The director's first feature makes its world television debut
On Wednesday, December 14, Stanley Kubrick's rare (and all but disowned) first feature, "Fear and Desire," makes its world television premiere on Turner Classic Movies.
The 1953 film, shot on a tiny budget, pretty much disappeared after its release until a surviving print (Kubrick is rumored to have bought up as many copies as he could find to suppress it) was screened at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival. It has since played intermittent special screenings around the country but Kubrick discouraged showings and it has still not received any organized revival or home video release.
Which has made it some kind of holy grail for Kubrick fans and movie lovers, a grail now within reach of anyone with a TCM subscription. And even though the film was a box office failure and Kubrick, ever the control freak, spent the rest of his life trying to suppress the film, it received some supportive reviews on its initial release. "If "Fear and Desire" is uneven and sometimes reveals an experimental rather than a polished exterior, its over-all effect is entirely worthy of the sincere effort put into it," reads an unsigned 1953 review in The New York Times.
The 72 minute feature plays on Wednesday, December 14 at 8:00 pm EST. Set your DVR or call a friend with TCM.
Plus 'Detective Dee,' 'Daddy Long Legs,' 'Tanner Hall' and more
Part prequel, part reboot and part reimagined origin story, "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox) " is not simply a revival of a beloved seventies series. It's a terrific character piece, a gripping prison break thriller with a wicked high-concept twist and the smartest action movie of 2011. Videodrone's review is here. "Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks) reunites Po and the Furious Five to defeat a terrible new villain: a scheming peacock voiced by Gary Oldman. More on the film, plus a clip of Oldman from the Blu-ray release, on Videodrone here.
"Fright Night" (Dreamworks) is a remake of the colorful 1985 film, by now something of a minor cult favorite, with Anton Yelchin as the kid who suspects his darkly charming neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. "I was pretty pleasantly surprised by this version," writes MSN critic Glenn Kenny. "It's exhilaratingly fast, nastily witty, and replete with both suspense set pieces that take the time they need to get under your skin and unashamed-to-be-completely-blatant shocks and 3-D effects." Craig Gillespie directs the film, which co-stars Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Toni Collette and David Tennant as a Las Vegas magician turned vampire slayer.
The DVD features a gag reel, a featurette and a music video. The Blu-ray +DVD Combo adds five deleted scenes and two featurettes and bonus DVD copy. The 3-Disc Blu-ray 3D edition also includes the Blu-ray 2D and DVD editions. Also available via digital download and OnDemand.
"Tanner Hall" (Anchor Bay) was poorly reviewed upon its original release ("From hairstyles and clothes to autumnal-hued cinematography and a raft of clichéd incidents involving pills, suicide, sneaking out, and blackmail, everything feels dainty to the point of stale," wrote Village Voice film critic Nick Schager) but it may get a boost as its then-unknown leading lady Rooney Mara is about to go big as the American "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." The DVD and Blu-ray both feature commentary by director/writer/producer team Francesca Gregorini asnd Tatiana Von Furstenberg.
Josh and Benny Safdie direct the indie drama "Daddy Longlegs" (Kimstim/Zeitgeist), about an absent father who gets his boys for only two weeks a year and tries to make-up for lost time. "The Safdies filmed with handheld cameras, an obvious affection for New York and its denizens, and a script that includes so much structured improvisation that it's hard to imagine any of the dialogue was actually written down," writes NPR film critic Bob Mondello. "Not surprisingly, the result is a character study with an almost documentary feel to it." The DVD includes a making-of documentary, rehearsal film and eight deleted scenes, plus two booklets with stills, artwork, essays and notes.
