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Blu-ray Review: Young Adult

3.0

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Young Adult

Young Adult is another link in a long chain of Hollywood productions over the last 20 years that condemns the American middle class either openly or under a pretense of empathy. From these films, which include the 1999 trifecta of Election, American Beauty, and Fight Club, as well as The Family Man, About Schmidt, Juno, Up in the Air, and on and on, one gathers that the typical middle-class American citizen is a cowardly, untalented, adulterous drone capable of little more than working a dead-end nine-to-five shift, breeding, and shoveling in deep-fried slop at their favorite chain restaurant on Friday or Saturday night.

I’ll give Young Adult this: Unlike most of the films perpetrated by director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, it’s almost entirely and jarringly upfront in its contempt for everything. In the actively offensive Up in the Air, Reitman treated out-of-work people as cuddly Ewoks who helped to pave the way for rich hunky George Clooney’s familiar moral awakening. By film’s end, Clooney’s smooth operator was still financially affluent, and could still anticipate romps in the hay with the perfect 10s of his choosing, but he was…alone! It’s the people losing their jobs or homes yet married with children who were lucky—and the fact that Reitman bragged about including “real” financially troubled people in the film only underscores his cluelessness.

Young Adult mercifully doesn’t bother with that veiled condescension, and, while it’s still off-puttingly mean-spirited, that honesty at least distinguishes it from many similarly themed movies. As with most films in this subgenre of dramedy that could be called Contemptus Americanus, the protagonist is a successful outsider who tries to assure that a variety of middle-class ghouls understand just how awful and ugly and clueless they are. The twist is that the hero, Mavis (Charlize Theron), a ghost writer of a dwindling series of novels aimed at teenage girls, is a bitter, alcoholic, potentially delusional monster who pointedly denies viewers the soothing voyeuristic glamour that you get with a Clooney film.

Young Adult admittedly has a promising opening that gets the quiet details of life as an alcoholic surprisingly right, and the incident that incites the plot proper has a nasty, potentially satiric charge. Mavis, hungover, facing that her career is potentially in the toilet, spots an email in her inbox from her high school beau announcing the birth of his first child, and something in her snaps. Leaving her current one-night stand behind in her dingy apartment with just her little dog and an impulsively packed bag in tow, Mavis flees the “big city” of Minneapolis for her small hometown of Mercury so as to win the quite-taken Buddy back.

This initially primes you for a comedy that uproots the often ridiculous clichés of a film whose idea of escapism is to offer all the little people in the auditorium a fable of a rich, talented person who grows a heart at their expense. And Reitman and Cody may have realized that aim had they allowed Mavis’s hometown cronies even a hint of dignity. But you know the game is rigged the moment Reitman stages a scene of Mavis driving into Mercury past a host of fast-food chains and the the song she’s listening to comments on the trip with lyrics that include “what’s going on?” And you know the game is really over when Buddy turns out to be played by Patrick Wilson, an actor who plays, and dully so, the same clueless dud in every movie.

Young Adult proceeds as a comedy that shoots the usual fish in a barrel. Handicapped people are ridiculed for their absurd optimism. Ranch dressing and Bacos are emphasized to clue us into the fattening, lowest-common-denominator lifestyle of these rubes, while most of the parents are portrayed as the usual sycophants. Buddy’s wife and a few others are allowed to be “likable,” but in a blandly naïve goody-goody fashion that’s designed to spur audience resentment.

Reitman and Cody would have you believe that this nastiness is intended as a projection of their toxic character’s worldview, which would be fine, but that view is never disputed beyond a superficial cover-our-bases fashion, not even in the film’s meant-to-be-shocking No Exit finale. Mavis often says and does awful things, and she’s often allowed to actually look like a woman pushing 40 whose beginning to drink away her looks, but we’re obviously meant to condone, or at least sympathize with, most of her actions deep down. The film nearly falls into that sentimentality that plagues the work of much greater—to put it politely—artists such as Henry Miller or Charles Bukowski: It’s a celebration of the subterranean heroism of a drunken artist who dares not buy into the system. The irony that Mavis is just as enslaved to (differing) custom as the people of Mercury is never acknowledged, as her customs—nice clothes, agreeable feng shui, Maker’s Mark—are most likely also agreeable to the filmmakers.

