Blu-Ray Review: The In-Laws – Criterion Collection

Director: Arthur Hiller
Screenplay: Andrew Bergman
Starring: Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, Richard Libertini, Ed Begley Jr., James Hong, David Paymer
Country: USA
Running Time: 103 min
Year: 1979
BBFC Certificate: PG

This was a blind watch for me. I didn’t know anything about the film before the press release was sent. I’d heard of, but not seen, the remake and didn’t realise that was based on another film film anyway. Criterion can generally be trusted to release quality titles though and the cast was appealing, so I took a gamble which I’m happy to say paid off.

The In-Laws is a comedy about two father-in-laws to be; uptight Jewish dentist Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin) and crazy Italian American criminal/government agent Vince Ricardo (Peter Falk). The film opens with a daring open air robbery of some federal reserve plates (stamps used to print money), which soon make their way into the hands of heist mastermind Vince, who rushes straight from the scene to have dinner with the parents of his son’s fiancée. Here, Vince’s wild mood changes and crazy stories about giant, baby-carrying flies don’t impress potential in-law Sheldon, who wants to call the wedding off. His daughter talks him out of it, but the next morning Vince shows up at Sheldon’s surgery asking for a favour. He wants him to break into his own safe and bring him the contents. Sheldon is somehow talked into it and from then on his life is thrown into a ridiculous spiral of chaos, taking the duo all the way to South America where Vince plans to sell the plates to a crazed general. Vince claims he’s a CIA agent and this is all part of an elaborate plan to bring the general down, but Sheldon (and the audience) aren’t convinced.

Would you like to know more…?

Sunday Bookmarks – March 28 – April Fools Day


  • C.H.U.D. goes to the The Criterion Collection (NOT)
    Criterion’s April Fools Day joke, may actually piss a few of the fans of that film off. I never looked to see if the website, Cinematic Happenings Under Development was miffed by this one, but either way, well played Criterion. Well played.
  • Pixar’s full length feature, Totoro (NOT)
    A well executed April Fools Day prank designed to get Ghibli fans and fanboys up in arms, especially on the heels of the bafflingly awful-looking Cars sequel that they actually went out and made. I may be the only one that would rather see Pixar take a stab at something like Totoro than churn out DTV-looking sequels.
  • Slash and Earn: The Blood-Soaked Rise of South Korean Cinema
    So why is it that such gory stories of vengeance have become – to western eyes at least – the dominant feature of Korean cinema? Kim himself contributed to the genre in 2005 with A Bittersweet Life, and there’s Park Chan-wook’s phenomenal revenge trilogy (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Lady Vengeance and Oldboy); and, though they’re not driven at their cores by revenge, it would be foolish to disregard the baroque bloodletting of films like Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide and Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser.
  • The Toronto Star gives TIFF Lightbox its six month Check-up
    “That’s close to six months, so we should be on target for somewhere between 600,000 to 700,000 admissions for the full year because, obviously, during TIFF we’ll have a lot of people coming in over the 10 days. That figure will spike. It will only get stronger.” Besides TIFF, the Lightbox will also be home this year for the first time for the Sprockets and Hot Docs festivals.”
  • Capture the Flag (A Canadian’s take on Americanism in Film)
    The Mad Hatter continues his thoughts on Saving Private Ryan and extrapolates to odd moments of patriotism in American Cinema. And gets a lively and stimulating comments section to (a)boot. “The direct culprit that rekindled this position is SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Remember? The film I love that I was praising just seven days ago? In that post I left one thing out, the detail of the film that has always bugged me: the core story of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN – one of heroism, sacrifice, duty, and honour – is a universal story. It speaks to all of us in the west who live with the freedoms that we do. However for Spielberg, the core story needed to be more direct…it had to be specifically American. Thus the film begins and ends with that faded shot of the flag, and we pause after the opening act to take the whole story back to the homefront.”


