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Scanners (Blu-ray + DVD)
Scanners (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Jennifer O'Neill
Price: $30.25
14 used & new from $23.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shape of Rage Gets the Deluxe Blu-Ray Treatment, July 28, 2014
This review is from: Scanners (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
This Blu-Ray transfer for Scanners was supervised by Cronenberg himself and sports subdued colors with rich earth tones. In keeping with other Criterion transfers, this one preserves the texture of film stock in a very pleasing way.

There is a trailer and also a few radio spots promoting the film.

“The Scanners Way” takes a retrospective look at the film’s impressive special effects with interviews with director of photography Mark Irwin, special makeup artists Stephen Dupuis and Chris Walas and others who talk about working with Cronenberg. They also talk about the production and how he was rewriting the screenplay on a daily basis. The participants recount engaging filming anecdotes and explain how some of the memorable effects were created.

“Mental Saboteur” is a fascinating interview with actor Michael Ironside who talks about how he got involved with Scanners and what it was like working with not just Cronenberg, but also some of his co-stars. The veteran actor also touches upon his time as a struggling actor in Canada in this engrossing extra.

“The Ephemerol Diaries” is an interview with actor Stephen Lack. He got his start as a performance artist in Montreal and had no traditional training as an actor. He candidly recounts the breakneck pace of the production and the problems Patrick McGoohan had understanding the material.

Also included is an excerpt from an episode of “The Bob McLean Show,” which aired on the CBC in Canada. Cronenberg is interviewed about Scanners with clips shown from his earlier films as well.

Finally, for Cronenberg fans his 1969 feature film debut Stereo is included. With its medical experiments and telepathy, it anticipated Scanners.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Blu-ray + DVD)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Rachel Roberts
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $26.99
23 used & new from $15.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, but not definitive release from Criterion, July 8, 2014
Picnic at Hanging Rock looks fantastic on Blu-Ray as its hypnotic mood and atmosphere are preserved through a stunning transfer and excellent audio track that features an absolutely eerie soundtrack.

“David Thomson Introduction” features the noted film scholar putting Weir’s film in the context of Australian cinema at the time it was made and how it ushered in a new sensibility. He also ponders some of the mysteries of the film.

There is a 2003 interview with Peter Weir where he talks about his fascination with the source material and how it drove him to adapt it. He recounts meeting the author on her farm and “auditioning” for her in order to get approval to make the film. He also addresses some of the mysteries contained in the story.

“Everything Begins and Ends.” This is a retrospective featurette with key cast and crew members including Miranda herself, Anne Lambert. The producers take us through the project’s origins while the actresses share filming anecdotes. They offer their impressions of author Lindsay as well.

“A Recollection…Hanging Rock 1900” is a vintage 1975 on-the-set documentary that offers a fascinating look at the production. In addition to key cast and crew members, Lindsay is interviewed. They all speak highly of the film as this featurette sheds light on things like the spooky backstory to the building that was used for the school.

“Homesdale” is the 1971 short film that Weir made. It got the attention of executive producer Patricia Lovell who approached him to direct Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Finally, there is a trailer.

Also included is a copy of Lindsay’s book, which is a nice touch.

Unfortunately, it does not have the 90-minute retrospective documentary A Dream Within a Dream that can be found on the U.K. Blu-Ray release or the many extras included on the Second Sight Region 2 DVD.

Red River (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
Red River (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ John Wayne
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $30.99
19 used & new from $21.11

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Gives This Masterpiece the Deluxe Treatment, May 28, 2014
Painstaking work has obviously gone into this Blu-Ray transfer with most blemishes removed so that Red River looks as good as it ever has with a nice filmic texture.

Included is the theatrical version, which Howard Hawks prefers, and for fans of the film, the longer, pre-release cut, which contains extra shots and dialogue as well as a prologue scroll.

“Bogdanovich on Red River” features director Peter Bogdanovich talking about Hawks and the film. He discusses how John Wayne plays a darker character for the first time, maybe the darkest in his career. He praises Montgomery Clift’s performance and points out the differences between the two versions.

