Anna Pavlova stars in the 1916 silent movie epic directed by Lois Weber

‘The Dumb Girl of Portici’ – Lois Weber’s silent blockbuster on Criterion Channel

The first blockbuster helmed by a woman director in Hollywood, The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916), based on the opera by Daniel Auber, presents the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova in her only feature film performance. It was not uncommon to cast luminaries of stage, opera, and other performing arts in movies as they evolved from […]

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 horror film from Japan is one of his greatest

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s haunting horror film ‘Pulse’ on Amazon Prime

“Do you want to meet a ghost?” The meditative and metaphysical horror cinema of Kiyoshi Kurosawa made him one of the masters of Japanese horror during its amazing cycle of surreal and nightmarish horror films of the 1990s and 2000s, but his films never really crossed over to the general audience in the U.S. His […]

Film Noir on Blu-ray: ‘Moonrise,’ ‘Gun Crazy,’ ‘No Orchids,’ and the restored ‘Man Who Cheated Himself’

The Man Who Cheated Himself (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray+DVD)Moonrise (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD)Gun Crazy (Warner Archive, Blu-ray)No Orchids for Miss Blandish (Kino, Blu-ray, DVD) Lee J. Cobb takes the lead as Lt. Ed Cullen, a veteran Homicide detective in a secret affair with socialite Lois Frazer (Jane Wyatt) while she’s in the midst of a divorce, in […]

Blu-ray Animation: Deluxe ‘Totoro’ and the complete ‘Batman’

My Neighbor Totoro: 30th Anniversary Edition (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Warner Bros., Blu-ray) Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s living treasures, a beloved filmmaker whose animated films number among the most beautiful and most enchanting productions ever drawn by hand. In this day of CGI productions, the aging artists still personally draws […]

Blu-ray: Orson Welles’ ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ on Criterion

The Magnificent Ambersons (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) How did it take so long for the sophomore feature from Orson Welles to finally get its Blu-ray debut? I don’t need an answer, I’m just thrilled that it’s finally here, and in such a beautiful edition. The magnificence of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) is apparent from the first […]

Blu-ray: Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (Universal, Blu-ray) Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy have traversed the trail from horror icon to camp figure and back again and sparked the imaginations of readers and moviegoers for decades. Yet call forth the images nestled in the public consciousness and you’ll find that the […]

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 […]

Blu-ray: ‘Curse of the Cat People’ from Shout! Factory

Curse of the Cat People (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray) The success of the original 1942 Cat People, a shadowy psychological horror film simmering with sexual repression, prompted RKO to request a sequel from producer Val Lewton. His solution was surprising and inventive: Curse of the Cat People (1944), a psychological drama with a child’s perspective and […]