Indicator’s Blu-ray finally does justice to The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), Dr. Seuss’ nightmarish musical plunge into childhood anxieties.
Film history is full of lost movies and forgotten filmmakers, but the case of Sadao Yamanaka is one of the saddest; a brilliant director in 1930s Japan, he died young and all but three of his twenty-seven features are lost. The three that remain are all great works of narrative art.
Remarkably, despite the fame of Fassbinder’s adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), author Alfred Döblin remains little known among English-speaking readers, with few of his monumental novels translated. My brother Chris has made it his mission to change that situation with the launch of Beyond Alexanderplatz, a website devoted to his own on-going translation project.
Two recent Criterion releases, Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012) and Graduation (2016), illustrate the richness of the Romanian New Wave; formally rich, morally complex, and dramatically powerful, they both look superb on Blu-ray and Criterion supplements them with substantial contextual material which reveal Mungiu to be one of the finest artists working in film today.
Karl Marx City (2016) is a strange, disturbing documentary exploration of family history in the context of an oppressive police state, East Germany. In uncovering the story of her father, co-director Petra Epperlein reveals how powerful political forces distort and control people’s everyday lives.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Dead Man (1995) presents a luminous transfer of Jim Jarmusch’s masterpiece, a western which is also a poetic contemplation of the conflict between a material world and spiritual survival.
Masters of Cinema’s new Blu-ray of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure (1997) drew me back for another attempt to understand this maddeningly enigmatic horror film; like its mysterious killer, it exerts an almost hypnotic hold on the viewer.
Twilight Time has recently released a strong selection of crime-related Blu-rays, ranging from Marilyn Monroe’s debut as a lead in Roy Ward Baker’s Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) to Sam Fuller’s powerful revenge noir Underworld USA (1961), from Larry Peerce’s urban nightmare The Incident (1967) to a pair of ’70s exercises in police realism, Richard Fleischer’s The New Centurions (1972) and Philip D’Antoni’s The Seven-Ups (1973).
20 years after the BBC commissioned and then suppressed The War Game, Peter Watkins’ devastating depiction of a nuclear attack on England, the Corporation produced Mick Jackson’s Threads, an even more powerful film on the theme. Synapse has released Threads on an impressive new Blu-ray.
With the recent death of Brazilian filmmaker Nelson Pereira dos Santos, I’ve just re-watched his feature How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman (1971), an ethnographic/historical/satirical depiction of the beginnings of European colonization of South America in the 16th Century.