“Hawks and Bogdanovich” features excerpts from an April 1972 audio interview with Hawks by Bogdanovich. The veteran director reminisces about the making of Red River and recounts several entertaining filming anecdotes. Hawks also talks about the two versions and his distaste for the pre-release one.

Also included is a trailer.

Film critic Molly Haskell is interviewed and she talks about the role gender plays in Red River. She also examines several themes that run through the film in an informative way.

There is an interview with scholar Lee Clark Mitchell who examines the film in relation to the western genre and its iconography. He also examines the life and career of Borden Chase and his novel, Blazing Guns on the Chisholm Trail, which the film is based on.

Also included are audio excerpts from a 1969 interview with author Borden Chase who talks about his views on Hawks’ film. He wasn’t big on collaboration and offers his impressions on Hawks.

Finally, there is “Lux Radio Theatre,” a March 7, 1949 broadcast of an adaptation of Red River with John Wayne, Walter Brennan and Joanne Dru reprising their roles.

In a nice touch, a copy of Chase’s previously out-of-print novel on which the film is based on, is included.

King of the Hill (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
King of the Hill (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Jesse Bradford
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $23.75
23 used & new from $19.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for Soderbergh fans!, March 27, 2014
Personally, supervised by Soderbergh, the transfer for King of the Hill looks fantastic with excellent detail and the warm color palette faithfully preserved.

There is an interview with director Steven Soderbergh who looks back at King of the Hill. He feels that the film looks too beautiful and should have had a rougher edge to it, if he was making today. He talks about the book, what drew him to it and how he went about adapting it. Soderbergh speaks highly of Jesse Bradford and why he cast him as Aaron. As always, the director is honest about his own shortcomings and that of the film.

Also included is an interview with author A.E. Hotchner who wrote the book on which the film is based on. It was a fictionalized account of his experiences growing up during the Great Depression. He talks about writing the book and his life, in particular, his parents.

“Against Tyranny” is a visual essay about Soderbergh’s career in terms of narrative. In particular, it analyzes a dream sequence in King of the Hill. This featurette also juxtaposes the linear style of the rest of the film with this rather abstract sequence.

There are six deleted scenes and alternate takes.

Also included is a trailer.

Finally, a treat for Soderbergh fans is the inclusion of The Underneath, a neo-noir that stars Peter Gallagher and Alison Elliott. The director is interviewed and candidly talks about what a disappointing experience it was for him. He deems the film a failure, but it inspired him to re-evaluate his entire career. He talks about what drew him to the film. As always, Soderbergh is an eloquent speaker and talks knowledgably about filmmaking. A trailer for the film is also included.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Clooney
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $23.75
36 used & new from $14.45

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Blu-Ray Definitely Worth the Upgrade!, February 21, 2014
Fantastic Mr. Fox looks great on Blu-Ray and it appears that Criterion are using the existing one from 20th Century Fox. The colors are rich and vibrant with all kinds of detail yet still retaining a filmic look.

“Introduction by Petey” features the character voiced by Jarvis Cocker providing a brief and wryly amusing primer for the film.

There is an audio commentary by director Wes Anderson. He wanted to make Fantastic Mr. Fox because it was an important book from his childhood. He points out that the screenplay was written at the Dahl family house and the environment around it inspired many of the settings in the film. Anderson speaks briefly about adapting the book and also how the animation process works, including recording the voices. This is a very informative track from the engaging director.

“Animatic” allows you to watch the film in storyboard form.

“The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox” is comprised of seven featurettes covering various aspects of the production. There is footage of the cast recording their voices for the film and it is interesting to see how committed they are (especially Clooney) to the roles. Also included are puppet tests and early animation that gives us a good idea of what the characters were to look and act like. There is a collection of photographs of houses and furniture for the art department to reference in the film. There is a fascinating look at various puppets being created in the studio. There is a time-lapse photography featurette documenting how scenes are painstakingly animated over days. Also included is a look at composer Alexandre Desplat working on the score. Finally, there is footage of many miniature objects used in the film. The attention to detail is incredible!