You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this:


Sunday Bookmarks: March 14-20


  • Why see ‘Don’t Look Now’?
    Coming to BluRay and rep screenings in the UK: “In hindsight, ‘Don’t Look Now’ is the perfect mixture of Roeg’s abilities as a teller of mysterious stories and as one of the most accomplished cinematic stylists ever to peep through a viewfinder. The film smashes up chronology and pieces it back together in a deviously strange order, so we get constant hints and suggestions of dark events to come. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are utterly convincing as the central couple who flee to Venice to retain a focus on their messed-up lives.”
  • Notes on Charlie Sheen and the End of Empire
    “No, what this moment is about is Charlie Sheen solo. It’s about a well-earned mid-life crisis played out on Sheen’s Korner instead of in a life coach’s office somewhere in Burbank. The mid-life crisis is the moment in a man’s life when you realize you can’t (won’t) maintain the pose that you thought was required of you any longer—you’re older and you have a different view of life and this is when the bitterness and acceptance blooms. Tom Cruise had a similar meltdown at the same age in the summer of 2005, but his was more politely manufactured (and, of course, he was never known as an addict). Cruise had his breakdown while smiling and he couldn’t get loose, he couldn’t be natural about it. He’s always essentially been the good boy who can’t say “Fuck You” the way Sheen can.”
  • An Interview with Greta Gerwig at SxSW
    Greta Gerwig is no stranger to SXSW. Her new film, “The Dish & the Spoon,” marks the sixth time she has had a movie in the festival in an film career that has stretched the same number of years. This new film, directed by Alison Bagnall, about a woman and a young man (Olly Alexander) who bond during a tumultuous time in their lives. Ms. Gerwig’s acting style, which A.O. Scott lauded for its “apparent absence of any method,” is employed in this intimate, primarily two-character study.
  • Bernardo Bertolucci has a 3D Project
    “Cult Italian film director Bernardo Bertolucci said in an interview for his 70th birthday on Wednesday that he will be making his first 3D film this year saying it was like riding on a “flying carpet” […] “I want to use 3D in a different way from what we have seen in films like ‘Avatar’ or other films characterised by special effects,” he said.”
  • Is Netflix Abandoning Its Business Model Again?
    With the production of David Fincher/Kevin Space HBO-styled TV DRAMA, It looks like a new strategy is here. In the great tradition of the network and cable game, make themselves a “must carry.” I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the bidding for hockey or trying to make a deal to stream Major League Baseball or something like that before long. If they are going this way, no one show “airing” 13 times a year is going to keep customers paying $8 or more a month. If Netflix becomes a thrift shop, with content here and there and everywhere, the churn will get worse […] This choice, combined with the exit of Criterion and the abandonment of Red Envelope, their previously stab at original content, clearly tells us that Netflix sees no future in quality film lovers as a primary audience for the service. Fair enough. But it will be interesting to see when the cineastes get the message.”
  • Zediva – A Clever End Run Around the Movie-Streaming Gremlins
    “It lets you listen to the director’s commentary, turn on subtitles and change languages. It lets you enjoy your movie for two weeks instead of 24 hours, starting and stopping at will. It offers the 100 biggest movies for streaming on the very same day the DVD comes out. It sidesteps any meddling by the movie companies, HBO contracts and studio lawyers. And here’s the best news of all — are you sitting down on your favorite movie couch? The price is only $2 for one movie or $1 if you buy a 10-pack. There’s no signup fee, no monthly fee, no hardware to buy. Zediva’s secret is so outrageous, you may think it’s an early April Fool’s prank. But it’s no joke.”
  • Is Matthew McConaughey Really Shirtless in Every Movie?
    “Conventional wisdom likes to assume that Matthew McConaughey has taken his shirt off in every single one of his movies. True, McConaughey is not shy when it comes to going bare chested on-screen and in public, but is he really sans shirt in every one of his movies?” Yes, Movieline actually checks out each and every one of them to be sure.


You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this:


A Year End List That Goes Above The Call of Duty



As we close out the first month of 2011, most people are pretty much listed-out. Save for a few final prognostications for some remaining awards and perhaps a few specialized lists to look forward to (stay tuned…), most of the lists have made the rounds. The list in question probably has as well (it’s author published the top slot a good 3 weeks ago now), but it’s such a great list, we had to make sure we shared it.

