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The Cinephiles’s Corner looks at skullduggery on trains, hearts and flowers on the Seine, glam in the U.K, and heartbreak in L.A.

It’s time for another look at (relatively) recent Blu-Rays and DVDs aimed at the hardcore movie lover  — though more casual viewers looking for something beyond Hollywood’s latest mass-market offerings are certainly allowed to kibitz at the Corner as well. Today’s selections are from Hollywood, off-Hollywood, England, and France and were made mostly in the 1930s or the 1970s, though we will be looking at one from 1998 — only yesterday!

And so we begin…(after the flip, that is.)

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Inspector Bellamy

He was a leading director of the French New Wave, but that doesn’t tell you much about the hugely prolific Claude Chabrol. He was frequently compared to Alfred Hitchcock but that tells you even less. I’m not even close to an expert on his work, but I can safely describe Chabrol as a crafty writer-director who specialized in films that shared plot elements with the mystery and suspense genres while deliberately not partaking of their usual pleasures. It’s fitting, therefore, that the late director’s final film has a murder mystery plot and pays tribute to Georges Simenon’s beloved Inspector Maigret but never feels like a murder mystery, which is both the best and worst thing about it.

In his first ever film with Chabrol, the omnipresent, 60-something Gerard Depardieu stars as Bellamy, a famed detective who attempts some time off only to be accosted by an intrusive stranger (Jacques Gamblin). The man asks for his help exonerating him from the killing of a homeless person. The problem: he admits that he really did intend to murder the vagrant as part of an insurance scam. Bellamy welcomes the distraction. He is much less sanguine about another interloper, his obnoxious and troubled younger half-brother (Clovis Cornillac) who intrudes upon his quality time with his beloved and sexy wife (Marie Bunel). Like I said earlier, don’t come to a Chabrol film expecting a conventional thriller. If a wry but serious look at life and death is up your alley, however, “Inspector Bellamy” is worth investigating.

Click to buy “Inspector Bellamy”

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Musical movie moments with Clint and Alfred

With the media and political world reeling from the news of Keith Olbermann’s sudden departure from MSNBC and its possible relation to the Comcast-NBC/Universal merger, the Sundance Film Festival starting up, and even the start of Roger Ebert’s new movie reviewing series featuring a veteran critic and a 24 year old blogger who writes for the terrific MUBI site, there’s simply an overwhelming number of things I could be writing about tonight.

However, two movie news items in particular have caught my eye and the link is music and film, though that may not be immediately obvious. First is word that Sacha Gervasi, director of the highly acclaimed comic documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” may be directing a new film about the making of “Psycho” and that Anthony Hopkins may play director Alfred Hitchcock. (The actual terminology at THR is that they are “in talks” to join the film, which I take it is closer to actually working on something that either “eying” or “circling” a project.)

The second is that Clint Eastwood’s next project will be, fascinatingly, the latest version of “A Star is Born,” which will feature Beyoncé Knowles in the lead role. The musical-drama classic might seem like an odd choice, but Eastwood is a serious music fan and he’s even made a rather good musical biopic, “Bird.”

In fact, his debut as a director owed a little something to Alfred Hitchcock and a lot to jazz. I don’t know who edited this video — or why they included subtitles, but this is worth a moment of your time and definitely emphasizes Eastwood’s musical choices. Also, if you thought Jessica Walter was formidable as Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development” wait until you see her a few decades prior as the spurned antagonist of a swingin’ jazz DJ in Eastwood 1971 directorial debut, “Play Misty for Me.”

Music, of course, played a huge role in “Psycho” and in all of Hitchcock’s films, at least in terms of the way he thought about them. Take a look at this.

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A Chat with Joe Carnahan, director of “The A-Team”

Writer-director Joe Carnahan is proud of his latest film, a beyond tongue-in-cheek 2010 remounting of the 1980′s TV favorite, “The A-Team.” Available on a brand new, extras-laden DVD and Blu-Ray edition, the actioner stars Liam Neeson as A-Team leader Hannibal Smith, with backing by Bradley Cooper as the suave “Faceman” Peck, Sharlto Copley as the mildly insane H.M. Murdock and mixed martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as the Mohawk-wearing B.A. Baracus.

