I am not a digital movie kind of girl. I can’t rent movies on iTunes, I don’t care for Netflix. This also extends to reading: I’ll curse every single book I have to pack each time I move into a new elevator-free apartment. Despite my lack of shelf space, I like to own copies of my favourite movies. 15 years ago, long before “Special Features” or “Bonus Materials” meant anything, I didn’t find it strange to pay upwards of $35 for a VHS tape. And because I spent a small fortune on VHS tapes, I have a hard time letting go and upgrading all of my classic film collection to DVD—or now upgrading those DVDs to Blu-ray (however, most classics haven’t made that leap yet). It is because of this that I am really excited for the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) sale currently taking place on the Chapters.Indigo.ca website. The Golden Age of classic Hollywood cinema traditionally includes movies made between the end of the Silent Era in the late 1920s to the early 1960s, when the major movie studios and genre-films dominated the silver screen.
Inspired by the TCM list of great classic movies, I present my personal top 10 favourite Hollywood classics...in no particular order:
1. Casablanca (1942)
The 1942 melodrama often earns a top 10 placement in many critics' and filmmakers' top ten favourite films, and my personal list is no exception. Romance, intrigue, espionage, and politics all converge effortlessly in the film. The film won 3 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
2. North by Northwest (1959)
50 years after it was released, North by Northwest can still keep a viewer on the edge of their seat. One of the quintessential films by Alfred Hitichcock, the mistaken identity caper is full of suspense and memorable imagery like the epic confrontation atop Mount Rushmore or the iconic scene in which Cary Grant is chased down by an airplane in an open field.
3. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
One of the first truly dark movies in the film noir genre, The Maltese Falcon marks John Huston’s directorial debut and stays true to Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel. Surprisingly, the film failed to take home any Academy Awards.
4. Citizen Kane (1941)
It’s been endlessly referenced in everything from commercials to kids’ cartoons. Arguably one of the greatest movies of all time, it has twice landed at the top of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 100 films. A compelling tale with stunning visuals, Citizen Kane should be on every serious film lover’s DVD shelf.
5. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Forget Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner. The only man in tights for me is Errol Flynn. A swashbuckling tale full of exquisite costumes, sweeping romance and endearing charm, the film still elicits laughs and thrills in all the right places. A great classic for the whole family to enjoy.
6. Rebecca (1940)
I love gothic thrillers and one of the best examples of this genre is Rebecca. Brooding, moody, and thrilling, Rebecca is a haunting ghost story. The film earned Alfred Hitchcock his first and only Best Picture Academy Award nomination.
7. His Girl Friday (1940)
Fast-talking dames and racy-for-the-time dialogue are what makes His Girl Friday one of the best examples of the screwball comedy. Based on a 1928 Broadway play, the film swapped gender roles, making Rosalind Russell an equal star to Cary Grant. It is an epic battle of the sexes and a duel of wits.
8. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Is it a Nazi-farce or is it a serious commentary on a war-torn society? Well, it’s both really. There a laughs-a-plenty in this behind-the-scenes film about a theatre troupe who utilize their acting skills and costumes to fool a group of occupying Nazis. Often funny and at times so suspenseful you’ll catch yourself holding your breath, the Ernst Lubitsch-directed film was Carole Lombard’s last role.
9. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s itself. One of the best backstage Hollywood films, Sunset Boulveard explores what happens to its ageing stars when the spotlight stops shining on them. Often bitter and decadent, it’s certainly not an uplifting film. For first-time viewers, you’ll recognize a handful of famous lines from the film.
10. The Searchers (1956)
Named the Greatest American Western of all-time by the AFI, The Searchers will have non-Western lovers at the edge of their seats. Perhaps one of the most influential Westerns, this John Ford-directed epic touches upon themes of racism, the homefront, family, and sexism in this cinematic classic.
A deeply emotional and heart-wrenching film, Rabbit Hole slipped passed the average movie-goer when it was in theatres. The film’s low profile, despite its high-calibre cast, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation. Grab a box of Kleenex because Rabbit Hole is this week’s DVD Pick of the Week.
I saw this movie back at TIFF in September and the film has stayed with me over the past 6 months and countless movies I’ve seen since then. In fact, I made it one of my top picks from TIFF way back in my very first blog post. Based on the 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole deals with the tragic loss of a couple’s young son and their grieving process in the aftermath of the tragedy. It’s definitely not light viewing.
