Criterion’s two-disk Blu-ray release of Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace showcases a restoration of what may well be the most expensive film ever made. Truly epic in scale, this adaptation of Tolstoy’s revered novel balances awe-inspiring spectacle with emotionally charged character drama. The 7+ hour feature is supplemented with three hours of informative new and archival extras.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray offers a superb presentation of William Wyler’s greatest film, The Heiress (1949), a subtle yet scathing dissection of the ways in which money distorts and destroys human relationships.
Recent disks from Indicator present a wide variety of styles and genres from bleak ’60s espionage to slick 1970s big studio exploitation, charming period comedy to enjoyable if less-than-scary horror.
A critical, but long-suppressed film from the New German Cinema, Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play Baal (1970) gets an impressive release on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. This aggressively unsettling film is packaged with an excellent selection of contextual supplements.
Criterion’s exemplary release of Orson Welles’ Othello on Blu-ray presents both versions of one of the filmmaker’s most important films with an impressive collection of supplements which delve into the production and meaning of one of the most original cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s work.
Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women (2016) is a jewel of the art and craft of filmmaking, an intensely emotional and ultimately heartbreaking study of character and landscape.
2016 was an impressive year for movies on disk, with a wide variety of new and classic releases, prestige productions and exploitation, and some interesting rediscoveries … too many to pick just a handful of “bests”.
Two new BFI releases, Peter Hall’s Akenfield (1974) and Andrew Grieve’s On the Black Hill (1988), view the 20th Century through the relationships of people in rural Britain to the land, evoking physical hardship and timeless mystical connections.
Two excellent recent Blu-ray releases from the BFI illuminate the extremes of high and low art in British film of the early 1970s. Ken Russell’s version of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love is exemplary literary adaptation, while Don Sharp’s Psychomania is … well, something else again!
I’ve recently been dipping into the ’60s and ’70s with two Criterion Blu-rays of major works by Orson Welles, a couple of Robert Altman’s signature titles, and a new J.G. Ballard adaptation from Ben Wheatley.