“Roald Dahl Reads Fantastic Mr. Fox” is an audio recording of the man reading his own book. It is always interesting to hear the author’s voice and how they personalize their work.

“Award Speeches” features Wes Anderson voicing a puppet in stop-motion animation giving thanks for an award the film received. Also included is a potential speech if the film had won an Academy Award and a press statement by Mr. Fox that is done in amusing fashion.

“Set Photography by Ray Lewis” is a collection of behind the scenes stills of characters, props and so on.

“Publicity Featurettes” take a look at Roald Dahl and what inspired the script. In another, Anderson talks about how they expanded the book into a feature-length film. There is a look at the puppet makers and how they created the various characters. Also included is a look at the production design and how Dahl’s home influenced it. Finally, Bill Murray talks about his character, Badger, and praises the crew’s hard work.

“Sony Robots Commercial” is an animated ad that Wes Anderson created.

“Discussion and Analysis” features two kids talking at length about what they thought of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

“Fantastic Mr. Dahl” is an excellent hour-long documentary on the man that acts as an ideal primer on his life and work.

“The Witch’s Tree” features vintage footage of Dahl and one of his favorite trees – the one that inspired Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Finally, there is “Dahl’s Manuscripts”: a selection of pages from his first 1968 manuscript of the book along with sketches he created to go with the text.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2014 8:40 AM PDT

Thief (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
Thief (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ James Caan
Offered by American_Standard
Price: $24.59
24 used & new from $12.21

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mann's Feature Film Debut Gets Deluxe Criterion Treatment, January 30, 2014
In keeping with Mann's notorious habit of tinkering with his films long after their theatrical release, this version of Thief includes the extra scene from the director's cut with legendary blues musician Willie Dixon on the bank of the Chicago River, but returns the beach sequence to its original length with the music intact. Perhaps the most contentious revision in the 1995 Director's Cut was the awkwardly sped-up effect applied to the climactic gunfight. This version, which Criterion claims was taken from Mann's "original 35mm answer print," restores the slow motion effect to this gunfight.

Some have claimed that the gun-metal bluish tint to this version is a new addition by Mann, but this is in fact the look of the theatrical version, which has been faithful restored to the Blu-Ray's stunning transfer.

Ported over from the 1998 DVD is an audio commentary with Michael Mann and James Caan. It is interesting to note how many real-life cops and crooks worked on this film behind and in front of the camera, which Mann points out at various points. They banter back and forth like old friends and recount all kinds of filming anecdotes in this informative and engaging track.

There is an interview with Mann where he talks about how growing up in Chicago influenced his fascination with cops and criminals. He provides insight into just how little of the source material was used in the film (not much) and instead drew inspiration from actual thieves. Mann also talks about his famous knack for authenticity, which included having Caan learn how to crack a safe and then do it on camera.

Also included is an interview with Caan who says right from the get-go that Thief is one of the films he's most proud of in his career. He talks about first meeting Mann and how the screenplay made him want do it. The veteran actor talks about the training he did to prepare for the role and how he interacted with cops and crooks. Caan tells some fantastic filming anecdotes.

There is an interview with Johannes Schmoelling, formally of German electronic band Tangerine Dream. They composed the film's pulsating score and he talks about joining the group back in the day. He also talks about how they got to score the film and of collaborating with Mann. He recalls the director telling them exactly what he wanted.

Finally, there is a trailer.

Nashville (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
Nashville (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD ~ Keith Carradine
Price: $29.48
25 used & new from $23.54

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Gives Altman's Magnum Opus Glorious Blu-Ray Treatment!, December 3, 2013
This new Blu-Ray transfer of Nashville looks fantastic. The folks at Criterion should be commended for the excellent work on this print, which has incredible detail while still retaining its filmic look.

