14 items from 2011
Chicago – Does it say something about the current market of Blu-rays that nine of our top ten releases of the year (and, honestly, most of the runner-ups considered) are for catalog releases and special editions instead of films produced in the current era? More and more often, modern releases seem kind of lackluster. Throw on a featurette, maybe a deleted scene or two, and put it on the shelf.
More often, it is the anniversary editions, special release, and, of course, The Criterion Collection that lives up to the true potential of the format. Critics Matt Fagerholm and Brian Tallerico have assembled their ten best of 2011, all of which should be added to your collection as soon as possible. Or ask Santa if you think you’ve been good enough this year.
Matt Fagerholm’s Five Best Blu-rays of 2011
5. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Photo credit: Paramount »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
American: The Bill Hicks Story more than likely wasn’t something you caught in the theaters, but BBC is bringing it to blu-ray and has sent it on to us here at Tmp so we can review this not so conventional documentary.
Here’s the official synopsis:
American: The Bill Hicks Story brings to life the amazing true story of one of modern culture’s most iconic figures. Much more than just a comedian, Bill Hicks has become an inspiration to millions around the world. As a rebellious teenager, he discovered that comedy was a way to break all the rules, but then he found it could also open people’s minds. Bill’s comedy challenged the injustices of life head on, but his uncompromising approach met with conflict in America and it was instead on the international stage where he found fame. In 1993, on the verge of wider success, »
Everett A scene from “A Clockwork Orange”
The movie “A Clockwork Orange” turns 40 this week, and to commemorate Warner Home Video is not only putting out a deluxe Blu-ray of that title, but all of Stanley Kubrick’s work at that studio. Meanwhile, Universal and Paramount are keeping pace with their own re-releases of classic pictures like “American Graffiti” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.” Take a look at this week’s Blu-ray choices and see which ones are worth your time, »
- Todd Gilchrist
Plastic Paper is Winnipeg’s celebration of animation, illustration and puppet films, organized by the Big Smash! filmmaking collective. Their second annual event will be held on May 4-8 at the Park Theatre.
The big score for this year’s edition is a special screening of Ralph Bakshi’s 1981 feature-length musical opus American Pop with the filmmaker in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. For this groundbreaking work, Bakshi utilized the innovative technique of mixing rotoscoping, water colors, computer graphics, live action shots, and archival footage. This screening and discussion will be a real treat for animation junkies.
But that’s not to say that the rest of the festival isn’t also filled with other amazing films.
Because, speaking of groundbreaking work, the fest kicks off with Brent Green’s simply astounding film Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, the first full-length film utilizing real-life actors in amazing stop-motion animation. »
- Mike Everleth
American: The Bill Hicks Story is a documentary along the lines of Richard Pryor: I Ain.T Dead Yet, #*%$#@!! or Sam Kinison: Why Did We Laugh? All three films take a look at great comics, travelling back in time to try and better understand the life of the artist, what made them tick and why their brand of humor was so well received by audiences.
Bill Hicks was just a kid from Houston who, like so many teenagers, felt the need to rebel and do something different. So, instead of going to college like the rest of his family, Hicks knew at an early age he wanted to be a comedian. His career started at the tender age of 15 when he performed with popularity at a comedy club in Houston, Texas.
Before long, Bill Hicks found himself becoming a potential star, but that.s also about the time »
- Travis Keune
The directing duo takes us behind-the-scenes of this groundbreaking new documentary, in theaters now
Utilizing an array of animation, archival photographs, and a stockpile of never-before-scene video footage, directors Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock have crafted one of the most intriguing documentaries of the year with American: The Bill Hicks Story. Thicker than any biography could ever hope to be, we get a true sense of this groundbreaking comedian in ways we've never heard or seen before.
Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock track Bill Hicks from his meager beginnings, to his drug addiction and alcoholism, through his second coming as a clean comedian, and into his untimely death at the age of 33. This is a must-see documentary for anyone interested in the art of stand-up comedy, or the history of American originals.
How does one document a legend, especially one as controversial and influential as comedian Bill Hicks? Throughout his career, he was labeled a rebel, a saint, someone who looked out for the best of America, and someone who was the embodiment of everything wrong with America. Instead of making the film an indictment or tribute to a comic that transcended telling jokes, directors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas use their film American: The Bill Hicks Story to simply tell the story of the man himself.