Reitman stages the film with his characteristic visual drabness, which is meant to cue us into his integrity as a director, but the auteur is clearly Cody, and Mavis is obviously a Cody surrogate (Mavis’s work is even meant as an autobiographical in-joke, as Cody has been attached to a big-screen adaptation of the Sweet Valley High series). Small towns can be stifling in their cultural ignorance and in their insistence that life follow a prescribed pattern, but to only define a small town by those dimensions while ignoring the beauty and comfort they can offer (not to mention the refreshing lack of hipster-wannabe screenwriters sitting in coffee shops) is to significantly shortchange them and to diminish your art in the process. The script is sometimes funny, and Cody, when she wants to be, is perceptive to little details of small-town life, but only if they’re damning. The way characters respond to the subject of Mavis’s writing, in a tone that’s approving and condescending in not entirely equal measure, is eerily just right. The atmosphere of the bars is unusually convincing for a mainstream American film, and the unexpected meeting of the minds that Mavis enjoys with a handicapped, geeky former classmate, Matt (Patton Oswalt), lends the film some much needed warmth and spontaneity.

But Young Adult is mostly a predictably cynical harangue that shortchanges its actors, particularly Collette Wolfe as Matt’s sister. In only a couple of scenes, Wolfe allows you to see her character’s sadness and self-loathing, as well as a tender grace that unexpectedly deepens the film’s last, and in many cases worst, major scene. Wolfe doesn’t allow herself the smug safeguarding that Reitman and Cody have made careers indulging; she gives you, in all of three minutes, a heartbreaking portrait of a woman whose spent her disappointing life imagining the exploits of the gorgeous snake now inexplicably willing to confide in her. And it tells you all you need to know about this movie that the best the filmmakers can think to do with Wolfe’s performance is to make her character the butt of their meanest joke.

Image/Sound

Young Adult has two predominant color themes. The scenes set during the day are mostly characterized by a gray-blue tone, while the portions of the film set at night, and usually inside bars, are logically defined by blacks punctuated with the fluorescent red and white lights of lamps, beer signs, and so forth. The gray-blues have generally been transferred with clarity, though the image is (perhaps intentionally) somewhat soft, but the night sequences don’t fare as well. The background reds tend to bleed into the foreground, while some of the dark images are so inky and undefined as to obscure important visual information, such as characters’ faces. The sound is much better, as ambient sounds have convincing depth and are mixed appropriately with the spare score. Overall, a mediocre-to-just-okay presentation.

Extras

The audio commentary by director Jason Reitman, DP Eric Steelberg, and first assistant director/associate producer Jason A. Blumenfeld is a traditional discussion that touches on on-site antics, filmmaker intentions, and cast-and-crew shout-outs. Reitman dominates the track, and while he discloses the occasionally interesting tidbit (such as his view of the tragic implications of that scene between Charlize Theron and Collette Wolfe near the end, an intention that doesn’t register given the glib staging), he also often relies upon banal discussions of symbolism, such as his idea that the film is a romance between a person broken on the inside and one broken on the outside. Still, the commentary is generally painless, if not great. Reitman’s interview with critic Janet Maslin covers similar material, but there’s a backslapping smugness to the proceedings that could easily rub detractors of the film (who, admittedly, probably aren’t watching anyway) the wrong way. “The Awful Truth: Deconstructing a Scene,” which provides a quick impression of the revisions and ad libs that go into shaping performance and dialogue, is probably the most informative and entertaining feature. The deleted scenes and “Misery Loves Company: The Making of Young Adult” are standard, as those sorts of extras go.

Overall

People who’ve already convinced themselves of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s genius should appreciate Young Adult‘s cynical, formulaic pandering, but doubters should stay far, far away.

Cast: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe Director: Jason Reitman Screenwriter: Diablo Cody Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment Running Time: 93 min Rating: R Year: 2011 Release Date: March 13, 2012 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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Blu-ray Review: Julien Duvivier’s Panique

This dynamic and balanced restoration makes a significant case for the film as one of the most moving and beautiful of unjustly neglected noirs.

4.5

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Panique

Julien Duvivier’s Panique informs small-town life with rich menace, suggesting a correlation can exist between vicious gossip and physical violence, as people seek to assert dominion over the reputations of their neighbors out of boredom and resentment. Throughout the film, a doubling motif links classism with atrocity, and rumor-mongering with the tragedy it incites—such as linked images of two funerals, one of the murder victim that drives the film’s plot, the other of a person framed for the murder, essentially for being an eccentric outcast. As in many a film noir, Panique has, at its center, the structural rigidness of a mathematical equation, which it fleshes out with macabre comedy, piercing pathos, and a mad blend of realism and rococo expressionism.

