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 […]

Anna Magnani in Roberto Rossellini's Rome Open City

Blu-ray: ‘Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy’ on The Criterion Collection

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy (Criterion). Roberto Rossellini had been a journeyman director working within Mussolini’s Italian film industry when he redefined his career and all but inaugurated the neo-realist movement with this trio of films made at the end of World War II. Though he was no partisan, he started working on Rome Open City […]

Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Claudine Vinasithamby in Jacques Audiard's award winning drama

‘Dheepan’ on Netflix and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2016 and nominated for nine Cesar awards, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan (France, 2015) is a moving drama of alienation, assimilation, and survival. A guerilla soldier (Jesuthasan Antonythasan, a non-actor and former child soldier) in the brutal Tamil Tigers in the dying days of Sri Lanka’s civil war, burns his […]

Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, and Dennis Hopper star in Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel.

Blu-ray: ‘Rumble Fish’ – “An art film for teenagers” on Criterion

Francis Ford Coppola described Rumble Fish (1983), his screen adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s young adult novel, as “an art film for teenagers.” He shot it right after making The Outsiders (1982), also adapted from a Hinton novel, but where that was a lush, operatic tale, Coppola made Rumble Fish in stylized black and white, like […]