The Naughty Fifties

The release of the film The Notorious Bettie Page was an ideal opportunity to rekindle an interest in vintage Irving Klaw shorts that have been largely tough to find on tape, let alone in complete form on DVD. Along with their prior Page offerings, Cult Epics has released the Irving Klaw Classics box, which culls material from 8mm sources, and groups them into four themed volumes: The Bettie Page Films, The Wrestling Films, The Fetish Films, and The Dance Films. We've reviewed the set, and noted what's new, and what's appeared in prior sets, such as Bettie Page: Pin-Up Queen.

Also from Cult Epics is All Ladies Do It / Cosi fan tutte (1992), the last title in the label's first Tinto Brass boxed set. Along with an excellent transfer, the DVD comes with a director interview, stills, and once again demonstrates there's no limit to the use of macro lenses when you're a bum-obsessed lunatic. All Ladies Do It isn't set during the fifties, but it showcases the frilly things and primary colours that are part of Brass' surreal, erotic wonderland.

Visitors might notice the main page has been tweaked, so there's more room for the wave of reviews that'll follow straight through this holiday season. Lotsa documentaries, classics, and weirdness - because we like that stuff.

And if you visit Music from the Movies, you'll be able to read my lengthy assessment of Tony Palmer's epic composer biographies on DVD: Testimony (1988), starring Ben Kingsley as the long-suffering Dimitri Shostakovich; and Wagner (1983), with Richard Burton in his final role... for almost eight hours.

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Irving Klaw, Tinto Brass, Dimitri Shostakovich, Richard Wagner

Forbidden Goodies

Forbidden Planet actually enjoyed a decent release history on the home video front, making it to VHS, DVD, laserdisc and CED before Warner Bros. eventually assembled a proper special edition for the film's 50th anniversary.

Packed with above-average extras (including an outstanding doc on sci-fi in fifties cinema), the 2-disc set also comes with Robby the Robot's appearances in The Invisible Boy and a Thin Man TV episode, both of which we've reviewed in addition to Forbidden Planet, and all the extras.

As a tie-in to the DVD release, we've also added a review of Louis & Bebe Barron's original soundtrack album, plus loads of links to related Forbidden Planet materials (including a life-size Robby you too can own for the price of a Honda).

Also new is a review of SAE's new disc of Alfred Newman's score for The Razor's Edge, from 1946. In spite of the age, audio whiz Ray Faiola was able to use the various mike angles Twentieth Century-Fox used to record the score, and mix a true-stereo album in 2006. Produced with the label's usual top quality, SAE's booklet is equally notable for lots of historical details, cue examinations, and lots of archival stills.

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Soundtrack Reviews, Robby the Robot

To Have and To Hold

One aspect of being any kind of a collector is the physical relationship that's reinforced by having, holding, and re-examining that rare collectible, but with music, the need to possess a physical CD has become less important, as portability has become a major criterion: to fit 10-20 MP3 albums on a credit card-sized digital media player is way more advantageous to the average music listener than dragging a bag-full of standard audio CDs.

So how does the collector contend with MP3s when there's no pretty booklet, art, or potential of rareness and future investment in a purchase?

Ultimately, the collector has to reason why he/she started to pick up albums, and for most, the key is the music. That's certainly why so many soundtracks continue to enjoy CD releases and re-issues and premiere editions after collecting dust for decades; but can the collector return to the roots of the music?

Whether downloadable film soundtracks - actual scores, not those delete bin 'music from and inspired by' clutter - can co-exist with standard CDs is still something the market has to tackle, but little by little, riding on the success and popularity of the MP3 format, film music is appearing as legal, affordable, downloadable albums, and one of the pioneers in the field is Mikael Carlsson, and his label MovieScore Media.

Carlsson, a longtime contributor to Music from the Movies, ultimately branched out as a soundtrack album producer, and we felt his success with MovieScore Media [MSM] deserved a profile, because his 13+ releases are the result of some unique advantages when a label stays in the digital realm; the music released so far by MSM proves there's a lot of great stuff major labels can't keep up with. Just click HERE to read the complete interview & profile.

We've also added a review of the label's MP3 album for Brett Rosenberg's great thriller score, Half Light (2006).

Technorati Tags: MP3 Albums, Soundtrack Reviews

Jazz, Brass, and Criminal Delights

Picking up where Rock Fresh left off, we've got a review of the new edition of Style Wars, the iconic documentary from 1983 that captures a pivotal period in New York City's transit history when it was trying hard to deal with the constant graffiti splattered on the inside and outside of transit cars.

Incorporating kinetic editing with rap music and break dancing, Style Wars also showed the creative designs that had started to evolve by the mid- to late-seventies, and for the new DVD, the filmmakers interviewed many graffitists in 2005 who reflect on their youth, and current careers in the art field. Previously released by Plexifilm in a 2-disc edition, MVD has streamline the menus and added new interviews, plus retained the extras from the first release, including a very cool looped stills gallery of long-gone graffiti from subway trains.

Also from MVD are the first two volumes of the Jazz Shots East and West Coast series, which assemble a broad mix of rare live TV appearances of veteran jazz masters from the fifties and sixties.

From high art to, well, Brassian art, we also dig into the first volume of Cult Epics Tinto Brass Collection, and review the first two films in the set, Miranda (starring the pneumatic Serena Grandi), and The Key, which stands as one of the director's best and most accessible erotic films (albeit larded with plenty of popos and deltas).

Also from the label is Vintage Erotica Anno 1920, which skips back over prior decades in the series and showcases the inventive narratives, mis-en-scene, costumes, and silliness of vintage XXX shorts largely made in France by rich naughty people who had other ideas for their first home movie camera.

Next-to-last is a review of Miami Blues, George Armitage's superb 1990 adaptation of Charles Willeford's first Hoke Moseley novel, starring Alex Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and the colours of Miami. The tail-end of our review also comes with several Willeford links, so the curious can learn a bit more about this underrated crime author.

Finally, at the Music from the Movies website there's my detailed review of Vol. 4 in Scarecrow Press' ongoing and very excellent Film Score Guide series, with James Wierzbicki examining Louis and Bebe Barron's landmark electronic score for Forbidden Planet (1956). With Warner Bros.' 2-disc set of the classic sci-fi film coming out this month, the book functions as a perfect appendix to anyone keen on learning more about the composers, their influential score, and a concise history of electronic instruments.

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, New York Graffiti, Tinto Brass, Charles Willeford, Louis & Bebe Barron
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