Tsui Hark directs the "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" (Indomnia), a dazzling (if at times silly) action spectacular of martial arts magic and CGI mayhem starring Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau as the titular Dee, a political prisoner freed by the Empress (Carina Lau) to uncover a plot against her life. "The movie is not just spectacle; it's got a tender, ultimately tragic love story and enough deadly political scheming to fill a Gaddafi playbook," writes Time Magazine film critic Richard Corliss. "Indeed, in its narrative cunning, luscious production design and martial-arts balletics, Detective Dee is up there with the first great kung-fu art film, King Hu's 1969 "A Touch of Zen." We'd call it "Crouching Tiger, Freakin' Masterpiece."" The DVD and Blu-ray editions both include four production featurettes among the supplements. See below, after the jump, for the film's trailer.
"Circumstance" (Lionsgate) is a coming-of-age drama set in Iran, where two vivacious teenage girls must keep their growing attraction a secret. "A rhapsodic erotic romance that takes place in a cultural prison, and it pulses with a defiance that would be mischievous if it weren't so rip-roaringly angry," writes Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr. The DVD includes filmmaker commentary and a featurette.
Back to China, "The Piano Factory" (Film Movement), from director Zheng Meng, follows the efforts of a single father to build a piano for his daughter with the help of his misfit friends and a derelict factory. Chinese beauty Shu Qi ("The Transporter") stars in a pair of romantic dramas: "A Beautiful Life" (China Lion), directed by Andrew Lau, and "If You Are the One: Love and Marriage" (China Lion), directed by Feng Xiaogang and starring Ge You. "Champions" (Lionsgate) is an old-school martial arts drama from Hong Kong. All three in Mandarin with English subtitles.
"Black nationalism lives and breathes in this remarkably fresh documentary assembled by Göran Hugo Olsson," writes Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman of "The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" (Sundance Selects/IFC). We get a very different perspective on the Black Power movement in America from this project, which draws from footage and news coverage shot by Swedish television of the time. The DVD features bonus interviews and featurettes.
"Bobby Fischer Against the World" (Docurama) frames the life of the controversial chess legend with the famous 1972 world championship match against Boris Spassky.
New York Times film critic A.O. Scott observes that the film "does not traffic in easy explanations or medical diagnoses, but it leaves the strong impression of a continuity between the oddness Fischer displayed in early interviews and the mania so jarringly evident toward the end." Includes a couple of featurettes.
"Monica & David" (Docurama) profiles two adults with Down Syndrome who strive to a have an independent life together.
It's a Lifetime Channel premise with an ABC Family Channel execution
"Switched At Birth: Volume 1" (ABC) is the latest ABC Family Channel teenage melodrama with a twist, this one pretty much explained in the title: a well-to-do family with two somewhat spoiled kids and a single mom in a bad neighborhood with a smart, well-adjusted and, as it turns out, deaf teenage girl discover that the daughters they raised since birth are not their biological progeny.
Rich girl Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano), a graffiti artist with a rebellious streak, and whipsmart Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc), were accidentally mixed up by the hospital -- human error, not anything malicious -- and a high-school science experiment reveals a genetic anomaly that brings the whole thing to light. And that's in the first five minutes.
The real drama begins when the Kennish parents -- Kansas City society mom Lea Thompson and major-league player turned car wash mogul D.W. Moffett -- invite the mother (Constance Marie) of their biological daughter to move into the guest house so they can all get to know one another. It's a collision of class, culture and child-rearing philosophies.
That one of the teenage girls is deaf opens up the show to a culture rarely seen on TV, and never in this detail. Amidst the boyfriend troubles, the moral lessons, the parenting crises and the personality clashes, we see more conversations in American Sign Language in these ten episodes than you'll find on every other show combined this year. One of the pleasures of the show is watching the Kennish family, first Bay and then the parents, learn to sign and become increasingly fluent through the episodes.
Admittedly, it has its share of manufactured crisis (just why is the dad so insistent on suing the hospital?) and genuine issues solved far too easily (a gambling problem, a theft from the school) and with few consequences. But I have a fondness for the ABC Family Channel brand of young adult family drama and this is one of the better ones.
