Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quick DVD Reviews

The 400 Blows (1959)

One of the great things about Netflix is that they've got a decent selection of true classics, and when the movie is waiting for you with just the click of a button, there's not excuse not to expand your horizons. Sure, I knew all about The 400 Blows, and how important it was to the French New Wave and the evolution of film. Rarely have I ever felt the level of empathy as I felt for the character Antoine. Growing up is difficult, and Truffaut was able to capture a moment in a young boy's life that will ultimately be a major turning point, whether or not he realizes it at the time. It's an extremely intimate film, beautifully shot and the ambiguous ending leaves the viewer feeling the same degree of turmoil as Antoine. Grade: A

Nollywood Babylon (2008)

I've seen a lot of movies from a lot of different countries, but I've never seen anything from Nigeria. I'd heard bits and pieces about some of the movies coming out of Nollywood, so I tracked down this Canadian produced documentary on the Nigerian film industry. This film is a case of the subject matter being superior to the film itself, as not enough of the actual product is shown and too much time is spend on a single director. In addition, there's a tangential exploration of the role of the evangelical church in film production. No real conclusions were drawn and that appears to be a topic for another film. Overall, it's a good eye opener into another world of film making but it came up short. Grade: C+

The Big Combo (1955)

I had read about The Big Combo in Eddie Muller's Dark City: The Lost World of Noir and had really enjoyed Cry of the Hunted, another 50s film directed by Joseph H. Lewis. This is a rather bleak film from late in the noir cycle, quite vicious and pessimistic. Richard Conte is particularly strong as the menacing gangster who will kill his own men to keep from being captured. Look for Lee Van Cleef in a small role as one of a pair of purportedly gay hoods. The film is quite groundbreaking on a number of levels and very enjoyable. Grade: A-

Get Low (2010)

I had heard good things about Get this film, but really wasn't sure what it was all about. I thought it was going to be one of those quirky comedies about a small town eccentric. I was only partially right. It is a quirky comedy, but the humour is underscored by some thought provoking and emotional insight into growing old and dealing with our pasts. The cast is strong from top to bottom, and it was terrific to see Sissy Spacek onscreen once again. Duvall's speech at the end of the film is evidence of his masterful acting. It's a shame this one didn't garner much attention during the award season, but I guess that's always the way. Grade: B+


zombivish said...

just a lil TO note- you can find loads of Nollywood dvds (mostly burn discs) at a lot of local grocery shops along Eglinton

Scott M said...

Vish - Eglinton's a pretty long street. Whereabouts?