The film is skilfully directed by John Cameron Mitchell who, at first glance, seems like an odd choice for this film. His previous films Hedwig and the Angry Inch (in which he also starred) and Shortbus are completely different films to Rabbit Hole. The fact that he can pull all three movies off—musical, indie dramedy, and intense drama—is a testament to his skill. Nicole Kidman is the one earning well-deserved rave reviews as Becca, the mother at the centre of the tragedy. The audience grieves with her as she adjust to the everyday mundane tasks that continue despite losing a child. Kidman earned her thrid Oscar nomination for her work in this film, which film critic Richard Corliss of TIME magazine called a "career-best performance." Kidman’s performance plays off that of Aaron Eckhart as her husband Howie as they present two sides of dealing with the same event. Their understated performances add to the intimate nature of the film—it is almost as if they were performing the original play on stage. Howie tends to vocalize his feelings more than Becca and reach out and share them in therapy where he meets Sandra Oh, who is wonderfully cast.
Also out on DVD/Blu-ray:
Nobody loves a picnic basket as much as Yogi Bear! To celebrate the DVD & Blu-ray release for the brand new movie, Yogi Bear on March 22 we're giving away some awesome Yogi Bear and Hanna-Barbera prizes for kids.
Yogi, Boo Boo and Ranger Smith first appeared in 1961 and he hasn't aged a bit. With a new computer-animated makeover Yogi hit the big screen with his pals for a whole new fun-filled adventure in this live-action movie. Voiced by comedian Dan Akyroyd, Yogi Bear and Booboo (the voice of Justin Timberlake) team up with Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanaugh) intrepid reporter Rachel (Anna Faris) to save their beloved Jellystone Park from becoming a new logging site.
Whether you loved Yogi as a kid or you're trying to introduce a whole new generation to the world of Hanna-Barbera, Yogi Bear is a smash hit for the whole family.
Want the chance to win some cool Hanna-Barbera prizes including kid-size Yogi Bear t-shits or hoodies and cool kids' DVDs featuring the original Yogi cartoon and his Hanna-Barbera friends? Follow @IndigoTVMovies on Twitter on Tuesday, March 22 and retweet the contest phrase and hashtag between 10am and 6pm EST to be entered into our random draw for you chance to win one (1) of our great prizes. See official rules and regulations for full contest details. Open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) over the age of majority only.
Check out the theatrical trailer for Yogi Bear.
Feeling overrun with vampires lately? Why not check out this week’s DVD Pick of the Week, the zombie-infested The Walking Dead.
AMC trades in the suits and glamour of their hit series Mad Men in favour of blood and the undead in The Walking Dead, the latest TV craze. Based on the popular series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead is an edge-of-your-seat thriller which packs guns, blood, terror, and even a bit of romance into its riveting first season. Just six episodes long, Golden Globe nominated series is a prime example of survival of the fittest.
Bearing some similarity to the Danny Boyle horror film 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead follows Rick Grimes, sheriff of a small Georgian town who wakes up seemingly abandoned in a hospital. He seems to be the last man alive—literally. A zombie apocalypse has ravaged North America, leaving small pockets of survivors scattered around the United States…I’m still holding out hope for some Canadian survivors on the belief that even zombies wouldn’t want to brave a winter in Montreal. Society has collapsed and all rules are off as survivors battle the undead and each other, facing unspeakable terror and risk at every turn in a no guts, no glory showdown.
A riveting show with compelling writing, The Walking Dead plays out more like a collection of horror films...but unlike Friday the 13th Part 4, each hour of the show gets progressively better, building on the tension of the previous episode. Characters are fully rounded and developed, not the cartoon-like action heroes often found in horror movies.
Not for the faint-of-heart, The Walking Dead will thrill and surprise even the most jaded of horror film buffs . Available now on DVD & Blu-ray, season 1 of The Walking Dead is must-see TV. I can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store!
Check out The Walking Dead Shop for DVDs & graphic novels.
What’s blue, has a big head, and is surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny? Megamind! The newest animated feature from Dreamworks is this week’s DVD Pick of the Week.
Arriving on DVD, Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and in a double-pack with bonus feature The Button of Doom on February 25th, Megamind packs a punch with a killer soundtrack (seriously) and an all-star cast of voices. Megamind is not your average superhero cartoon: instead of rooting for the good guy, you’ll be rooting for the kinda-bad-but-is-he-really-good guy. Megamind, voiced by Will Ferrell, is a super-intelligent alien who is sent to Earth as an infant along with fellow superhero-in-training Metro Man (Brad Pitt) as their home planet is destroyed. The two youngsters quickly become adversaries in school, setting up a lifelong rivalry filled with battles, gadgets, and a fight for the love of Metro City reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey).When Megamind inadvertently creates a new mega villain Tighten (Jonah Hill), he has to finally choose between being good and being evil.
Fun for the whole family, Megamind effortlessly blends sight gags with verbal jokes…a villain with a big blue head shaped like a brain is always good for a few laughs. The top-notch cast is also a reason to watch the film. In addition to the main characters, several notable stars provide the voices for the citizens of Metro City: Ben Stiller, Justin Long, J.K. Simmons, David Cross, Bill Hader, and Amy Poehler.
