Glauber Rocha’s Black God, White Devil (1964): Criterion Blu-ray review

Manoel (Geraldo Del Rey) joins the outlaw band of cangaceiro Corisco (Othon Bastos) in Glauber Rocha's Black God, White Devil (1964)

Criterion’s two-disk Blu-ray release of Glauber Rocha’s Black God, White Devil (1964) not only presents and impressive restoration of a key film in Brazilian cinema; it anchor’s an impressive survey of the Cinema Novo movement which transformed that cinema in the early 1960s, with two feature-length documentaries – on Rocha himself and the larger movement – a commentary by the film’s restoration supervisor, and a 1964 documentary about the cangaceiro outlaws who formed a crucial element in the background of Rocha’s feature.

Sam Peckinpah’s swansong: The Osterman Weekend (1983)

Ali Tanner (Meg Foster) fights for her child in Sam Peckinpah's The Osterman Weekend (1983)

Imprint’s two-disk limited edition of Sam Peckinpah’s final film, The Osterman Weekend (1983), presents both the theatrical cut and the version Peckinpah initially handed to the producers – while there are numerous differences in the editing, neither version can make the murky story coherent. Some well-staged scenes and an interesting cast fail to breathe life into the Cold War paranoia and the filmmaker’s career ends with an air of disinterest and exhaustion.

Organized crime, political corruption and bourgeois complicity: four Italian Mafia movies

Cesare Mori is sent to Sicily by Mussolini to break the power of the Mafia in Pasquale Squitieri's The Iron Prefect (1977)

Radiance maintains its high standard with a pair of releases devoted to Italian films which tackle the intricate interconnections between organized crime, politics and civil society. Cosa Nostra (1968-75) is a three-disk set of collaborations between director Damiano Damiani and star Franco Nero which approach the theme using different genre tropes, while Pasquale Squitieri’s The Iron Deputy (1977) presents historical context with the fact-based story of a crusading official who uses brutal methods to break the hold of the Mafia on Sicilian society in the 1920s.

Spring 2024 viewing, part three

Violent J (Joseph Bruce) is perplexed that the government would designate him and his fans as a criminal gang in Tom Putnam & Brenna Sanchez’s The United States of Insanity (2021)

Yet more recent viewing, ranging from several documentaries about the intertwining of personal identity and the cultural products we attach ourselves to and consume to unsettling explorations of sex, violence and misogyny and an ambitious, though not entirely successful, work of folk horror from Switzerland.

Spring 2024 viewing, part two

A strange young woman disrupts a middle-class home in Go Yeong-nam's Suddenly in the Dark (1981)

Continuing my survey of what I’ve been watching this Spring… Mondo Macabro Mondo Macabro is a label I haven’t mentioned much here, though they specialize in genre movies from around the world and I’ve discovered some real oddities through them – like H. Tjut Djalil’s Mystics in Bali (1981) and Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s Alucarda (1975). […]

Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba (1964): Criterion Blu-ray review

A crowd bears away a murdered student in the wake of a riot in Mikhail Kalatozov's I Am Cuba (1964)

Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba (1964) uses the striking cinematography of Sergei Urusevsky to create a fever dream version of the Cuban Revolution, a series of archetypal moments of oppression and resistance leading to an ecstatic explosion of justified communal violence. Filled with heightened emotions rendered in breathtaking images and seemingly impossible camera movements, the film looks gorgeous in a 4K restoration on Criterion’s Blu-ray.

Buddy Giovinazzo’s American Nightmares

Johann (Heino Ferch) and Rafaella (Ornella Muti) have had enough of their old friend Mickey (James Russo) in Buddy Giovinazzo's The Unscarred (2000)

Severin’s recent release of Buddy Giovinazzo’s fourth feature, The Unscarred (2000), on disk reconfirms this outsider as an intriguing auteur; a chamber piece in which the psychological games of four old friends grown increasingly darker is a taut, polished piece of work which sent me back to watch his raw first feature, Combat Shock (1986), again. As technically different as the two movies are, both reveal a filmmaker with a bleak view of the world tempered by a deep empathy for broken people.

Blasts from the past

Summer viewing, 2023: Vinegar Syndrome

Jim Thompson’s “A Christmas Carol”

William Wyler’s The Heiress (1949): Criterion Blu-ray review

Recent Arrow viewing, Part Two