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).
Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol (2010) tells the remarkable story of Mark Hogancamp, a man almost beaten to death, who creates an alternate world to help himself heal.
Some comments about the past year’s DVD and Blu-ray releases.
In Visages Villages (2017), the 88-year old Agnes Varda, collaborating with photographer JR, continues to explore the lives of “ordinary” people while examining with fascination the process of her own aging.
Criterion releases a new Blu-ray edition of Barbet Schroeder’s fascinating and problematic documentary about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, featuring a vibrant transfer from the original 16mm reversal stock.
Takes From the Winnipeg Film Group, a new documentary by Dave Barbver and Kevin Nikkel tries to rein in the long and unruly history of the legendary film co-op.
The discovery of a previously unknown documentary, Robert Kaylor’s Derby (1971), plus a Blu-ray edition of Stephanie Rothman’s Terminal Island (1973), a rough-and-ready exploitation B-movie, are of much greater interest than Jack Cardiff’s Holiday in Spain (1960), a bloated mainstream Cinerama showcase which dresses its travelogue in a tissue-thin “mystery” plot.
The Art Life is a relaxed and nuanced portrait of filmmaker David Lynch’s evolution as an artist which, like his work, is both revealing and enigmatic.
More notes on recent viewing, from a sadistic thriller to emotionally resonant anime, from a literary adaptation to two investigations of racism in America.
A collection of random thoughts about recent viewing and reading, including an ambivalent excursion into Netflix streaming.