Showing posts with label bluray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bluray. Show all posts

1 October 2014

Blu-ray Review - Salvatore Giuliano(1962)

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Crime, Drama, World Cinema
Arrow Video
BD Release Date:
29th September 2014 (UK)
Francesco Rosi
Frank Wolff, Salvo Randone, Frederico Zardi
Buy:Salvatore Giuliano [Dual Format DVD & Blu-ray]

Francesco Rosi is often forgotten in terms of Italian Neo-Realism, but his work is just as vital as Vittorio De Sica or Roberto Rossellini. It may have to do with the fact he came slightly after the initial wave of Neo-Realism and is sometimes considered a part of a “Post Neo-Realism” alongside directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Gillo Pontecorvo.

His two most well known films Hands Over the City and Salvatore Giuliano have been recently remastered on Blu-Ray in the UK. The latest release is Salvatore Giuliano, which is quite possibly his masterpiece. Martin Scorsese has cited the film as one of his twelve favourite films ever.

The film is about the bandit Salvatore Giuliano who is rarely ever seen on-screen but his presence is always felt. The film opens with his suspicious death on the streets of Sicily. The rest of the film jumps back and forth in a time in a non-linear fashion, telling the story of the separatists who hired Salvatore and other criminals to do their bidding. The film ends with an exhilarating courtroom scene after Salvatore’s death - will the truth finally come out and will the criminals be pardoned after Sicily is declared independent?

The film moves with urgency that Hands Over the City also has but it plays around more with the medium of cinema. It somewhat owes something to Citizen Kane which the idea of Giuliano’s friends, family and enemies tell the story after his death and how it’s told in a non-linear fashion. It also very much predates the docudrama approach Gillo Pontecorvo took with his masterpiece The Battle of Algiers.

It’s a mesmerizing piece of Italian cinema that has received a gorgeous 4K transfer, which shows the film in the best possible quality. The disc includes an hour and a half of interviews and documentaries, which delves deep into the career of Francesco Rosi but also the true life story of Salvatore Giuliano. It seems Arrow has released the definitive package of this classic film.

Ian Schultz

3 February 2014

Penthouse North Blu-ray Review

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Image Entertainment
DVD/BD Release Date:
3rd February 2013 (UK)
Joseph Ruben
Michelle Monaghan, Michael Keaton, Barry Sloane
Buy Penthouse North: [DVD] or [Blu-ray]

On New Year ’s Eve, blind photo journalist Sara (Michelle Monaghan) finds her New York penthouse apartment turned into a private hell when she is stalked by a sadistic criminal intent on finding a hidden fortune.  Directed by Joseph Ruben (The Forgotten) and written by David Loughery (Lakeview Terrace) Penthouse North understands the basic mechanics of the thriller and passes as a throw-away kind of feature, but overall there isn’t enough going on to send you away wowed. 
                Monaghan gives a good performance but the script doesn’t exactly allow her much room to really grapple with her character in an intriguing way. Strange attempts at backstory see Michelle Monaghan blinded in Afghanistan, whilst random and seemingly pointless moments of “character development” fail to interest.  The same can be said for Barry Sloane’s intimidating but ultimately third-wheel turn as Chad the sadistic burglar. For 45 minutes or so the two do their best to keep the film afloat until a frustrated phone call has Keaton’s smooth king-criminal on-route to save the film. The timing is symbolic: as the film starts to prove it doesn’t have the stamina to pull off a truly exhilarating cat and mouse ordeal,  Exec producer Keaton steps in to liven the mood and lend his extensive experience.  Make no mistake, Penthouse North wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining without Keaton’s input; the veteran oddball exudes charm, leapfrogging the script to steal the show and give a surprising amount of clarity and direction to an otherwise loose cannon of a thriller.
                As a thrill ride the film actually sweeps you up,  the pace and action all ensure that the ninety minute run-time doesn’t exactly drag, but Penthouse’s own inability to create consistently involving scenarios leaves Sara and Chad bumbling around the apartment with little idea of why either are really there.
                Even though Keaton, Monaghan, and Sloane charge the finale with desperate energy ensuring the film ends on a good note, the end reveal seems a footnote rather than a climax, the action often fizzles out with little emotional involvement, and the near-gimmicky turn of narrative event reduces the feature to an elongated episode of something daft. Again and again the film appears to be a selection of parts as opposed to one consistent feature film.

Coherent and enjoyable enough for one viewing Penthouse North is a bland kind of thriller, consistently replicating other features rather than embracing a truly original story. Keaton ensures the second half of the film glides along smoothly, stealing the show with perfect comic timing and a conversational kind of villainy only the great are gifted with. 


Scott Clark