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Aisle Seat 11-24: Kino Lorber Thanksgiving Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/23/2020 - 10:00 PM
One of the first major Italian productions to import U.S. stars, ULYSSES (94/103 mins.), offered Kirk Douglas as the titular sailor of Homer’s poem, trying to get home to Ithaca and his beloved wife Penelope, but whose adventures at sea bring him into confrontations with the horrifying Cyclops, dangerous Sirens and alluring Circe. Not as broadly performed as subsequent Hercules fantasies starring the likes of Steve Reeves, this Dino DeLaurentiis/Carlo Ponti production has long been viewed in substandard home video releases in North America, but has at last been restored in a new Kino Lorber Blu-Ray featuring a spectacular 4K Studio Canal remaster.
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Aisle Seat 11-17: Another Gem From Fun City Editions
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/16/2020 - 10:00 PM
Fun City Editions mined an ’80s gem with the Vincent Spano vehicle “Alphabet City” in September, and now they’re back with a Blu-Ray premiere of an even more offbeat – and also much more satisfying – film in David Greene’s I START COUNTING! (105 mins., 1970). This British production served as a springboard for young actress Jenny Agutter, here playing a teenager in a fractured family who’s infatuated with her older adopted brother (Bryan Marshall) while hanging out with her friends, going to church, and trying to make amends with the dissolution of her childhood, as embodied by her frequent visits to her family’s dilapidated village home, which is on the docket for razing. If that weren’t enough, there’s a serial killer preying upon young women in their town – leading Agutter’s heroine to wonder if her “impure thoughts” are being directed at the killer himself.
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Aisle Seat 11-10: 4K UHD Blockbusters
Posted By: Andy Dursin 11/9/2020 - 10:00 PM
We’ve had 25th and 30th Anniversary Editions on Blu-Ray of BACK TO THE FUTURE, and now Universal debuts the series on 4K UHD for the first time in their ULTIMATE TRILOGY box-set – as well as on remastered Blu-Ray – to commemorate the hit 1985 movie’s 35th Anniversary. This seven-disc box-set boasts brand-new 4K transfers with Dolby Vision enhancement and Dolby Atmos audio mixes, while incorporating all the extras from both previous Blu-Ray releases and even a few new goodies. The package includes, of course, 1985’s highest-grossing film, “Back to the Future,” along with its two sequels, shot back-to-back and released in Thanksgiving 1989 and May 1990, respectively.
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Aisle Seat 10-27: Frightful Halloween Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 10/26/2020 - 10:00 PM
Critics back in the day seemed to be shocked that the 1999 film of THE HAUNTING (112 mins., PG-13; Paramount), director Jan De Bont’s adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Haunting of Hill House” – itself previously adapted in Robert Wise’s celebrated 1963 genre work – represented a conscious lightening of its source material, but what did they expect in a PG-13 rated haunted house movie from Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio? It’s bubblegum, ersatz-horror all the way, but at least it was given a classy production mounting thanks to a top-flight technical team. And, after over 20 years, the often maligned film is finally available on Blu-Ray, where its artistic accomplishments can be best appreciated.
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Aisle Seat 10-20: Kino Lorber October Releases
Posted By: Andy Dursin 10/19/2020 - 10:00 PM
Kino Lorber’s October Blu-Rays kick off with a pair of post-”Back to the Future” vehicles tailored for star Michael J. Fox at Universal – movies which met with contrasting levels of box-office appeal. Leading things off is John Badham’s NYC cop-buddy movie THE HARD WAY (111 mins., 1991, R), a good-looking Spring ’91 release that pairs Fox with James Woods and is just, for lack of a better term, “missing something.” Woods plays the quintessential “James Woods role” of a fast-talking, intense, nervous Big Apple cop saddled with a glib movie star (Fox) who’s shadowing him for his latest role. While the duo track a real psychotic killer (Stephen Lang), they spar over the nature of police work as well as Woods’ relationship with a single mom (Annabella Sciorra).
