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Thursday, December 27, 2012

DVD+Digital: Epic Westerns, box office bombs and Heaven's Gate

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM

courtesy of the Criterion Collection Heaven's Gate is one of the most famous pictures in the history of Hollywood, for all the wrong reasons. Released to theaters in 1980 (kind of; see below), the epic Western stars Kris Kristofferson, Isabelle Huppert and Christoper Walken in the true story of Wyoming's Johnson County War. Alas, director Michael Cimino's follow-up to The Deer Hunter, for which he won five Oscars, didn't fare well. Distributor United Artists initially refused to release the three-and-a-half hour movie and critics savaged the film when it did hit the screen. Heaven's Gate was pulled from theaters after...

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The spirit of Christmas specials, conclusion: Beyond Charlie Brown and the Grinch!

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 6:34 PM

It is my great belief that the two most important gifts one can give others are new moments of happiness, and a chance to relive moments of happiness from the past. (I suppose organ donations and tickets out of soul-crushing poverty are good as well, but there’s only so much you can do with a blog post.) So for the conclusion to my look back at Christmas specials long gone, I decided to look at some deep cuts — some specials not seen in a while, or only half-remembered. Before I go further, I want to take a moment...

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The Spirit of Christmas Specials, Part 1: The Realm of Rankin-Bass

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 12:43 PM

screen capture from ABC Family airingThe Flamboyant Snow Miser from Rankin-Bass' "The Year Without a Santa Claus" Peter Jackson’s new film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit might have broken box-office records despite mixed (and in the case of this paper, excoriating) reviews, but I myself am still reluctant to see it and weigh in. Why devote nearly three hours to a film adapting 1/3 of a book that you could read in less time — and why try to improve on the 75-minute version by Rankin-Bass Productions? The Rankin-Bass Hobbit was a mainstay of my childhood. Made for TV...

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DVD+Digital: Elizabeth Olsen, college nostalgia and Liberal Arts

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 11:21 AM

courtesy of IFC Films One of the great things about college town life, in my experience, is being plugged into a constant source of youthful energy and enthusiasm. In the spring especially, I like to walk around Chapel Hill and the UNC campus just to recharge my psychic batteries. It reminds me of my own undergraduate days, when life seemed full of promise and purpose, and — most critically, perhaps — college girls in sun dresses. The indie comedy Liberal Arts — new to DVD, Blu-ray and digital this week — explores this phenomenon with the story of one 30-something...

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Argo, Ben Affleck among 2012's best by Southeastern Film Critics

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Photo by Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainm — © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.The Southeastern Film Critics Association has voted Ben Affleck’s period thriller Argo the best motion picture of 2012. The 21-year-old organization, whose 48 members—including this author and INDY Week contributor Craig D. Lindsey—represent electronic and print media outlets in nine Southern states, also named Affleck Best Director. “Argo was far and a way the most-mentioned film on our critics’ ballots,” SEFCA president Philip Martin said. “While there were other films that had more first place votes, Argo was consistently well-regarded by our membership and it ended up winning...

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Friday, December 14, 2012

DVD+Digital: Francis Ford Coppola, the Rolling Stones and holiday box sets

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 9:12 AM

courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment December always brings a flotilla of DVD and Blu-ray box sets aimed at holiday gift shoppers. Some are reissues of films and TV shows already available on disc or online, but most holiday bundles feature exclusive extras or new material. Below are some recommendations from this year's batch of box sets. The listed prices are approximate retail costs, but it really pays to shop around with these things, online or off, especially with the more expensive sets. Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection (Blu-ray, $30, 5 discs) This bargain box set packages Apocalypse Now and the...

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Friday, December 7, 2012

A bittersweet ballroom: Million Dollar Quartet at DPAC

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 11:47 AM

photo by Jeremy DanielCody Slaughter as Elvis, in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTETMILLION DOLLAR QUARTET4 stars (out of 5)DPACThrough Dec. 9 The live band is cooking, and dead ringers for the first generation of rockabilly royalty nail rave-ups from “Who Do You Love” to “Great Balls of Fire.” But even at its full (and considerable) force, the 2007 jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet seems haunted by something surprising, given the supposed durability of the subject matter. It’s hard not to conclude that Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott’s book ultimately celebrates—and mourns—its evanescence. Yes, history proved Sun Records founder Sam Phillips right when...

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Are your names on our list? INDY WEEK'S Year In Theater nominations now open

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Sure. It's a good list. But it isn't ours...As happens about this time each December, INDY WEEK's critics are busy putting their heads together and reloading a full year's work in regional theater. In short, you could almost say they're making a list and checking it...well, a great deal more than twice. The List for 2012, our final take on excellence in regional theater, will publish in our issue of Dec. 19. But if you'd rather write the headlines, here's your chance. Leave your nominations for excellence in this year's regional productions in the comments below. (Or, if you're the...

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DVD+Digital: Activist artists, Chinese dissidents and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 11:22 PM

courtesy of IFC Films One of the year's very best documentaries, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry chronicles recent events in the life and work of China's most famous artist, and one of its most tenacious political activists. The film made a splash at this year's Full Frame festival in Durham and just this week was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Oscar. New to DVD and Blu-ray from IFC Films, Never Sorry is a remarkably accomplished film from journalist and first-time director Alsion Klayman. In the art world, Ai Weiwei is a giant. His sculptures and installations are exhibited worldwide, and he...

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