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Mike Clark has been writing about film for more than 20 years, starting with a weekly column in USA Today in 1985. He also served as program planner and director of the American Film Institute Theater.


Mike's Picks
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9 Nov, 2015

New on Disc: 'One Deadly Summer' and more …


One Deadly Summer (Blu-ray)

Street 11/10/15
Bayview, Drama, $24.99 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Isabelle Adjani, Alain Suchon, Suzanne Flon.
1983.
Ultimately, this revenge saga belongs to Isabelle Adjani and a vibrant “look” with a color quality that rocks on Blu-ray. The story takes a lot of tasty twists and turns, though at 133 minutes, the picture is a tad long and lumpy.
Extras: Included here are interviews with Adjani and director Jean Becker.
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Matchstick Men (Blu-ray)

Warner, Drama, $14.98 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13.’
Stars Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman.
2003.
When Nicolas Cage is good and has watchable material, he’s really good, such as his memorable turn here as an obsessive-compulsive con artist who likes leaving his lair only a little more than Dracula does during the daylight hours. This is, of all things, a Ridley Scott movie — one of those (like, say, Someone to Watch Over Me or The Good Year or The Counselor) that don’t seem to go with the usual or at least frequent program.
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2 Nov, 2015

New on Disc: 'Diary of a Lost Girl' and more …


Diary of a Lost Girl

Kino Lorber, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Louise Brooks, Andre Roanne, Fritz Rasp.
1929.
If you think you’ve seen sordid, a characterization meant as a compliment, do not go through your movie life without seeing this second of two masterpieces (along with the previous year’s Pandora’s Box) that were filmed in almost boom-boom fashion by Germany’s G.W. Pabst — both starring misused-by-Hollywood Louise Brooks, whose legend is based near-exclusively on these collaborations.
Extras: To show us how quickly Brooks’s career declined, Kino’s release includes an 18-minute Brooks short subject titled Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood, which has the added curio factor of having been directed by an even more professionally compromised Fatty Arbuckle
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Wind Across the Everglades

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Burl Ives, Christopher Plummer, Gypsy Rose Lee, Peter Falk.
1958.
This oddball directed mostly by Nicholas Ray (who was fired and replaced by writer Budd Schulberg) is one of the era’s more fascinating projects, though that’s about the extent of its success.
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26 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Brood' and more …


The Brood

Criterion, Horror, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Cindy Hinds.
1979.
Only in a Criterion bonus section can you ever hope to find an extended “Merv Griffin Show” bonus clip featuring Oliver Reed, Orson Welles and Charo, but this is getting ahead of a movie (think: David Cronenberg, unbridled) that has enough outrageousness of own.
Extras: Aside from the “Griffin” interview from 1980, other extras include a sweet reunion between actors Hindle and Hinds, and Cronenberg’s second feature, Crimes of the Future.
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The Beginning or the End

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Robert Walker, Tom Drake, Brian Donlevy, Hume Cronyn.
1947.
The Beginning or the End does touch on a lot of important material (while leaving a lot out) and displays enough ambiguity about the development of the atomic bomb and the pro-con morality of its use to keep it from being unwatchable to many modern eyes.
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19 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'Murder, My Sweet' and more …


Murder, My Sweet (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley
1944.
The second screen version of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, with its expressive photography and hop-headed dream sequences, is just what you want an RKO noir to be, even if decades of variations have scratched its luster (but just a little). The Blu-ray transfer is beautiful.
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An American Tragedy

Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Phillips Holmes, Sylvia Sidney, Frances Dee.
1931.
Josef von Sternberg’s only Paramount talkie not to star Marlene Dietrich attempted to adapt a 20th-century literary milestone of significant heft in both senses, though it fell into obscurity after George Stevens remade it as A Place in the Sun 20 years later.
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14 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Front Page' and more …


The Front Page

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, Mary Brian.
1931.
Lewis Milestone’s early talkie of the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur stage hit is kind of a relic but an amusing one, and after several remakes and updates over the years, this Library of Congress restoration puts the movie back in its comfort zone, which is to say the same general time span in which the story takes place.
Extras: Includes a Library of Congress featurette and two radio adaptations (1937 and 1946, the first with Walter Winchell).
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Trader Horn

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Adventure, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Harry Carey Sr., Duncan Renaldo, Edwina Booth.
1931.
As the first non-documentary to take movie audiences into Africa on a major studio’s large dime, W.S. Van Dyke’s still entertaining not-quite creaker (a best picture Oscar nominee at the time) has a famous production history.
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24 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'Day for Night' and more …