Ported over from the Paramount DVD is an audio commentary by director Robert Altman. He points out that the cast wrote most of the songs for their respective characters. All of the songs were done in-house and when Nashville came out, local musicians hated them. He mentions the numerous collaborators he worked with in front of and behind the camera and explains what they contributed to the film. Altman talks about his approach to filmmaking on this engaging and informative track.

Also included is a fantastic theatrical trailer.

“The Making of Nashville” features various cast and crew members recounting their roles in this film and what they think of it now. They talk about getting involved in the project and their impressions of Altman. The likes of Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin and Michael Murphy (among several others) tell fantastic filming anecdotes and address Altman’s famous habit of encouraging improvisation among the cast.

“Robert Altman’s Interviews” include one from 1975 when Nashville was released and he talks about the film’s origins and how hard it was to get made. There’s another from 2000 where he talks about various cast members and their characters. The third one is from 2002 and Altman points out how Nashville was the first big film where he had complete creative control.

There is “Behind the Scenes” footage of the opening traffic jam scene and the final one. It’s pretty grainy and has no sound, but does provide a glimpse into Altman’s working methods.

Finally, there is “Keith Carradine Demo.” Altman recorded three songs that the actor created fro the film in his office and you can listen to each one.

Seconds (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Seconds (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Rock Hudson
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $28.01
34 used & new from $18.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Blu-Ray Gives Film a Second Life, August 14, 2013
Criterion's Blu-Ray edition of Seconds features an impressive looking transfer that showcases cinematographer James Wong Howe's stunning black and white camerawork. The detail and depth of image is superb and all scratches and dirt have been removed while still preserving the filmic look.

Ported over from the out of print Paramount DVD is director John Frankenheimer's informative and frank commentary. He isn't afraid to admit the film's shortcomings, specifically its failure to connect with a mainstream audience. He also gives credit where credit is due; pointing out that it was Rock Hudson's idea to have the protagonist played by two different actors. This is an excellent and revealing commentary.

"Alec Baldwin on Seconds" features the actor talking about Frankenheimer and the film. They had worked together on the director's last movie and Baldwin shares an entertaining anecdote about the man. He also speaks admiringly of Rock Hudson's performance, citing specific scenes that resonate.

"A Second Look" features interviews with Frankenheimer's wife Evans and actress Salome Jens. The latter talks about how she was cast and her impressions of working with Frankenheimer. Evans shares some fantastic anecdotes about how the film came together, like how her husband wanted to cast Laurence Olivier, but the studio wanted a bigger star - hence the eventual casting of Hudson.

"Palmer and Pomerance on Seconds" is a visual essay on the film. Scholars R. Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance analyze the film's style and themes in detail.

There is a vintage interview with Frankenheimer from 1971 where he talks about his philosophy on filmmaking and how other art forms influenced his own work.

Finally, there is "Hollywood on Hudson," a rare WNBC news special that was shot on location in Scarsdale, New Jersey. The actor briefly talks about his character and working with Frankenheimer.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2013 4:49 AM PDT

The Devil's Backbone (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
The Devil's Backbone (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Marisa Paredes
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $25.25
23 used & new from $20.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Delivers the Goods with Definitive Edition on Blu!, August 5, 2013
The good news is that all of the extras from the The Devil's Backbone (Special Edition) have been ported over with several new extras added into the mix on this new edition. The first disc includes a brief, new introduction by Guillermo del Toro talking about what this special edition has to offer.

He contributes an impressive audio commentary, talking about his aim to take the gothic romance novel and transport it into the Spanish Civil War. Del Toro was also interested in fusing the war genre with the ghost story. He goes into great detail dissecting the elements of the gothic romance and how it applies to his film in a very accessible and articulate way. There is not a single lull in this highly engaging and informative track.

Also included is a trailer for The Devil's Backbone.

The second disc starts off with "Summoning Spirits," a new interview with Del Toro where he talks about the gothic horror genre and how he created the ghost of Santi. The director talks about his drawings for the character and why he looks the way he does. We see how Del Toro achieved his vision and the special effects work that went into it. This is a fascinating look at the process.

