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Archive for the 'The Criterion Collection' Category

Deep Cover – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

The great thing about this surprise Criterion Collection choice, Bill Duke’s 1992 undercover cop thriller Deep Cover, is that it’s a great film, regardless of its placement in Criterion’s extensive library. As much as I dig the collection, it’s not hard to see a curious lack of films directed by Black Americans. Whether or not this is the first in a series of attempts to help change up that balance (remember, a Melvin Van Peebles box set is coming soon), getting a chance to revisit this well made 90s film was certainly worthwhile, and the work done to restore the movie has paid off immensely.

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Uncut Gems, High Sierra & More Coming to The Criterion Collection October 2021

This October, the Safdie brothers will join the Criterion Collection with their acclaimed adrenaline rush of a thriller Uncut Gemsstarring Adam Sandler in a manically brilliant dramatic role. Humphrey Bogart gives a star-making turn alongside Ida Lupino in the gritty crime picture High Sierra, directed by action-movie master Raoul Walsh. A highlight from the early career of Satyajit Ray, Devi stages the clash between faith and reason as a sublime and shattering fable. Pulp master Jack Arnold’s existential sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man deploys ingenious special effects to ask what it means to be human. And that’s not all: Kaneto Shindo’s chilling erotic folktale Onibaba and Lynne Ramsay’s hauntingly beautiful coming-of-age tale Ratcatcher will make their Blu-ray debuts.

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Love & Basketball, Mona Lisa & More Coming to The Criterion Collection September 2021

This September, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s groundbreaking coming-of-age film and beloved sports romance Love & Basketball will join the Criterion Collection in a new restoration. Never before available on home video, the genre-blending judo tale Throw Down is a perfect introduction to Hong Kong’s most prolific and offbeat auteur, Johnnie To. Luchino Visconti’s most savagely subversive film, The Damned traces the rot of Nazism through the decline of one decadent family. And Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, a dreamlike journey through London’s criminal underworld starring an Oscar-nominated Bob Hoskins, will appear on Blu-ray. Plus: our previously announced box set Melvin Van Peebles: Four Films celebrates a cinematic renegade whose uncompromising vision established a new model for Black creative independence.

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The Criterion Collection To Deliver The One-Man Revolution: Melvin Van Peebles: Four Films

Presenting the latest box set from The Criterion Collection: Melvin Van Peebles: Four Films. Director, writer, composer, actor, and one-man creative revolutionary Melvin Van Peebles jolted American independent cinema to new life with his explosive stylistic energy and unfiltered expression of Black consciousness. Though he undeniably altered the course of film history with the anarchic Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, that pop-culture bombshell is just one piece of a remarkably varied career that has also encompassed forays into European art cinema (The Story of a Three Day Pass), mainstream Hollywood comedy (Watermelon Man), and Broadway musicals (Don’t Play Us Cheap). Each facet of Van Peebles’s renegade genius is on display in this collection of four films, a tribute to a transformative artist whose caustic social observation, radical formal innovation, and uncompromising vision established a new cinematic model for Black creative independence. Also included in the set is Baadasssss!, a chronicle of the production of Sweet Sweetback made by Van Peebles’s son Mario Van Peebles—and starring the younger Van Peebles as Melvin.

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Merrily We Go To Hell – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

When considering the racy nature of Merrily We Go To Hell, it’s interesting to think about how long certain struggles have been going on within a media-driven culture. While one can look to the 1960s and 70s to get more of an idea of what women went after during the counter culture days, it’s not like Susan B. Anthony didn’t accomplish plenty in the 1910s and 20s. Merrily We Go To Hell is similarly tackling early-feminist ideas on the modern marriage. The film arrived in 1932, long before growing reactions became more common coming out of the conservative American 50s. The Criterion Collection has now delivered the Dorothy Arzner-directed film on a new Blu-ray, with some extras providing further insight into what the movie was commenting on.

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Nightmare Alley – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

What a picture! That can apply to many of these great releases from the Criterion Collection, but 1947’s Nightmare Alley is quite the film noir. This Edmund Goulding classic features Tyrone Power, cast against type, as a traveling con man who experiences both a rise to the top and a descent to the bottom. It’s an expertly crafted feature, with several solid performances and enough going on to provide a terrific reminder of how effective a movie can be when relying merely on atmosphere and angst to craft genuine thrills. This new Criterion Blu-ray features a fantastic new restoration and a nice collection of extras to go with it.