Megamind is sure to be a mega-hit in your family!
Forget that the last few seasons of 24 were a bit of a wash, go back to the beginning of the action with seasons 1 and 2. A wholly unique concept when the show debuted in 2001 and lasting over 8 seasons, 24 had its highs and lows, garnering a whopping 68 Emmy nominations (it took home 20). Taking place in “real time” the episodes follow agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his crack team of CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) agents, who, over the course of 8 season, foil many kidnappings, diffuse a number of bombs, take down several terrorists, go undercover, get blown up, go rogue, and never take a bathroom break. Season 1 gets the action rolling, introducing the audience to the Bauer family and the CTU gang, but Season 2 is the show’s crowning achievement, delivering an entire season of armchair gripping thrills and tension. So mesmerizing, I once spent 12 hours watching back-to-back episodes on the edge of my seat. Got time to kill? You can pick up all 192 hours of the show in one amazing box set.
With two seasons available on DVD & Blu-ray and season 3 on its way soon, it’s not too late to catch up on the steamy action you’ve been missing out on in Bon Temps, Louisiana before season 4 hits the airwaves in the summer. Full of vampires and other things that go bump in the night, True Blood is sexy, funny, graphic, and sometimes gory, loosely based on the guilty-pleasure novels of Charlaine Harris. There’s lots of eye candy for men and women alike in this oft-shirtless cast. Created by Six Feet Under creator/writer/producer Alan Ball and with only 12 episodes per season, True Blood will have you craving the heat of summer in no time.
Spartacus: Blood & Sand
This ain’t Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus. The gladiator who led a slave uprising against the Roman Republic way back in 73 BC gets the Russell Crowe-Gladiator treatment: he’s buff, he’s sexy, and he’s fighting for his freedom along with Xena: Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless. While it might make history buff wince at the historical liberties writers have taken, Spartacus: Blood & Sand is filled with sex, violence & language, earning its TV-MA (Mature Audiences) rating. Star of the series, Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) sadly had to drop out of the prequel currently airing on TV, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena due to ongoing cancer treatment, but he’s the most compelling reason to pick up Blood & Sand.
A non-linear narrative makes Damages more than just a sexy Law & Order. With more plot twists than a David Lynch film, Damages continuously surprises, throwing red herrings at every turn. Brilliantly acted by Glenn Close as the scarily powerful lawyer Patty Hewes, the show is supported by the rest of the cast, who are constantly in top form to match Close's on-screen clout: Rose Byrne as the naive-turned-possible-murderess junior lawyer and Ted Danson as the snake oil salesman at the centre of a crushing lawsuit. Damages is a compelling and weighty thriller with seasons one and two available on DVD.
It’s the “Bet you can’t watch just one episode” series. No, scratch that, bet you can’t watch just one season. Everyone loves to watch Dexter get away with murder, as the serial killer who kills serial killers. The muggy Miami heat will have you siding with the charming killer—Is he a good guy? Or is he a bad guy? Whether you’re rooting for him to triumph or to get caught red-handed, Dexter is smart and chilling as every episode is an edge-of-your seat thriller. I plowed through the first three seasons in under 3 weeks, and am hooked on season 4…chances are you will be too.
A hilarious favourite that is often absurd and ridiculous, but always laugh-out-loud funny. The wealthy Bluth family struggles with the loss of their fortune and incarceration of the head of the family through three hilarious seasons. With a great cast including, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera, Will Arnett, David Cross and Jeffrey Tambor, the show has spawned a film script that will see the cast reprising their roles. The ever-expanding secondary cast includes Henry Winkler, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Liza Minelli, Charlize Theron, Zach Braff, Jane Lynch and Ben Stiller in recurring roles. And that’s not even including notable guest stars and cameos: Justine Bateman, Judge Reinhold, Martin Short, Andy Samberg and Heather Graham, just to name a few. Emmy winner for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, Arrested Development is a great way to laugh your way into spring.
Waiting for Superman is the new documentary from Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim, the man behind the eye-opening film An Inconvenient Truth.
New to DVD and Blu-ray, Waiting for Superman analyzes the failures of the American public school system and the effect that it is having on a generation of schoolchildren. Following determined children and their parents from around the United States, the documentary puts a human face on the state of education.
Indigo partnered with Paramount Pictures to reach out to Indigo’s online community for the chance to participate in a Q&A with director Davis Guggenheim. Users submitted questions and 5 were chosen for Guggenheim to answer. Check out the exclusive video below, which also features the trailer for this compelling documentary.
