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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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Aisle Seat 8-4: August Arrival Edition
Posted By: Andy Dursin 8/3/2020 - 10:00 PM
Long one of the most reliably poor-looking Abbott & Costello films on home video – the duo’s independently-produced 1949 comedy AFRICA SCREAMS (79 mins.) – is now, thanks to the 3-D Film Archive and Classic Flix, one of the best. Lovingly and painstakingly restored by Bob Furmanek and his team from the original 35mm nitrate film elements, this limited-edition Blu-Ray does justice to a picture that the comedy team produced outside their Universal Pictures deal – resulting in a myriad of terrible video releases since the film fell into the public domain once a distributor failed to renew its copyright.
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Aisle Seat Video Vault: WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S, A Summer Classic
Posted By: Andy Dursin 7/27/2020 - 10:00 PM
Plenty of articles have been written about the Summer of 1989 – one of the last great seasons for movie-goers as every week brought with it what would become a long-time viewer favorite. What hasn’t been written about – but should be – is a tribute to one of the great sleeper hits of the decade. Yes, I’m referring to WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S – a silly looking comedy that became an unlikely success pitted against the likes of Batman, Indiana Jones, a “Lethal Weapon” sequel and a myriad of other, more expensive studio films populating theaters at the time. While a surprise success upon its July 7th opening, the movie has remained a perennial favorite at the Aisle Seat – so much that it feels like this summer is the perfect time to extol its virtues.
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Aisle Seat 7-21: WAR OF THE WORLDS Remaster, Kino Lorber July Releases
Posted By: Andy Dursin 7/20/2020 - 10:00 PM
George Pal’s awesome 1953 production of H.G. Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS (85 mins., 1953) represents ‘50s sci-fi at its best. From the majestic opening with Sir Cedric Hardwicke’s narration and Leith Stephens’ score, to the first appearance of Pal’s saucers and the scenes of stars Gene Barry and Ann Robinson hiding in a farmhouse from the invading Martians, few other films captured the imaginations of sci-fi fans like director Byron Haskin’s movie. The original “War of the Worlds” set the standard for dozens upon dozens of fantasy films that followed in its wake and still ranks today as one of the greatest genre pictures ever made.
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Today in Film Score History:
October 31
Adam Schlesinger born (1967)
Ian Fraser died (2014)
Ian Hultquist born (1985)
Jerry Goldsmith begins recording his score for Patton (1969)
John Williams begins recording his score to The Towering Inferno (1974)
Johnny Marr born (1963)
Joseph Liebman died (2001)
Now, Voyager opens in theaters (1942)
Robert Drasnin records his score for the Lost in Space episode "West of Mars" (1966)
Spellbound opens in New York (1945)
The Mission is released in the United States (1986)
Venedikt Pushkov born (1896)
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