"Making of Documentary" is a 27-minute look at various aspects of the film. They are broken down into six segments that can be viewed separately or altogether. Del Toro and his co-screenwriter, Antonio Trashorras talk about the film's classic ghost story and how they tried to put an original spin on it. The director, with his art director Cesar Macarron, talk about the look of the film and how they wanted characters to be framed in archways -- "Humans confined by architecture," as Del Toro puts it. This is an excellent look at how the movie was made and told in a concise and informative manner.

"Spanish Gothic" is a new extra that sees Del Toro talking about The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth (New Line Two-Disc Platinum Series) and their relationship to the Spanish gothic genre. He talks about the origins of the film's title, steeped in Mexican folklore, and how he changed it to fit the Spanish setting. Del Toro also talks about how he tried to create something new within this genre.

"Director's Notebook" features a few scribblings from Del Toro's notebook. It is interesting to see how much the finished film reflects these drawings.

"Designing The Devil's Backbone" is a new interview with Del Toro, which examines the art direction and set design, singling out several key collaborators. A lot of planning and work went into the look of the film, from costumes to the content of the rooms, and it all had a purpose or a meaning.

There are four deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director. He explains that they were cut mostly because they slowed down the pacing of the movie.

"Sketch, Storyboard, Screen" allows one to watch parts of the film with selected sketches by Del Toro that he did for certain scenes. These drawings pop up in the corner of the screen so as not to obscure the entire frame. You can also compare six scenes from the film with the thumbnail drawings, storyboard and the final product simultaneously. There is also a gallery of sketches and drawings of characters, sets, and the special effects.

Finally, there is the "War of Values," featuring Spanish Civil War expert Sebastiaan Faber examining the role that this historical conflict plays in The Devil's Backbone. He provides a brief rundown of the war and puts it in the context of the film. This is an informative look at the historical backdrop to the film.

Medium Cool (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Medium Cool (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Robert Forster
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $25.16
24 used & new from $12.00

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Blu-Ray Looks Great and Loaded with Extras!, May 30, 2013
Medium Cool has never looked better on this newly minted Criterion Collection Blu-Ray. The colors look vivid while the transfer still retains the texture of the original film stock.

There is an audio commentary by director Haskell Wexler, editor Paul Golding, and actor Marianna Hill. Wexler addresses the criticism of the opening scene and how the two journalists don't help the accident victim. He mentions being faced with that decision several times in his career. All three praise Harold Blankenship's performance and how real it is. Wexler and Golding point out that during the protest scene at the end, tear gas was really shot at them, but the famous line, "Look out Haskell, it's real!" was added later.

Also included is a commentary by historian Paul Cronin who examines the origins and production of Medium Cool. He expertly analyzes the film's themes while also delving into what led Wexler to make it. Cronin points out that Wexler paid for the film himself and then the studio paid to distribute it. He explains the fascinating backstory to the film's famous line in this great look at how Medium Cool came together.

There is a trailer.

There is an interview with Haskell Wexler where he talks about the origins of Medium Cool and how he was going to direct another film, but realized that something was going to happen in his hometown of Chicago and wrote the screenplay for the film. He discusses the influence of documentaries in this engaging interview.

Also included are excerpts from Paul Cronin's 4-hour documentary on Wexler entitled, Look Out Haskell, It's Real!, that focuses on the making of Medium Cool. Wexler, a few historians and key cast members take us through the production in this absorbing documentary.

There are also excerpts from a documentary about Harold Blankenship, who Eileen's son in the film. He grew up in a rough neighborhood in Chicago, but now lives in the wilds of West Virginia. He recalls being in Medium Cool in a kind of fragmented way and it is startling to see how much he's changed over the years.

Finally, there is "Medium Cool Revisited," which sees Wexler return to the city for the 2012 NATO Summit. He ended up shooting a documentary about the Occupy movement and this 30-minute featurette takes a look at how he did it.

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