The new 'Apes" breathes life into the old franchise
Part prequel, part reboot and part reimagined origin story, "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox) is not simply a revival of a beloved seventies series that took a serious dive into high kitsch. It's a terrific character piece, a gripping prison break thriller with a wicked high-concept twist and the smartest action movie of 2011.
Andy Serkis will probably once again be ignored come Academy Award time, but his incarnation of Caesar, an ape with boosted intelligence (thanks to an experimental drug) raised as a member of the scientist's family, is one of the top performances of the year. The fur and the primate musculature is all computer animation but the body language and facial expressions and personality is all Serkis, the man in the motion capture suit, and he gives us an evolution of character worthy of Spartacus or Moses: He leads his people to freedom, and he does so by watching, learning, understanding and taking command as a compassionate leader.
Simply put, Caesar is more dense and complex than any of his human co-stars (including James Franco as the revolutionary -- or is that evolutionary? -- scientist, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow) and grounds the high-concept idea in a character you can't help but root for.
For such a clever and satisfying piece of science fiction writing (don't blame apes for the rise, it's all due to human hubris and recklessness) it has its logical gaps (how can a high-tech lab of animal testing and trials miss a pregnant test subject or let a human exposed to an experimental drug walk out of the facility with dangerous symptoms without even a check-up?), but they get forgotten in the thrill of the story.
Gary Oldman explains how to voice a peacock of a villain
Po, Master Shifu and the Furious Five are back in the "Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks) to defeat a terrible new villain: a scheming peacock voiced by Gary Oldman. MSN has an exclusive clip from the Blu-ray featuring Oldman discussing the art of giving voice to an evil animated peacock.The animated feature, which sends Po on an odyssey to discover his true parentage, "packs lots of firepower," according to MSN film critic Kat Murphy, but "Despite improvements and reinforcements, "Kung Fu Panda 2" looks a little too much like training wheels for tots who will grow up to ride franchise machines like "Pirates of the Caribbean 4."
" There's magic here -- and in much of the gorgeously realized imagery of the film proper -- that deserves better than the movie's largely uncomplicated cartoon characters and adventures."
The DVD features commentary by director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and members of her crew, deleted scenes, cast interviews and an episode of the animated TV series "Kung Fuy Panda: Legends of Awesomeness." The "Awesome Double DVD Pack" features the new animated short "Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters" plus bonus featurettes and DVD-ROM activities.
The Blu-ray also includes the exclusive featurettes "Animation Inspiration" and "The Animators' Corner" and a pop-up trivia track
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
Part prequel, part reboot and part reimagined origin story, "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox) " is not simply a revival of a beloved seventies series that took a serious dive into high kitsch. It's a terrific character piece, a gripping prison break thriller with a wicked high-concept twist and the smartest action movie of 2011. Andy Serkis delivers a motion capture performance more dense and complex than any of his human co-stars and grounds the high-concept idea in a character you can't help but root for. On DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. Videodrone's review is here.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks) reunites Po and the Furious Five to defeat a terrible new villain: a scheming peacock voiced by Gary Oldman. It "packs lots of firepower," according to MSN film critic Kat Murphy, but it "deserves better than the movie's largely uncomplicated cartoon characters and adventures." On DVD and Blu-ray. See an exclusive clip on Videodrone here.
"Fright Night" (Dreamworks) is a remake of the colorful 1985 film, by now something of a minor cult favorite, with Anton Yelchin as the kid who suspects his darkly charming neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. MSN critic Glenn Kenny was "pretty pleasantly surprised by this version." On DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D, plus digital download and OnDemand.
Tsui Hark directs the "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" (Indomnia), a dazzling (if at times silly) Hong Kong action spectacular of martial arts magic and CGI mayhem. On DVD and Blu-ray. "Circumstance" (Lionsgate) is a coming-of-age drama set in Iran, where two vivacious teenage girls must keep their growing attraction a secret.
