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Listing the best films of any year comes down to a matter of ordering -- Which film will I say was the absolute best? Listing the worst films of a particular year comes down to being honest with yourself -- Did I dislike it enough to call it one of the worst? However, when it comes to disappointments it's a different story. As a movie critic, maybe it's different for me. People tend to believe critics should walk into every movie without anticipation or excitement. Then, if that perception is held up, those that disagree with your opinion will either say "Yeah, but you didn't want to see it anyway!" or "You were always going to like that film." I do my best to let my opinion be known before seeing most films (running a blog of daily opinions helps). I do my best to avoid expectations (not watching trailers »
- Brad Brevet
The past 15 years must have been alternately gratifying and frustrating for Whit Stillman. On the one hand, his influence was clear; the sort of ironic humor whose sensibilities he crystallized in films like Metropolitan found its way into the films of many a young upstart, Wes Anderson being not the least of them. On the other, his dry, mannered farce was often warped into the frustratingly twee and repulsively condescending, at the expense of its characters rather than to their benefit. His fourth film in 22 years, Damsels in Distress seems to acknowledge just how much the times have changed (the cast is filled with indie mainstays), but makes no effort to modify its aspirations to suit them. As a result, Damsels is a film charmingly out of time, both the logical (if extreme) extension of the trend but too hyper-literate to really be a part of it.
- Anders Nelson
Last week, Joss Whedon returned to our screens with the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Cabin in the Woods, with which Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) made his directorial debut to brilliant critical acclaim, with a script he co-wrote with Whedon.
This week, Whedon returns once more to our home entertainment systems with the release of The Avengers, the year’s biggest film to date, and the third-highest-grossing film of all time. It’s been one we’ve been looking forward to ever since its release, and now it has arrived for us to bask in its awesomeness once more.
My picks of the week:
And Bond 50 – the complete 22-film James Bond collection on Blu-ray.
The Avengers Iframe Embed for Youtube
DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D
- Kenji Lloyd
The Avengers I have had a chance to watch The Avengers on Blu-ray and have listened to exactly 6:02 minutes of Joss Whedon's commentary so far with plans on finishing tonight and delivering an article for you tomorrow or the following day. The speed in which I finish depends on Joss, however, as he already tends to be very loquacious. Otherwise, the film looks and sounds great and I did get a chance to watch the "Agent 47" short film (or Marvel One-Shot as they refer to it) with Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford, which wasn't too bad, but it was a short film, which means there wasn't much to expect. Overall, fans of the film should definitely pick this one up, though I will admit, after seeing it three times now, you start to feel its bloat more and more with each viewing. Luckily, it's a film that tends »
- Brad Brevet
This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Whit Stillman's first film in 14 years(!!); a dirty Danish comedy that puts its American counterparts to shame; a relentless French actioner; a twisted thriller from David Fincher; and every 007 film, available for the first time in one massive collection. #1. "Damsels in Distress" After a 14-year absence from feature filmmaking, Whit Stillman -- the beloved chronicler of preppy, privileged and highly literate youth -- made his comeback earlier this year with the release of his wry comedy "Damsels in Distress." Those familiar with Stillman's brand of wordy quirk and knack for doing wonders with ensemble casts will no doubt respond well to "Damsels." The film finds Stillman ("Metropolitan," "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco") in familiar territory, exploring the dynamics among a group of verbose and driven female students at an East Coast college with whimsical glee. »
- Nigel M Smith
The Criterion Collection has come to celebrate the return of Whit Stillman, whose latest feature Damsels in Distress was his first in over a decade, by releasing two of his earlier films on Blu-ray: 1990’s Metropolitan, and 1998’s The Last Days of Disco. Both are great films, and showcase one of the great voices in independent cinema in the 90’s. We’re glad to have him back, and we’re happy to have these two films on Blu-ray. Our reviews follow after the jump. Even in 1990, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan was a picture out of its time. In following the then-dying preppy scene (here coined the "Upper Haute Bourgeois") and the droll parties they throw, it was a portrait of crumbling aristocracy, but done in a way that showed how human these people are. Ironically, it's arguable that debutante culture has had a renewed resurgence in the mainstream due to »
- Andre Dellamorte
In the pantheon of subjects tailor-made to set alarms bell ringing, the spectre of kids killing kids for public entertainment presses all the right/wrong buttons. Constructed as a cross between Twilight and Battle Royale, with a hint of Series 7: The Contenders thrown in for good measure, The Hunger Games (2012, Lionsgate, 12) does a pretty impressive job of taking the bleakest possible dystopian fantasy set-up and reimagining it as a tweenage love triangle with a kick-ass heroine and a massive young adult fanbase.
