"Autumns seem that season of beginning, spring." - Truman Capote

10.2017

1 from Criterion

The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (U.S. / Italy / Morocco / France, 1951)

 

1 from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

The Party (U.S., 1968)

 

1 from Paramount

Charlotte's Web (U.S. / Germany / Austraila, 2006)

 

09.2017

 

1 from Criterion

Rebecca (U.S.,1940)

Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood movie had a troubled production history (thanks to the meddling of producer David O. Selznick) but went on to win Oscars for best picture and best cinematography (by Georges Barnes) and enter the annals of cinema legend. Joan Fontaine stars as a naive young woman who marries a rich widower (Laurence Olivier) but is haunted by the ghost of his beloved Rebecca, whose portrait hangs in Manderley, their ancestral home. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel, the movie was creepy then and remains so today. Criterion's two-disc Blu-ray edition is an imperfect step-up from the single-disc Blu-ray that MGM released in 2012. The new one sports a 4K restoration; oddly, however, the image has been cropped somewhat throughout the film, on the righthand side of the frame, and even appears a bit horizontally stretched compared to the MGM. Extras (also available on Criterion's two-disc DVD edition) include a new hour-long French documentary on du Maurier ; a new video program with visual-effects specialist and film historian Craig Barron; a half-hour making-of from 2008; an audio commentary with film scholar Leonard J. Leff from 1990; a 45-minute interview with Alfred Hitchcock from 1973; three archival radio adaptations of the film; screen tests, a re-release trailer and much more. There's also a 38-page illustrated booklet featuring critic and biographer David Thomson's essay "Welcome to the Haunted House" and production correspondence from the Selznick archives.

2 from Eureka!

Journey to the Center of the Earth (U.S., 1959)

James Mason plays a geology professor who leads a perilous expedition to, you guessed it, the centre of the Earth, in this special-effects extravaganza adapted from the Jules Verne novel. Pat Boone co-stars (and also sings). Extras on the Blu-ray include an audio commentary with actress Diane Baker and film historians Steven C. Smith and Nick Redman (the same as on the U.S. Blu-ray that Twilight Time issued in 2015); a new half-hour interview with critic Kim Newman, a featurette on the film's restoration, and a trailer. The booklet has a review of the film from 1959, a poster gallery and some archival photos. 

Suntan (Greece, 2016)

A new doctor (Makis Papdimitriou) takes over a practice on a Greek island one winter, then summer comes and so do the tourists. The doctor gets a little too cozy with some of the fresh young flesh, stalking one particular hippie chick (Elli Tringou) to the point of murderous obsession. Extras on the dual-format (Blu-ray/DVD) edition from Eureka! include a short interview with the director, a making-of and some deleted scenes. That's a whole lot more than you get on the U.S. DVD that Strand Releasing issued in June, but watch out: the Eureka! edition is code-locked to work on British and European players only.

1 box set from Indicator: The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 1: 1955-1960

It Came from Beneath the Sea (U.K., 1955)

20 Million Miles to Earth (U.K., 1957)

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (U.K., 1960)

Are you ready for more Ray Harryhausen? Three months after the release of The Sinbad Trilogy on its Indicator label, British distributor Powerhouse Films brings us another all-region Blu-ray boxset of three fantasy films made simply out-of-this-world by the legendary master of stop-motion animation. Spanning the latter half of the 1950s, the trio of monster movies go under water (It Came from Beneath the Sea), travel from outer space to coastal Italy (20 Millions Miles to Earth) and put down in a land of giants (The 3 Worlds of Gulliver). The first two films are in black-and-white (with optional colourized versions), the third is in colour, and each one has been restored in high-definition, with Gulliver getting the best treatment, in 4K. The plentiful extras include new interviews with director Joe Dante, SFX maestro Dennis Muren, and animatorsDavid Sproxton and Peter Lord, as well as audio commentaries, documentaries, trailers, archival promotional material, and an 80-page illustrated book. And this is only Volume 1; Volume 2, with three more films, this time covering the first half of the 1960s, will be released in mid-November. 

