"The Uninvited" (1944)

October 2013

The UninvitedTaking Ghosts Seriously

The Criterion Collection 677
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
*****

Sound Quality
***

Extras
****

Just in time for Halloween, Criterion, who brought us Eyes Without a Face last week, has released The Uninvited, a classic black-and-white ghost story directed by Lewis Allen in 1944. It's considered the first Hollywood film to take ghosts seriously and not explain them as the result of manmade parlor tricks.

Read more ...

"Eyes Without a Face"

October 2013

Eyes Without a FaceGeorges Franju’s Movie Is Scary, but the Real Horror Lies in Reality

The Criterion Collection 260
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Extras
****

Tired of watching the same old titles for Halloween entertainment? Just in the nick of time, Criterion has released a rare oldie (1960) that ought to chill you to the bone, along with an extra feature that is positively horrifying. Eyes Without a Face was dubbed in English and released in the US as The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus. This is the first time I've seen the French original.

Read more ...

"The Devil’s Backbone"

August 2013

The Devil's BackboneA Gothic Ghost Story Masterpiece

The Criterion Collection 666
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
*****

Sound Quality
****

Extras
****

Most moviegoers know Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006), which won three Academy Awards and was nominated for three additional ones. The Devil's Backbone, from 2001, is considered a twin to Pan's Labyrinth, but it is not generally known to American audiences, no doubt because its screening at the Canadian International Film Festival was right before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Immediately after that catastrophic event, film producers were soft-pedaling any releases that contained violence.

Read more ...

"Seconds"

August 2013

SecondsFirst-Rate Sleeper Gets the Recognition It Deserves

The Criterion Collection 667
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
****

Sound Quality
****

Extras
****

Director John Frankenheimer enjoyed a strong series of hit movies in the early 1960s: All Fall Down, Birdman of Alcatraz, and The Manchurian Candidate (all 1962), Seven Days in May, and The Train (both 1964). This incredible track record preceded Seconds in 1966, based on the novel by David Ely and starring Rock Hudson. It was not well received. Some theorize that Rock Hudson fans didn't want to see their favorite romantic comedy star in anything serious, and people who weren't into Rock Hudson simply passed on it.

Read more ...

"Babette's Feast"

July 2013

Babette's FeastA Dinner Made with Love That Changes Lives

The Criterion Collection 665
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Picture Quality
****

Sound Quality
****

Extras
****

When Babette’s Feast comes up in casual conversation, most people will say it's the ultimate film about food, but I think it's really about love and the human spirit. Food and spirit merge during the meal that Babette prepares, and it manifests itself as love for all mankind.

Read more ...

"Things to Come"

June 2013

Things to ComeUtopia According to Wells

The Criterion Collection 660
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
****

Sound Quality
***

Extras
***1/2

H. G. Wells (1866-1946) wrote his most important science-fiction novels early in his career. The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, and The Island of Doctor Moreau were from that period -- the fiction that led to Wells being called "the father of science fiction." Jules Verne had previously been accorded the same honor. But Wells wrote much more than science fiction; he authored contemporary novels, histories, essays, and social commentary. And in 1936 he authored the screenplay for Things to Come, based in large part on his book, The Shape of Things to Come.

Read more ...

"Richard III"

May 2013

Richard IIIA Classic Restored to Glory

The Criterion Collection 213
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
****1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Extras
****

The recent discovery of Richard III's skeleton has called into question past assessments of his character and appearance. A facial reconstruction shows a young man of almost feminine beauty. There has been lots of speculation, but two things are certain: Richard III reigned but two short years and died a violent death at Bosworth Field in 1485. The wounds on his skeleton show that he was struck with many blows, including two extremely severe knocks to the head, lending credence to Sir Laurence Olivier's portrayal of his death, which shows dozens of soldiers pummeling the downed monarch.

Read more ...

"Jack Reacher"

April 2013

Jack ReacherA Pristine Blu-ray Reveals an Entertaining Crime Procedural

Paramount 7922916
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Extras
***1/2

Werner Herzog. He’s a film director extraordinaire, having directed both documentaries (Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World) and fiction adventures (Fitzcarraldo, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Rescue Dawn, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans). He has staged opera at Bayreuth and La Scala, written over 50 film scripts, produced over 20 titles, and has worked in many aspects of film, including sound. This everyman has also acted, and in Jack Reacher, we find him perfectly cast as the Zec, a man who has sacrificed his fingers over the years, proving that he’s willing to go to any length to survive.

Read more ...

"The Blob"

April 2013

The Blob'50s Sci-Fi Fave in Radiant Color

The Criterion Collection 91
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Picture Quality
****

Sound Quality
***

Extras
***

"It creeps and leaps and glides and slides . . ." It's hard not to like a villain from outer space that can be described in a Burt Bacharach-Mack David title song, and it's easy to overlook The Blob's deficiencies, given such an earnest presentation. If it's not a great horror story or an A-list science-fiction thriller for you, The Blob is a slice of Americana and a time capsule to the long past 1950s. In spite of its cheesy special effects (or perhaps because of them), it has become a cult favorite.

Read more ...

"Badlands"

March 2013

BadlandsOne Sumptuous-Looking Crime Spree

The Criterion Collection 651
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****

Picture Quality
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Extras
***1/2

In 1973, Badlands established Terrence Malick as a new director to be noticed and launched the careers of Martin Sheen (Kit) and Sissy Spacek (Holly). It was Malick's first feature film, based on a killing spree by teenager Charles Starkweather that occurred in the late 1950s. Starkweather and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, fled Lincoln, Nebraska, after Starkweather killed Fugate's mother, stepfather, and two-year-old stepsister. While on the run, Starkweather killed seven additional victims but was caught and sent to the electric chair on June 25, 1959. Fugate protested that she had been Starkweather's captive, but the court didn't buy it and found her guilty as an accessory. She served 17 years in prison.

Read more ...

More Articles ...

More SoundStage! Videos

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)