7 items from 2014
With the releases of Thief and Rififi, The Criterion Collection has released two classics of the crime/film noir genre. Where Jules Dassin’s Rififi represents a perfect distillation of the classic noir model, Michael Mann’s Thief takes those tropes into the modern era. My review of the Blu-rays of Rififi and Thief follows after the jump. In Rififi, the film starts as Tony le Stéphanois (Jean Servais) gets out of prison and is immediately invited by his old friend Jo le Suedois (Carl Möhner) to go on another heist. He declines as he thinks the score is too small, and then goes to check on his former girlfriend, who’s become a kept woman. She’s working for Pierre Grutter (Marcel Lupovici), who takes an immediate dislike to Tony. But his encounter with his former flame is enough for Tony to reconsider the heist, but he wants a bigger score, »
- Andre Dellamorte
From the opening moments of “Thief”—which features a clockwork heist sequence that would make “Rififi” director Jules Dassin stand up and applaud—it’s clear you’re in the hands of a master storyteller. With some documentary work and TV movie “The Jericho Mile” already under his belt, for his debut feature film, Michael Mann’s command of atmosphere and character arrives fully formed, with “Thief” staking a high bar that the filmmaker would leap from in his films for years to come. Last month, fans and newcomers alike got a chance to revisit Mann’s 1981 movie with The Criterion Collection’s release of “Thief.” Arriving both on DVD and Blu-ray, the film now boasts a brand new digital transfer that allows the neon signs of late night Chicago to pop against the velvet shimmer of the rain soaked streets. And after using the new release as a pleasant »
- Kevin Jagernauth
A lot of what I have to say about Rififi would probably read as hyperbole as it stands as not only an important film given its director's political status, but the way in which it can double as not only an art film, but also a striking piece of cinema that can be enjoyed by any measure of movie lover. It's a film noir captured in shadows and silence as a jewel heist takes place over the course of more than 30 dialogue-free minutes after we've watched four men meticulously plan every detail. The tension mounts with every pound of the hammer, screech of the hand-powered crank cutting into the safe and the crumble of asphalt, gently landing in an open umbrella with nary a sound. Is there more that needs be saidc Criterion's new Blu-ray transfer adds much more detail to every inky black scene, elevating the overall effect of »
- Brad Brevet
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
"20 Feet From Stardom"
What's It About? Being a back-up singer is no easy task, especially when you're working so hard and getting so little credit. Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, and other singers take front and center in this doc about the women who've revolutionized the music we listen to.
Why We're In: The doc features fantastic footage of performances from every era of modern music -- we dare you not to get teary when you see and hear Luther Vandross doing backup with Fischer and others for David Bowie. Interviews with Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and Bette Midler are icing on the cake.
Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
What's It About? Director Jules Dassin snagged the Palme d'Or for this film noir about four guys going in on one last heist -- and we all »
- Jenni Miller
Directed by Jules Dassin
Having recently concluded a prison sentence, Tony ‘le Stéphanois’ (Jean Servais), former thief, is now a poor man, reduced to late night gambling to earn paltry pocket change. His two closest friends and former colleagues, Jo ‘le Suédois’ (Carl Mohner) and Mario Ferrati (Robert Manuel) have something else in mind when they present him the idea of stealing jewels from a high society jeweler shop in downtown Paris. Tony is reluctant at first, having lived enough failures as a crook and desiring to reunite with his former flame Mado (Marie Sabouret). Upon learning however that Pierre Grutter (Marcel Lupovic), eternal rival and nightclub owner, has claimed Mado as his main squeeze, Tony finally gives in to temptation and joins the newly formed quartet of criminal minds, the late addition being safe cracker César, played »
- Edgar Chaput
“French Burglars And Shakespearean Samurais”
Two of the superb releases recently issued by The Criterion Collection are classics from the 1950s international scene. One is arguably the best caper/heist movie ever made, and the other is perhaps the best Shakespearean adaptation ever produced.
First up—Rififi, released in 1955 and directed by American director Jules Dassin—who had exiled himself from America due to the blacklist. It’s a film noir made in France with French and Italian actors and a French crew. As the lyrics in a cabaret number, sung by Magali Noel in the film, reveal, rififi means “rough and tumble.” In other words, Rififi is about riff-raff, tough guys, and would-be gangsters. In this case, the protagonists are a quartet of jewel thieves who plan a big caper together—to break into the safe in a notable jewelry store in Paris. Led by Tony »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
It's time to ring in the new year with some classic and contemporary cinema lovingly preserved by the folks over at The Criterion Collection. As The Criterion Collection continues their mission of cataloging culturally important films from across the ages, they also make it possible to get some of the best world cinema has to offer on Blu-ray and DVD. In January, The Criterion Collection releases new Blu-ray and DVD combo editions of: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the classic comedy by Stanley Kramer; Jules Dassin's classic caper Rififi; Michael Mann's first feature-length (non-tv-movie) neonoir film Thief; celebrated British director Terence Davies's masterpiece The Long Day Closes; Aki Kaurismaki's 1992 comedy La Vie de Boheme; and finally some more Akira Kurosawa (who likely has more films in the Criterion Collection than any other director) as he takes on Macbeth in Throne of Blood. Additionally, Criterion »
- Lex Walker
7 items from 2014
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