Shih Chun in King Hu's 1967 wuxia pian classic from Taiwan

Blu-ray: ‘Dragon Inn’ / ‘Legend of the Mountain’ – King Hu on Criterion and Kino

Dragon Inn (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Legend of the Mountain (Kino, Blu-ray, DVD) After the success of Come Drink With Me, the pioneering wuxia pian (“martial chivalry”) adventure that mixed martial arts, romance, comic action, and historical settings, Hong Kong director King Hu went to Taiwan for the opportunity to make films with greater freedom. Dragon […]

Marlene Dietrich in the 1932 classic by Josef von Sternberg

Criterion Blu-ray: Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood

Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) At the dawn of the sound era, as German movie star Emil Jannings left Hollywood to return to Germany, the actor invited Austrian-born/American-raised director Josef von Sternberg (who directed Jannings in The Last Command, 1928) to Universum Film A.G. to direct him in that studio’s first […]

Paul Whiteman and his Band star in the 1930 musical revue directed by John Murray Anderson

Criterion Blu-ray: ‘King of Jazz’ restored, ‘An Actor’s Revenge,’ and Dreyer’s ‘Passion of Joan of Arc’

King of Jazz (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) An Actor’s Revenge (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) The Passion of Joan of Arc (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) I came to King of Jazz (1930) with low expectations, I confess. I knew that the early sound film is a landmark production but I’m no fan of the stage style revue films and […]

Duane Jones in the 1968 American horror classic by George Romero

Blu-ray: ‘Night of the Living Dead’ at 50 on Criterion

Night of the Living Dead (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Fifty years ago, commercial filmmaker George Romero marshalled the resources of his production company Latent Image and the talents of friends and colleagues to produce a low budget feature film in Pittsburg, PA. The rest is, as they say, history. Night of the Living Dead (1968) is […]

1931 drama by G.W. Pabst from Germany

Blu-ray: G.W. Pabst’s ‘Westfront 1918’ and ‘Kameradschaft’ on Criterion

Westfront 1918 (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Kameradschaft (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Georg Wilhelm Pabst was not only one of the great German directors of the silent film era, he (along with Fritz Lang) explored the expressive possibilities of sound in the early days of sound cinema. Criterion presents two of his earliest sound features, a pair that […]

Alain Demon in Jean-Pierre Melville's French crime classic

Criterion Blu-ray: Alexander Payne’s savagely funny ‘Election,’ plus ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,’ ‘Le Samouraï,’ and ‘Jabberwocky’

Election (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) A wicked satire of power and (social) politics set in the overheated incubator of a high school student body election, Election (1999) is as sharp and perceptive now as it was in 1999. The confident second feature from director Alexander Payne and his screenwriting partner, Jim Taylor (coming off the critical […]

Ivor Novello in Alfred Hitchcock's 1926 silent movie thriller.

Blu-ray: ‘The Lodger’ – Alfred Hitchcock begins on Criterion

The Lodger (1926) isn’t the first film directed by Alfred Hitchcock—it’s actually his third, though it does mark his first feature produced in Britain after directing two co-productions in Germany—but even Hitchcock embraced it as the first “Alfred Hitchcock film.” He announces his arrival in the cinematic jolt of the opening scene: a close-up of […]