Summer viewing: the serious stuff

O (Buster Keaton) scurries through ruined streets trying to evade E (the camera Eye) in Samuel Beckett's Film (1965)

Two recent releases uncover fascinating fragments of cinema history: G.W Pabst’s dramatically powerful and technically innovative early sound films Westfront 1918 (1930) and Kameradschaft (1931) from Masters of Cinema and Samuel Beckett’s sole foray into movies Film (1965) paired with Ross Lipman’s “kino-essay” about the production Notfilm (2015) together in a dual-format release from the BFI.

Summer viewing: science fiction

Communing with the sliens in Denis Villeneuve's Arrival (2016)

Technical accuracy is not necessarily what makes science fiction satisfying; more important is storytelling, as illustrated by two older, and one recent, movies released on Blu-ray: Byron Haskin’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), Joseph Sargent’s Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016)..

Catching up with Twilight

Alex Cutter (John Heard), the embittered Vietnam vet with a money-making plan in Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (1981)

Four Twilight Time releases showcase exceptional acting in a variety of styles: Spencer Tracy and Frederick March in Stanley Kramer’s Inherit the Wind (1960); Jeff Bridges, John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn in Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way (1981); Sean Penn and Christopher Walken in James Foley’s At Close Range (1986); and David Thewlis in Paul Greengrass’ Resurrected (1989).

Classic Howard Hawks on Blu-ray

Walter Burks (Cary Grant) tries to railroad ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) into staying with the newspaper in Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday (1940)

His Girl Friday (1940) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939), two of Howard Hawks’ most critically acclaimed movies, have received excellent treatment from Criterion on Blu-ray, along with a restored transfer of Lewis Milestone’s pre-code adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play The Front Page (1931), the source of Hawks’ cynical 1940 romantic comedy.