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Aisle Seat 10-13: Mid-October Wrap
Posted By: Andy Dursin 10/12/2020 - 10:00 PM
Mill Creek has been opening up the Morgan Creek vaults with the premiere release of several ’90s properties from the studio on Blu-Ray, all previously distributed by Warner Bros. One of them, SILENT FALL (101 mins., 1994, R), was a particularly expensive failure – one of several flops from director Bruce Beresford, who struggled in the Hollywood system after his 1989 Oscar triumph “Driving Miss Daisy.”
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Aisle Seat 9-29: Kino Lorber September Releases
Posted By: Andy Dursin 9/28/2020 - 10:00 PM
The early-mid 80s yielded a number of terrific “art house” hits produced outside the U.S., and in the case of THE GREY FOX (92 mins., 1982, PG; Kino Lorber), the picture was one of several interesting films made by Canadian director Philip Borsos, whose life prematurely ended at age 41, taking with him a great deal of untapped cinematic potential. “The Grey Fox” would be his biggest success – a film about an American stagecoach robber (Richard Farnsworth) who, just released after three decades in prison, finds out he can only do what he knows, and sets out to stage another heist in the Pacific Northwest woods of Canada.
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Aisle Seat 9-22: Autumn Arrival Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 9/21/2020 - 10:00 PM
We’re long enough into the Blu-Ray format’s lifespan that an influx of fascinating curiosities are coming our way every month, and independent label Fun City Editions leads the way this week with a compelling, remastered release from the short-lived Atlantic Releasing Corporation. ALPHABET CITY (85 mins., 1984, R) stars Vincent Spano, fresh off “Baby It’s You” and “The Black Stallion Returns,” as a drug dealer in the rough-and-tumble NYC neighborhood of its title. After too many deals and run-ins with lowlifes, Spano’s Johnny decides it’s time to get his mother (Zora Lamphert) and sister (Jami Gertz) out from the muck before his mob overlords come for them – along with his girlfriend (Kate Vernon, daughter of “Animal House”’s Dean Wormer), an artist also taking care of their infant daughter.
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Aisle Seat 9-8: The 23rd Anniversary Edition!
Posted By: Andy Dursin 9/7/2020 - 10:00 PM
In a weird year that’s going to end up being a patchwork of new releases and catalog titles, there’s little doubt the most noteworthy UHD package in the latter category will likely be Sony’s stupendous COLUMBIA CLASSICS VOLUME 1 (Sony). This Limited Edition deluxe set includes the premiere of no less than six varied titles from Columbia’s filmography, each one presented in glorious new 2160p HVEC encoded transfers with ample extras. As of now, the films in this gorgeous set – which also includes a bonus DVD and a glossy, photo-packed book – aren’t scheduled to be sold individually, making this the only way you can appreciate these Sony 4K restorations.
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Aisle Seat 8-18: Kino Lorber August Wrap
Posted By: Andy Dursin 8/17/2020 - 10:00 PM
Most gaps in Clint Eastwood’s filmography have been addressed on Blu-Ray by now, though Eastwood’s third directorial outing, BREEZY (106 mins., 1973, R; Kino Lorber), has been exclusive to international markets for several years. Kino Lorber finally rectifies this omission with the first U.S. release of the movie in high-definition, and while regarded as a minor film in which Eastwood doesn’t appear (sans a background cameo), “Breezy” is a worthwhile, affecting and highly appealing movie that’s less a “product of its time” than its premise would suggest on the surface.
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Today in Film Score History:
November 25
Chico Hamilton died (2013)
Craig Safan records his scores for the Twilight Zone episodes “The Uncle Devil Show” and “Opening Day” (1985)
Daniele Amfitheatrof begins recording his score for The Last Hunt (1956)
Eleni Karaindrou born (1941)
Maurice Jarre begins recording his score for Grand Prix (1966)
Michael Small begins recording his score for The Postman Always Rings Twice (1980)
Michel Portal born (1935)
Nicholas Pike begins recording his score for Stephen King’s The Shining (1996)
Raymond Legrand died (1974)
Stanley Wilson born (1917)
Virgil Thomson born (1896)
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