In a totalitarian near-future, male and female youngsters from 12 potentially rebellious districts are forced to compete in a most dangerous game in which supplies are the prize and only one can survive. Presented to the public as disposable pop idols, each "tribute" is trained and manicured before being sent off into the woods to either kill or be killed. »
- Mark Kermode
This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Two of Whit Stillman's most beloved films; the latest Oscar-nominated film by Joseph Cedar; Terrence Davies' fifth narrative feature in over two decades; one of the year's most successful documentaries; and the film that made a scream queen out of Elizabeth Olsen. #1."The Last Days of Disco" / "Metropolitan" (Criterion Collection) After a 14-year absence from feature filmmaking, Whit Stillman -- the beloved chronicler of preppy, privileged and highly literate youth -- made his comeback earlier this year with the release of "Damsels in Distress, his fourth feature. In case "Damsels" was your first taste of the writer/director's brand of wordy quirk and left you wanting more, then the folks over at The Criterion Collection have you covered. Before "Damsels" lands on shelves, the label today releases Blu-ray editions of two of his strongest works: "The Last Days of Disco" »
- Nigel M Smith
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season One [Blu-ray] As far as "Star Trek" is concerned, I'm a big fan of the original series and the films spawned from those characters. I was never a fan of "The Next Generation". However, Paramount did send me a Blu-ray copy of this first season of "The Next Generation" and I am hoping to give a few episodes a watch this weekend and perhaps have a change of heart. Just as they did with the original series, this series has been remastered and contains updated effects. I loved what they did with the original series and I hope I can get just as excited about this one.
- Brad Brevet
So, I took a couple weeks off from the "What I Watched" column and a few of you were asking for it to return and I'm trying to figure out what to do with this space. My number one idea is to turn it into something of a Sunday conversation piece and perhaps delve into something that isn't entirely movie related or something we wouldn't necessarily ever discuss otherwise. Then again, I don't entirely know what that would be. Discussing politics could be a bit weird, though I thought some of the points and counterpoints brought up in my post related to the Aurora shooting were interesting and worth discussing and I thought most of you did it quite well, without becoming too confrontational with those that disagreed with you. Of course, that kind of conversation can always get a bit heated. I thought the Aurora shooting, while devastatingly sad and tragic, »
- Brad Brevet
With this past Spring’s release of Damsels In Distress, his first new title in thirteen years, the Criterion Collection has refurbished two Whit Stillman titles this month, including his impressive independent darling from 1990, Metropolitan. An odd-duck anachronism upon its initial release, time has only added a more subdued refinement and fascination to its subject matter, a depiction of a dying culture giving birth to an auteur whose own brand of strangeness may have recently shown itself to be as equally misdated in dealing with the modern youth in today’s world, where the upper class more freely walks amongst its inferior company.
One New York Christmas, not long ago, a group of seven upper class young adults on Christmas vacation are on their way to a deb ball, and it tis the season for a considerable flurry of such high brow events. Several members of the group known as »
- Nicholas Bell
It's that time of year and Barnes and Noble is selling Criterion Collection titles at 50% off (shop here). The problem is, what do you buy? Well, hopefully I can help you with that as I believe there are certain titles from Criterion that are absolute must owns for any cinemaphile and taking into account you are considering buying Criterion Collection titles in the first place, I'm certainly talking to you. So, with that said, let's dive in as I'll give you what I consider to be the top 15 must own Criterion Blu-ray titles as well as a few alternate considerations here and there. 15.) The Thin Red Line Why Should You Buy It? What else is there to expect other than an absolutely gorgeous film from Terrence Malick and that's exactly what you get from The Thin Red Line, but on top of the film you also get a wealth of special features, »
- Brad Brevet
By Allen Gardner
The Samurai Trilogy (Criterion) Director Hiroshi Inagaki’s sprawling epic filmed from 1954-56 is an early Japanese Technicolor masterpiece, rivaling the scope of filmmakers like David Lean and Luchino Visconti. Toshiro Mifune, Japan’s greatest actor, stars as real-life swordsman, artist and writer Musashi Miyamoto, following his growth from callow youth to disciplined warrior. The three films: the Oscar winning “Musashi Miyamoto,” “Duel at Ichijoji Temple,” and “Duel at Ganryu Island” are an incredible story of human growth, tender love and sublime, blood-soaked action. Not to be missed. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Bonuses: Interviews with translator and historian William Scott Wilson; Trailers. Full screen. Dolby 1.0 mono.
The 39 Steps (Criterion) Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 story of spies, conspiracies and sexual tension put him on the map on both sides of the Pond. Robert Donat stars as an innocent thrust into a deadly plot alongside a cool blonde (Madeleine Carroll »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
During the summer months, theaters are often full of blockbusters and "popcorn" films; movies meant to make one turn off their brain and forget the world around them and its troubles. Much like they do all year long, the folks at The Criterion Collection have a multitude of summer Blu-ray offerings during the months of July and August that demand one's brain be "on" and fully aware and ready for thoughts, ideas, and discussion.
