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Lynch, Haneke, Varda, Mamet & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in May 2019

This May, the Criterion Collection will present Agnès Varda’s poignant feminist musical One Sings, the Other Doesn’t, making its debut on DVD and Blu-ray just in time for the beloved director’s ninety-first birthday. Olivia de Havilland gives a heartbreaking, Oscar-winning performance opposite Montgomery Clift in William Wyler’s psychologically piercing period drama The Heiress, appearing on Blu-ray for the first time. David Lynch’s career-defining masterpiece Blue Velvet will join the Collection in an edition featuring a new 4K restoration and “Blue Velvet” Revisited, a feature-length documentary on the making of the film. The radiant Juliette Binoche plays a woman searching for love in Claire Denis’s richly observed Let the Sunshine In, hailed upon its U.S. release as one of the best films of 2018. Michael Haneke’s notorious Funny Games, a home-invasion nightmare that serves up a disquieting treatise on the nature of screen violence, will appear in a new 2K restoration. And that’s not all: David Mamet’s directorial debut, House of Games, a twisty thriller that revels in the art of the con, will appear on Blu-ray for the first time. Continue reading ‘Lynch, Haneke, Varda, Mamet & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in May 2019’

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One of 2018’s Bests – If Beale Street Could Talk Arrives on Blu-ray March 26

2018 had a lot of terrific film releases, and If Beale Street Could Talk was one of the best. From Academy Award® Winner Barry Jenkins, adapted from James Baldwin’s acclaimed novel, comes this timeless love story set in early 1970s Harlem. Newly engaged 19-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne) and her fiancé Fonny (Stephan James) have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream in this lush, moving, dramatic film, also starring Academy Award® Nominee Regina King.

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The Sisters Brothers (Blu-ray Review)

Here’s one of the latest post-modern, offbeat westerns that have come about in recent years. While the revisionist western serves as an interesting way to deconstruct the black and white ethics defined in classic westerns, The Sisters Brothers joins films like Damsel, Slow West or the Coen Brothers’ True Grit in terms of westerns that are aware of their perplexing nature. While still acknowledging the darker qualities of living in a time where outlaws could roam free, it is not above films like these to feature so much humor that reflects both the nature of that present era and where things will go. The Sisters Brothers goes one step further by taking on a level of self-reflection, which serves well for the terrific characters featured.

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Widows (Blu-ray Review)

You want them to get away with it. That’s the same thought that always comes to mind when watching a heist thriller. Widows stacks so much against the central characters that all you can do is hope they make it. This is the sort of tricky area that director Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave) is in, as Widows finds a need to balance the rhythms of a typical genre film with the serious-mindedness of his filmmaking style. It worked out as far as delivering a terrific drama for adults, but audiences, sadly, didn’t turn up to see it in theaters. Fortunately, the film can now be seen on Blu-ray.

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The Old Man & The Gun (Blu-ray Review)

Robert Redford has never been a chameleon-like performer, but there’s something to be said for the way he brings an unflappable cool to almost all of his features, let alone a naturalness to any persona he is tasked to put on. The Old Man & the Gun may or may not be the end of Redford’s career in front of the camera, but it would be a fine swan song. This laidback crime caper could have gone down some different avenues to tell the story of a real-life career criminal, but when the camera accomplishes so much with slow push-ins on old man Redford’s very friendly face, why make things more complicated?

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In The Heat Of The Night – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Starting the year with a bang, The Criterion Collection has released In the Heat of the Night, one of the bigger box office hits of the 60s, along with a major award winner. The mystery drama starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is memorable for many reasons. In addition to the characters and quotable lines, the film tells a topical story involving murder, police officers, and the role a black man plays in a small town in Mississippi during the 1960s. As a result, you have a cinematic classic still relevant today, and Criterion has that film on a packed, new Blu-ray release.

