A quick survey of movies I watched recently which I haven’t already commented on …
Quiet, contemplative character-based science fiction movies feel like a refreshing oasis in a desert of big, loud, empty franchise blockbusters. James Gray’s Ad Astra (2019), Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s Ad Astra (2018), Sion Sono’s The Whispering Star (2015) and Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer (2008) provide satisfaction on many levels.
The usual year-end round-up – not necessarily the best movies or disks, but some of the ones I most enjoyed, from high art to entertaining trash. The sheer range of what’s available should lay to rest any lingering rumours about the demise of physical media.
Among recently viewed Arrow Blu-rays are a classic Italian political satire, a scrappy independent from Dayton, Ohio, a dark children’s fantasy, an end-of-the-world romance, and a violently stylish Japanese series of women-in-prison movies.
My collecting obsession leads me to Arrow’s Ring Collection — Hideo Nakata’s hugely influential Ringu (1998), two divergent sequels, George Iida’s Spiral (1998) and Nakata’s own Ring 2 (1999), plus the prequel Ring 0: Birthday (2000). While the three follow-up movies can’t match the effectiveness of the original, Arrow present them all in excellent transfers, with a lot of supportive extras.
Horror, westerns science fiction, crime, magic, demons, vampires, zombies, witches, a one-legged detective, people trapped in a deadly house, a damsel in distress and a film editor driven mad by cheap exploitation movies …
Two modest documentaries delve into the compulsion to create and the fraught relationship between creator and creation.
Ozu Yasujiro’s melancholy social comedy The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952), which reflects major shifts in Japanese life in the post-war period, receives an excellent release from the Criterion Collection.
A week of intensive viewing following surgery provides a mix from classics to trash and everything in between – crime, horror, sci-fi, art and exploitation.
Recent viewing features stylized violence, classic martial arts, western noir and political Ozploitation on more disks from England