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Sondheim, Fukunaga, Kore-eda & More Coming to The Criterion Collection August 2021

This August, the Criterion Collection will take you behind the scenes of a legendary Broadway recording with D. A. Pennebaker’s classic documentary Original Cast Album: “Company”—a holy grail for musical-theater aficionados featuring Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince, and Elaine Stritch—never before available on Blu-ray. Also new to Blu-ray, After Lifethe international breakthrough from acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda, asks: If you could choose only one memory to hold on to for eternity, what would it be? Cary Joji Fukunaga’s harrowing vision of the horrors of war and lost innocence, the visceral child-soldier saga Beasts of No Nationdebuts on home video. Plus, Andrzej Wajda’s gripping masterpiece of Polish cinema Ashes and Diamonds gets a Blu-ray upgrade.

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The Furies – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Making its return to the Criterion Collection with a Blu-ray upgrade, Anthony Mann’s 1950 western, The Furies, has arrived in a new packed set, featuring the fierce film, a cleaned-up transfer, a collection of extras, and the full 1948 novel on which the film is based. That’s certainly one way to appreciate this “Freudian Western” that pits an all-in Barbara Stanwyck against veteran Oscar-winner Walter Huston in his final performance.

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Bringing Up Baby, Deep Cover & More Coming to The Criterion Collection July 2021

This July, Andrei Tarkovsky’s most renowned and personal film, Mirror, a mesmerizing collage of his memories and dreams, will join the Criterion Collection. Bronzed and beautiful, Romy Schneider and Alain Delon bring palpable chemistry to the French Riviera in the slow-burn thriller La piscineBill Duke’s stylish and subversive Deep Cover stars Laurence Fishburne in a noir gem that doubles as a seething indictment of the war on drugs. Screwball sparks fly between Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby, the madcap classic from Howard Hawks, considered one of the greatest comedies of all time. And, long unavailable on home video, Lizzie Borden’s Working Girls offers an immersive, richly detailed portrait of a day in the life of a sex worker.

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Memories of Murder – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Before Parasite won Best Picture and three other Oscars in 2020 (back when the world was in order), it was just one of several incredible films directed by the Academy Award-winning Bong Joon-ho. Memories of Murder is among them. However, much like the elusive killer in this film (and in real life), this film has sadly not been widely available, but that has fortunately changed. Whether or not people had a chance to recently see the film, this sophomore effort from Bong is a great reminder of his talent early on, let alone a great crime drama layered with dark comedy. Fortunately, the Criterion Collection has now provided a proper U.S. Blu-ray release for the film.

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Secrets & Lies – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

It’s a shame I’m not more well-versed in the films of Mike Leigh. I’ve seen many of them, but not all. And yet, each time I catch up with one of his films, I continue to believe he’s one of the best modern dramatists who continually delivers well-written, terrifically made original films. Now I’ve caught up with Secrets & Lies for the film time, and it’s another standout. This new Criterion Collection release delivers a fantastic presentation of the film, complete with new interviews and more. It’s a good thing, too, as the Oscar-nominated film is easily another 90s standout.

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Defending Your Life – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

I don’t exactly keep a list of films I need to have on Blu-ray (let alone 4K), but Albert Brooks’ wonderful afterlife romantic-comedy-fantasy film, Defending Your Life, is one I’ve been waiting for a long time to have. Now, not unlike the way the Criterion Collection finally delivered my long-sought-after Ghost Dog Blu-ray, I know have Defending Your Life available in a seemingly definitive home release, and it does not disappoint. Featuring a new 4K digital restoration and a nice collection of extras, one of my favorite movies has been given fine treatment in its after-theatrical life.

