The Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing (1990):
Criterion Blu-ray review

Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) becomes a dangerous doppelgänger for Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) in the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing (1990)

With their new Blu-ray release, Criterion add the Coen Brothers’ third feature, Miller’s Crossing (1990), to the Collection. One of the darkest, most sombre films in the Coen canon, this moody gangster story updates hardboiled noir as a complex meditation on male fragility and violence. Sumptuously shot by Barry Sonnenfeld, it features a superb cast of great character actors.

Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen (The Celebration,1998):
Criterion Blu-ray review

Christian (Ulrish Thomsen) is thrown out of the family hotel by his brother Michael (Thomas Bo Larsen) in Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen (The Celebration, 1998)

Criterion give a stellar release to Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen (The Celebration, 1998), the first feature completed under the Dogme 95 manifesto rules; a brilliant, emotionally raw exploration of masculine trauma, it retains all its power to shock and move a quarter century after its release and stands as perhaps the most lasting result of Dogme’s reaction to the complacency of bourgeois cinema.

Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree (1969): Criterion Blu-ray review

Newt (Kyle Johnson) navigates growing up in a racist society in Gordon Parks' The Learning Tree (1969)

Criterion’s new Blu-ray revives Gordon Parks’ semi-autobiographical film The Learning Tree (1969), significant as the first movie produced by a Hollywood studio directed by a Black filmmaker. In this coming-of-age story set in a small Kansas town in the 1920s, the typical problems faced by a boy leaving childhood are complicated by the deeply embedded racist attitudes which surround him.

The Hughes Brothers’ Menace II Society (1993):
Criterion Blu-ray review

The police appear without warning in the Hughes Brothers' Menace II Society (1993)

The Hughes Brothers’ Menace II Society (1993), an aggressively stylish debut made when the twins were just twenty, is a nihilistically violent depiction of life in Watts in which kids grow up surrounded by violence and learn that there are few other ways to deal conflict. Criterion’s new Blu-ray, mastered from a 4K restoration, is vividly colourful, with a collection of excellent new and archival supplements,

September Arrow releases

Pausing for campfire tales in a graveyard in David Nelson's Death Screams (1982)

New Blu-ray releases from Arrow revive an effective Satanic panic movie from the early ’70s and unearth a forgotten regional slasher from 1982. The former, Bernard McEveety’s The Brotherhood of Satan, is an atmospheric gem; the latter, David Nelson’s Death Screams, is kind of clumsy, though it does have a few effective moments.

Blasts from the past

Adapting Clive Barker

Post-Op, week one

An evening with Craig Baldwin

Entering Other Worlds, part 3

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