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.
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.
Criterion’s Blu-ray release of One-Eyed Jacks is one of the disk highlights of the year, its restored image and sound confirming this great western’s stature. Marlon Brando’s sole directing effort is a key transitional moment between the traditional western and the national myth it represented and the modern deconstruction of that myth by filmmakers like Sam Peckinpah and Arthur Penn.
With a three disk first volume, Arrow Video embark on an ambitious undertaking with the American Horror Project, which intends to gather together independent, fringe features from the ’70s and ’80s, surrounded by supplementary features which provide context and possibly a cumulative history of this genre niche. Set one gathers three movies of varying quality.