CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – Veteran actor Bruce Dern is now up to bat. That is how he describes what is at stake in his role as Woody in director Alexander Payne’s new film, “Nebraska.” But this film icon – with an over 50 year career – also has plenty other stories to offer, regarding Jack Nicholson, his family, his life and performing a “Derns-ser.”
CHICAGO – Every film buff remembers the first time they laid eyes on director Stanley Kubrick’s memorable horror classic, “The Shining.” In the film, Scatman Crothers’ character warns young Danny, “There ain’t nothing in Room 237…so stay out.” Filmmaker Rodney Ascher has ignored that warning in his documentary, “Room 237,” and takes us inside one of the most analyzed films in cinema history.
CHICAGO – The mystery of Stanley Kubrick is one of his great attributes. He directed a scant 12 major films in a forty year career, each with its own genre-busting stamp. His work has inspired an overall passion for films, numerous analytical studies and a new documentary about the theories behind his 1980 masterpiece, “The Shining.” Rodney Ascher directs this strange and compelling film, “Room 237.”
CHICAGO – There are a few movies that I absolutely adore — the ones that come to mind when people ask me what I think are the best films ever made. More often than not, they are the films that first shaped the way I look at cinema when I first moved past the New Releases section at the video store to the classics of the medium. One such film is Roman Polanski’s stunning “Chinatown,” a film that has lost absolutely none of its timeless power in its recently-released Blu-ray restoration complete with new special features and interviews. It may sound cliched, but “Chinatown,” especially in HD, really looks like it could have come out last year. And it would have been the year’s best movie.
CHICAGO – You won’t find a much bigger fan of James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News,” one of my favorite romantic comedies of the ’80s, but there’s simply no denying that he’s lost his touch for character that once made him one of the best living writers. It may not be quite as big a disaster as “Spanglish,” but his newest romantic comedy “How Do You Know,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is a mess, a blend of unbelievable characters, awkward pacing, and forgettable plotting that makes it one of the biggest disappointments of 2010.
CHICAGO – James L. Brooks “Broadcast News” should serve as a stark reminder of how far the romantic comedy has fallen. Believe it or not, young readers, there was a time, not that long ago, when rom-coms weren’t mostly horrendous dreck. There have even been a few nominated for Oscars, including even Best Picture.
CHICAGO – Writer/Director James L. Brooks has been producing prime entertainment for nearly 50 years now, and proves he has not lost a step in ‘How Do You Know.’ This film of love, loss, power and especially romance is a great showcase for the talents of Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and the great Jack Nicholson.
CHICAGO – BBS Productions changed cinema. As the sixties were coming to a close, they jumped on the revolutionary bandwagon and took the cultural zeitgeist to the cinema. With a few other visionaries, they ushered in the most important era of film history and several of their best works have been collected in the amazing Criterion box “America Lost and Found: The BBS Story.”
CHICAGO – One of the most-beloved films of arguably the most important period in film history hits Blu-ray this week in a lavish “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” courtesy of the studio that does this kind of thing better than anyone else. With unique physical collectibles to go with great special features and a new HD transfer of the 35-year-old film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” has lost none of its power.
CHICAGO – The Blu-Ray Round-Up is back with this week’s collection of HD titles that may not get the buzz of something like the latest Sandra Bullock romantic comedy or what Sam Raimi brought back from Hell but could be just what you’re looking for at the mall this weekend. A few modern horror movies, a notable box office bust, and a beloved BBC show highlight this week’s list. Pick your favorite.