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Aisle Seat 6-4: Batman! Earthquake! June Arrival Edition
Posted By Andy Dursin 6/4/2019 - 12:00 AM
Long before Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan “re-defined” the Dark Knight on the silver screen came Tim Burton’s BATMAN and the Caped Crusader’s ‘90s sequels, all of which hit 4K UHD on June 4th courtesy of Warner Home Video. Despite the varied quality of the pictures themselves, revisiting them in new 4K transfers proved to be a highly enjoyable experience – with the movies all benefiting from the deeper blacks and higher contrast levels that HDR can provide.
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Aisle Seat 5-21: May Mania Edition
Posted By Andy Dursin 5/21/2019 - 12:00 AM
Whatever happened to Richard Franklin? The Australian auteur became a hot commodity for a while in the ’80s thanks to genre films like “Psycho II” and the kid fantasy “Cloak and Dagger,” but he saw his career fizzle out after misfires like the barely released 1986 ape thriller LINK (103 mins., R; Kino Lorber). Produced for Thorn EMI before their film division went belly-up and was sold to Cannon, “Link” stars Terence Stamp as a daffy college professor whose work with intelligent simians results in one of those predictable “don’t mess with nature” plots, forcing grad student Elisabeth Shue to battle a chimp gone wild in Stamp’s isolated British manor.
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Aisle Seat 5-7: Alien 4K, Scream & Twilight Time New Releases
Posted By Andy Dursin 5/7/2019 - 12:00 AM
One of the wonderful things about watching classic films in a remastered presentation, and especially at a higher resolution than you’ve seen before, is that you can appreciate them anew, on their own terms. Not as the start of a franchise, not as a genre benchmark that was copied hundreds of times over – but a solitary work of cinema that remains contemporary even though it was released some 40 years ago. That’s the case with ALIEN (****, 116 mins., 1979, R), Ridley Scott’s classic which rode the sci-fi wave that “Star Wars” ignited and became a classic in its own right thanks to Scott’s direction, the film’s evocative production design and striking H.R. Giger creature effects.
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Aisle Seat 4-23: Criterion's Police Story, Kino Lorber April Releases
Posted By Andy Dursin 4/23/2019 - 12:00 AM
Though not strictly classified as a horror movie, Universal’s 1940 production of THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (89 mins.) fits comfortably alongside some of its strongest monster rallies. In fact, this Nathaniel Hawthorne adaptation falls somewhere between an A-grade studio project and a superior B-effort, sporting George Sanders as the conniving member of a colonial New England family who dreams of lost treasure laying about their ancestral home. Vincent Price, meanwhile, contributes one of his most sympathetic turns as Sanders’ brother, framed for their father’s death and sent to waste away in prison, leaving his beloved fiancée (Margaret Lindsay) behind.
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Aisle Seat 4-16: April Assault '19
Posted By Andy Dursin 4/16/2019 - 12:00 AM
Kicking off this week’s Aisle Seat are two new, impressive restorations of vintage – and rarely screened – widescreen films from Flicker Alley: the German-produced 70mm travelogue FLYING CLIPPER, known as MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY upon its U.S. theatrical run (158 mins., 1962), and the once long-lost Cinerama feature THE GOLDEN HEAD (115 mins., 1965). The latter was never released in North America and ended its London theatrical run early, where it was replaced by “Flying Clipper” – now both of them have been collected in a pair of terrific new Blu-Ray combo packs, the latter with a 4K UHD presentation as well.
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Aisle Seat 4-2: April Arrival Edition
Posted By Andy Dursin 4/2/2019 - 12:00 AM
If you’ve been a regular Aisle Seat reader over the years, you know that one of my sources of cinematic kryptonite is the over-the-top horror/sci-fi extravaganza. Gems like “Lifeforce,” “Dreamcatcher” and John Frankenheimer’s “Prophecy” have gotten a fair shake in these quarters, even if my reasons for enjoying all of them have little to do with how the pictures were intended to be appreciated. In just a few weeks Scream Factory brings us another of these guilty pleasures — William Girdler’s massively entertaining, bizarre horror epic THE MANITOU (103 mins., 1977, PG), which answers the question “what might’ve happened if Blake Edwards directed a horror movie in the style of ‘The Exorcist’ the year after ‘Star Wars’ was released?”
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Aisle Seat 3-19: March Madness Edition
Posted By Andy Dursin 3/19/2019 - 12:00 AM
Big, colorful and refreshingly unpretentious, AQUAMAN (***, 143 mins., 2018, PG-13; Warner) finally sets the DC Universe on an upbeat, escapist course that’s far removed from the dread-inducing (and at times dreadful) Zach Snyder productions that characterized the post-Christopher Nolan era of the brand’s cinematic endeavors. Gone are the mopey Batman and guilt-ridden Superman, and in their place is Jason Momoa’s hard-drinking, charismatic Arthur Curry — the half-breed son of the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) who finally battles for his rightful Atlantean throne just in time to prevent his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) from igniting a war with the “surface people.”
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Aisle Seat 3-12: Ridley Scott Revisited, Oscar Wrap
Posted By Andy Dursin 3/12/2019 - 12:00 AM
This year’s reigning Best Picture winner, GREEN BOOK (***½, 128 mins., 2018, PG-13; Universal), is a winning “road trip” movie that provides stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali with two plum roles. It also manages to be heartwarming and unpretentious, preferring a humanistic, at-times comic approach to its subject matter – and in a year that saw “Black Panther” somehow net scores of award nominations, it’s unquestionably one of the most rewarding pictures of 2018.
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Aisle Seat 2-26: 4K Rundown, Shout Wrap, New Releases
Posted By Andy Dursin 2/26/2019 - 12:00 AM
A number of 2018 releases saw a clear divide between audience reaction/interest and supposed critical consensus, and no film summed that up better than BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (***, 136 mins., 2018, PG-13; Fox). A movie with a troubled production history — one that reportedly included confrontations between the cast and director Bryan Singer, along with the latter’s eventual dismissal after being a no-show on-set – Fox’s musical biopic of the rock-band Queen nevertheless became the most surprising hit of the year. Generating over $800 million worldwide, this tuneful, mostly upbeat picture didn’t satisfy the critics who wanted a “Trainspotting”-like chronicle of lead singer Freddy Mercury’s famously troubled life, yet the accessible, PG-13 approach netted huge commercial gains, mixing music with a still-effective chronicle of Mercury’s struggles with his sexuality, drugs and fame in general.
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Aisle Seat 2-12: Valentine's Day Edition
Posted By Andy Dursin 2/12/2019 - 12:00 AM
Burt Lancaster co-directed THE MIDNIGHT MAN (***, 119 mins., 1974, R), a Universal murder-mystery adapted from the book “The Midnight Lady and the Mourning Man” by David Anthony. The film’s plot was reconfigured to suit Lancaster’s talents with the veteran star playing an ex-cop from Chicago, out on parole after shooting his wife’s lover, who settles into a job working security at a southern college…only to find himself quickly embroiled in a co-ed’s murder and an eventual (and quite convoluted) conspiracy plot. While this production was much criticized for being little more than an extended, R-rated episode of “Columbo” at the time of its release – these days, you have to ask yourself, what’s wrong with that?
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