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
Entertainment knows no bounds in terms of style or quality: recent viewing ranges from Walter Hill’s gripping Vietnam allegory Southern Comfort (1981) to Kinji Fukusaku’s pulp sci-fi The Green Slime (1968), from Richard Franklin’s Ozploitation horror Patrick (1978) to Robert Amram’s perplexing End Times “documentary” The Late Great Planet Earth (1979).
Despite continuing rumblings about the demise of movies-on-disk, numerous companies continue to produce excellent editions on disk of a vast range of movies covering the entire history of cinema. Once again in 2018 there were far more releases than even an obsessive viewer could keep up with.