Blu-Ray Review: Spione

Director: Fritz Lang
Screenplay: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Based on a Novel by: Thea von Harbou
Starring: Willy Fritsch, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Gerda Maurus, Fritz Rasp, Louis Ralph, Lupu Pick
Producer: Erich Pommer
Country: Germany
Running Time: 150 min
Year: 1928
BBFC Certificate: PG


I‘ve had an excellent track record with Fritz Lang films (you can read my glowing review of Des Testament des Dr. Mabuse here). Admittedly, I’ve only seen a few, but each one has impressed me greatly. Metropolis introduced me to the wonders of silent cinema back when I was a teenager, M showed me that serial killer films were already in fine form back in the 30’s and, more recently, Des Testament des Dr. Mabuse proved that blockbuster sequels could be masterpieces. Eureka released Lang’s follow up to Metropolis, Spione (a.k.a. Spies), on DVD as part of their Masters of Cinema series back in 2005. I’d been very close to buying it in the past as it sounded like something I’d very much enjoy, but I’m glad I never took the plunge as now Eureka have upgraded the release as a dual format Blu-Ray and DVD set. I requested a review copy to see if it could match up to the other Lang films I’d seen and I’m pleased to report that it certainly did.

Spione is a spy thriller (if the English title didn’t make that obvious) with a labyrinthine plot. I won’t go into too much detail so as not to spoil things, but basically a spy ring headed by the evil Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is causing chaos at the government’s secret service. Important documents have been stolen, dignitaries have been assassinated and double agents are springing up all over the place. Next on Haghi’s list of crimes is to get his hands on a peace treaty to be signed between Japan and the UK, in the hope that he can use it to trigger another world war. The only man that can stop him is agent 326 (Willy Fritsch). Haghi is always one step ahead though and sends the cunning Russian spy Sonya (Gerda Maurus) to seduce him and lead him down a dark path. A spanner is put in the works however when Sonya and 326 fall in love.

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The Perfect Christmas Gift for Me Your Movie Fan Loved Ones

Remember the Absolut book for coffee tables? It was a great gift for the alcoholic in your life. But let’s be real, if you’re perusing this site, you probably know about 10% more people who are movie lovers than alcoholics. So Criterion has done gone and finished your holiday gift shopping for you with a gorgeous new coffee table book: The Criterion Designs.

The most exciting names in design and illustration today apply their talents to some of the most important and influential films of all time. This volume gathers highlights from designs commissioned by the Criterion Collection, featuring covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art plus a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984. From avant-garde experiments to big-budget blockbusters, cult favorites to the towering classics of world cinema, the depth and breadth of what film can be is on display in these striking images. Whether painstakingly faithful re-creations or bold re-imaginings, the stunningly diverse designs collected here offer new ways for cinephiles and design aficionados alike to engage with the world’s greatest filmmakers.

Check out a small sample of what’s in store for you in this 306 page extravagawesome…

The price is a bit steep at nearly eighty bucks; but like I said, small price to pay for having all of your shopping done. Now.

Complete list of featured artists:
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Trailer: Jurassic Park 4

JurassicWorld

Lots of StarLord but no mix tape (and very little sense of humour), Jurassic World looks about as lazy as they come in terms of sequels. Colin Trevorrow’s (Safety Not Guaranteed) direction here, looks to be exactly what a studio wants: Extruded plastic product. Judging by this digitally-bright and quite colourful trailer, Jurassic World is Jurassic Park minus any sense of wonder. Only the franchise remains, trapped in amber and poked for cloning every few years.

Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

Check out these links:
15 Clever Movie Details
1950s Hong Kong Captured In Street Photography By Fan Ho
Cool 2015 wall calendar
Experimental Videogame Consoles That Let You Make One Move a Day
9 Easter Eggs From the Bookshelf in Interstellar
Cumming or Drumming (!NSFW!)
12 weirdest accomplishments at Guinness World Records Day 2014
What NYC skyline will look like in three years
A Clockwork Orange (bts photos)
Amazing shadow art



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DVD Review: Ida

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Writers: Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik
Producers: Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzieciol, Ewa Puszczynska
Country: Poland/Denmark/France/UK
Running Time: 81 min
Year: 2013
BBFC Certificate: 12


Although born in Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski began his career making documentaries for British television, then made a name for himself directing a couple of highly regarded British films, Last Resort in 2000 and My Summer of Love in 2004. For his fifth feature, Ida, he chose to head back home to co-write and direct a film in Poland which delves into the country’s dark and turbulent past.

Ida is a drama set in the 1960’s which follows 18-year old Anna on a journey of self-discovery. An orphan who has lived in a convent for as long as she can remember, she is preparing to take her vows to become a nun and is advised to speak to her one known relative, her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), before making this huge decision. Wanda opens Anna’s eyes to the truth of her past, revealing that she is in fact called Ida and her Jewish parents were killed during the Nazi occupation. Following this discovery, Anna/Ida travels with Wanda to try to find her parents’ bodies and finally lay them to rest. Along the way, Wanda, a bitter yet modern woman, tries to break out Anna’s repressed desires. Wanda herself is filled with pain though and the journey they take may cleanse her soul too.

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Friday One Sheet: Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

This is how you get a teaser poster for an existing brand exactly right. Now coy images of pumpkins or mice sewing in the attic. This is marketing that cuts right to the heart of the story, get the princess in her sky-blue dress a bit of a rush to/from the ball with the iconic shoe right beside the title text. The only think that not perfect here is the lazy-typesetting, but you can’t always have everything.

By the way, this is the first I’m hearing about Kenneth Branagh directing a live action Cinderella movie for Disney. It’s a long way from Thor, but on second thought, not that long a way.

Mike Nichols – 1931 – 2014

Comedian, stage director, and one of Hollywood’s great film directors, Mike Nichols has passed away at 83. Blasting onto the movie scene with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the mid 1960s, a film that was nominated for nearly all the major Oscars that year (it won for actress, best supporting actress and cinematography), and closing his career with the quite underrated Charlie Wilson’s War, Nicols made accessible satire a specialty, a feat that is not easy to do. Along with Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl, Closer, Biloxi Blues and the pure paycheck flick Day of the Dolphin, his career made fine use of movie stars, while always finding a way to the take ‘celebrity vehicle’ out of the equation.

Along with Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, before him, Nicols’ voice is already missed as one of the most intelligent human-comedy directors Hollywood has ever employed.

The Guardian has more.