The literacy crisis isn’t solely an American issue. More than 42% of Canadians are functionally illiterate, making it difficult for them to read medication bottles, instructions and food labels. Until provincial governments reinvest in the elementary school system, Indigo has stepped in. Indigo’s charity, the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, is committed to putting books into the hands of children. To date, the Foundation has given more than $9 million to 395 schools across Canada through its annual Literacy Fund and community Adopt a School program. To learn more about the Canadian literacy crisis and the efforts to fight it, visit loveofreading.org.
In celebration of its 60th anniversary, Disney’s animated classic Alice in Wonderland is the DVD pick of the week.
Beautifully restored and remastered in HD on Blu-ray for the first time, the Alice in Wonderland DVD/Blu-ray combo pack is packed full of special features on both the DVD and Blu-ray discs. The images of Alice and the Wonderland gang are burned into memory thanks to my well-loved VHS tape from my childhood—a fussy, kind of dull-looking Wonderland when compared to the brilliance of the Blu-ray. The bright colours of Wonderland are what struck me first- how clear each background and creature truly is. If you are mostly familiar with the version of the movie that aired on TV in such series as Disneyland in the 1950s or on The Wonderful World of Disney then you are in for a treat, as those TV-airings had more than 30 minutes cut from the original film, including a song-and-dance number by Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum and a short parable called The Walrus and the Carpenter. The film itself is still an entertaining hit as it was on its initial release in 1951.
The special features include interviews with Disney animation experts and Lewis Carroll experts as the document the journey in bringing Carroll’s book to life, including Walt Disney’s early adaptations beginning in the 1920s. Interviews include the voice of Alice, Kathryn Beaumont, who provided vocals for the heroine at the age of 13. The film itself landed an Academy Award nomination for best score, though lost out to An American in Paris. Disney has become somewhat of a master at releasing these great DVD and Blu-ray combo packs for added value, a trend that they have kept up with recent releases Secretariat and the live-action Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp.
A great animated feature and perfect addition to any movie collection, Alice in Wonderland is for the young and the young at heart.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman share a love of filmmaking. They are so obsessed with film that they document their daily lives and interaction with others with handheld video cameras. It is because of their unusual obsession that they allegedly capture an unusual and intriguing story right in front of them. Ariel’s brother Nev has developed an online friendship with a bevy of family members centering on Abby, a child prodigy artist, Angela, the matron of the family, and Megan, Angela’s eldest daughter.
A friendship-turned-relationship built entirely online through Facebook, iChat, and the occasional phone call, the interactions between Nev and the family has been captured by the filmmakers from the beginning to the mystifying conclusion. Billed as a “reality thriller,” Catfish will keep you guessing until the end, but not as to what the inevitable outcome will be, but rather will keep you guessing as to whether what you have just witnessed is reality or a very clever hoax.
The film has been the subject of scrutiny from critics and filmmakers alike. Is the story too far-fetched and well-crafted to be reality? It seems like a no brainer for two aspiring and obsessive filmmakers to craft such a relatively simple concept. Or, does the film develop out of their unusual obsession to film every waking moment—is it simply dumb luck that they stumbled onto this chain of events?
I, for one, am on the fence. The characters in the film seem genuine, and, well, genuinely gullible. On the other hand, it's hard to ignore the fact that these guys know the ins and outs of the film business as struggling filmmakers and just by sheer luck pull off a well-received box office hit grossing over $3 million. And in the age of the internet, it’s hard to believe that this trio of tech-savvy guys took so long to even attempt at Googling any of the characters they encounter. The controversy and “don’t spoil the ending” plot has helped boost interest in the film, which was even featured on an hour-long 20/20 special. The film has not escaped controversy post-theatrical release as it is still undergoing scrutiny and lawsuits. The film itself wasn’t included on the list of eligible documentary films for the Oscars, though the filmmakers swear that it is 100% real. With pending lawsuits, they truth may eventually be revealed as the filmmakers will have to swear to the truth behind the film under oath.
Regardless of whether you label the film a reality or hoax, Catfish is still an entertaining watch and a great study in psychology.
Emma Stone is great as the realistically portrayed Olive. Her comic timing is dead-on and it's great to see her as the lead in a film after her fun roles in Zombieland and Superbad. The stand-out of the movie isn’t Stone (though she is great) but it is the scene-stealing pairing of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, as Olive’s parents Rosemary and Dill—yes, they really are a family of flavours—that gets the most laughs. Tucci and Clarkson have amazing chemistry and steal every scene they are in. I’d pay to watch a full-length film of just the two of them as the modern parents of a teenager!
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and boasts a bevy of stars in its cast including Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Lisa Kudrow, Twilight’s Cam Gigandet, and Malcolm McDowell.
With lots of charm, Easy A is a bonafide gem that will continue to shine with the passing of time. Now available on DVD & Blu-ray.
Check out the great teaser trailer for a laugh: