Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers on Blu-ray from Criterion

Alonzo (Lon Chaney) realizes that his romantic feelings for Nanon (Joan Crawford) will never be returned in Tod Browning's The Unknown (1927)

Criterion’s two-disk Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers showcases three of the director’s best movies, including the peak of his long collaboration with Lon Chaney in The Unknown (1927) and Browning’s masterpiece Freaks (1932) along with the lesser-known The Mystic (1925). Fine 2K transfers and some illuminating extras leave you hoping that more of Tod Browning’s work will turn up on disk in restored versions.

Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio/Executioners (1993): Criterion Blu-ray review

Flights of martial arts fantasy in Johnnie To & Ching Siu-Tung's Executioners (1993)

Before attaining international critical success with a series of cool, formally precise thrillers, Johnnie To made a pair of wildly inventive superhero movies fraught with anxiety about the approaching hand over of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997. The Heroic Trio and Executioners (both 1993) mix fantasy, science fiction, traditional martial arts and modern action into a potent dystopian stew centred on three of Hong Kong’s biggest female stars – Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung. Criterion’s three-disk dual-formal edition showcases stunning restorations by L’Immagine Ritrovata.

Allen Baron’s Blast of Silence (1961): Criterion Blu-ray review

Documentary background detail in Allen Baron's Blast of Silence (1961)

Shot on a small budget, first-time writer-director-actor Allen Baron’s Blast of Silence (1961) is a taut film noir about an out-of-town hit man beginning to question his career as he closes in on his target in New York a few days before Christmas. Striking documentary images of the city, presented on Criterion’s Blu-ray from a new 4K scan, serve as background for the killer’s existential doubts.

Claude Chabrol’s La cérémonie (1995): Criterion Blu-ray review

Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) and Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert) become allies against the bourgeois Lalievres family in Claude Chabrol’s La cérémonie (1995)

Four decades into a career which began with the New Wave, Claude Chabrol delivered a masterpiece with La cérémonie (1995), a psychological mystery adapted from a Ruth Rendell novel. Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert play a pair of working class women whose bitterness and resentment drive them on a collision course with the bourgeois Lelievre family. Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition provides some illuminating supplements on the director and his two stars.

Bo Widerberg’s New Swedish Cinema from Criterion

A circus tightrope-walker (Pia Degermark) is swept away by romance in Bo Widerberg's Elvira Madigan (1967)

Criterion’s new four-disk Blu-ray set Bo Widerberg’s New Swedish Cinema introduces the work of a filmmaker who deserves to be better-known; a critic who rebelled against the dominant work of filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman which ignored issues of politics, economics and class, Widerberg drew on the French New Wave and New British Cinema to create politically engaged and expressive films which reflected contemporary Swedish society and recent history.

Carl Franklin’s One False Move (1992): Criterion Blu-ray review

Fantasia (Cynda Williams) just wants to get home to see her child in Carl Franklin's One False Move (1992)

One False Move (1992), a slow-burn character study of small-time criminals and a small-town cop punctuated by disturbing burst of violence, gave Tom Paxton his best role and launched the careers of director Carl Franklin and writer-actor Billy Bob Thornton. This low-budget independent production gets an impressive restoration from the Criterion Collection in a dual-format 4K UHD/Blu-ray release.

Joseph Losey’s The Servant (1963): Criterion Blu-ray review

Architecture reflects social divisions in Joseph Losey's The Servant (1963)

Criterion’s new 4K restoration of Joseph Losey’s The Servant (1963) provides an excellent showcase for this pitch-black satire about the collapse of the British class system after World War Two and the dissolution of Empire. Harold Pinter’s script (adapted from Robin Maugham’s novella), Losey’s direction, Douglas Slocombe’s rich black-and-white cinematography and and a superlative cast – Dirk Bogarde, James Fox, Wendy Craig and Sarah Miles – combine to create one of the defining British films of the 1960s.

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