The outcast is Monsieur Hire, played by Michel Simon, in casting that recalls Jean Renoir’s La Chienne. In both films, Simon plays a frumpy, lonely, and artistic man stuck in his own head, who falls for a beautiful woman who exploits his affections with the encouragement of her true lover. Renoir allows us to understand from the outset that Simon’s character is trapped, by his self-loathing as much as by his manipulators, while Duvivier offers a panorama that gradually closes in on Hire. In fact, one of the driving pleasures of Panique’s first act is in attempting to discern where it’s going, as Duvivier studies the respective habits of a baker, a prostitute, a shifty young man, a hypocritical accountant, and so forth. The film’s foreboding emphasis on daily life sometimes suggests The Marseille Trilogy by way of Shirley Jackson.

Hire initially appears confident, accepting his status in this picturesque country as the resident weirdo. After resisting the butcher’s attempts to talk with him, Hire orders a bloody pork loin and proceeds to the cheese shop to search for its “ripest” Camembert. Such details, which are plentiful in Panique, are amusing for their own sake while revealing that Hire fashions himself a ghoulish aesthete who’s somewhat difficult for the sake of being difficult. (The emphases on blood and ripeness also suggest a rechanneling of thwarted sexual hungers.) Unlike the immediately pitiable hero of La Chienne, Hire allows the audience to enjoy his loneliness. Perhaps this is a man who’s figured out how to live apart from society with dignity intact. In other words, Hire, who possesses the gifts of Simon’s own inherently introverted magnetism, flatters similarly-minded people in the audience.

This narrative misdirection mirrors Hire’s fooling of himself, underscoring how he’s attempted to transcend his human need for companionship—a nuance that renders his fall from grace all the more moving. As Hire becomes intoxicated with Alice (Viviane Romance), Simon’s physicality becomes subtly heavier and more awkward, as the actor understands Hire to be reverting to a vulnerable state that’s been long suppressed. Duvivier’s compositions complement this notion, particularly when Hire is framed in his cluttered apartment, regarding Alice’s residence from below as carnival lights luridly illuminate him. The carnival isn’t only a metaphor for the “show business”—the manipulations, the play-acting—that govern everyday life, but for how society always requires freaks for projection and ostracizing.

A beautiful and merciless film, Panique has been read as an allegory for Vichy France’s complicity with Nazis, which is apparent in the way the conspiring villagers are shown to unify against a diseased cause that’s been engineered by a third party. And such an association is complicated further by the controversy of Duvivier leaving his country for Hollywood during WWII, which is helpfully illuminated in the essays in the booklet included with this disc. But humankind has so often betrayed itself—honoring its irrational base instincts above issues of morality or common sense—that Panique now operates as a free-floating nightmare of persecution, one which offers a vividly haunting victim. As Hire ascends a building to his doom, fleeing his vengeful neighbors, one may think of Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong, only in this case there’s no mythical creature to offer one the distancing assurance of the fantastic.

Image/Sound

The image has a few minor blemishes but is generally quite sharp and rich in tactile detail. Throughout the film, this superb clarity particularly emphasizes the relationship between the various foregrounds and backgrounds of the frames, underscoring the vitality of tracking shots that elaborate on the various connections between the characters, emphasizing how small this troubled community really is. Blacks are rich, and whites are delicately soft, the latter of which is important in rendering characters’ flesh, particularly in the surprisingly erotic images of a woman teasing her male voyeur with glimpses of her body. The monaural soundtrack expertly preserves the film’s intricate soundstage, which often pivots on a contrast between the sounds of everyday work (carpentry and butchery) and those of the carnival, which physicalize the lurid thoughts driving the narrative’s action.

Extras

“The Art of Subtitling,” a new short documentary by Bruce Goldstein, founder and co-president of Rialto Pictures, offers an unusual and fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day challenges of translating foreign dialogue into English text. Like a lot of things many of us take for granted, subtitling requires an exactitude and discipline that’s invisible at first glance. For instance, a subtitle must disappear before one image segues into another, so as to not jar the audience. And, for the sake of flow, subtitles must also summarize dialogue rather than literally transcribe it, so that an audience doesn’t spend a film’s entire running time reading. Goldstein also examines the process of updating and improving subtitle tracks over the years as films are restored, including the production of the new track of Panique that was commissioned for this release, as modern audiences have grown to crave a precise rendering of the slang and humor that give characters and narratives texture.

