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Home Movies/Out on Digital: July 13, 2017

Jul. 11, 2017
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Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape

This succinct, informative documentary produced by the National Gallery of Art explores the career of Joan Miró. Although one of Spain’s signal contributors to modern art, Miró was fiercely Catalonian, steeped in the region’s traditional religious iconography along with its landscape and Antoni Gaudi’s curvaceous architecture. Included are interviews, still photographs and home movies, but much of the screen time is devoted to Mirós surreal paintings, many of them depicting ladders ascending the spheres of consciousness.

 

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

The Mexican kingpin demands the head of a young man called Alfredo Garcia—it’s a grotesque errand that envelopes a soulful outlaw (Warren Oates). The 1974 film by Sam Pekinpah verges on self-parody with its several Gotterdammerungs of slaughter in slo-mo. Embedded in the plot are perennial Pekinpah themes such as manhood achieved through violent self-defense. Oates is well cast as the conflicted romantic and dead-ender grasping for his last chance at a big break.

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The gothic landscape of Arthur Conan Doyle’s story seems purpose-made for Hammer Studios, best known for baroque visual overkill and lurid melodrama. The 1959 Hound of the Baskervilles begins with the backstory of cruel aristocrats and their accursed legacy before introducing Hammer’s A-team, Peter Cushing as the neurotic but sharp-minded Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Lee as the coolly arrogant Sir Henry Baskerville. It’s a “two-pipe problem,” the great detective declares in this memorable Holmes adaptation.

 

The Wild, Wild West Revisited / More Wild, Wild West

Boasting advanced technology in a frontier setting, the television series “The Wild, Wild West” (1965-1969) was a foretaste of steampunk delivered with a wink. A pair of TV movies (1979, 1980) reunited intrepid Secret Service agents James West (Robert Conrad) and Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) to foil nefarious plots against the 19th-century world order. It was a brain-and-brawn team with West as the fist-fighting ladies man and Gordon as the dandy and gadget-maker. 

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