Nuclear war and the movies

Survivors of nuclear attack in Mick Jackson's Threads (1984) face nuclear winter and the end of modern society

20 years after the BBC commissioned and then suppressed The War Game, Peter Watkins’ devastating depiction of a nuclear attack on England, the Corporation produced Mick Jackson’s Threads, an even more powerful film on the theme. Synapse has released Threads on an impressive new Blu-ray.

Sinatra x 2

Angela Lansbury as the quintessential controlling mother in John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Frank Sinatra, a star and celebrity, could also be an impressive actor when he cared to make the effort: two of his best performances from the 1960s, in John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Mark Robson’s Von Ryan’s Express (1965), reveal a willingness to play flawed characters and expose their weaknesses.

The early films of Sydney Pollack

Major Falconer (Burt Lancaster) and his men arrive at the Medieval castle in Sydney Pollack's Castle Keep (1969)

In his early work, Sydney Pollack explored various genres from a distinctly literary perspective before becoming a maker of prestige, middlebrow Hollywood entertainments; excellent Blu-ray presentations of his best features – Castle Keep (1969), They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) and Jeremiah Johnson – reveal a promise not entirely fulfilled in a long career.

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.