A new interview with author Pierre Simenon, the son of legendary Belgian novelist Georges Simenon, offers an inside look at how Julien Duvivier altered one of his father’s novels to arrive at the screenplay for Panique, while providing a short overview of Georges’s life, particularly during WWI and WWII. (Georges wasn’t especially fond of the many films made from his work, though Pierre has high praise for Panique.) Meanwhile, a conversation from 2015 between critics Guillemette Odicino and Eric Libiot succinctly covers a variety of topics, especially the rocky reception that Duvivier received when he returned to France after working in the United States so as to dodge the Nazi occupation. French audiences, somewhat understandably, were resistant to a critique of mob justice from someone who managed to avoid the danger and turmoil of the mob altogether. The essays by film scholar James Quandt and Duvivier expert Lenny Borger also discuss the political context of Panique, while reveling in the film’s brilliant melding of realist and expressionist textures. The theatrical trailer rounds out a slim but informative supplements package.

Overall

With this dynamic and balanced restoration, Criterion makes a significant case for Panique as one of the most moving and beautiful of unjustly neglected noirs.

Cast: Michel Simon, Viviane Romance, Paul Bernard, Charles Dorat, Louis Florencie, Max Dalban, Émile Drain, Guy Favières Director: Julien Duvivier Screenwriter: Charles Spaak, Julien Duvivier Distributor: The Criterion Collection Running Time: 98 min Rating: NR Year: 1946 Buy: Video

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Blu-ray Review: Brian De Palma’s Obsession

Brian De Palma’s showy Vertigo tribute gets a significant A/V upgrade from Shout! Factory.

4

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Obsession

Geneviève Bujold was a little bit like the Björk of late-‘60s, early-‘70s cinema. She worked between predominately pop-minded American films and hermetic, aggressively Euro productions, coasted a long way on adorably pliable looks, and kept you perpetually off-balance with her off-kilter line readings and interpretations. She was a sterile cuckoo with a voice whose grit confirmed the darkness in her eyes. Paul Schrader may have ended up having to capitulate Obsession’s original (ridiculous) scripted ending to the will of Brian De Palma, but the casting of Bujold in what is essentially Kim Novak’s role in Vertigo results in a literary emphasis not seen in De Palma’s work again until the strong-arm showboating of Oliver Stone and David Mamet.

Obsession is, as far as De Palma’s tributes to Hitchcock go, half-baked and far-fetched without even the benefit of being audacious-unto-tasteless. It’s the film in which the only dearth of a metaphoric “double” is the comedy mask that ought to complement the dour visage of tragedy. (Is that the reason that it’s Obsession, and not any other De Palma film up until Femme Fatale, that’s included in the top 1,000 film list of Jonathan Rosenbaum, who sneered at the director for delighting in audience reactions to Dressed to Kill?)

While Bernard Herrmann’s rapturously funereal score (with at least four separate dirge leitmotifs swirling around the opulent, central “Valse Lente”) ratchets up Obsession’s metastasized, polluted doom-gloom, Bujold takes her role in the opposite direction, at least initially. (The character is a screenwriter’s “pitch” if there ever was one—e.g., “What if we took the idea that Kim Novak was practically young enough to be James Stewart’s daughter and just ran with that?”) Within minutes of meeting Cliff Robertson’s sad sack Michael, Bujold’s Elizabeth bites heartily into Schrader’s symbolic dialogue about the ethical implications of discovering an original draft of art and restoring the revision.

That’s clearly an expression of self-deprecating guilt from a writer who felt a little dirty turning Vertigo into a teary-eyed sick joke. But Bujold’s enthusiasm as a performer redeems the entire picture, especially when she’s asked to perform flashback scenes that shouldn’t work, but, thanks to her, represent another of De Palma’s fearlessly experimental whims.

