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Archive for the 'The Criterion Collection' Category

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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Night of the Living Dead, Silence of the Lambs & More Coming to The Criterion Collection February 2018

Next February, George Romero’s revolutionary horror classic Night of the Living Dead comes lurching from the grave, in a major new edition featuring an astonishing new 4K restoration of the film, never-before-seen footage from the production, and hordes of interviews and programs exploring the incredible story of the making of this trailblazing independent film. No less chilling is Jonathan Demme’s eerily intimate The Silence of the Lambs, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in a serial-killer scenario like no other. This celebrated thriller will return to the Criterion Collection in a stunning new 4K restoration along with extensive supplements, including our long-out-of-print commentary featuring Demme, Hopkins, and Foster. There’s also Satyajit Ray’s richly observed character study The Hero, starring Bengali screen icon Uttam Kumar as a matinee idol reckoning with the pitfalls of fame, in a new 2K transfer. Another thespian takes the stage in An Actor’s Revenge, Kon Ichikawa’s kabuki-inspired spectacle about a female impersonator’s quest for vengeance, appearing in a new 4K restoration. And there’s more: Tony Richardson’s uproarious multi-Oscar-winning literary adaptation Tom Jones, starring Albert Finney, will make its Blu-ray debut in an edition featuring new 4K restorations of both the original theatrical version of the film and Richardson’s 1989 director’s cut, as well as extensive interviews on the film’s production and influence. And Louis Malle’s mesmerizing debut Elevator to the Gallows, a clockwork thriller with a legendary Miles Davis score, will arrive on Blu-ray in a new 2K restoration.

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The Piano Teacher – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Director Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Amour) and his attention to storytelling are celebrated by this release of The Piano Teacher from the Criterion Collection in a way that honors the film’s unique quality and its director’s masterful use of the medium of film to tell a story. Watching the film itself is a transformative experience; one that concludes with some viewers wondering if they may have just seem the best movie ever made and some completely baffled by why a person would decide to make this into a film. Personally, I am in the former category. Let’s take a closer look at this blu-ray release to see why it is a necessity for any lover of sometimes-uncomfortable but endlessly watchable films.

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The Breakfast Club, Young Mr. Lincoln & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in January 2018

In January, the Criterion Collection will ring in the New Year with John Hughes’s generation-defining high school movie The Breakfast Club, in an edition packed with special features, including extensive new and archival interviews with the film’s iconic cast and fifty minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes. That’s just the beginning of a month that will also see the releases of two revelatory films by G. W. Pabst: long unavailable and newly restored, Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft are thrillingly realistic, socially engaged landmarks of early sound cinema. In another rediscovery, our Eclipse line returns with Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France, a quartet of sophisticated, slyly subversive romances from an unsung master. And there’s more: a defiant individual takes on uncaring bureaucracy in I, Daniel Blake, the Palme d’Or-winning drama from veteran British rabble-rouser Ken Loach, in an edition featuring two documentaries surveying the director’s career and working methods; and Young Mr. Lincoln, John Ford’s poetic biopic starring Henry Ford, on Blu-ray for the first time in a new 4K restoration.

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Election & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in December 2017

This December, Alexander Payne’s caustically funny Election, a biting satire of political hubris set at an Omaha high school, will join the Criterion Collection in an edition featuring a new, restored 4K digital transfer and new interviews with Payne and Reese Witherspoon. Politics get even uglier in Barbet Schroeder’s General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait, an unsettling encounter with the murderous, charismatic Ugandan dictator, in a new, restored 2K digital transfer, and on Blu-ray for the first time. Plus, fifty years after the Summer of Love, a new Blu-ray collector’s edition of The Complete Monterey Pop Festival celebrates a watershed moment in music history. In addition to D. A. Pennebaker’s classic concert films Monterey Pop (in a new 4K digital restoration), Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey, the box set contains new supplements and every available complete performance filmed by Pennebaker and his crew. And as previously announced: 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012, a landmark collector’s set featuring fifty-three films from a century of Olympic Games presented together for the first time, as well as a lavishly illustrated, 216-page book.

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La Poison – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Discovery continues to be a large part of why I enjoy sitting down and watching films released by The Criterion Collection. La Poison comes from writer/director Sacha Guitry, someone I was unfamiliar with, but thanks to the collection of extras on this Blu-ray release, along with the film, I have a new understanding of him and the history he was a part of. That in mind, there is also a great, darkly hilarious film here. It takes on the idea of a marriage gone sour, before devolving into an interesting look at French ethics circa 1950. Intelligent and made with a good level of tension to go with the witty humor, La Poison was an interesting film to catch up with, and it’s now available from Criterion.

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Hopscotch – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Hopscotch was a great film to catch up with. It’s a spy movie where action and thrills are hardly the point. While The Criterion Collection has a huge selection of films spanning decades of cinema and coming from all over the world, some may characterize the selections as stuffy dramas. That’s hardly the case and what better way to see that than by taking on a globetrotting spy comedy starring Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. Hopscotch was an early entry into The Criterion Collection (it arrived on DVD in 2002), but it has now been given a Blu-ray update resulting in an excellent way to see and hear this forgotten cold war comedy gem.

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