Critique of Macho: The Big Country on Blu-ray

William Wyler's big-budget, large-format, star-studded epic, The Big Country, just may be the first anti-western. It condemns, rather than celebrates, the macho behavior of the mythical cowboy. The hero only fires a gun once, and he's not aiming at anyone. Gregory Peck plays that hero, a sea captain named James McKay, who's traded in his … Continue reading Critique of Macho: The Big Country on Blu-ray

Louis Malle Noir: My Blu-ray review of Elevator to the Gallows

You don't expect film noir from Louis Malle. But his first narrative feature, Elevator to the Gallows, is as dark, suspenseful, and entertaining as the best crime dramas that ever came out of Hollywood. Criterion released this excellent thriller in February. Made in France in 1957 (it was released in '58), the complex yet tightly-told … Continue reading Louis Malle Noir: My Blu-ray review of Elevator to the Gallows

Machismo faces the Holocaust: My Blu-ray review of Seven Beauties

Lina Wertmüller's 1975 masterpiece, Seven Beauties, is a Holocaust film (with no recognizably Jewish characters), an examination of Italian machismo, and a witheringly sad and disturbing drama. And at times, it becomes a very funny slapstick comedy. Giancarlo Giannini stars as Pasqualino, a charming but somewhat dense egomaniac. He lives in Naples with his mother … Continue reading Machismo faces the Holocaust: My Blu-ray review of Seven Beauties

Barton Fink still strange and textured in new Blu-ray

The Coen brother's fourth film, and their first financed by a major Hollywood studio, may just be their weirdest. It's outrageous, surreal, occasionally gross, and at times screamingly funny. Much of the story is never explained. It's one of their best. That Barton Fink is the Coen's first Hollywood film seems appropriate, because the movie … Continue reading Barton Fink still strange and textured in new Blu-ray

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly all look pretty good on new Blu-ray

Sergio Leone's masterpiece - without doubt the greatest western shot entirely in Europe - gets a near Criterion treatment (without the Criterion price tag) in a two-disc Blu-ray set containing two versions of the film and a massive collection of extras. An Italian epic set during the American Civil War, The Good, the Bad, and … Continue reading The Good, the Bad and the Ugly all look pretty good on new Blu-ray