably high production values to the whodunit and set new standards for the string of TV productions that followed. Brabourne's father-in-law Lord Mountbatten helped secure the rights from Dame Agatha, and the three best are the Hercule Poirot mysteries in this Blu-ray set. Ustinov plays the Belgian sleuth both in John Guillermin's Death on the Nile (1978), scripted by Anthony Shaffer and superbly photographed by Jack Cardiff, and in Guy Hamilton's bland »
- Philip French
3 items from 2014
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