Also new this week: "Tanner Hall" (Anchor Bay) with Rooney Mara, the indie drama "Daddy Longlegs" (Kimstim/Zeitgeist) from Josh and Benny Safdie and the documentary "The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" (Sundance Selects/IFC).
TV on DVD:
"Switched At Birth: Volume 1" (ABC) is the latest ABC Family Channel teenage melodrama with a twist, this one pretty much explained in the title: a well-to-do family and a single mom discover that the daughters they raised are not their biological progeny. The real drama begins when they kind of move in together: a collision of class, culture and child-rearing philosophies. That one of the teenage girls is deaf simply adds another culture into the mix. I don't why, but I have a fondness for these family-friendly soaps and this is one of the better ones. Videodrone's review is here.
"Spin City: Season Six" (Shout! Factory) features all 26 episodes of the final season of the sitcom that Michael J. Fox launched. Charlie Sheen took the lead for the final seasons but Fox is back as a guest star for the first three episodes. "Family Guy: Volume 9" (Fox) features 14 episodes from seasons 8 and 9.
Also arriving this week: the animated HBO series "The Life and Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season" (HBO), the long-running "Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 2" (Paramount) and the PBS documentary "Steve Jobs: One Last Thing" (PBS).
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
Not quite so classic but also remastered for DVD and Blu-ray is the 1998 gore horror "Intruder: Director's Cut" (Synapse), co-starring Bruce Campbell Sam Raimi and packed with supplements. "Stars and Stripes Forever" (Fox), the glossy 1952 20th Century Fox biopic starring Clifton Webb as "The March King" John Philip Sousa, debuts on both DVD and Blu-ray in a single combo pack.
For an alternative that definitely earns the title "alternative" there is "Moses and Aaron" (New Yorker), a screen adaptation of the Arnold Schoenberg opera by Danielle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub.
"Meet Me in St. Louis" (Warner), Vincent Minelli’s first Technicolor film and the ultimate in Hollywood Americana, is a film for all seasons and holidays, including one of the most bittersweet Christmas scenes of all time: little Margaret O’Brien commits symbolic parricide on an innocent snowman family after Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It arrives in a Blu-ray Booklet special edition with a bonus four-song CD sampler. Videodrone's review is here.
Before he directed "Captain America," Joe Johnson directed the retro-superhero adventure "The Rocketeer: 20th Anniversary Edition" (Disney), starring Bill Campbell as the test pilot with an experimental rocket pack. And as the remake bows on home video this week, the original "Fright Night" (Twilight Time) debuts Blu-ray.
"The Expendables: Extended Director's Cut" (Lionsgate) adds ten minutes to Sylvester Stallone's testosterone-fueled mercenary adventure.
The complete calendar of releases this week is after the jump:
Films by Alan Rudolph, Richard Lester, Ken Russell, Lindsay Anderson and more
In the course of the once mighty MGM studio's decline and multiple sales, the studio's magnificent library ended up with Ted Turner and then at Warner Bros.. In the meantime, the downsized MGM picked up smaller film libraries from the likes of Monogram/Allied, Cannon, Orion and United Artists, from which these October / November releases were drawn. Reviews to come on some of these.
"Hickey and Boggs" (1972) reunites "I Spy" partners Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as down-at-heels Los Angeles private eyes in the middle of a criminal vendetta. Culp makes his directorial debut from a lean script by Walter Hill, a modern hard-boiled buddy picture, but hands the lead to Cosby on screen.
"Welcome to L.A." (1976) is not Alan Rudolph's first feature, but it's the first in which he found his distinctive voice and style, an Altman-esque character piece (produced by Robert Altman himself, Rudolph's mentor) about a group of Angelinos whose paths criss-cross as they make their way in show business. Keith Carradine, Sally Kellerman, Geraldine Chaplin, Harvey Keitel, Lauren Hutton and Sissy Spacek star.
