Friday, August 1, 2008

DVD Under the Radar 08/01/08

Classic British Thrillers (The Phantom Light / Red Ensign / The Upturned Glass) – One DVD containing three mystery films, notable primarily as two examples (The Phantom Light and Red Ensign) of the early, contract work of one of Britain’s greatest directors, Michael Powell. His ideas are only in nascent form here, but if you’re like me in following the careers of directors, this provides two more minor parts of the total picture.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater – Probably the most famous architectural accomplishment in the United States, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is explored in this hour-long documentary and second disc of interactive material.

The Good Fight: the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War – The title pretty much sums it up, but this well-made documentary illuminates a fascinating chapter of American History, in which 2800 volunteers join Spain in an international fight against Franco’s forces, ultimately losing to the superior strength of the fascist regime and then returning home to suspicion and mistrust. Interviews with surviving participants archival footage and a powerful narration combine to provide a great portrait.

Victor Sjöström – I’m eager to check out two DVDs of silent works by Victor Sjöström, the man widely credited with giving Ingmar Bergman his start in film (and also the man who starred in Bergman’s great Wild Strawberries many years later). One features two films: A Man There Was (1917) and Ingeborg Holm (1913) while the other has The Outlaw and His Wife (1918) and a documentary made about Sjöström. I’ve only seen Sjöström’s classic The Wind (1927), but that was enough of a masterpiece that I’ve got to check out more.

Tai Chi Master – This is the DVD I’ve waited all week for. Suffice to say that if you don’t have an affinity for some of the great kung-fu films of the 1990’s, this is a great place to start. Jet Li is at his peak, Michelle Yeoh is terrific, and the humor and action intertwine beautifully. Along with the two Legend of Fong Sai Yuk films (also Li/Yoeh partnerships), this is one of my very favorite kung-fu films of the period.

1 comment:

Sumner said...

These Sjostrom flicks are super, but I want to see more from the other masters of early Scando-cinema Mauritz Stiller and Benjamin Christensen.