The Criterion Collection

Blu-Ray Review: Criterion Updates Influential ‘The Battle of Algiers’

The Battle of Algiers

CHICAGO – Criterion Blu-rays are beautiful enough that when one arrives that’s two discs, you know it’s something special. Very few films have warranted a multi-disc treatment from the most important home video company in history but very few films are as influential or as widely-regarded as “The Battle of Algiers,” the latest work given the upgrade from standard Criterion DVD to Blu-ray.

Blu-Ray Review: Criterion Tackles Todd Solondz’s ‘Life During Wartime’

Life During Wartime

CHICAGO – The Criterion deal with IFC Films has led to some very interesting additions to their collection including some controversial choices. The universally-acclaimed and upcoming “Carlos” may be understandable but do “Everlasting Moments” and “Revanche” deserve the standing that comes with the Criterion label? I’m torn and no more so than with the release of “Life During Wartime,” a decent and interesting flick that nonetheless would be FAR down the list of movies I would choose for induction into the most important club in DVD history.

Blu-Ray Review: Satyajit Ray’s ‘The Music Room’ Gains New Life on Criterion

The Music Room Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – In between the second and third installments of his infamous “Apu Trilogy,” Bengali master of cinema Satyajit Ray made two films that were striking departures from his signature portrait of poverty-stricken youth. The first was 1958’s failed comedy “The Philosopher’s Stone” (sorry, Potterheads, no relation) and the second was 1959’s masterpiece, “The Music Room.”

Blu-Ray Review: Searing ‘Naked’ Remains One of Mike Leigh’s Best

Naked

CHICAGO – Mike Leigh is now widely recognized as one of the best living directors, delivering yet another critically-acclaimed gem last year in the excellent “Another Year” (also recently-released on Blu-ray and DVD). Before “Secrets and Lies,” “Vera Drake,” and “Happy-Go-Lucky,” there was a searing, riveting howl at the moon known as “Naked,” the first film that really drew international attention to both Leigh and star David Thewlis. The film was recently given the upgrade treatment by Criterion, releasing it on Blu-ray for the first time.

Blu-Ray Review: Louis Malle’s ‘Zazie Dans Le Metro,’ ‘Black Moon’

Black Moon

CHICAGO – The Criterion Collection recently inducted two of beloved French filmmaker Louis Malle’s most surreal works, a great double feature given their thematic commonalities and the chance to view how a notorious director changed and challenged himself at two distinctly different points in his career. Neither are among Malle’s best work, but both films feature something most modern directors for hire don’t have the chance to do — playing with the limits of the form and their own ability. Both “Zazie Dans Le Metro” and “Black Moon” are now available on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD.

Blu-Ray Review: Criterion Edition of Noir Classic ‘Kiss Me Deadly’

Kiss Me Deadly

CHICAGO – Very few movies are as wonderfully weird as “Kiss Me Deadly,” a film that clearly influenced decades of work that would follow from “Blue Velvet” to “The Adjustment Bureau.” Recently released in a beautiful Criterion edition, “Kiss Me Deadly” is a film that history almost forgot but that found its way to the right people who recognized this unique gem as something worth cherishing. It’s a perfect choice for the most important collection of films released on Blu-ray and DVD as it’s a classic less-heralded than some that will now be brought to a wider, adoring audience.

DVD Review: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Daring Science Fiction ‘Solaris’

Solaris

CHICAGO – Modern viewers may be more familiar with Steven Soderbergh & George Clooney’s remake of “Solaris,” a good film on its own merits as it’s so different from its source in tone, but the massively influential original version by the legendary Andrei Tarkovsky holds a far more prominent place in film history. Tarkovsky’s mesmerizing piece of science fiction has been a part of the Criterion Collection for some time but it’s been chosen to get the upgrade to the Blu-ray department of the legendary line of releases and so the standard DVD, which was the only version we could get our hands on, was given a new treatment as well.

Blu-Ray Review: Amazing Edition For Charlie Chaplin Classic ‘The Great Dictator’

The Great Dictator

CHICAGO – Every time I’ve seen “The Great Dictator,” I’m amazed that it even exists. It is not only one of the great Charlie Chaplin’s most consistently funny films but it is a satirical masterpiece that is SO daring that it’s amazing it even got made. It is a piece of slapstick comedy about World War II and Adolf Hitler. Think about that for one minute. Now, it was made in 1940 (a year before our entry into the war), but it was still a risky move to make a piece this politically and socially conscious and try and sell it to an audience who had grown accustomed to watching Charlie Chaplin fall down.

Blu-Ray Review: Subtle Beauty of Somber ‘Pale Flower’

Pale Flower

CHICAGO – I’ve been lucky enough to cover a number of fantastic Criterion Collection releases for films that I already counted among my favorites including Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion,” Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory,” Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” and David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome.” While that’s an undeniable joy, it’s almost more fun when a Criterion title arrives for a film that I’ve never seen — a lost classic. Such was the case with this month’s “Pale Flower,” a somber gem about sad people in a changing world.

DVD Review: Criterion Re-Releases Timeless Thriller ‘Diabolique’

Diabolique

CHICAGO – One of The Criterion Collection’s most successful and beloved titles has long been Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Diabolique,” a 1955 classic that has inspired countless films, among them Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Psycho.” The company has given the film the upgrade to HD while also re-releasing it with new packaging and special features on standard DVD as well. We got our hands on the latter and can say that this once-discontinued entry in the Criterion Collection has made a triumphant return.

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