Miklós Jancsó … and others: RIP

Word of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely (and possibly drug related) death earlier today comes quickly after news of the (more timely) deaths of three European giants. Yesterday, award-winning Austrian actor Maximilian Schell died at age 83 in Innsbruck. The day before, the influential Hungarian filmmaker Miklós Jancsó died at 92, and just over a week […]

Year End 2012

A few days ago I spent the evening with four friends at our annual get-together to discuss what we had seen during the past year. Back when I was first invited to join the group years ago, there would often be heated arguments about the particular merits of this or that movie, but we’ve all […]

The rise of boutique DVDs: The Flipside

Even with the tens of thousands of movies released on DVD since the format debuted in the late ’90s, vast amounts of film history remain untouched. Of course, home video has always been a commercial enterprise, the preservation and dissemination of history mostly a by-product. Companies with large back-catalogues of titles have been constantly faced […]

Quality control

Rapidly developing video technologies are altering not just our expectations but also our responses to the experience of watching movies. Blu-ray, hi-def TVs, the digital technologies which are used more and more in production – all have helped to create particular standards which many viewers now apply to virtually everything they watch. A lot of […]

The real pleasure of fake commentaries

Back in the dark days before DVD, when elitists spent large sums on laserdisks because the quality was so superior to the ubiquitous VHS tapes of home video, the commentary track was born. This was a terrific innovation, enhancing the value of a movie by providing context and opinions from the actual filmmakers or from […]

Restoration and Revisionism

In their joint commentary track on the Masters of Cinema DVD/Blu-Ray release of the newly restored Metropolis, David Kalat and Jonathan Rosenbaum express some concern that this new version will cause the disappearance of all previous versions. Why should this be a problem? After all, the “restored” Metropolis is the closest we’ll ever get to […]

Video Nasties, Part 3

There is a long, if not necessarily venerable, tradition in the arts of creating confrontational, deliberately offensive work to challenge received ideas and to make people conscious of their own conventional assumptions. When work like this is created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to get indignant at people who are genuinely offended; in […]

Blasts from the past

Barbet Schroeder’s General Idi Amin Dada (1974): Criterion Blu-ray review

Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day:
Criterion Blu-ray review

Thinking About Genre, part 2

March viewing: John Carter, The Hunger Games, Chronicle