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Her Majesty Decrees, THE FAVOURITE (Nominated for 10 Oscars) Arrives on Blu-ray March 5

In early 18th-century England, a frail Queen Anne (Golden Globe® Winner Oliva Colman) occupies the throne, and her closest Friend, Lady Sarah (Academy Award® Winner Rachel Weisz), governs the country while tending to Anne’s ill health and volatile temper. When new servant Abigail (Academy Award® Winner Emma Stone) arrives, Sarah takes Abigail under her wing as she cunningly schemes to return to her aristocratic roots, setting off an outrageous rivalry to become the Queen’s favourite. The Favourite has been one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year. It has received numerous awards including The Venice Film Festivals’ Grand Special Jury Prize for Director Yorgos Lanthimos, 10 wins at the British Independent Film Awards, selected as AFI’s 2018 Movie of the Year and a Golden Globe for Olivia Colman’s performance as Queen Anne. The film has also nabbed 10 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.

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The Hate U Give (Blu-ray Review)

2018 featured many films worth praising concerning both entertainment value, as well as social issues. The Hate U Give is one of those films. Nominated for zero Academy Awards, one of the timeliest films of 2018 has arrived on Blu-ray with many hoping it will finally find the audience it deserves. Adapted from a bestselling young adult novel, while some of these adaptations tend to have some important thematic issues buried within, here’s a film that builds no allusions around what it wants to accomplish.


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Jackie Chan, Jim Jarmusch & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in April 2019

This April, Jackie Chan smashes into the Criterion Collection through a plate-glass window with a double-bill edition of his action-comedy classics Police Story and Police Story 2, newly restored in 4K. Andy Griffith plays a boisterous folk hero turned TV demagogue in Elia Kazan’s eerily prescient satire A Face in the Crowd, appearing on Blu-ray for the first time. Jan Němec’s haunting and hallucinatory feature debut Diamonds of the Night, one of the most visionary films of the Czechoslovak New Wave, will make its first appearance on home video in a new 4K restoration. Australian auteur Gillian Armstrong will join the Collection with her coming-of-age classic My Brilliant Career, a breakthrough film for the director and for its magnetic star, Judy Davis. And there’s more: two beloved Jim Jarmusch films-the minimalist masterpiece Stranger Than Paradise and the taxicab odyssey Night on Earth will make their Blu-ray debuts.

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Critically Acclaimed Heist Thriller WIDOWS Arrives on 4K ULTRA HD and BLU-RAY FEBRUARY 5

Somehow this film didn’t catch on in theaters, but here we go: From Academy Award Winner Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave, and from Gillian Flynn, the writer of Gone Girl, comes a powerful thriller with a stellar cast, including Oscar-winner Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo. Four women — with nothing in common except a debt left by their dead husbands’ criminal acts — conspire to take fate into their own hands. Also featuring Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson, Widows delivers explosive action and gripping suspense! The Blu-ray is packed with nearly 60-minutes of bonus content, with three documentary featurettes filled with in-depth interviews and raw on-set footage detailing the compelling production story of WIDOWS.

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Aaron’s Most Anticipated Films of 2019 – A Month By Month Look

With many studio films with dates set in place and general knowledge that certain filmmakers have movies set to arrive sometime this year, there’s still a lot of challenge in selecting which movies I am most looking forward to. Of course, I may as well call this post “Godzilla and Some Other 2019 Flicks I Want to See,” but that would be underselling the excitement I have for a lot that is arriving in theaters (and presumably streaming) in 2019, big and small. There’s also the case to be made for all the films many of us do not even know about yet, given the nature of film festival debuts and other surprises. Regardless, this is a month by month look at what I am looking forward to seeing (links for trailers where available). Feel free to name the films you look forward to in the comments.


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Aaron’s Superb Top Ten Films of 2018

It’s the end of another year, and for whatever difficulties there have been, I certainly had a lot of movies to consider for my year-end list of favorites. I had a lot of fun putting together this final top ten list, knowing full well the strong set of contenders. Given that I’ve watched around 200 2018 releases theatrically and via Netflix and Amazon Prime, there was a lot to narrow down from, but here we are. Some films were instant favorites for me, some grew in my opinion over time, and a few lost a bit of their luster as the year went on. All of that in mind, here is the set of films that resonated with me the most in my official list for the Top Ten Films of 2018, complete with runner-ups, honorable mentions, and more. (Reviews are linked when available and, as per usual, I’ve also linked lots of Easter Eggs in all of the pictures, so enjoy that as well.)

