Lars Von Trier’s Europe Trilogy (1984-1991): Criterion Blu-ray review

Fisher (Michael Elphick) confronts the violence inside himself in Lars von Trier's Element of Crime (1984)

Criterion start 2023 with an excellent three-disk set of Lars von Trier’s Europe Trilogy, the three aggressively confrontational movies with which he began his career by digging into the lingering traces of Fascism which plagued the continent in the second half of the 20th Century. Impressive new transfers are given context by commentaries and seven hours of documentaries and interviews with and about von Trier, his intentions and creative process.

Vinegar Syndrome closes out 2022

Fong Sai Yuk (Willie Chi) faces a Manchu army in Ringo Lam's Burning Paradise (1994)

Vinegar Syndrome wraps up 2022 with a very mixed bag of releases, including no less than four grubby, bottom-of-the-barrel slasher movies, a dynamic Hong Kong martial arts movie, and loaded special editions of Freeway (1996), Matthew Bright’s reworking of Little Red Riding Hood as serial killer black comedy, and Rowdy Herrington’s red-neck action-romance Road House (1989).

Universal Noir #1 from Indicator

Menace on the mean streets of film noir in Jerry Hopper's Naked Alibi (1954)

After five box sets devoted to film noir B-movies from Columbia Studios, Indicator have embarked on a follow-up covering Universal Studios crime films from the same mid-’40s to late-’50s period. The inaugural set of six titles covers a range of styles, from the classic noir of Michael Gordon’s The Web (1947), Norman Foster’s Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948) and Jerry Hopper’s Naked Alibi (1954) to the docu-noir of Joseph M. Newman’s Abandoned (1949) and the shot-in-Italy neorealist melodrama of Robert Siodmak’s Deported (1950). With a host of contextual and critical extras, Universal Noir #1 inaugurates another great series of releases from Indicator.

Italian Gothic horror on Blu-ray

Saint Simon (John Phillip Law) believes he's the reincarnation of Vincent Van Gogh in Sergio Bergonzelli’s Blood Delirium (1988)

Arrow’s Gothic Fantastico box set gathers together four lesser-known Italian genre movies from the mid-’60s from the period when Gothic horror flourished between Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) and the rise of the giallo later in the decade, while Sergio Bergonzelli’s Blood Delirium (1988) from Vinegar Syndrome is a garish throwback long after the Gothic had faded away.

The Infernal Affairs trilogy (2002-03): Criterion Blu-ray review

An undercover cop and a triad mole face off on a Hong Kong rooftop in Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs (2002)

Soon after Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain, filmmakers Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak embarked on an ambitious project to revitalize a film industry in disarray. The result was the Infernal Affairs trilogy, which has its roots in the HK action movies of the 1980s, using familiar narrative tropes as a springboard for a complex meditation on identity amidst new political and economic uncertainties. Criterion’s three-disk Blu-ray set showcases the trilogy with an array of new and archival extras.

Two Mexican westerns from Vinegar Syndrome

The betrayed husband (Pedro Armendáriz Jr) channels Peckinpah's anti-heroes during the climactic battle in Rene Cardona's Guns and Guts (1974)

Mexico looms large in the Western genre, in both its Hollywood and spaghetti iterations, but until now it hadn’t occurred to me that Mexican filmmakers might have made their own Westerns; that unasked question is firmly answered by the recent Vinegar Syndrome release of a pair of movies which seem to straddle the boundary between the classical Hollywood and Italian versions of America’s defining myth of masculinity and violence.

Blasts from the past

Back to the ’70s

Restoration and Revisionism

Post-Op, week one

Criterion Blu-ray review: Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog (2015)

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