Bits & Bites with a Brador

Our next pair of reviews is Roots Daughters:The Women of Rastafari from MVD, which was co-produced by the NFB, and examines the role of women within the Rastafari movement and religious ceremony. Director Bianca Nyavingi Brynda interviewed a balanced selection of women in Jamaica, and provides a brisk and informative intro on the roots of Rastafarian religion and customs.

Also of note is director Robin Neinstein's documentary and film version of Douglas Coupland's popular nostalgia books, Souvenir of Canada. It's a tough film to market beyond those not privy to the Canadian Experience (Smarties, Brador beer, bilingual packaging, and no right turns on a red light in Quebec) during the sixties and seventies, but Barry Stevens' adaptation and the plethora of archival images and film clips enhance this trip through 'pre-nostalgia,' as Coupland's efforts to showcase icons of our collective past are slowly being forgotten and eclipsed by more cultural ephemera.

Released by Maple, and co-produced by several entities (including the CBC and the NFB), it's a Canadian co-production that isn't afraid to show affection for national icons - so while it'll jar the memories of true Gen X's, it also explains why we're a bit goofy, too. Click on the title link to read about the extras, which also include a funny commentary with the film's director, producer, and Coupland.

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Rastafari, and Douglas Coupland

Do You Like Argento?

While Dario Argento's last feature, The Card Player/Il Cartaio failed to achieve the fun of Sleepless/Non Ho Sonno, his TV movie (apparently a hope to ignite a new TV series) Do You Like Hitchcock?/Ti piace Hitchcock? went in an altogether different direction by weaving a narrative out of standard conventions and plot twists from the best Hitchcock films.

Not an easy task, and it's a bit surprising to see Argento having great fun in making us believe one Hitchcockian nod will follow through as the source did... and then take another amusing turn and twist to another convention. Pino Donaggio's synth/orchestral score is fairly restrained, and the location work is first rate, including the residential street that places a self-adoring babe in sight of a bespeckled film geek.

As with prior Argento films, there's adoration for fine architecture, and his camera lovingly exploits the lines and curves of old world apartments and their rickety elevators, plus the sleek glass and steel upgrade to the babe's apartment that allows the geek to survey her comings and goings. Anchor Bay's DVD brings Argento's playful film to Region 1 audiences, and beefs up the label's existing catalogue of the director's many titles. (Someone should release his Door into Darkness/Porta sul buio in a Region 1 set, now that the limited German release of the four-part TV series from 1973 is long gone.)

We've also uploaded our review of Wolfgang Petersen's Poseidon, which is now rumored at DavisDVD.com to appear in a longer version on HD-DVD in December. That news is hardly a surprise, as the film's pacing was frankly a mess. We'll upload a review of the '72, version in the coming weeks, but you can read our reviews of Poseidon and the 2005 cash-in TV movie, where we compare characters, stupidities, and structural flaws of the two recent attempts to turn Paul Gallico's classic novel into a blockbuster.

Now when will Columbia release Goliath Awaits on DVD? You'd think the studio would've exploited the disaster-in-H20 wave of the past year, since this goofy but inventive drama of survivors living in the underwater wreck of a luxury liner for 40 years deserves a DVD release in its original TV length format. (The two-part series was later edited into a 110 min. version, and popped up on VHS and laserdisc.)

Lastly, we've extensively updated all of the Links sections, with new composer sites, more DVD labels, and resource sites we think are very cool and handy.

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Dario Argento, and Poseidon Adventure

Jazz Shots, Jazz Schifrin, and Brassian Jazz

We're in the process of establishing a less formal updating process, which will ensure new stuff appears every few days instead in one big weekly upload, so bear with our oddball schedule.

Our first offerings for the month of September includes an interview with Elia Cmiral, who discusses his work on the American remake of Pulse. Part electronic and modern orchestral, Cmiral's Pulse is another smooth blend of two disciplines to create a creepy horror score, although his best entry remains the brutal music for Wrong Turn. Cmiral talks about Pulse, the aesthetics of horror music, and working with different orchestras around the world.

Also of interest to film music fans is EFORFilm/ MVD's latest four-volume wave of Jazz Shots. Divided into East and West Coast branches, the series is an anthology of very rare jazz performances by legends during the Golden Years of live TV, and later shows, like Jazz Casual, and Jazz Scene USA.

Jazz Shots from the East Coast Vol. 3 includes a bouncy rendition of Elmer Bernstein's Walk on the Wild Side theme, while Vols. 2 and 3 have clips of Dizzy Gillespie's group with Lalo Schifrin at the piano. Also from the Jazz Casual series is the Modern Jazz Quartet, and the archived performances on Vol. 2 have the group playing the main theme from John Lewis' Una Storia Milanese / Milano Story.

The West Coast volumes are just as fun, and Vol. 2 also features three meaty sets with Shorty Rogers and pianist Lou Levy. Really sweet stuff.

Also new to DVD is Tinto Brass' latest film, Private / Fallo! from Cult Epics. Available in a rated Producer's Cut, we've reviewed the unrated edition that beholds more Brassian silliness, and retentive production design.

We've also updated the WKME feature on our review of Kolberg to reflect a sidebar piece on the related title, Das Leben geht weiter / Life Goes On - one of the best documentaries on the making of a feature film.

Planned by Goebbels as the next epic after Kolberg's 1945 theatrical release, production was halted after the allied forces entered Berlin, and the film's status as the last work under the Third Reich became a legendary tale of sublime, Kubrickian folly.

The fate of the missing footage was slowly pieced together by author Hans Christoph Blumenberg, whose book subsequently became the basis for this Emmy Award-winning documentary by producer/co-writer Carl Schmitt, and co-writer/director Mark Cairns. Just click on the Kolberg link, scoot down to the bottom, and click on the doc's review link for more details!

Lastly, we've added CD reviews for Craig Armstrong's World Trade Center, and Aleph's packed CD of Lalo Schifrin's Magnum Force soundtrack.

As related material, we've also reviewed Motor's 1996 Schifrin anthology, Mission: Impossible... and More!, produced by Frank Jastfelder and Stefan Kassel, who also authored the soundtrack art compendium, The Album Cover Art of Soundtracks. Being a bit retentive ourselves, we've reviewed that 1997 book, too!

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Tinto Brass, Pulse remake, Elmer Bernstein, Lalo Schifrin, WWII Propaganda, and Modern Jazz Quartet
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