Day for Night

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Jacqueline Bisset, Francois Truffaut, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont.
1973.
Francois Truffaut’s more joyous than ever love song to filmmaking (but most of all to film crews) made an Oscar splash by winning 1973’s award for foreign film.
Extras: The fact that the film sparked a permanent rupture between onetime friends and colleagues Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard turns out to be a kind of subtheme of the bonus section of an irresistible Criterion release. Also included are interviews from Warner’s earlier DVD release.
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Dick Cavett’s Vietnam

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2015.
A companion piece to the previously released Dick Cavett’s Watergate, this tantalizingly compelling if frustratingly limited look-back should ideally be viewed first, given all we have to come to learn about the Vietnam-Watergate direct linkage.
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17 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Best of Everything' and more …


The Best of Everything (Blu-ray)

Available via SreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Hope Lange, Stephen Boyd, Suzy Parker, Joan Crawford.
1959.
The Best of Everything is a novel that’s still talked about today, due to its time-capsule portrayal of fresh-faced young women (Radcliffe grads and below) trying to cut it in New York at a publishing house that looks a little less elegant once they’re stuck in the typing pool. Thus, it’s impossible to watch director Jean Negulesco’s hit screen version of it without thinking of “Mad Men.”
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Big House, U.S.A. (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Reed Hadley, William Talman.
1955.
Structurally, this unusually brutal-for-its-day toughie is something of an odd bird because (given the title), it isn’t even a prison story until maybe a third of the way in.
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10 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Fabulous Baker Boys' and more …


The Fabulous Baker Boys (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beau Bridges, Jennifer Tilly.
1989.
Writer-director Steve Kloves’ close-to-unique sibling-rivalry story about a pair of second-tier lounge act piano players (Jeff and Beau Bridges) who hire a female vocalist (Michelle Pfeiffer) hasn’t lost a beat.
Extras: Kloves headlines a most rewarding commentary with Twilight Times’ Nick Redman ad Julie Kirgo.
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Run of the Arrow

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Western, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Rod Steiger, Sarita Montiel, Ralph Meeker, Brian Keith, Charles Bronson.
1957.
Run of the Arrow has enough of a cult following for some to use it as a head-basher against the Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves, with which it shares some similarities. The movie has what one would still probably have to put on the list of defining Rod Steiger roles, which is probably larger than many think. He’s an Irish-descended Confederate soldier who so can’t get over the South’s defeat (talk about current topicality) that he can’t even abide the reuniting of the country.
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3 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'He Ran All the Way' and more …


He Ran All the Way

Street 8/4/15
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Garfield, Shelley Winters, Wallace Ford.
1951.
Pioneer “rebel” actor John Garfield might not be quite the cult figure he is today without the handful of independent projects he made late in his career, including He Ran All the Way, which ended up being his final movie.
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Man of Conquest

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Richard Dix, Gail Patrick, Joan Fontaine, George (Gabby) Hayes.
1939.
This Sam Houston biopic is by no means short on entertainment value — on its own, or as a curiosity or as an edifying cross-reference to other screen portrayals of covered events.
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27 Jul, 2015

New on Disc: 'The World of Henry Orient' and more …


The World of Henry Orient (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Peter Sellers, Tippy Walker, Merrie Spaeth, Angela Lansbury.
1964.
Veteran screenwriter Nunnally Johnson’s adaptation of daughter Nora’s same-name 1956 novel was probably the best movie specifically centered on teenaged girls until 2001’s Ghost World. As a second-rate concert pianist who has still managed to attain a small but dwindling following, Peter Sellers becomes an object of fascination for two early adolescents (Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker), students at an upscale Manhattan school who’ve just met and become instant friends.
Extras: Twilight Time regulars Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo (with film music expert Jeff Bond) offer a breezy commentary, though it’s amusing to note the friendly tension between Orient-adorer Kirgo (whose age and upbringing make her a dead-on soul sister with the key characters) and Redman (who has little use for Sellers in the movies not directed by Stanley Kubrick and doesn’t mind telling you so).
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Prime Cut (Blu-ray Review)

Street 7/28/15
Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R’
Stars Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek, Angel Tompkins.
1972. Prime Cut
’s brisk 86-minute pacing enables an apt cast to keep at least pulp fanciers sticking with a notably preposterous piece of work.
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