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Archive for the 'The Criterion Collection' Category

The Other Side of Hope – Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

There is a slow, quiet magic to the films of Aki Kaurismäki (Le Havre, The Man Without a Past) that allows the viewer to be lulled into the idea that there is just a simple story going on with some dry humor and then it turns out one is watching a scathing indictment of society dressed up as a slow moving dramatic tale. With The Other Side of Hope, the director maintains that skill and applies it to a story about a Syrian refugee and a Finnish shirt salesperson separately attempting to change the courses of their respective lives. It is an odd film that requires attention, patience, and a likely a second viewing to fully soak it up.

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A Matter of Life and Death – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

I was happy to put together my first write-up about an Ingmar Bergman film, and now I’ve had the chance to write at some length about a terrific film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. A Matter of Life and Death is finally debuting on The Criterion Collection Blu-ray, and it does not disappoint. Heralded as one of the best British films ever made, the 1946 fantasy-romance has had a significant impact on cinematic storytelling, influencing so many filmmakers in the decades since its original release. Now, everyone can have access to this restored feature that looks and sounds extraordinary and features an excellent set of supplemental material.

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Princess Bride, Shampoo, Sisters & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in October 2018

This October, the beloved fairy-tale classic The Princess Bride will join the Criterion Collection in a clothbound storybook Blu-ray edition packed with special features-as you wish! Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s long-unavailable television series Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day, a working-class soap opera suffused with affection and solidarity will appear in a new 2K restoration. Warren Beatty stars in Shampoo– a sly send-up of sex and politics in the 1960s directed by Hal Ashby- making its Blu-ray debut. Brian De Palma’s Sisters, the virtuoso director’s twisted and terrifying first foray into Hitchcock territory, will appear in a new 4K restoration. And there’s more: Cornel Wilde plumbs primal terror and colonialist violence in the stripped-down action film The Naked Prey, on Blu-ray for the first time.

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The Virgin Spring – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

As much a fan I may be of legendary director Ingmar Bergman, I’ve never actually written at length about one of his films. Thanks to this re-release of his Oscar-winning film, The Virgin Spring, from The Criterion Collection, I now have the chance. Numerous superlatives go with almost any of Bergman films, and this one is no different. In addition to being an odd inspiration for some films that came later on, this was the movie that brought Bergman a lot more international acclaim, having already delivered some of his signature work. All that success and he wasn’t even much of a fan of this entry in his oeuvre. All that and more in this assessment of another great Blu-ray upgrade for a terrific feature.

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Bergman, Tarkovsky, Assayas & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in September 2018

Coming this September, Olivier Assayas’s long-unavailable coming-of-age masterpiece Cold Water, recently released theatrically for the first time in the U.S., will join the Criterion Collection in a new 4K restoration supervised by the director. Andrei Tarkovsky’s monumental epic Andrei Rublev will make its Blu-ray debut in an edition that includes both the director’s preferred 185-minute cut and the extended cut that was suppressed by Soviet censors. A Raisin in the Sun, the classic film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play about a Chicago family’s struggle against racism and class barriers, starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, will appear in a new 4K restoration. American inequality gets lampooned from the top down in My Man Godfrey, the uproarious Depression-era screwball comedy starring William Powell and Carole Lombard, now on Blu-ray. And that’s not all: Ingmar Bergman plumbs the emotional depths of a couple’s life together and apart in Scenes from a Marriage, on Blu-ray for the first time.

 

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The Tree of Life, Heaven Can Wait & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in August 2018

This August, The Tree of Life, visionary filmmaker Terrence Malick’s magnum opus starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, will join the Criterion Collection in an edition featuring a new cut that includes nearly fifty minutes of additional footage. And fifty years after its initial release put Cuban cinema on the map, Memories of Underdevelopment, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s long-unavailable masterpiece set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Cuban Revolution, will appear in a new 4K restoration. Director Robert M. Young brings his keen eye for socially engaged drama to The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, a passion project for producer-star Edward James Olmos and a landmark of Chicano cinema, appearing on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time. Susan Seidelman will join the collection with her trailblazing independent debut, Smithereens, a punk-rock portrait of down-and-out scenesters in 1980s New York, in a new, director-approved 2K restoration. And that’s not all: Ernst Lubitsch’s sly Technicolor comedy Heaven Can Wait will makes its first appearance on Blu-ray in a new 4K restoration.

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Dead Man – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Jim Jarmusch is one of my favorite directors, and The Criterion Collection has seen fit to treat me with a release of Dead Man, his offbeat western from 1995, starring Johnny Depp. Featuring a strong and very Jarmusch supporting cast, beautiful black and white cinematography, and an improvised electric guitar score by Neil Young, Dead Man is the epitome of 90s indie film and one of Jarmusch’s best works as a director. Given my love for 2013’s Only Lovers Left Alive and the declaration of Paterson as my favorite film of 2016, Jarmusch has not stopped entertaining me, so I was thrilled to take in a spectacular new release for his acid western.