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Streetwise, Pariah, Marlon Riggs & More Coming to The Criterion Collection June 2021

This June, the Criterion Collection will present the complete work of a courageous filmmaker who issued an electrifying call for liberation: The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs traces the pathbreaking gay, Black artist’s creative and political evolution across films that combine documentary, performance, poetry, music, and experimental techniques. Acclaimed director Dee Rees enters the Collection with her feature debut, Pariaha tender coming-of-age story that intimately explores the experiences of a young, queer Black woman. The Oscar-nominated 1983 documentary Streetwise and its long-awaited follow-up, Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell, together represent an astonishing thirty-year collaboration between Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark, Cheryl McCall, and their most remarkable subject. An octet of brilliant filmmakers—including Miloš Forman, Kon Ichikawa, and Mai Zetterling—present their idiosyncratic and imaginative takes on the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich in Visions of Eighta poetic sports documentary like no other. And that’s not all: Samuel Fuller’s crackling noir classic Pickup on South Street and Masaki Kobayashi’s landmark wartime epic, The Human Conditionwill both make their Blu-ray debuts.

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Fast Times, Shanghai, Nightmare Alley & More Coming to The Criterion Collection May 2021

This May, Hou Hsiao-Hsien will join the Criterion Collection with a new, director-approved restoration of his ravishing chamber drama Flowers of Shanghaia period reverie that confirmed his status as one of the world’s great filmmakers. Hailed as one of the best teen movies ever made, Amy Heckerling’s generation-defining classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High will appear in a new, restored 4K digital transfer. Tyrone Power stars in one of the most haunting and perverse film noirs of the 1940s, Nightmare Alleymaking its first appearance on Blu-ray. Dorothy Arzner explores addiction, nonmonogamy, and sexual liberation in her bracingly ahead-of-its time pre-Code triumph Merrily We Go to Hellstarring Fredric March and Sylvia Sidney. And Ahmed El Maanouni’s Trancesan enveloping portrait of the renowned Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane, will appear in stand-alone Blu-ray and DVD editions.

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Chop Shop – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

For February, the Criterion Collection has decided to honor filmmaker Ramin Bahrani by releasing his first two features on brand-new Blu-rays. Bahrani’s second feature, 2007’s Chop Shop, expands on what he was able to accomplish with Man Push Cart. Already settled into a filmmaking style reminiscent of Italian Neorealism, Bahrani’s sophomore effort tells another deeply felt story about human struggle, focusing on even younger characters and the ongoing struggles they have in trying to stay ahead of their station in life. Thanks to Criterion, the highly praised film now has a new life on a home format to be rediscovered as one of the great indie gems of the 00s, complete with new extras and a remastered audio track.

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Man Push Cart – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

For February, the Criterion Collection has decided to honor filmmaker Ramin Bahrani by releasing his first two features on brand-new Blu-rays. In this post, Bahrani’s first feature, Man Push Cart, tells a simple story serving as an update of the “Myth of Sisyphus.” With that in mind, Bahrani was praised early on for his style fitting into the realm of Italian Neorealism, given the minimalist nature of the filmmaking, combined with a focus on the conditions of a lesser everyday life, utilizing mostly non-professional actors. Now, looking at this film, having seen Bahrani’s work since, it remains a fascinating effort from a filmmaker harnessing his talents.

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Jean-Luc Godard, Bong Joon Ho, Olivier Assayas & More Coming to The Criterion Collection April 2021

This April, Bong Joon Ho blows up the police procedural with his breakthrough second feature Memories of Murder, based on the true story of a notorious Korean serial killer, now in a new 4K restoration. Maggie Cheung stars in Olivier Assayas’s live-wire international breakthrough Irma Vep, a postmodern blend of silent cinema and martial-arts flicks. Appearing on Blu-ray for the first time, Frank Borzage’s History Is Made at Night stars Charles Boyer and Jean Arthur in one of the most intoxicatingly romantic love stories ever dreamt up by Hollywood. And that’s not all: Anthony Mann’s crackling western-melodrama hybrid The Furies and Jean-Luc Godard’s restless study of 1960s youth Masculin féminin will make their Blu-ray debuts.

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Minding The Gap – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

One of the most celebrated documentaries of 2018, let alone the past decade, Minding the Gap is a wonderful chronicle of friendship, society, and skateboarding. I was excited when The Criterion Collection announced their plans to release the film last year, and this Blu-ray did not disappoint. As a debut feature, director Bing Liu manages to accomplish so much with a 90-minute period, and it all extends from wanting to explore the lives of himself and his friends as they all enter into adulthood. Now there’s this wonderful release, presenting the film as effectively as possible, with a great collection of extras to further expand on how the film was made and the effects it has had.

 

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