Image/Sound

Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography has looked too washed-out on previous home-video editions of the film, but it finally looks right on Shout’s Blu-ray. Colors are natural and the exaggerated lighting dazzles when refracted off of mirror surfaces. Even more impressive is the surround-sound remix, which amplifies Bernard Herrmann’s bombastic, swelling score to deafening levels while leaving all dialogue clear in the center channel. The original mono track is also included and sounds every bit as crisp despite the lack of separation.

Extras

On his commentary track, Douglas Keesey offers a drily academic breakdown of the film. The author of Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life in Film sounds too much like he’s reading from a script, but he still provides intriguing observations on the director’s stylistic flourishes. Interviews with producer George Litto and editor Paul Hirsch see both men reminiscing about their careers and work with De Palma, with the former more gregarious about his own life and the latter more specific about the details of his work on Obsession. An archival documentary on the film features interviews with De Palma, Cliff Robertson, and Geneviève Bujold, who all reflect on the film’s production and how well they worked together. The disc also includes a trailer, radio spots, and an image gallery.

Overall

Brian De Palma’s showy Vertigo tribute gets a significant A/V upgrade, highlighting the dreamy haze of Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography and Bernard Herrmann’s score better than any home-video release of the film to date.

Cast: Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold, John Lithgow, Sylvia Kuumba Williams, Wanda Blackman, J. Patrick McNamara, Stanley J. Reyes, Nick Kreiger, Stocker Fontelieu Director: Brian De Palma Screenwriter: Paul Schrader Distributor: Shout! Factory Running Time: 98 min Rating: PG Year: 1976 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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Blu-ray Review: Forty Guns

Samuel Fuller’s libido-fueled, feverishly stylized B western gets a lavish reincarnation on home video courtesy of Criterion.

4.0

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Forty Guns

Though shot in a drum-tight 10 days, and on a low budget, writer-director Samuel Fuller’s raw, punchy noir-western Forty Guns isn’t a film of half-measures. As it acquaints us with Tombstone, Arizona, the parched Cochise County town where its action takes place, the 1957 film does so with an unbroken dolly shot that runs the entire length of main street, taking in something like 50-plus actors in choreographed motion and encompassing both an exposition dump and a startling zoom-and-pan reveal.

When Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck), the territory’s domineering land baroness, conducts her daily business via horseback, she does so with all 40 of her grizzled hired hands in tow, a thunderous spectacle trotted out for matters both large and small. And when a tornado rips over the hills, realized by Fuller and his crew as a high-powered dust storm that renders the landscape a grainy, swirling abstraction, Stanwyck is right in the middle of the fray; the script called for Jessica to be dragged along with the hoof of a runaway horse, and Stanwyck insisted on performing the daredevil maneuver herself, much to the chagrin of producers.

Bold expressionism and brawny physicality were staples of Fuller’s filmmaking career—qualities surely indebted in some part to his experiences as an infantryman and cameraman during World War II—and in Forty Guns the entire cast is synchronized with that sensibility. The film is possessed of an earthy eroticism, evident in a number of scenes dedicated to watching Tombstone’s men bathe openly under the afternoon sun, as well as in an insistent streak of sexual innuendo in the dialogue, wherein any talk of a man’s gun is quite transparently an allusion to his cock.

Upon the arrival of pacifistic U.S. Marshal Griff Bonell (Barry Sullivan), carrying a warrant for the arrest of Jessica’s rotten brother, Brockie (John Ericson), in town with siblings Wes (Gene Barry) and Chico (Robert Dix), the townsfolk’s dormant sexual energies are expulsed, with Wes angling for local gunsmith Louvenia (Eve Brent) and Griff himself going after Jessica. In a place where gunfire is the prevailing expression of emotion, violence and sex thus become intimately entangled—a link visually represented when Wes and Louvenia’s mutual desire is consummated by an eccentric down-the-rifle-barrel POV shot that Jean-Luc Godard would crib for Breathless only three years later.

This suggestive visual punnery aside, the structure of Forty Guns ultimately accommodates a shift from lewd flirtation to emotional vulnerability, with the at-first caricatured threat of violence becoming a real and deadly threat indeed, as new bonds are sewn and prior allegiances are fissured. Griff, having vowed to retire his six-shooter, awakens Jessica’s sensitive side in the process of spending time with her, breaking down her desperado roughness with his nonviolent, levelheaded enforcement of the law.

