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DVD Talk reviews for Monday, August 26th, 2019

Old 08-27-19, 03:00 AM
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DVD Talk reviews for Monday, August 26th, 2019

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The Inland Sea (Blu-ray)
by Stuart Galbraith IV

I was privileged to know the great essayist and observer of all things Japanese, Donald Richie (1924-2013). Not all that well, but we talked and exchanged letters occasionally, I meeting him in Tokyo when I was there, and for a few memorable days when he came to Kyoto for a visit, when I arranged an event here, a reading of excerpts from his books.

He was already in his eighties then so I, concerned about his advancing years, made sure to provide both a barstool-type chair for him to lean on while he was giving his talk, and a sturdy, comfortable chair for him to sit in after, to meet and greet the large crowd that had come to see him. He used neither. He spoke for about 90 minutes, then stood around chatting for the next several hours, still so full of energy when it was over he insisted walking back to my car afterwards, a good kilometer away. We discussed anything and everything, and though my ex...Read the entire review »

Touchez pas au grisbi (Blu-ray)
by Stuart Galbraith IV

One of the great French crime films, Jacques Becker's, Touchez pas au grisbi ("Hands off the Loot," 1954) remains fascinating and genuinely exciting, anchored by an outstanding performance by its iconic star, Jean Gabin.

Loosely based on an apparently trashy novel by Albert Simonin, it's a kind of post-caper film, in which the robbery of eight gold bars isn't shown and barely discussed by those who pulled the job. The genius of Becker's adaptation is its characters, structure, and pacing: it starts off methodically, establishing its cast of characters and, just when it seems to be meandering colorfully but aimlessly with no clear purpose, it takes off and becomes tremendously tense and exciting. Though enormously influential, even prompting two mostly unrelated follow-ups (Le cave se rebiffe, 1961, also with Gabin; and Les tontons figueurs, 1963), the film hasn't lost its edge; ...Read the entire review »


The Leopard Man (Blu-ray)
by Stuart Galbraith IV

The Leopard Man (1943) was the third of nine movies produced by Val Lewton at RKO, pictures that favored subtle atmosphere over the kind of blood-and-thunder monster action favored by Universal during this same period. Lewton's films were cheap compared to Universal's: The Leopard Man cost just $150,000, less than half what Universal was spending on their monster romps. He hired silent era director Jacques Tourneur for some, and later relied on his former editors, Mark Robson and Robert Wise, for the others. In the Lewton films the horror was suggested, rather than explicitly shown, and because of their craftsmanship in some respects they hold up much better than their rival's films with Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy.

The Leopard Man was quickly made in response to the success of Lewton's first success, The Cat People (1942). That cost a mere $142,000 but reportedl...Read the entire review »

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