Criterion’s new Blu-ray of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) affords this scrappy, independent production the high degree of respect it has earned not only as one of the key American films of the 1960s, but as a work which almost single-handedly redefined the horror genre.
Some comments about the past year’s DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Very brief comments on several dozen disks viewed over the past few months.
More notes on recent viewing, from a sadistic thriller to emotionally resonant anime, from a literary adaptation to two investigations of racism in America.
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.
A round-up of recent viewing ranging from classic fantasy to low budget horror to rugged adventure and a western.
An almost lost masterpiece resurfaces in Criterion’s excellent Blu-ray release of Michael Curtiz’ The Breaking Point (1950) starring John Garfield. This Hemingway adaptation fell prey to Hollywood’s post-war Red Scare, but is now revealed as among the director’s and star’s finest work.
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)..
The BFI Blu-ray release of Arthur Robison’s The Informer (1929) offers a fascinating glimpse of the sometimes rocky transition from silent cinema to sound, with restorations of the original silent version and the partial Talkie made simultaneously.
Criterion’s Blu-ray edition of Marcel Pagnol’s Marseilles Trilogy is a revelation, a vibrant, humanistic display of the dramatic possibilities of sound cinema.