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Bull Durham, Powell and Pressburger & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in July 2018

This July, the Criterion Collection will pay tribute to one of cinema’s most legendary collaborations with Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood, a lavish box set featuring six newly restored classics starring the alluring Marlene Dietrich and directed by the visually extravagant Josef von Sternberg: MoroccoDishonored,  Shanghai ExpressBlonde VenusThe Scarlet Empress, and The Devil Is a Woman. Steven Soderbergh’s disarmingly frank debut, sex, lies, and videotape, the film that changed the course of American independent cinema, will join the collection in a new, restored 4K digital transfer supervised by the director. Ron Shelton’s hall-of-fame baseball comedy Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins in one of the most beloved sports movies of all time, will also appear in a director-approved 4K digital transfer. And there’s more: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s otherworldly Technicolor romance A Matter of Life and Death and King Hu’s martial-arts classic Dragon Inn will both make their Blu-ray debuts in stunning new 4K digital restorations.

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Bergman, Waters, Moore & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in June 2018

This June, John Waters’ outrageous Female Trouble, starring the criminally beautiful Divine, will join the Criterion Collection decked out in cha-cha heels, doused in liquid eyeliner, and restored in 4K. Also appearing in a new 4K restoration is Lino Brocka’s searing urban melodrama Manila in the Claws of Light, widely recognized as one of the greatest films in Filipino cinema. Then, Víctor Erice investigates Spain’s troubled history through the eyes of a child captivated by her father in El Sur, a haunting masterpiece never before available on DVD or Blu-ray. Michael Moore will join the Collection with the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine, his incisive and perennially relevant documentary on the culture of fear that keeps gun-loving America locked and loaded. And there’s more: Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, a harrowing tale of vengeance and faith, will appear on Blu-ray in a new 2K restoration.

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Midnight Cowboy, Mishima, Moonrise & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in May 2018

This May, John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, the era-defining classic of New American Cinema whose sexual frankness helped earn it both an X rating and an Oscar for best picture, will join the Criterion Collection in a new 4K digital restoration. But first, a major rediscovery: Moonrise, the long-unavailable final triumph by neglected Hollywood master Frank Borzage, will appear in a new, restored 4K digital transfer. Then, fresh from its celebrated theatrical run, Aki Kaurismäki’s award-winning The Other Side of Hope, the dryly comic tale of a Syrian refugee and the restaurateur who helps him find a foothold in Finland, arrives on home video. Cristian Mungiu, leading light of the New Romanian Cinema, examines the fine line between faith and fanaticism in Beyond the Hills, and shows how a father’s concern for his daughter draws him into a network of corruption in Graduation, both new to home video. And that’s not all: Robert Bresson’s profoundly compassionate masterpiece Au hasard Balthazar and Paul Schrader’s wildly unconventional biopic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters will make their first appearances on Blu-ray, in new restorations.

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Night of the Living Dead – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

At long last, on the year of its 50th anniversary, Night of the Living Dead has been given the ultimate Blu-ray release it deserves. George A. Romero’s 1968 film, the godfather of modern zombie movies, is one that has received so many different releases due to its public domain status that it was only a matter of time for real justice to be done. Thankfully, The Criterion Collection has once again gone all out for a true classic (‘Night’ was even added into the National Film Registry nearly 20 years ago). This spectacular new release boasts 4K digital restoration, a workprint edit of the film, multiple commentaries, never-before-seen footage, new interviews, and more. It’s practically everything one can want for the perfect release of this film, which I was thrilled to dive into for this review.

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Ingrid Bergman, Sofia Coppola, Jim Jarmusch & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in April 2018

This April, Sergei Parajanov’s masterpiece The Color of Pomegranates, a revelatory film-poem overflowing with sensuous imagery, will join the Criterion Collection, on Blu-ray for the first time and in a stunning new 4K restoration. Also making its Blu-ray debut, Leo McCarey’s genre-defining comedy The Awful Truth stars the irresistible Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as would-be ex-spouses who can’t get enough of each other. The latest entry in our Eclipse line provides an origin story for another one of Hollywood’s most iconic stars: Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years collects six of the actor’s earliest performances and showcases her extraordinary range, which spanned crime thrillers, comedy, and melodrama. And there’s more: Dead Man, an ambitious, hypnotic western by Jim Jarmusch that enlists the poetry of William Blake and the music of Neil Young to turn the genre on its head, appears in a new 4K restoration supervised by the director. Plus, Sofia Coppola joins the collection with her debut, The Virgin Suicides, an ominously dreamy coming-of-age reverie adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’s celebrated novel, appearing in a 4K digital transfer supervised by cinematographer Ed Lachman and approved by the director.