Richard Lester's "The Bed Sitting Room" (1969) is a post-apocalyptic satire of life in Britain after the bomb, where Rita Tushingham plays a 17-month pregnant girl who watches everyone around her mutate into (among other things) household furniture. Ralph Richardson, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Spike Milligan co-star.
Though it was released a few months ago, the debut of "The Music Lovers" (1971) offers an opportunity to remember the recently deceased director Ken Russell with one of his signature artist bio-pics, this flamboyant film starring Richard Chamberlain as Peter Tchaikovsky.
Between his debut feature "This Sporting Life" and his anthem of college rebellion "If…," Lindsay Anderson directed the medium-length "The White Bus" (aka "Red, White and Zero") (1967), a surreal social drama written by the acclaimed playwright Shelagh Delaney, who passed away just last month.
And for cult fans, here's a pair of sixties motorcycle movies -- "The Glory Stompers" (1967) with Dennis Hopper and Jody McCrea and "Devil’s Angel" (1967) with John Cassavetes -- and the Jules Verne adaptation "Master of the World" (1961), scripted by the great Richard Matheson and starring Vincent Price and Charles Bronson, a kind of early steampunk piece of Victorian science fiction in the sixties drive-in movie vernacular.
Fashion Model (1945)
Behind the Mask (1946)
The Bandits of Corsica (1953)
Fort Yuma (1955)
The Big Caper (1957)
The Mugger (1958)
Gunfighters of Abilene (1960)
Three Came To Kill (1960)
Boy Who Caught A Crook (1961)
Doctor Blood’s Coffin (1961)
Gun Street (1962)
Incident In An Alley (1962)
Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title (1966)
Kill A Dragon (1967)
Hostile Witness (1968)
The 1,000 Plane Raid (1969)
The First Time (1969)
Hannibal Brooks (1969)
Halls of Anger (1970)
Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You (1970)
What Do You Say To A Naked Lady? (1970)
Golden Needles (1974)
Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery (1975)
A Small Town in Texas (1976)
Uncle Joe Shannon (1978)
Enter The Ninja (1981)
Return of the Rebels (1981)
Ghost Warrior (1985)
Zone Troopers (1985)
Opposing Force (1986)
Detective School Dropouts (1986)
Where The River Runs Black (1986)
Deadly Intent (1988)
Getting It Right (1989)
MOD stands for "Manufacture on Demand" and represents a recent development in the DVD market, where slipping sales have slowed the release of classic, special interest and catalogue releases. These are DVD-R releases, no-frills discs from studio masters, ordered online and "burned" individually with every order. You can read an introduction to the MGM Limited Edition Collection on Videodrone here.
Your guide to our coverage of the new DVD/Blu-ray releases
Here's what's new on DVD and Blu-ray this week as featured on Videodrone
'The Help' – In Praise of Spunky Young White Women
TV on DVD:
'Big Love' Ends With Two Box Sets
TV on DVD Channel Guide: 'Underbelly' – A Real Life Australian Crime Saga, plus 'Portlandia' and more
The Cool and the Collectible:
Gift Guide Round-up: Family and Kids
Don Siegel's 'The Gun Runners'
MOD Movies Calendar: Recent Releases from the Warner Archive
Expert Witness: Ridley Scott on Blu-ray
Coming up next week:
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox)
"Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks)
"Fright Night" (Dreamworks)
"Tanner Hall" (Anchor Bay)
"Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" (Indomnia)
"X: The Unheard Music" (MVD)
"Seven Chances" (Kino)
"Switched At Birth: Volume 1" (ABC)
"Family Guy: Volume 9" (Fox)
"The Life and Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season" (HBO)
"Meet Me in St. Louis" (Blu-ray) (Warner)
"The Rocketeer: 20th Anniversary Edition" (Blu-ray) (Disney)
"Branded to Kill" (Blu-ray) (Criterion)
"Tokyo Drifter" (Blu-ray) (Criterion)
"The Expendables: Extended Director's Cut" (Blu-ray) (Lionsgate)
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