September 6, 2006

START POPPING THE CORN:

Oldies and Goodies Rule Summer's End (GARY GIDDINS, September 6, 2006, NY Sun)

In 2001, Image released an apparently definitive 219-minute edition of Fritz Lang's 1922 spectacle, "Dr. Mabuse the Gambler." Now Kino comes along with a version 50 minutes longer (a few minutes might have been wisely shaved with better timed intertitles).The result is an even more dazzling whirlwind of action and deception, with elaborated plot points and even-handed tempo. In addition to being more complete, the new version is sharper-looking and boasts a superior, expertly synchronized musical score by Aljoscha Zimmerman.

If you are not already addicted to Lang's adventures in serial paranoia (addiction is probably required when contemplating a four-and-a-half-hour silent movie), Mabuse — the ultimate nihilistic anarchist — quickly works his malign magic.The character was a pulp response to the Joseph Conrad of "Under Western Eyes"; in Lang's hands, he is, as Siegfried Kracauer put it, the transitional monster between Caligari and Hitler, but a lot more fun than either of them. This film has the momentum of a train. You need a break to catch your breath. [...]

Last fall, Criterion released a magnificent restoration of "Wages of Fear," one of the greatest adventure films of the 1950s. Yesterday it released an equally enthralling upgrade of its rival: Akira Kurosawa's 1954 epic, "Seven Samurai." The 207-minute film is spread out over two discs, along with galleries, trailers, and a Toho-TV documentary; a third disc includes a new documentary on the film's origins and a two-hour 1993 conversation with the director. Putting the extras aside, the old Criterion version is perfectly acceptable, but this one is far better: The grays we have become accustomed to are replaced by vivid blacks and whites, which underscore Kurosawa's Olympian style, forged with a telephoto lens and daringly rhythmic edits.


The recently departed Glen Ford starred in Lang's best American film, The Big Heat.


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 6, 2006 8:51 AM
Comments

Netflix finally got around to including Criterion release of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp among its selections -- in case you haven't noticed.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 6, 2006 9:49 PM

It's on its way.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2006 10:02 PM

Post a review? I'd like to hear/see your thoughts.

After I saw it I couldn't get the theme -- Je Suis Titania, from the opera Mignon -- out of my head for months. And it seemed like the great classical station here in Chicago, WFMT, started playing it all the time.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 6, 2006 10:31 PM
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