The Complete Metropolis
Fritz Lang was an innovative German expressionist director that helped define the silent film era. Metropolis is widely regarded as one of his best, if not his best film. It is a seminal classic film about fascism, love, revolution, and redemption. It is also the godfather of the science fiction genre of cinema. It is one of the greatest and most influential works of all time. And now, for the first time ever, you can bring the entire film home. Well, almost the entire film.
Obviously Iâ€™m not saying anything new here. I reviewed it last week and it is a film that has garnered a lot of discussion throughout the years. But being able to bring this seminal classic into your home is like the icing on the cake of the archival discovery. Now you can watch it as many times as you want. But I personally believe that this is a film meant for the big screen. Not that that will stop me from adding it to my collection as soon as possible.
The new footage (mostly acquired from Argentina) deals primarily with the character â€œthe thin man.â€ He turns out to be the primary villain in a certain sense. We also get a better look into the â€œtrading livesâ€ sequence. The footage is important to the plot and all title cards have been restored. But what is perhaps most astonishing about the new version is that the old footage has been remastered as well. Parts of the film look as good as new. And while the inconsistency may be annoying at times, it is well worth it considering the film that you get to witness.
On top of the release that gets the film into your home, Kino has offered up a double-disc rendition. Double-disc releases are quickly becoming a dying art and this one does justice to the material at stake. The major feature here is a 54 minute documentary that does just what we want special features to do: give us the backstory of the film. And here is a film with a considerable back story.
But even without this second disc, even if it were just the film, I would argue that this is the single most important cinematic event of the year. If you are going to buy only one DVD, buy The Complete Metropolis. It is a necessity for anyone who respects film. Or anyone who respects anything.
The Kids Are All Right
Lisa Cholodenko has made several films regarding homosexuals. But this one is by far the most poignant and most important. I consider The Kids Are All Right to be The Hurt Locker of films about homosexuality. Both films deal with their respective controversial issues. But both take the issues at face value and tell a story rather than preach about morality. By accepting the films stance as the social norm, the message is stronger, more potent, more accessible, and more enjoyable. On top of that, The Kids Are All Right is a just plain good movie.
But. I have my qualms with this film. The story is about two lesbians who have had two kids together via sperm donation. Each parent bore a child from the same donor. The parents are played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The sperm donor is Mark Ruffalo. The two children (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) eventually find themselves curious about their biological father. They contact him and his involvement causes distress.
The plot is well executed, this is probably the best acted film of the year, and it is also one of the funniest films of the year. But the film runs in odd directions in the third act and somewhat disposes of the Mark Ruffalo character. Oddly enough, this is not done to make any point about homosexuality or heterosexuality; it is just what happens in the story. And it doesnâ€™t sit well with me. I respect the fact that it defied expectations, but it felt dramatically off to me.
Overall it is a very good film and I understand why people (like Alex) love it. It just didnâ€™t go quite that far for me. But letâ€™s talk about the Oscars for a minute. Annette Bening appears to be the front runner for Best Actress (although more and more people are talking about Natalie Portman) and that is fine with me. But it is baffling to me that this is not considered the front runner for Best Original Screenplay. I canâ€™t imagine Inception winning. The Kingâ€™s Speech could very easily lose even if it wins Best Picture. Mike Leighâ€™s Another Year is quickly losing buzz and The Kids Are All Right is truly a writerâ€™s movie. The brilliance is in the screenplay.
The features are awesome here for a first release. It has three featurettes. They are all pretty short, but for a single disc release, I canâ€™t help but feel satisfied with what this disc offers. Itâ€™s a good film and I assume most of you have seen it. If you havenâ€™t, check it out. But I have no plans of adding this one to my collection.
On the Art of DVDs
The Complete Metropolis offers up the same poster it had during its theatrical run. However this is a different work of art than was used on the previous Metropolis release. It is a vast improvement. Both the coloration and the font on the older one are obscenely awful. I enjoy the simplicity of the new one.
The Kids Are All Right doesnâ€™t change much in its artwork. The style is simplistic and what it shows is rather bland. It really doesnâ€™t do the film justice, even though I find the film to be a little overrated, it deserves better artwork than a few squares, one screenshot and close-ups.
All right. So we have a lot here this week. We get a new rendition of Avatar, this one comes with more than just the film and a â€˜play movieâ€™ menu option. Also we get last yearâ€™s A Christmas Carol. Despite Roger Ebertâ€™s four star review of this film, Iâ€™ll pass.
Last week, I passed up an opportunity to write about Antichrist. It got a very nice Criterion makeover. A lot of you declared that you had little interest in the film; you should really give it a chance. It is more than exploitation, it is an artistic, gorgeous film that is genuinely scary and uses its content sparingly.
Speaking of Criterion, Charlie Chaplinâ€™s Modern Times got its treatment. Although I must admit this is not my favorite Chaplin film. That would be City Lights. And most importantly, The Night of the Hunter got Criterion as well. That is one of the great films in my humble opinion. If you havenâ€™t seen it, see it now.
The Last Airbender. No comment.
The Complete Metropolis is a must own; The Kids Are All Right is also pretty good. And now is a good time to check out the Criterion sale.