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.
The Immortal Story (1968), Orson Welles’ last completed fiction feature, adapted from an Isak Dinesen story, gets a gorgeous Blu-ray release from Criterion with a collection of substantial supplements providing background and context for the director’s first colour feature, which is also the most erotic film he made.
The 3rd volume of Shout! Factory’s Vincent Price Collection, anchored by William Whitney’s severely under-budgeted Master of the World (1961), seems more threadbare than the previous volumes, although there are still points of interest. Roger Corman’s Tower of London (1962) seems ripe for reevaluation, and set allows viewers to compare Gordon Hessler’s original cut of Cry of the Banshee (1970) with the producer’s cut, released theatrically. The high point is Price’s one-man TV show An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970).
A mixed bag of recently viewed disks, from an obscure, poetic black-an-white drama to a garishly perverse piece of Greek exploitation, with some gialli and Japanese sci-fi animation thrown in.