Touch of Evil – Universal – Blu-ray
Director: Orson Welles
Cast: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff.
Citizen Kane is the movie people most readily associate with Orson Welles, but if that’s the only of Welles’ films you’ve seen, then you absolutely must grab this new Blu-ray release of his 1958 crime noir Touch of Evil. It’s an all-around smart, intense, twisty story about murder and corruption featuring a dynamite cast and a flawless command of so many of the elements that make noir such a beloved genre. Plus, it has one of the best tracking shots of all time.
If you’re the type of modern film fan who instinctively avoids most older movies, especially if they’re in black and white, you need to make an exception for Touch of Evil. It’ll be like a cinematic gateway drug for you.
Special Features: Three different versions of the movie: The theatrical cut, the preview cut, and then the reconstructed version, which was made using Orson Welles’ notes about what he’d always intended to do with the film. There are also four commentary tracks featuring a combination of Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and producer Rick Schmidlin. Then there’s also the 58-page memo Welles wrote to the studio about the film, which is what was later used to create the reconstructed version of the film.
Other Notable New Releases
Do you like Kevin Hart? Do you like Ice Cube? Then you’ll laugh at Ride Along. It’s really not that complicated of a formula. It’s a straightforward, by-the-numbers buddy comedy about a cop (Cube) and his wannabe-cop almost-brother-in-law (Hart) who stumble into a bigger investigation than they expected. It’s not quite as well rounded a film as last year’s The Heat, but it gets by with plenty of charm from its two leads.
Predicting if you’ll like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a bit more difficult. It’s a soft, sappy film about a dreamer (Ben Stiller) who finally wakes up in his dull life and realizes maybe it’s time to have some personal adventures of his own. It’s kind of quirky, kind of serious, and features a likeable performance from Stiller. It’s the kind of movie you might come across on cable and think, “Huh, that was pleasant.”
On paper, Philomena sounds like a pretty dour piece of art house Oscar bait. It’s better than that. It’s about a journalist (Steve Coogan) who helps a stranger (Judi Dench) discover what happened to her son that was taken from her as a child. And while there are plenty of serious implications and allegations going on in (it is based on a true story), what stands out most about Philomena is how funny and deceptively charming it is.
The Nut Job is one of those filler animated movies that seems to exist just to take up space between bigger movies from the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks. The animation is a bit rough, the voice cast aren’t A-listers, and the story is pretty goofy. In short, if you’re an adult without kids, don’t bother. And even if you do have kids who need that fix between movies, you’re going to want to rent this to see if this even holds their attention (my own young son was surprisingly indifferent to it).
Lastly we have another vintage crime noir, Double Indemnity. As mentioned above, once Touch of Evil has served as your gateway drug for black-and-white murder mysteries, you’ll probably be jonesing for more, and this Billy Wilder-directed film will fit the bill nicely.
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