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Super-Sized Top Ten: Aaron’s Top-Quality Blu-ray Picks For 2018

Who’s ready for a killer Blu-ray list? Like previous years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), I’ve gone in-depth on what I enjoyed with this year in Blu-ray release. I still may not have a 4K setup like Why So Blu’s Brian and Brandon, or a region-free player like Gerard, but there was plenty to enjoy for a guy working with the regular old HD format. As usual, this list has a few rules that come with it. Regard for the film in question is obviously important. I have to have watched the movie for the sake of assessing the quality of the video and audio transfers. And I had to dive into the special features available. The last thing, I always try to keep films that may appear on my “Top 10 Films of the Year” list separate from the top ten Blu-rays. I do this to keep the post interesting, and I also have some extra sections to go over other highlights from the year. So, here we go:

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Zemeckis, Lloyd, Bergman & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in March 2019

This March, two iconoclastic landmarks of American cinema will join the Criterion Collection, making their Blu-ray debuts in long-awaited new restorations: pioneering writer-director-actor Barbara Loden’s lone feature, Wanda, a wrenching character study that charted a course for independent film; and Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, a pitch-dark Poverty Row thriller that distills film noir to its bitter essence. Carlos Reygadas will join the collection with his preternaturally assured debut, Japón, an existential journey through the Mexican countryside. Robert Zemeckis revisits the frenzy of Beatlemania in his raucous first feature, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, appearing in a new 4K restoration. Harold Lloyd journeys out west-and delivers some of his most elaborately inventive set pieces-in the delightful comedy The Kid Brother, appearing on Blu-ray for the first time. And there’s more: Criterion’s yearlong series of Ingmar Bergman releases will continue with a stand-alone edition of The Magic Flute, the director’s effervescent take on Mozart’s beloved opera.

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John Singleton’s Poetic Justice & Higher Learning on Blu-ray February 5

Grammy Award® winning superstar Janet Jackson makes her big screen debut for Academy Award® nominated Writer/Director John Singleton (Best Director & Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Boyz N the Hood, 1991) in the acclaimed and beloved romantic drama POETIC JUSTICE, newly remastered and debuting on Blu-ray™ February 5 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Also available on February 5, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Writer/Director John Singleton’s bold look at college life to Blu-ray: HIGHER LEARNING, starring Omar Epps (“House”), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Michael Rapaport (Deep Blue Sea), Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (Best Supporting Actress, A Beautiful Mind, 2001) and Ice Cube (Ride Along). Newly remastered and debuting on Blu-ray as well, continue on to learn more about these upcoming releases.

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Believe The Hype. Own THE HATE U GIVE on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray January 22

Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.  Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. THE HATE U GIVE is based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas and stars Amandla Stenberg as Starr, with Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, Common and Anthony Mackie.

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School Daze – 30th Anniversary (Blu-ray Review)

Director Spike Lee is having a great 2018, even if it means putting a spotlight on the same issues he’s been tackling since he began as a filmmaker. With BlacKkKlansman on its way to (hopefully) earning its fair share of awards, the director’s previous joins continue to make their way to HD formats slowly. A few years back we saw some of his films arrive in double packs. Kino Lorber has a few more coming next year. And now Sony has the 30th Anniversary release of Lee’s second film, School Daze. The film provided a look at black college life, and how the film plays into challenging viewpoints and self-identity continues to resonate today.

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Fassbinder, Bergman & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in February 2019

In February, Charles Burnett will join the Criterion Collection with To Sleep with Anger, his 1990 masterpiece starring a magnetic Danny Glover, appearing on Blu-ray for the first time in a new 4K restoration. Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice, the Italian master’s lush adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella starring Dirk Bogarde in a devastating performance, will also make its Blu-ray debut. Brigitte Bardot stands trial in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Oscar-nominated courtroom thriller La vérité, appearing on home video for the first time. Criterion’s yearlong series of Ingmar Bergman releases will continue with a stand-alone edition of Shame, a wrenching study of life during wartime starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow. And that’s not all: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s monumental, fifteen-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz, based on the novel by Alfred Döblin, will make its first appearance on Blu-ray.
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