1 box set from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

I Don't Want to Be a Man (1918) / The Doll (1919) / The Oyster Princess (1919) / Sumurun (1920) / Anne Boleyn (1920) / The Mountain Cat (1921)

Upgrading its 2010 DVD boxset to high-definition on Blu-ray, the Masters of Cinema series of British distributor Eureka! manages to breath new life into six long-neglected silent films from the early German career of famed Hollywood director Ernst Lubitsch, the man behind the "Lubitsch Touch" of such classics as Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner and To Be or Not to Be. The new boxset sports restored transfers of the two-reeler I Don't Want to Be a Man (1918), the operetta-like The Oyster Princess (1919), the robot fantasy The Doll (1919), the historical epics Sumurun (1920) and Anne Boleyn (1920), and The Mountain Cat (1921), the latter a personal favourite as (like Sumurun) it stars the legendary temptress Pola Negri. As the sole extra, we once again get the two-hour German documentary from 2006 called Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin: From Schönhauser Allee to Hollywood, which traces the great director's career through the period covered by the six films. There's also an illustrated booklet with a wealth of essays on the films.

1 from Twilight Time

September (U.S., 1987)

Yes, this is a Woody Allen movie, but it's not a midsummer night's sex comedy. It's an autumn drama of tangled relationships, à la Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. As the plot summary on IMDb puts it: "At a summer house in Vermont, neighbour Howard falls in love with Lane, who's in a relationship with Peter, who's falling for Stephanie, who's married with children." Get the picture? Denholm Elliott stars as Lane, Mia Farrow is Lane, Sam Waterston is Peter and Dianne Wiest is Stephanie. Elaine Stritch is a revelation as Farrow's force-of-nature showbiz mom; Jack Warden doesn't quite convince as her nuclear physicist husband. Unusually for his '80s output, Allen himself does not act in this one. The Twilight Time Blu-ray comes with a booklet and the option of listening to the soundtrack of Art Tatum and solo piano jazz standards (performed by Bernie Leighton) as an isolated track.

4 from First Run Features

Germans & Jews (U.S., 2016)

 

Voir du pays (France/Greece, 2016)

 

Forgiving Dr. Mengele (U.S., 2006)

 

Louise en hiver (France/Canada, 2016)

 

2 from Indicator (U.K.)

The Chase (U.S., 1966)

Robert Redford escapes from a rural Texas prison and Sheriff Marlon Brando is tasked with hunting him down. Will Jane Fonda, the escapee's wife, get in the way?  Arthur Penn directs. Indicator bests the U.S. Twilight Time Blu-ray of a year ago. The new all-region disc has a nearly identical 4K restoration and adds many extras, including new interviews anda 20-minute Super-8 version of the film.

See No Evil (U.K., 1971)

Blinded in a horseback-riding accident, Mia Farrow comes to stay at the family manor in the English countryside, where she winds up terrorized by a murderous maniac. Indicator's region-free Blu-ray includes a second version of the film, cut slightly for the U.K. market and renamed Blind Terror. There's a featurette comparing the two versions, interviews and other extras, as well as a booklet.

1 from PBS

The Vietnam War (U.S., 2017)

Ten episodes totalling about 18 hours, The Vietnam War aired on PBS over the last two weeks of September, and I, for one, had my TV on overdrive to watch it. American's most famous documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, and his longtime collaborator, Lynn Novick, have put together an exhaustive look at the war that even half a century later, even since Afghanistan, even since Iraq, still holds sway over the emotions of the people involved. Not only Americans and Vietnamese were affected, and they are given equal treatment in this scrupulously balanced series narrated by Peter Coyote. So, too, were Canadians, thousands of whom either fought alongside the U.S. soldiers or fled to Canada to dodge the draft, including Montreal's Jack Todd, who appears in several episodes. Most effectively, Burns and Novick use the now fully released White House audio tapes recorded by President Richard Nixon to show the two-faced nature of his corrupt administration; Nixon said one thing in public and other, far more scurrilous things  – against the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government, for instance – in private. The testimony of more than 80 veterans and their families, as well as other people involved at various levels of the war, form the heart of the series and are often very moving; they're threaded through footage of battle scenes of the war itself (colour for the U.S. side, black-and-white for the North Vietnamese), not all of which is authentic (as the closing credits point out, some scenes were likely staged for propaganda purposes). True to our get-it-now times, The Vietnam War was released on 10-disc DVD and Blu-ray boxsets even before the series finished airing; in addition to the episodes, one per disc, you get a 40-minute making-of and 11 deleted scenes totalling over one hour. Other editions include different merchandise: the series' soundtrack, a double CD featuring 38 classics and the '60s and early '70s from Dylan to Nina Simone; a CD of the series's score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, with the Silk Road Ensemble featuring superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma; a hardcover book; and an audiobook.