Death and madness from Indicator

Marshal Frank Patch (Richard Widmark) keeps an eye on a small western town in Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

A pair of recent Indicator releases resurrect a couple of all-but forgotten features with major stars. Richard Widmark plays a Western lawman whose time has passed in Death of a Gunfighter (1969), the first movie credited to phantom director Alan Smithee, while George C. Scott is a former New York judge dealing with grief by taking on the identity of Sherlock Holmes; his therapist just happens to be named Dr. Watson (Joanne Woodward).

Recent Severin viewing

Alice Campos (Florinda Bolkan) searches for her own past in Luigi Bazzoni’s Le Orme (Footprints on the Moon [1975])

It’s taken me a while to work through some of the many Severin box sets that have been piling up over the past year – the folk horror set All the Haunts Be Ours, House of Psychotic Women and the latest set of Italian movies Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection – along with some 4K special editions of movies by Dario Argento and Alex de la Iglesia.

Recent Arrow releases, part two

But once hired, Jack (Clive Owen)'s addiction to watching losers kicks in in Mike Hodges' Croupier (1997)

More recent releases from Arrow: Nightmare at Noon (1988), a horror-thriller from prolific Greek filmmaker Nico Mastorakis; The Righteous (2021), a bleak, Bergman-influenced study of guilt and grief with supernatural intimations from Newfoundland actor/filmmaker Mark O’Brien; and a superb hi-def restoration of Mike Hodges’ late career masterpiece Croupier (1997) in a two-disk set which includes an engaging documentary in which the 89-year-old filmmaker reminisces about his life and career.

Back to the multiplex

James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) undergoes the duplication process in Brandon Cronenberg's Infinity Pool (2023)

Two new movies by directors who interest me offer a mixture of pleasure and slight disappointment. Both Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool (2023) and M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin (2023) have a strong strain of psychological horror somewhat compromised by endings which are not fully satisfying.

Political thrillers, horror and metaphor

Three recent releases blend reality and fiction to explore political themes, with varying success. Alain Jessua’s Les Chiens (1978) is an allegory of Fascism, while Jean-Claude Lord’s Mindfield (1989) and Jayro Bustamante’s La llorona (2019) are both rooted in real crimes, the former turning history into pulp entertainment, the latter into a haunting exploration of national trauma.

Resurrecting a pre-tax shelter classic: The Rainbow Boys (1973)

Donald Pleasence, Don Calfa and Kate Reid hit the road in search of gold in Gerald Potterton's The Rainbow Boys (1973)

A relatively new label, Canadian International Pictures, has resurrected Gerald Potterton’s light and charming character-based comedy The Rainbow Boys (1973) in a fine Blu-ray edition with substantial extras. Another CIP release showcases Potterton’s National Film Board short The Railrodder (1965), a travelogue starring Buster Keaton towards the end of his life, along with John Spotton’s documentary about the making of the short, Buster Keaton Rides Again (1965), and another NFB travelogue, Eugene Boyko’s Helicopter Canada (1966), made to mark the country’s centennial.

Universal Noir #1 from Indicator

Menace on the mean streets of film noir in Jerry Hopper's Naked Alibi (1954)

After five box sets devoted to film noir B-movies from Columbia Studios, Indicator have embarked on a follow-up covering Universal Studios crime films from the same mid-’40s to late-’50s period. The inaugural set of six titles covers a range of styles, from the classic noir of Michael Gordon’s The Web (1947), Norman Foster’s Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948) and Jerry Hopper’s Naked Alibi (1954) to the docu-noir of Joseph M. Newman’s Abandoned (1949) and the shot-in-Italy neorealist melodrama of Robert Siodmak’s Deported (1950). With a host of contextual and critical extras, Universal Noir #1 inaugurates another great series of releases from Indicator.

The Infernal Affairs trilogy (2002-03): Criterion Blu-ray review

An undercover cop and a triad mole face off on a Hong Kong rooftop in Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs (2002)

Soon after Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain, filmmakers Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak embarked on an ambitious project to revitalize a film industry in disarray. The result was the Infernal Affairs trilogy, which has its roots in the HK action movies of the 1980s, using familiar narrative tropes as a springboard for a complex meditation on identity amidst new political and economic uncertainties. Criterion’s three-disk Blu-ray set showcases the trilogy with an array of new and archival extras.

Blasts from the past

Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969): Criterion Blu-ray review

Project Update: Deleted Scenes

Hammer adventures from Indicator

Back to the ’70s

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