In July, Criterion is releasing four Blu-ray titles, three of which are upgrades of previously released DVDs in the collection. Leading off these upgrades is Jim Jarmusch's sophomore directorial effort Down By Law, a 1986 noir-ish comedy starring Tom Waits. The other two upgrades come from director Whit Stillman; 1990's Metropolitan and 1998's The Last Days of Disco. Both films look take a look at various aspects of Manhattan life with a dry humor and wit that Stillman made his own. »
Four girls at an Ivy League college attempt to teach their male peers some manners in Whit Stillman's urbane comedy
During the golden days of Hollywood's big studio system, directors such as Michael Curtiz and John Ford made three or four films a year, hoping that perhaps every couple of years a Stagecoach or a Casablanca would survive. Over the past 40-odd years, however, few film-makers have had the opportunity to develop such large bodies of work, and some have come to owe a good part of their mystique to the very paucity of their oeuvre.
The most obvious examples are Terrence Malick (70 next year) and Whit Stillman (60). Either through bad luck or excessive fastidiousness, they have respectively made five films in 40 years and four films in 20 years. The lengthy gaps in between have created expectations that are hard to fulfil, and admirers have been inclined to overestimate their achievement. »
- Philip French
When I was in college, I fell in love, deeply and intensely ... with Thirties screwball comedies, with quirky indie comedies, with Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and Bill Forsyth and I can't remember who-all else. I didn't get to Whit Stillman and Metropolitan until graduate school, but I really liked that movie too.
And while I was watching Stillman's latest movie, Damsels in Distress, all I could think of was how much I would have adored this film when I was in college. I liked it very much now, but the super-quirkiness, the obvious homages to Sturges comedies and Astaire/Rogers musicals would have overcome my then-infatuated self. The powers of scents to destroy or heal! A character named Fred Packenstacker, and another who calls himself Freak Astaire! Four women with distinctive personalities who are interested in men only as part of their mission to make the world a better place! »
- Jette Kernion
College can often be a trying and even traumatic time for some, but on hand to help the students of Seven Oaks, a stately-looking East Coast establishment, are a trio of prim and proper female students comprised of group leader Violet (Greta Gerwig), Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Heather (Carrie MacLemore). Managing the campus’ Suicide Prevention Center, they dispense sagely advice alongside offering refreshments, donuts and the opportunity to engage in a number of dancing techniques, designed to help alleviate the stress of student life.
Into their lives comes Lily (Analeigh Tipton), a transfer student trying to find her feet. The girls instantly take a shine to their new classmate and decide to mould her in their own images, although she isn’t beyond criticising their peculiar methods and outlook.
- Adam Lowes
Whit Stillman's comeback is a charming campus comedy
Whit Stillman is back after 14 years with another elegant, eccentric and utterly distinctive movie: a gorgeously if oddly coloured butterfly of a film, liable to get broken on the wheel of incomprehension or exasperation. It's a campus comedy of romance that does not render up its style and identity with the zappy eagerness of most movies. You have to let the film's language grow on you, and this is not a quick process, perhaps especially because the register of instantly readable irony is not present.
Greta Gerwig stars as Violet, a weirdly self-possessed student whose mission is to humanise and civilise the yobbish males on campus. She is the leader of a doe-eyed quartet of pretty, serious-minded co-eds, including Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), who affects a British way of speaking, at one stage earnestly deploring a guy's pickup moves as those of »
- Peter Bradshaw
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Damsels In Distress, the first film from writer-director Whit Stillman in well over a decade, is its unassuming lightness. Any expectations of grand statements, mostly fermented in the gap between this and 1998’s The Last Days Of Disco, are dissipated almost immediately by a buoyant pep.
This is in no small part due to the film’s star, indie darling Greta Gerwig. For years the poster child of ‘mumblecore’ flicks by the likes of Joe Swanberg and the Duplass brothers, Gerwig’s unconventional charm recently propped up No Strings Attached and graced Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg. Here, she is Violet, lead moppet in a clutch of florally-named students, whose altruistic tendencies lead them to run their leafy East Coast college’s Suicide Prevention Centre. »
Blu-ray Release Date: July 24, 2012
Price: Blu-ray $39.95 each
Chris Eigman is flanked in Metropolitan.
A pair of New York independent filmmaker Whit Stillman’s (Damsels in Distress) sophisticated comedy films from the 1990s, Metropolitan (1990) and The Last Days of Disco (1998), arrive on Blu-ray from Criterion following the label’s previous release of the titles on DVD in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
Acclaimed as one of the great American indies of the 1990s, writer/director Stillman’s Metropolitan is a comedic chronicle of a middle-class young man’s (Edward Clements) romantic misadventures in New York City’s debutante society, where a chatty group of young upper-class Manhattanites are blithely passing through the gala debutante season. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the movie co-stars Chris Eigman, Carolyn Farina and Taylor Nichols.
The Blu-ray of Metropolitan contains the following features, all of which were first issued on the DVD (except »
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