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The Breakfast Club – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Kicking off this year of films released by The Criterion Collection we have John Hughes iconic high school film The Breakfast Club. The acclaimed coming-of-age comedy-drama primarily works as a chamber drama that happens to be deconstructing various high school clichés and has been held up high by audiences from all over. Taking this story of high school students stuck in Saturday detention and turning it into a beloved modern classic speaks to what a particular generation responded to. Even if one is not a fan, I believe it’s easy to see why the film has been given its share of praise and has even been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being culturally significant. With this new Blu-ray release, fans can see the film looking and sounding better than ever, along with plenty of new and never-before-seen extra material.

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Super-Sized Top Ten: Aaron’s First-Class Blu-ray Picks For 2017

Another year and another list of great Blu-ray releases. Like previous years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), I have decided to tackle every aspect of what I enjoyed about this year in Blu-ray. This list consists of what I consider to be the best 2017 had to offer for the Blu-ray format based on what I’ve seen, with a few rules to go with it. Going by the same standards as before, I have to have actually watched the movie on Blu-Ray, recognize the quality of the video and audio transfers, delved into the special features, and attempt to keep off any film that may also be on my “Top 10 Films of the Year” list in the final top ten for Blu-rays. I followed these rules for the sake of keeping my list interesting, along with creating some extra sections to provide even more highlights of the year. Why So Blu’s Brian and Brandon may have their 4K setups to work with, but this works for me, so here we go:

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Aaron’s Top 20 Picks for the Best Original Criterion Collection Cover Art of 2017

Taking a cue from Why So Blu’s Jason Coleman and his picks for his favorite movie posters of the year, this seemed like a fun idea at the time, but it turned out to be a bigger challenge than anticipated. The Criterion Collection currently releases roughly 60-70 films a year. Some of these are reissues, which were omitted from this list (sorry Le Samourai and Straw Dogs) but others are completely new to the collection, and with that, you get some brand new cover art. For the sake of this post, I have decided to remove any cover art that was simply the original theatrical poster (Sorry Being There and Barry Lyndon), as I wanted to focus on the new interpretations for certain classics and acclaimed contemporary releases by way of the artwork associated with them. So without further ado, here are the top 20.

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Age of Innocence, Passion of Joan of Arc & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in March 2018

In March, Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence – the great New York filmmaker’s lavish Edith Wharton adaptation, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Michelle Pfeiffer – will join the Criterion Collection in an edition featuring a new, restored 4K digital transfer, approved by the director and now available on Blu-ray. No less impressive a match between filmmaker and novelist, Ken Russell’s Women in Love draws on D. H. Lawrence for a taboo-breaking vision of desire unleashed, starring Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, and an Oscar-winning Glenda Jackson. Volker Schlöndorff’s long-unavailable Baal – a schnapps-soaked rampage that channels the rebellious spirit of the young Bertolt Brecht through a feral performance by Rainer Werner Fassbinder – will appear on home video for the first time. The King of Jazz is another major rediscovery: the astonishing early Technicolor of this song-and-dance spectacular dazzles in a new 4K restoration. And that’s not all: The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece, one of the most transcendent films in the history of cinema, will come to Blu-ray for the first time, in a stunning new restoration.

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Election – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when The Criterion Collection announced it would be bringing Election into its lineup. The company tends to find some of the older works of celebrated directors and it just so happens that this film was one of the best comedies of the 90s. Alexander Payne’s acclaimed comedic satire has landed in the cinematic pantheon of being an acclaimed and popular enough film, and a cult favorite in its own way. Perhaps that has to do with the film’s spirit. There’s a Midwestern charm, but the film’s whole story is rooted in very political ideas that reflect not only one important election, but others as well. All of that and Election still manages to be wickedly funny. Now it has this fantastic Criterion Blu-ray release sure to please many.

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Le Samouraï – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

In having the opportunity to review new releases from The Criterion Collection, there are certain films I have been waiting to see make their way to Blu-ray. Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï is one of the ultimate examples of this. Here’s the film that brought a modern sense of cool to practically all the movies about contract killers, hitmen, assassins that proceeded it. Thanks to a blend of elegance, straightforward storytelling, well-handled tension and a pitch-perfect lead performance, Le Samouraï is a true masterpiece that skillfully blends 40s gangster/noir sensibilities and the evolving nature of 60s new wave cinema. Now the film has arrived on Blu-ray with a new HD digital restoration and some worthwhile extras.

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