Showing posts with label master of cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label master of cinema. Show all posts

27 October 2013

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) Masters Of Cinema Blu-ray Review

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Rating:
PG
BD Release Date:
28th October 2013 (UK)
Distributor:
Eureka! Video
Director:
Fritz Lang
Cast:
Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Aud Egede-Nissen, Gertrude Welcker
Buy Dr.Mabuse The Gambler: [Blu-ray] / (Limited Edition Steelbook) [Blu-Ray]

Dr. Mabuse: der spieler is a two-part film from Fritz Lang. The films it total run over 4 hours in length. It’s one of Fritz Lang’s first great films and Lang would continue the story of the criminal masterpiece Dr. Mabuse in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse and The 1000 eyes of Dr. Mabuse, the last film Lang directed. The character of Dr. Mabuse comes from the novel of the same name by Norbert Jacques.

Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is a criminal masterpiece, doctor of psychology and master of disguise. He also has powers of hypnosis and mind control. The good doctor the overseer of counterfeiting and gambling of the Berlin underworld. The first film starts with orchestrating a cunning plan of a theft of an important contract that creates a temporary panic n the stock market that he exploits to his financial advantage.

Dr. Mabuse is also a expert gambler due to his hypnotising his opponents. He hypnotises Edgar Hull but after other people confront him about his lost he can’t remember loosing. He goes to State Prosecutor Norbert von Wenk and he believes it’s the same man who is responsible for all of these huge looses in illegal card games. He vows to find the man responsible and bring him to justice. Dr. Mabuse will do anything in his power to stay elusive even if it means murder.

The film was preceded by Fritz Lang’s Destiny, which I’ve still never seen but from all accounts was the film, which his style became apparent from. Lang along with Eisenstein and Griffith are hands down the people responsible for all the techniques in modern film language. Lang invented what would become the modern thriller and science fiction film in films like Mabuse, M, Spione and of course Metropolis. He was one of the first directors to use special effects extensively and many modern techniques from him then for example Méliès.

The film is sprawling complicated mystery of intrigue, magic, hypnosis and cocaine. It’s runs for an epic 4 hours and 30 minutes or so and it would be a lie if it didn’t drag at moments but silent films of this ilk were very much the original mini-series. It predates film noir by roughly 20 years and Lang and German expressionism in wider sense were the biggest inspired for the film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. The influence was so much so that Lang himself is also a noted director noir with films like The Big Heat and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

It’s a one of Lang’s most important film even though it probably could have lost a good hour of footage but if you take it as a proto mini-series you will be fine. The sequel The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a tighter film and better for it but it all started here and it’s mighty fine piece of work. The great Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein actually edited it down for a Soviet audience and that would be an interesting find but I doubt it will ever surface sadly.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


23 August 2013

Simon Killer Blu-Ray Review

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Rating:
18
BD/DVD Release Date:
26th August 2013 (UK)
Director:
Antonio Campos
Cast:
Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Lila Salet
Buy Simon Killer On:
(Blu-ray) / (DVD)

Simon Killer is interesting film directed by Antonio Campos. Antonio previously directed Afterschool and produced the critically acclaimed indie film Martha Marcy May Marlene; which admitting I haven’t seen either yet. It’s a surprise addition to Eureka’s ever growing Masters of Cinema range for a couple reasons one is it’s a relatively recent film and the other it’s a weird little thriller. It does though have some interesting artistic flourishes which might be why it appealed to Eureka so much who also theatrically distributed it in the UK; IFC are doing the US release.

Simon Killer naturally is a about a guy called Simon. He is on holiday in Paris after finishing his degree in some to do with the connection between the human eye and brain. Simon has also broken up with his long-term girlfriend and is wandering aimlessly in the streets of Paris. One night he meets 2 French girls after seeing a film. They think he is a bit of a weirdo and they go their separate ways on the metro but will bump into them later on.

Simon as a problem he wants to get laid really badly so he starts walking around. He eventually meets a pimp who tells him to do a bar where girls will do anything to him for a price (which turns out to be €150). He gets very connected to this one hooker and they start a relationship, which eventually blossoms into him moving in with her. He suggests she should use a camera phone to film her having with her clients cause then she can blackmail them. Naturally this all ends pretty badly for all concerned.

The film has a very fine moody performance from its lead Brady Corbet who was in the fantastic Mysterious Skin about a decade ago. He has also been in Melancholia and the aforementioned Martha Marcy May Marlene. The rest of the cast give perfectly decent performances but it’s very much a film that rests on Brady’s shoulders since he is almost in every man.

Campos is a very good visual stylist and the film has a interesting colour palette and some interesting shots which obviously are to evoke what’s going on in Simon’s damaged mind. The film also has some of the most realistic sex scenes (not in a explicit way) I’ve ever seen on screen. The story however is not the most original. It seems all too unrealistic and has a twist that you could see coming after the unfortunate incident.

Despite the film’s many flaws it’s a perfectly decent little indie thriller with some really interesting soundtrack choices including LCD Soundsystem and that synth pop reggae hit “It Makes a Muscle to fall in love”. It also have a lot of synth-pop which seems to be the thing after than wonderful soundtrack for Drive but this trend needs to end now.

★★★☆☆

Ian Schultz


1 December 2012

Gate Of Hell Blu-Ray Review (Masters Of Cinema Release)

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Gate of Hell was the first Japanese colour film to released internationally. It was awarded the Palme D’or at the 1954 Cannes film festival, arguably the most prestigious award in film history. It was directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa who made quite a few films in his native Japan but it seems like all of his films bar Gate of Hell are currently unavailable in English speaking regions. He actually started in Silent film not unlike the notable Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu.

The film’s story is about a simple as you can possibly get. It tells the story of the samurai warrior Moritō who prevents an attempted coup. A lady in the court disguises herself as the lord’s wife and this allows the royal family to escape. The lord offers Moritō any wish he wants. He asks to marry the women who disguised herself as the lord’s wife, however it’s revealed that she is already married. Moritō refuses to withdraw this request and this setting in motion starts a series chain of events that can end up no way but tragic.

Martin Scorsese a couple years ago released to lists of which included 20 films and he split them up in 2 categories. The first list was colour English speaking films and the other was international. Gate of Hell was on the international list and understandably, the use was colour is almost hallucinatory, the yellows, greens, purples, blues almost literally jump out of the screen at you. In some ways the film is almost only worth watching for the use of colour, the plot is so simple but that’s not a criticism, just an observation. The colour technology used was Eastman colour, which at the time was very new and radical.

Jean Cocteau the great French filmmaker, poet, artist and writer wrote a preface for the French release said something along the lines of “the greatest use of colour ever in film”. This may be a slight over statement but you can clearly see what he meant. The film has been lovingly remastered by the always wonderful Eureka Entertainment as a part of their Masters of cinema range, it’s has no extras except a booklet but the film speaks for itself.

Ian Schultz


★★★★½


Rating: PG
DVD/BD Release Date: 03 December 2012 (UK)
DirectorTeinosuke Kinugasa
CastMachiko KyôKazuo Hasegawa , Isao Yamagata 
BuyGATE OF HELL [JIGOKUMON] (Masters of Cinema) (DVD & BLU-RAY DUAL FORMAT) [1953]