The moment when Jessica seems to have fully emerged as a more complicated woman than she initially appeared is among the film’s most beautiful: When she and Griff find shelter from the aforementioned tornado in an abandoned barn, a lilting crane shot descends from the rafters to find the lovers entangled from head to toe in a pile of hay, the camera finally landing in an intimate two-shot to survey their nostalgic exchange without a single cut. It’s a scene of aching tenderness in the midst of bawdy farce and jolts of brutality, but such a commiseration of souls proves fleeting in a land of hardened alliances and quick triggers, and it’s this very union that acts as the catalyst for an accumulating body count.

The film’s tonal swing from goofiness to severity is best exemplified in the three Tombstone ambushes conducted by Brockie. The first, seemingly the result of a drunken whim, is a maniacal shooting spree played mostly for shock laughs (save for the mood-puncturing casualty of an innocent blind man), and concluded by Griff’s swift pistol-whipping of the terrified Brockie. Mirroring this is a more coordinated attack later in Forty Guns when a wedding is interrupted by a surprise bullet, immediately throttling the mood from revelry to tragedy—and leading to a hymnal-led funeral scene to rival those in John Ford westerns. Finally, the third ambush in Tombstone finds Griff again marching calculatedly toward a menacing scene, only this time unsure of the whereabouts of the aggressors. Fuller stages the scene as a high-wire standoff between three disparate points of threat, juicing the dramatic irony to a breaking point until Griff expertly diffuses the situation, but not without preventing another death.

Shot in black-and-white CinemaScope at a time when the format was largely reserved for color productions, Forty Guns‘s deep chiaroscuro anticipates the characters’ deadly impulses and the grave directions that the drama takes. It all leads to a climactic showdown of remarkable savagery that seems to confirm an irrepressible violence within the hearts of even the most upstanding among us—though it’s followed then by a studio-mandated corrective to it, a scene that partially aims to clear the dust churned up by such a bleak capper. Fuller includes a line of dialogue that complicates the uplift, but even if he hadn’t, Forty Guns‘s damning treatise on gun infatuation and the incapacity to transcend one’s nature had already landed its heaviest blows, leaving a bitter aftertaste that no smearing of schmaltz could quite undo.

Image/Sound

Studio-shot interiors are granted a superb degree of contrast, with the deep, inky shadows doing full justice to the film’s celluloid origins, in addition to mirroring the bottled-up anxiety and rage in the characters. Meanwhile, location work in the foothills of Arizona is awesomely vivid. When Barbara Stanwyck or Barry Sullivan ride across the landscape on horseback, the subtle gradations and tones of the arid ground are as compelling as the action being depicted. And suitably for a film at least partly about the destructiveness of firearms, the howling gun blasts heard on the audio track are enough to get the attention of the neighbors, if not too loud to overwhelm the at-times hushed dialogue and gentle desert ambiance.

Extras

The meatiest supplement here is “A Fuller Life,” Samantha Fuller’s affectionate feature-length tribute to her father’s experiences as a journalist, infantryman, and filmmaker, unconventionally presented as a series of readings from his autobiography, A Third Face, by directors and actors who knew him. Not all these participants seem equally enthusiastic about the project, and the documentary consequently has some dry, overly wordy passages. But the access to Fuller’s treasure trove of personal material—clips from his old bylines, footage from WWII, and production files—makes it never less than a fascinating excavation for acolytes of the artist.

Similarly rewarding in this regard are the three other bits of deep-dive Fuller content: an entertainingly candid 1969 interview with the director that can be played as a commentary track, a printed excerpt from A Third Face that goes into some detail about Forty Guns‘s production, and a newly shot interview with Fuller’s second wife, Christa Lang Fuller, and daughter that plays like a heartfelt stroll down memory lane. Rounding out the package is an essay by film scholar Lisa Dombrowski and a new interview by critic Imogen Sara Smith, who, in a welcome pivot from all the attention lavished elsewhere on Fuller, conducts a fairly thorough examination of Barbara Stanwyck’s performance in Forty Guns, hailing it as an impassioned summation of a career that was on the decline by the late ’50s.

Overall

Samuel Fuller’s libido-fueled, feverishly stylized B western gets a lavish reincarnation on home video courtesy of Criterion.

Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson, Gene Barry, Robert Dix, Jidge Carroll Director: Samuel Fuller Screenwriter: Samuel Fuller Distributor: The Criterion Collection Running Time: 80 min Rating: NR Year: 1957 Release Date: December 11, 2018 Buy: Video

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