Criterion have released a gorgeous restoration of Ermanno Olmi’s 1978 masterpiece The Tree of Wooden Clogs, supplementing this immersive epic of 19th Century peasant life with several epics which explore the origins of the project and Olmi’s methods of working with his remarkable non-professional cast.
Although it’s impossible to keep up with all the disks from Twilight Time, I’ve recently been binging on some of their newer releases.
Paul W.S. Anderson wraps up his 15-year zombie apocalypse with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), one of the best episodes in the series, while Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan (2016) scales the zombie heights in style.
The pleasures of black-and-white cinematography are on full display in Ken Hughes’ The Small World of Sammy Lee; shot on the streets of Soho and the East End by the great Wolfgang Suschitzky, this story of a small-time entertainer and compulsive gambler desperately trying to raise cash to pay off a gangster is a finely observed depiction of the seedier side of pre-Swinging London, shot through with bleak humour and the tentative possibility of redemption.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (2017) in one of his most accomplished films yet, a taut, tense psychological thriller in which every character, even the “villain”, elicits audience sympathy.
Criterion resurrects an important American independent film with a stunning Blu-ray of Jack Garfein’s Something Wild (1961), a showcase for members of the Actors Studio and the Method.
A recent trip to England produced stacks of new disks, some interesting books, and several in-flight movies.
2016 was an impressive year for movies on disk, with a wide variety of new and classic releases, prestige productions and exploitation, and some interesting rediscoveries … too many to pick just a handful of “bests”.
At my annual New Year’s ritual of dinner and movies at my friend Steve’s, I finally got to sample the home 3D viewing experience; we sampled a number of movies, old and new, cheap and expensive, but while the experience had some interesting aspects, I can’t imagine wanting to watch in 3D too often.
Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog (2015) is a charming, discursive, ultimately deeply moving exploration of death, loss, grief and life. Criterion’s Blu-ray edition provides an illuminating conversation with the filmmaker about her art, her career, and her experience of life.