Criterion’s Blu-ray of Kihachi Okamoto’s The Sword of Doom (1966) provides a spectacular transfer of this difficult, idiosyncratic samurai film. In the finest performance of his career, the versatile Tatsuya Nakadai provides one of the screen’s great depictions of madness.
Rough Cut Blog
The collector is attracted to more than just the movie itself; there’s a desire to heighten and amplify the experience of watching by surrounding it with tangible things which can serve as reminders of the experience of the movie. Shelves of special editions make us feel more connected to the movies we love.
Criterion’s latest Eclipse release opens a window on a previously little-seen world: the Japanese home front during World War 2 as depicted under oppressive regulations during the war. The great Keisuke Kinoshita managed to inject elements of subversive critique into supposedly uplifting calls for national unity and shared sacrifice. Keisuke Kinoshita and World War II is one of the most revelatory releases of the year.
Despite perennial predictions of the demise of movies-on-disk, 2014 offered a rich and varied selection of new and old titles in often impressive editions from many different companies, though not necessarily from major distributors. The cream came from specialty labels like Criterion, the BFI, Arrow, Eureka/Masters of Cinema, Shout! Factory, Olive Films, Kino Lorber, Flicker Alley and Twilight Time.
Recent viewing runs the horror gamut from the low-budget exploitation of David Cronenberg’s debut, Shivers, to George Romero’s bid for studio respectability with a pair of adaptations in the late ’80s and early ’90s, to a really creepy Australian first feature, Jennifer Kent’s remarkably assured The Babadook.
Clive Barker’s second feature as a director was taken over by studio people who didn’t like the film he was making and ended up a crippled box office failure; Shout Factory has now released a “director’s cut”, more or less restored to Barker’s original intentions, which goes some way – though not all the way – towards making it an interesting horror fantasy.