Lola Montès (1955) is "Max Ophüls's final masterpiece," declares Josef Braun, "mangled upon its initial release, newly restored in all its unspeakable gorgeousness, and now available from the Criterion Collection.... The project was originally meant to be more modest, but as the producers insisted on hoisting such intrusions as Technicolor, Cinemascope and sex goddess Martine Carol upon Ophüls — who utilized each of these items masterfully — Lola Montès increasingly became a kind of critique of itself. As Marcel Ophüls, the director's son, said, the more they tried to turn the project into a grandiose commercial spectacle, the more Lola Montès became a movie about grandiose commercial spectacle."
"One of the more marvelous things you will see this year, or any year, really," advises Jamie S Rich at DVD Talk.
Sean Axmaker is impressed with the package of extras on both the DVD and Blu-ray and Gary Tooze is pleased to see that "our wish has come true with Criterion taking Max Ophuls's restored masterpiece to 1080P."
"Lola Montès is the kind of flamboyant yet meticulous film that rewards the spectator's age and experience: the more we bring to it, the more we take away. Its remarkable structure can be approached in diverse ways." Gary Giddins's essay for Criterion, "borrowing a musical formulation, parses the film into six movements and a transition."
Earlier: A roundup from the 2008 edition of the New York Film Festival.
"This week Lionsgate is releasing new Blu-ray versions of three classic films licensed from the French media holding company StudioCanal," notes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "The revelation among them is not Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963) or Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985) — both excellent films that have previously been released in fine standard-definition versions by the Criterion Collection — but The Ladykillers, a 1955 comedy from Ealing Studios in Britain."
Michael Atkinson for IFC on Wanda Jakubowska's The Last Stage (1948): "I hardly know where to begin — a Polish film about life in Auschwitz, made less than three years after liberation of the camp, shot on location in Auschwitz itself, using real liberated prisoners as extras, filmed by a woman (female Polish directors in the '40s?) who had been imprisoned in Auschwitz just three years earlier. I'd never heard of Jakubowska's landmark — it probably came too soon, and demanded too much of war-weary audiences to have established itself on the cultural stage. But Jakubowska's grim document was, apparently, the first of its kind, and it is often a little too much like watching it happen in real time." Also reviewed: Johan Renck's Downloading Nancy (2008).
"Clint Eastwood, who turns 80 in May, has been racking up lifetime achievement awards since the 90s — before he had even embarked on the late phase of his career that many consider his creative prime." Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times: "To mark the 35th anniversary of his relationship with Warner Bros, the studio on Tuesday is issuing a massive boxed set, Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.... The set serves as a reminder, if we needed another one, that Eastwood's is a complex and even contradictory body of work — one whose scope no one could have foreseen when he decided to step behind the camera at age 41."
The plot of Götz Spielmann's Revanche (2008) "resembles classic film noir yet ultimately renovates it," writes Armond White for Criterion. More from Josef Braun and Brad Brevet.
DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker, Noel Murray (LAT) and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail).
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