Recent viewing includes a range of genre titles, high and low-end, from Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video: serial killers, Japanese vampires, sewer-dwelling mutants, zombies and a schizophrenic woman struggling to maintain a tenuous hold on reality.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Victor Erice’s second feature, El Sur (1983), presents this exquisite depiction of childhood innocence and loss in a breathtakingly rich hi-def transfer, with excellent, informative supplements.
Recent Blu-ray editions from Indicator in the UK call attention to a couple of interesting but largely forgotten movies from the ’60s: Sidney Lumet’s John le Carre adaptation The Deadly Affair (1966) and Jack Gold’s The Reckoning.
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.
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).