Jessica Biel is also along for the ride as DCIS Sosa, Faceman’s by-the-book military investigator ex-girlfriend. The story, such as it is, is fully eclipsed by a mix of preposterous stunts and CGI heavy effects and a jackhammer sensibility that is, like it or not, proudly over the top and unashamedly silly.

A former maker of promotional films and videos for a Sacramento TV station, Carnahan’s first feature was 1998′s “Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane,” a crime-suspense black comedy that co-starred Carnahan as a desperate used car dealer getting in way over his head with some extremely dangerous characters. The film, low on finesse but big on Mamet-esque macho verbal energy, was notable enough to break through the enormous Tarantino-Guy-Ritchie fatigue that made making almost any kind of independent crime film a questionable proposition throughout the 1990s.

Carnahan’s 2002 studio debut was the grimly serious “Narc,” starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta. Big on style and terribly unsubtle, the dark procedural nevertheless earned lots of good reviews. That was followed in 2007 by the all-star action black comedy, “Smokin’ Aces.” The grosses were higher, but the Rotten Tomatoes rating was much lower.

Joe Carnahan’s bombastic ways as a filmmaker are matched at times by what reads as a rather pugilistic verbal style when it comes to critics who dislike his style and reporters who harp on less than enormous grosses. As someone who is yet to be won over by any of his films — though “Blood, Guts” has its share of low-fi charms — I was a little concerned about meeting him.

Watching Carnahan introduce a number of clips from the Blu-Ray special features for “The A-Team,” however, he came across as much more of more a teddy bear than a grizzly. In our interview, he won me over with news about some long incubating projects, a bit of sincere sounding film geekiness, his clear interest in branching out creatively and, most importantly, the fact that he’s my only interview subject so far to admit to visiting our sister site Bullz-Eye — which, I’m sure, he looks at only for our thoughtful prose.

“I’m on the Internet far too much,” he admitted, adding cheerfully, “just looking through academic articles!”

Never let it be said that Joe Carnahan is lacking in manly virtues and/or vices.

Premium Hollywood: Speaking of manliness, there’s a line in “The A-Team”: “Overkill is underrated.”

Joe Carnahan: Yes.

PH: This seems like a pretty good watchword for your career and your approach to making movies.

JC: Right. I think I’ve been perhaps unduly typecast as a guy who likes to hyper-edit and so on. I certainly have a style, but this kind of thing will always cancel out [other things]. There was a five minute tracking shot in “Narc” that was nothing but Ray Liotta talking, but nobody ever mentions that stuff. Listen, it was certainly the call to arms for this movie, “Overkill is underrated.” I did it as a thesis, as a joke. It’s the aside to the audience that says that we know it’s a lot, we know it’s overblown and overinflated, that’s the point of this little bon-mot here, this little movie.

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A “Peeping Tom” returns

This is not the first time I’ve posted about the great thriller Michael Powell made with writer and famed WWII cryptographer Leo Marks. Released the very same year as “Psycho,” “Peeping Tom” was also about a serial killer, but was much more stylized and shot in eye-filling Eastmancolor. It featured, I believe, not a single drop of onscreen blood. Yet, it more or less permanently disabled the career of one of the greatest directors of all time.

Below the often thoughtful but highly tendentious BBC film critic, Mark Kermode, is on his absolute best behavior as he provides terrific interviews with Powell’s widow, famed film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and her boss/colleague and #1 Powell fan and friend, Martin Scorsese, as they try to explain just what made, and makes, “Peeping Tom” so powerful and relevant today.

The irony of the completely opposite post-serial-killer movie fates of Alfred Hitchcock and Powell, who were of roughly the same generation and peers in the English film industry at one point, never fails to stun me. I’m also endlessly impressed by the fact that there was a time and a place where movie critics could not only destroy a film, they could end a career. I wonder how “Peeping Tom” would have been received if it came out in North America first.

You can see the even more excellent complete 22 minute interview with Martin Scorsese over at The Guardian which, among other topics includes some discussion of the upcoming “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and Scorsese’s thoughts on shooting the film in 3D. As for, “Peeping Tom,” let’s hope, that restoration hits the States before too long.

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