The ambitious and very expensive early sound-era musical King of Jazz, featuring Paul Whiteman and his band, gets a spectacular restoration which makes the most of the original two-strip Technicolor process on Criterion’s extras-packed Blu-ray.
Rough Cut Blog
A critical, but long-suppressed film from the New German Cinema, Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play Baal (1970) gets an impressive release on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. This aggressively unsettling film is packaged with an excellent selection of contextual supplements.
Recent viewing has included three pairs of movies – two Anime features from 2016 (In This Corner of the World and Your Name), two thrillers from 1967 and 1972 by English directors (Point Blank and Pulp), and a pair of gritty horror-tinged thrillers from 1979 and 1981 which transcend their exploitation roots (The Driller Killer and Ms. 45).
Frank Sinatra, a star and celebrity, could also be an impressive actor when he cared to make the effort: two of his best performances from the 1960s, in John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Mark Robson’s Von Ryan’s Express (1965), reveal a willingness to play flawed characters and expose their weaknesses.
Criterion have followed their fine Eclipse set of Julien Duvivier films with a collection of features by another French director pushed into obscurity by the New Wave: Claude Autant-Lara, represented here by four films made during the German Occupation, all starring a fine but not well-known actress named Odette Joyeux.
Criterion have released an excellent Blu-ray of Ken Loach’s Palme d’or-winning I, Daniel Blake (2016), supplemented with a commentary track from Loach and writer Paul Laverty, an illuminating behind-the-scenes documentary, and a feature-length account of the director’s life and career. One of the best disks released so far this year.
Severin Films recent Blu-ray special edition of Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman’s Jack the Ripper (1959) is ambitious but compromised; the atmospheric horror film is presented in three different versions, all of which have serious issues with the transfers (print damage in one case and incorrect aspect ratios in the other two). More satisfying, technically and creatively, is Severin’s Blu-ray edition of Richard Stanley’s typically idiosyncratic documentary The Otherworld (2013).