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Bogart, Grindhouse, Otherzine

"The first great antihero of American movies, Humphrey Bogart remained the epitome of nonconformist cool for generations after his death," writes Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times. "The Bogey of the collective imagination was defined by his contradictions: a vulnerable tough guy and a cynical idealist. Almost everything about his persona seemed to be a gesture of defiance. He was a romantic hero who resisted sentimentality, a minimalist in an age of emoters.... The Bogart cult endures... and Warner Home Video capitalizes on it for the umpteenth time this week with the release of Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection, a 24-film set that accounts for about a third of his filmography. Two key Bogart films are also being issued in Blu-ray high-def editions for the first time: The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), both directed by John Huston."

Chris Cabin in Slant on The Maltese Falcon: "What this presaging debut does perhaps best is give a suitable starting-off point to view Huston's relationship with literary adaptations, which took up the glut of the director's career. In keeping with Hammett's classic story, the film is built sturdily on a canny, nuanced performance by Humphrey Bogart as that most notorious of private eyes, Sam Spade."

Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse, "a fanatically detailed attempt to recreate the sordid experience of attending a decaying downtown movie theater in the late 1970s," as Dave Kehr puts it in the New York Times, is out on Blu-ray, and Kehr takes the occasion to revisit the real deal: "Representing the gritty, urban East Coast school is William Lustig's 1983 Vigilante, starring the grindhouse giants Robert Forster and Fred Williamson; and from the bouncier West Coast brigade comes the 1982 Slumber Party Massacre, directed by Amy Holden Jones from a screenplay by the novelist Rita Mae Brown. One reason these films remain of interest — and they have certainly received more serious critical coverage in the last decade than they did when released — is that they belong to that promisingly anarchic period between the collapse of Hollywood's stifling Production Code in 1968 and the general homogenization of American movies that occurred sometime in the late 1980s. A film like Vigilante, with its graphic violence and unpunished crimes, would not have been conceivable under the code, and became inconceivable again when the economics of scale pushed tiny, idiosyncratic projects out of the local grindhouse and into the nationally franchised multiplexes."

Otherwise, it's a fairly quiet week for DVD releases, so let's head straight to the roundups: Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel and Stephen Saito (IFC).

 

IN OTHER NEWS


The Fall 2010 issue of Otherzine is up, and if there's an overriding theme, it's gaming. Along with a bit of viewing, a bit of listening, the reviews of books and films and the artist projects, there are two interviews, Craig Baldwin's with Bob Dobbs and Molly Hankwitz Cox's with Lynne Sachs.

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