There doesn’t seem to be anything revolutionary in the idea, but the truly riveting aspect is how the filmmakers tell the story through animating a wealth of photos accompanied with current voice over of the people who knew his story the best, including his family, his closest friends, and fellow comedians. This style, somewhere between cut-out dolls and Pixar movies, allows us to see »
- Mike Anton
Coming off a disappointing frame last weekend , the specialty box office also didn't have any significant breakouts debut this weekend. A slew of limited openings included Kelly Reichardt epic indie Western "Meek's Cutoff," Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas' doc "American: The Bill Hicks Story," Keanu Reeves-Vera Farmiga starrer, "Henry's Crime," "No Wave" documentary, "Blank City," and "Meet Monica Velour," which features Kim Cattrall as an aging porn star. Among »
Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Texas stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, who died in 1994 at age 32, having found resounding success overseas and little more than professional respect at home. Since then, I’ve devoured several hours of his comedy specials on my Netflix Instant account, marveling at the way this artist managed to blend blisteringly caustic commentaries on sex, politics, rock music, religion, and drug addiction with a weirdly humane, almost holistic philosophy of life. Stand-up comedy in any form is not normally my thing, but I’ve become rather attached to The World According to Hicks.
Heir to Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, Hicks was a hard-working club habitué who built his material from life experience — he was raised in a strict Southern Baptist home in Houston and was transformed head to toe by an experience with psychedelic mushrooms before he ever touched a drop of alcohol. »
- Damon Smith
A stand-up comedian's job is to make people laugh. But the more you learn about stand-ups, the more you see how unfunny their own lives often are. Many of the best comedians are forged in the darkest places. Comedian Bill Hicks struggled with substance abuse for years and then just as he got himself clean and his career started to take off, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 31. He was dead by the time he was 32.
Funny as it is, "American: The Bill Hicks Story" is a deeply moving tragedy about the miserable luck of an absolute genius. And I don't use the word "genius" lightly here. Hicks was like the stand-up comedian version of a five-tool baseball player. He could do it all. He had great timing. He did great impressions. He had amazing physical gifts. His humor came from a distinctive and really unique perspective. »
- Matt Singer
Directors: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas There is a bloody good reason that this documentary by co-directors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas is titled American: The Bill Hicks Story. Harlock and Thomas are British BBC veterans -- and we all know how much the Brits love the American comic Bill Hicks. In 2010 he was voted the 4th on the UK's Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups; and, though an American, he is certainly not held in the same esteem by most Americans. That is not to say that Hicks did not develop a dedicated cult audience in the U.S., especially after his premature death at the age of 32. (Note: Hicks did not die from drugs, alcohol or cigarettes -- though he certainly indulged enough for death by overindulgence to be a possibility -- he died from pancreatic cancer.) Hicks' dedicated fans claim that he is the most influential comedian since Lenny Bruce; and like Bruce, »
- Don Simpson
On June 7, Warner Home Video will release the DVD and Blu-ray of American: The Bill Hicks Story, a biographical documentary on the life — too short life — of controversial comedian/social commentator Bill Hicks, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32.
American: The Bill Hicks Story looks at the controversial funnyman's life and career.
Produced and directed for the BBC in 2009 by British filmmakers Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock, American: The Bill Hicks Story notably applies a unique cut-and-paste animation technique to a number of still pictures of Hicks — who once described himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes” — to document his life and career. The film also includes archival footage, as well as interviews with Hicks’ family and friends, including Kevin Booth, an American filmmaker and musician who was one of Hicks’ frequent collaborators.
The movie was well-received at Stateside film festivals and during its run in theaters last year in England, »
I have been a fan of Bill Hicks’ unique brand of stand-up comedy for years, preaching the proverbial gospel to those who have yet to experience the man’s genius for themselves. As such, I’ve been closely following Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas’ Hicks-oriented documentary “American: The Bill Hicks Story” for a while now. The film was released theatrically in the UK last year, much to the dismay of North American fans who have been waiting patiently for the picture to arrive in our neck of the woods. That wait, as they say, is over. “American” is set to open in New York on April 8th, with more dates to follow. Needless to say, I’m anxious to see this puppy on the big screen, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will play somewhere around here. If you missed the trailer when I covered the flick last year, »
- Todd Rigney
Gravitas Ventures and Variance Films are teaming for the theatrical day-and-date release of Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas' award-winning documentary “American: The Bill Hicks Story,” which will open simultaneously in theaters and on VOD on April 8 in New York City. "American" will then expand into 25 theaters across the country throughout April and May, while simultaneously being available in over 100 million homes across North America through leading cable, satellite and online providers. "American" is a photo-animated documentary featuring stand-up footage that is narrated by the 10 people who best knew »
14 items from 2011
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