Archive for the 'The Criterion Collection' Category

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:

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

Continue reading ‘Election – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


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.


Continue reading ‘Le Samouraï – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


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.

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


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.

Continue reading ‘The Piano Teacher – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


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.

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


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.

Continue reading ‘Election & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in December 2017’


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.

Continue reading ‘La Poison – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


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.

 a Continue reading ‘Hopscotch – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


The Philadelphia Story, Le Samouraï & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in November 2017

This November, golden-age Hollywood’s wittiest romantic comedy will join the Criterion Collection: The Philadelphia Story, starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart, all at the height of their dazzling charms. Our edition will feature a new 4K restoration, along with new supplements exploring the film’s production, which launched Hepburn back to stardom thanks largely to her own shrewd orchestrations. Next up, Donna Deitch’s swooning love story Desert Hearts – a landmark in queer cinema and a triumph of independent filmmaking – will appear in a special edition featuring a new, restored 4K digital transfer and interviews in which the cast and crew revisit the film’s production and discuss its impact three decades later. Terry Gilliam stepped out from the ranks of Monty Python for his solo-directing debut, Jabberwocky, which stars Michael Palin as a clueless bumpkin traipsing through a medieval kingdom terrorized by a fearsome dragon. Our edition marks the film’s first appearance on Blu-ray, in a new 4K restoration with special features including new interviews with the cast and crew. And that’s not all: Jean-Pierre Melville’s ice-cold gangster classic Le samouraï, starring Alain Delon, will now be on Blu-ray in a new high-definition digital restoration.

Continue reading ‘The Philadelphia Story, Le Samouraï & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in November 2017’


L’argent – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Money serves as a symbol of success and has said to be the root of all evil. It is also fittingly the meaning of the French term L’argent, which happens to be the title of writer/director Robert Bresson’s final film. L’argent captures Bresson’s minimalist style, as it tells the tale of how one counterfeit bill affects the lives of many. Now a part of The Criterion Collection, plenty can now see just how well this film holds up. The film won the Director’s Prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival and showed just what kind of cinematic power can come from presenting life as it is in this dramatic feature that takes characters down a sorrowful hole mostly met with despair.


 s Continue reading ‘L’argent – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


Barry Lyndon, Twin Peaks, Personal Shopper & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in October 2017

This October, Stanley Kubrick’s breathtaking period epic Barry Lyndon will join the Criterion Collection in a new 4K restoration. Our edition will feature a host of supplements that explore how Kubrick and his team brought the eighteenth century to life with unprecedented achievements in cinematography and production design. Then, it is happening again: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the centerpiece of David Lynch’s newly revived Twin Peaks saga, receives its first standalone Blu-ray release, featuring ninety minutes of deleted scenes and new interviews with members of the film’s cast and crew. And in time for Halloween: Vampyr, the hallucinatory horror masterpiece by Carl Theodor Dreyer, on Blu-ray for the very first time; The Lure, a flesh-eating mermaid musical hot off its theatrical run; and Personal Shopper, a genre-bending ghost story from Olivier Assayas that features the magnetic Kristen Stewart in her most mesmerizing performance to date.  And there’s more: Orson Welles’s towering Shakespeare adaptation Othello, in an edition featuring two versions of the movie, and now including Filming “Othello,” the great filmmaker’s last completed feature.

Continue reading ‘Barry Lyndon, Twin Peaks, Personal Shopper & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in October 2017’


Ugetsu – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Here’s a tale of love, family, and ambition set during a time of war. That would seemingly be the kind of film anyone would be able to relate to. I am admittedly less familiar with Kenji Mizoguchi, compared to other acclaimed Japanese filmmakers, but Ugetsu was a movie with a level of acclaim I could hardly avoid hearing about over the years. Winner of the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1953, this new release from The Criterion Collection provides an update from the DVD edition, allowing the film to look and sound better than ever, in addition to its presentation of an excellent archival documentary that goes over the life of Mizoguchi. Cinephiles will be happy to see this upgrade.


 a Continue reading ‘Ugetsu – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


Haneke, Hitchcock & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in September 2017

In September, Murray Lerner’s Festival will join the Criterion Collection in time for its fortieth anniversary. The era-defining documentary caught the crest of a musical movement at the Newport Folk Festival from 1963 to 1966 and includes performances by giants like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, and the Staples Singers; the Criterion release’s special features will showcase rare additional footage from the festivals. Austrian maestro Michael Haneke strikes a jagged chord in The Piano Teacher, a twisted psychological study dominated by a steely performance from Isabelle Huppert, whose collaboration with Haneke will be explored in a number of special features on our release. Alfred Hitchcock entered a bold new phase of his legendary career with his first American film, the Oscar-winning gothic melodrama Rebecca, appearing in a stunning new 4K restoration in an edition packed with special features that illuminate the Master of Suspense’s transition to Hollywood. And there’s more: three of contemporary cinema’s greatest actresses share the screen in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, which stars Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, and Kristen Stewart alongside revelatory newcomer Lily Gladstone in a keenly observed triptych of stories set against the lonely backdrop of rural Montana. Plus: David Lynch: The Art Life, fresh from its theatrical release, offers an intimate portrait of the famously elusive director of Eraserhead and Twin Peaks.

Continue reading ‘Haneke, Hitchcock & More Coming to The Criterion Collection in September 2017’


Dheepan – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

While I’ve mainly tackled reviews of Criterion Collection films that reflect the past, it is neat to deal with something more modern. Dheepan is a 2015 French film that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of Tamil refugees reconstructing their lives in France. The film comes from writer-director Jacques Audiard, who has made several films, but caught my attention with the prison crime-drama A Prophet and followed that up with also great romance drama Rust and Bone. While Dheepan draws from some other notable films, it still serves as a new step for Audiard, which can be explored further, now that it is available on this involving Criterion Blu-ray.

 a Continue reading ‘Dheepan – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)’


Sid & Nancy, Hopscotch and More Coming to The Criterion Collection in August 2017

In August, Criterion will take you into uncharted waters with the Hollywood master Michael Curtiz’s unsung classic The Breaking Point – a white-knuckle Hemingway adaptation starring John Garfield and Patricia Neal – on Blu-ray for the first time. The films of Sacha Guitry have long been celebrated in France, including the late-career black comedy La poison, the writer/director’s first collaboration with wildly expressive performer Michel Simon, making its home video debut. Mike Leigh’s Meantime, appearing in a new 2K restoration, was a revelation in 1984, exposing filmgoers to the character-based social realism Leigh had honed working in British theater and television, as well as to two young actors whose electrifying performances heralded incredible careers: Tim Roth and Gary Oldman. The latter was soon to co-star alongside Chloe Webb in Sid & Nancy, Alex Cox’s crash-and-burn punk romance, which we’ll present in a new 4K digital restoration. Finally, Walter Matthau exudes wily charm in the lovable cat-and-mouse spy comedy Hopscotch, on Blu-ray in a new 2K digital restoration.


Continue reading ‘Sid & Nancy, Hopscotch and More Coming to The Criterion Collection in August 2017’