So what’s so great about it? Well, it’s not so much in the choices (although some fine selections – anyone who puts The Illusionist right near the top is fine by me), but it’s in how it was presented. For his year end Top 10 list, musician and graphic designer Sam Smith created a gorgeous film poster for each one of his picks. Even the posters in which he uses “head shots” of the actors are wonderfully done and match the tone of the film in question. My favourite is the above one for The Social Network, but every single one of them is frameable – along with Fincher’s Oscar-bound picture, I’d easily snap up the ones for The Illusionist and Bluebeard. Probably Winter’s Bone too. Sam’s considering making prints for some of them, but he’s a pretty busy character – when he’s not drumming for Ben Folds and other acts, he’s designing posters for IFCFilms and Janus Films as well as DVD packages for Criterion. That awesome cover and poster for the equally as awesome House? That’s his.

So take a look at his full list here on his blog Sam’s Myth. It’s a wonderful example of an artist who actually incorporates more than just an image or face from the movie into the poster and creates a separate beautiful piece of art that also serves as an enticement to the film.

Cinecast Episode 184 – Death Lottery

The 4 hour barrier is broken as The Documentary Blog’s Jay Cheel joins Kurt and Andrew on the longest Cinecast ever – you know it is even longer than the previous epic length TIFF show. What do we talk about? For starters, Kurt & Jay examine the Let The Right One In remake, Let Me In (*SPOILERS*), in painstaking detail, and how not to process American remakes of foreign language films. Next we move along for a solid hour on Never Let Me Go (*SPOILERS*) which keeps going on the vibe of comparing source material to eventual film adaptation and why you probably should not do that. More Carey Mulligan talk as Andrew skims and sums up Wall Street 2 with out spoilers. Then, a spoiler-free discussion on Catfish follows, although only Jay caught it, so it is more of a discussion on fake/faux-Documentaries, and ‘narrative-ethics’ which leads to more more talk on I’m Still Here, with a little Last Exorcism and The Blair Witch Project to round things out. Next we move along to the avant garde and barely-narrative Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and a lot of other films we watched: An overview of the “Middletown” documentary series, a bit of Daybreakers-Redux, a bit of Season 6 of “LOST” (you guessed it, with *SPOILERS*), and more avant garde cinema with Last Year At Marienbad. We also debate the finer points of Steve Buscemi and the cast and crew of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Finally (finally!) at around the 4 hour mark, our DVD picks round out a show that carried us well into the wee hours of the night recording. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed chatting. It may be long, but it is a solid and whip-smart show this time around, although we are biased on that front.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):

Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Cronos Coming to Criterion [Blu-ray]

I have yet to check out Del Toro’s earlier work, Cronos, though it’s been sitting in the “unavailable” section of my Netflix queue since forever. Looks like I won’t have to wait much longer to finally see it. And see it in what is sure to be a high quality, beautiful transfer from the blessed folks over at Criterion.


Yesterday, director Guillermo del Toro attended the 36th Annual Saturn Awards and gave a 20-minute impromptu interview backstage. After the interview finished, Del Toro revealed off-camera to Collider’s Steve Weintraub that the Criterion Collection is going to release a Blu-ray of his feature debut, Cronos.

No edition details are available at this time, But Del Toro said that the BD will include a 15-minute documentary on his now-famous Man Cave.

The whole interview is highly recommended for any fans of this filmmaker, or of fantasy and horror cinema in general.

Excitement ensues. Check out the interview below…


Cinecast Episode 172 – pixaR

So sedate you could get a lullaby out its dulcet tones, this episode of the Cinecast has the podcasting players considering death and slavery and obsolescence (and Easter Eggs) in the wake of Toy Story 3. (*SPOILERS*) Gamble comes up with his best idea yet: A hard “R” Pixar animated film. The debate ensues whether it should be an adaptation (Watership Down or Animal Farm?) or a straight up original War film a la CatShit1. I hope Emeryville is listening. Jonah Hex is thrown to the wolves – particularly for wasting such an interesting supporting cast. James Mangold’s star vehicle Knight and Day is previewed as being a fun popcorn flick with a saggy final act. Also Day & Night, the Pixar short, (but not Day For Night the Truffaut film or the Curitz film Day and Night or terrorist bombing flick Day Night Day Night) is talked about, confused yet? Andrew takes back his love for Public Enemies and lavishes it instead on Soderbergh & Damon’s pontificating corporate shlub in The Informant. He is diggin naked running men and gory kills from the natives in the Criterion release of Naked Prey. Kurt finally finds a fairly consistent stretch of Lost (Season 3.5 *SPOILERS*) and is in danger of flirting with satisfaction in the show which is eating up ridiculous amounts of his time. Finally, we attempt reader mail to mixed results.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):

Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Malick. Anderson. Von Trier. Criterion.

