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Antonioni, DVDs, Rediscoveries, Fests

Featured editor Michael Bloom introduces the Michelangelo Antonioni Tribute issue of Offscreen: "[I]t was William Arrowsmith's concept of the psychogeographic journey — the hallucinatory objectivism Antonioni uses to unite inchoate charactes with mercurial landscapes — which we would continually return to as the binding essence throughout Antonioni's films... All of the essays selected for this special issue were chosen based on this idea, and each perpetuates a particular dimension of this psychogeographic quest."

"Michelangelo Antonioni's first color film, Red Desert [image above], from 1964 (new on DVD from Criterion [out on June 22]), is both a plangent anti-romantic melodrama and a prescient environmentalist masterwork, a Silent Spring of the soul," writes the New Yorker's Richard Brody. And Gary Tooze explains his "enthusiastic endorsement" of the Blu-ray release.



"With three of its six titles new to DVD, Universal's Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection offers some fresh insight into the development of one of America's most revered and culturally resonant comedians," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "A fan favorite long out of distribution, The Cat and the Canary is the centerpiece of the current collection, and is presented in a pristine print that does full justice to Charles Lang's shadowy cinematography." Hope "balanced brashness with self-deprecation, and the quartz-crystal timing of a seasoned pro with the helplessness and vulnerability of a little boy. As developed by performers from Woody Allen to Steve Carell, it's a persona that's become so pervasive in American comedy that Hope's originality can be difficult to perceive today. But in 1939 it almost immediately established Hope as a top box-office attraction, a position he held through the end of the 40s when a newer, more anarchic comedy came along with Martin and Lewis." More from Sean Axmaker.

"The greatest cinephile deal going right now is for Arrow Films' 8-Disc Box Set of Eric Rohmer films, which includes all six entries in his Comedies & Proverbs series, along with Love in the Afternoon and The Marquise of O." R Emmet Sweeney for TCM on The Green Ray.

"From the pain of Happy Together came the pleasure of In the Mood for Love," writes Eric Henderson in Slant. "Wong Kar-wai's 1997 film is a mass of contradictions. It's a movie mostly sour on love but filmed as though filtered through the vehement rush of a newfound romanticism. It's both fragmented and cyclical. It's stiflingly claustrophobic and also brashly international. And it's an intimate, interpersonal look at the forces that keep two men simultaneously joined and repelled like whirring magnets, filmed (at least subconsciously) on the cusp of a major national moment.... Thanks to a sumptuous new high-definition transfer from Kino, Happy Together is still bittersweet, but with a little more emphasis on the sweet." More from Scott Tobias at the AV Club.

Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (1977) "is a gift, not just a film preserved and sold as product, but a piece of the 20th century that will now never quite fade completely from view," writes Michael Atkinson for "Shot and assembled by a six-person collective (including Rob Epstein, later director of The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads), this film is as simple as it is expansive: amidst the definitive stirrings of the gay rights movement, the filmmakers sat down with 26 gay men and women — young and old, fat and skinny, urban and rural, educated and not, of a variety of ethnicities — and just let them tell their stories." Also reviewed: "The Disappeared is so richly subjective and gritty, with a working-class London vibe so acutely evoked, that it's as if Ken Loach had decided to make a horror movie."

DVD roundups. Sean Axmaker, Noel Murray (LAT), Slant and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail). And Glenn Kenny has launched what he hopes will be a regular feature at Some Came Running, the "Blu-ray disc Consumer Guide," with the inaugural edition covering the month of June.



"You know, it's getting difficult to keep up with all the silent news just at the moment," writes Luke McKernan. "Hot on the heels of the discovery of a lost Chaplin film, A Thief Catcher, the National Film Preservation Foundation has announced a partnership with the New Zealand Film Archive to preserve and make available a collection of 75 American films (all silents) that no longer survive in American archives."

More on the Chaplin from John McElwee; Dave Kehr reports on the New Zealand find in the NYT, highlighting in particular John Ford's Upstream, "a backstage drama from 1927, a year that was a turning point in the development of one of America's greatest filmmakers."

The Siren and Marilyn Ferdinand note with a dash of well-justified pride that their co-hosted For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon back in February raised enough funds to restore at least two of these rediscovered works. And Marilyn's turned right around and interviewed another archivist, preservationist and collector, Rick Perlinger.

"The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) has been grappling with these issues for two decades," blogs Eric Kohn. "In commemoration of its twentieth anniversary, AMIA is holding a short film and video competition to 'highlight the importance of preserving our moving image heritage." Details here.



"Among this year's best American independent films — on view at Brooklyn's second annual and already influential BAMcinemaFEST, June 9 through 20 — Aaron Katz's Cold Weather, Matt Porterfield's Putty Hill, and Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture share little in outward appearance. But whether slacker-mystery, docu-art-cinema, or anti-rom-com, the films take up similar themes (wayward young people) and display a formal inventiveness (merging naturalistic acting with stylized aesthetics) that breathes new life into low-budget cinema." Anthony Kaufman gets a few words with all three filmmakers.

The Voice is also spotlighting two docs featured in the lineup; Tim Grierson recommends Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's 12th & Delaware and Michelle Orange is taken aback by Ken Wardrop's His & Hers. Meantime, James van Maanen previews the lineup overall.

The Austin Film Society Documentary Tour is presenting The Oath this evening at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz and Annes S Lewis talks with director Laura Poitras for the Chronicle.

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