It looks like Amazon screwed up a little bit by jumping the gun on offering up preorder pages for DVDs that don’t exist… yet. Criterion has confirmed that this fall (sometime) they’ll be releasing a number of well known titles on both regular DVD and Blu-ray.

No surprise that Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Ltd. will get the treatment; all the rest of Anderson’s work has, so why not this one?

Better still, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (which I just finished rewatching over the weekend) will get a Criterion spine number as well. The picture is already glorious, so on Blu-ray it should look absolutely stellar. Already the most epic cast of all time, the extras might include the cut footage with eight more big name actors. That would be nice – to put it mildly.

And of course a RowThree favorite (making my personal top ten last year) is Lars Von Trier’s gorgeously made, arthouse, torture porn film, Antichrist. Once again a visually stunning film that will best be captured by the folks over at Criterion.

image stolen from playlist. thanks!

Getting some nice re-release transfers onto Blu-ray are Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (an eventual Blu upgrade for all of his previously released titles is imminent I’m sure). And also the much divisive Videodrome from David Cronenberg will now be able to be seen in Hi-Def.

Lookout pocketbook. Autumn is going to be a bit busy!


Portuguese Auteur Pedro Costa Lands at Criterion

Costa Box Set - CriterionIt was only a matter of time before the world noticed that there was a master filmmaker in Pedro Costa. The Portuguese director has spent the last 20 years building a distinguished career or films which are timeless, endlessly depressing but also shine a light on the immigrant story, not only in Portugal but the world over. Sadly, a whole lot of folks never quite managed to grasp his art.

Costa’s films are deliberately paced, largely unscripted and if I had to compare them to anything, it would be like walking through a beautiful nightmare. These are endlessly sad stories but the settings and the way they’re told is haunting and many of the images are likely to stay with you for months if not years.

Booed at Cannes and overlooked at many a festival (his appearance at VIFF a few years ago was a disappointment as barely ¼ of the crowd stayed through the entire film), it looks like Costa has finally found some critical attention (I’m willing to bet his 2006 appearance in Cahiers du cinéma’s top 10 may have had something to do with it).

The great people at Criterion have announced the release of Letters from Fontinhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa. Fontinhas refers to a now demolished “slum” on the outskirts of Lisbon. The three films included in the set, Ossos, In Vanda’s Room and Colossal Youth, are a lose trilogy of unrelated characters who happen to live in Fontinhas.

This is very exciting. Costas’ work has been notoriously difficult to acquire on DVD (aside from difficult to find and expensive imports). I can’t wait to get my little hands on this. Kudos to Criterion for shinning a light on another undiscovered master. Now, just waiting for that Oliveira box set.

A few trailers tucked under the seats.

Would you like to know more…?

Soderbergh and Crew Talk About “The Red” and The Digital Revolution

Steven Soderbergh talks about “The Red” and digital technology in regards to his film Che (recently released under the wonderful Criterion label for both standard and Blu-Ray). I have yet to pick up this astonishingly overlooked, under-appreciated and unfairly shit upon (by audiences and the studio) DVD version of the film, but as I understand it, it is a must have for not only history buffs, but also anyone interested in the art of film making in the new decade.

Soderbergh’s commentary track is apparently fascinating and of course well though out and articulate. I look forward to rewatching the film (in its four hour entirety) through his eyes, so to speak. Also included in the DVD set is a 33-minute featurette entitled “Che and the Digital Cinema Revolution” which has recently been posted online for those of us who can’t put together the scratch for the DVD. I’ve posted this video below for your enjoyment. God bless Steven Soderbergh; yes, cinema matters to us Steve! Keep it coming!

Watch: “Che and the Digital Cinema Revolution”