Criterion Collection tagged posts

Blu-ray Review: The Life of Oharu

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Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

Writer: Kenji Mizoguchi, Yoshikata Yoda (screenplay), Saikaku Ihara (novel)

Cast: Kinuyo Tanaka, Toshiro Mifune

Cert: PG

Running time: 137 mins

Year: 1952


Accolades:
1952 Venice Film Festival
International Award

Electric Shadows rating: medium_5
Criterion Extras: medium_3


What’s the story: In 17th century Japan, noblewoman Oharu is exiled from Kyoto for the crime of loving someone belonging to a lower caste, beginning a lifelong struggle against misfortune.

What’s the verdict: Winner of the International Award at 1952’s Venice Film Festival, The Life of Oharu proved Japanese cinema did not start and stop with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, grand prize winner at Venice a year before.

Where Rashomon was kinetic and visceral, The Life of Oharu was c...

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Blu-Ray Review: Lone Wolf and Cub Box Set

Director: Kenji Misumi (films 1-3 & 5), Buichi Saito (film 4), Yoshiyuki Kuroda (film 6)

Writer: Kazuo Koike (screenplay), Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima (manga)

Cast: Tomisaburô Wakayama, Tokio Oki, Minoru Ôki, Tatsuo Endo, Go Kato, Isao Kimura, Yuko Hamada, Michi Azuma, Tomomi Sato, Akihiro Tomikawa

Cert: 18

Running time: 506 minutes (6 films)

Year: 1972-1974

  • Sword of Vengeance (1972)
  • Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)
  • Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
  • Baby Cart in Peril (1972)
  • Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)
  • White Heaven in Hell (1974)

Films: medium_5
Extras:


What’s the story: A ronin, a masterless samurai, pushes his three-year-old son around Japan in a wooden baby cart, seeking vengeance on those who killed his wife and clan.

What’s the verdict: We’re talking six films here (and spi...

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Blu-Ray Review: Multiple Maniacs

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#6 – Multiple Maniacs (1970)

Director: John Waters

Writer: John Waters

Cast: Divine, Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Cookie Mueller

Cert: 18

Running time: 96 minutes

Year: 1970


Contemporary review:
“Even the garbage is too good a place for it.”
Mary Avara, Maryland Board of Censors

“(Print) Destroyed” – Canadian Censor report

Film: 

Extras: 


What’s the story: A couple who front a bizarre traveling circus become murderous when their relationship collapses.

What’s the verdict: “A CELLULOID ATROCITY!” pants the original, hand drawn promotional material for John Waters’ sophomore feature. And it ain’t lying.

47 years may have tempered Multiple Maniacs’ shock value, but trace echoes remain of just how bizarre and vile it must have...

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Blu-Ray Review: Mildred Pierce (1945)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Writer: Ranald MacDougall

Cast: Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Bruce Bennett, Jo Ann Marlowe

Cert: PG

Running time: 111mins

Year: 1945


Film: medium_5 

Extras:


What’s the story: A murder investigation delves deep into the life of Mildred Pierce, a woman who has struggled for years to provide a better life for her children.

What’s the verdict: An irresistible puzzle, wrapped inside in a 1940s Woman’s Film and garbed in film noir finery, Mildred Pierce may be 77 years old, but she’s aging beautifully.

Based on the novel by James M. Cain, famed for works such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, and directed by Casablanca helmer Michael Curtiz, the movie nonetheless belongs to Joan Crawford.

Curtiz hated the idea of casti...

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Blu-Ray Review: Cul-de-Sac

Welcome to Cinematic Greens

#5 – Cul-de-Sac (1966)

Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Roman Polanski, Gérard Brach

Cast: Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac, Lionel Stander, Jack MacGowran

Cert: 15

Running time: 112mins

Year: 1966


Accolades:
1966 Berlin International Film Festival
Golden Bear

Contemporary review:
“Pleasence, in a role that requires him to run sideways most of the time with his head at a crooked angle, is hilarious and frightening as a man going mad, and the film has an eerie appeal.” –
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times, 1967

Electric Shadows rating:
Criterion Extras:


What’s the story: Two gangsters, one badly wounded, arrive at remote castle on Holy Island in Northumberland, England...

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Blu-Ray Review: His Girl Friday

His-Girl-Friday---Criterion-Collection-coverDirector: Howard Hawks

Writer: Charles Lederer (screenplay), Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur (play)

Cast: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Helen Mack, Joe Qualen

Cert: U

Running time: 92mins

Year: 1940


Film: medium_5

Extras: medium_5


What’s the story: Ruthless newspaper editor Walter Burns (Grant) schemes to keep his ex-wife and best reporter Hildy Johnson (Russell) from marrying new fiancé Bruce (Bellamy).

His-Girl-Friday---Cary-Grant,-phoneHis-Girl-Friday---Cary-Grant,-Rosalind-Russell

What’s the verdict: Renowned as the archetypal screwball comedy, 76 years on from its original release His Girl Friday remains sparkling and surprisingly relevant. With a few wince-inducing comments that betray its age.

On the surface this is the madcap rom-com territory Howard Hawks previously traversed to great effect in 1934’s Twentieth Century and Bringing Up Baby four years later...

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Blu-Ray Review: Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams

akira-kurosawas-dreams-blu-ray-coverDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Writer: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Mieko Harada, Hisashi Igawa, Martin Scorsese

Cert: PG

Running time: 119mins

Year: 2016

 


Film:
Extras: medium_5


What’s the story: Across eight vignettes, including fantastical tales of Japanese folklore and dark apocalyptic visions, director Akira Kurosawa reveals his dreams.

akira-kurosawas-dreams-rainbowakira-kurosawas-dreams-world-war-2-japanese-soldiers

What’s the verdict: Those who remember Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams release in 1990 but are only now catching up with the film itself are due for a pleasant surprise.

Originally met with a mixed response (it still holds a 55% Rotten Tomatoes rating), to modern eyes Dreams is a burst of sunshine through the current blizzard of smeary CGI pseudo-spectacle.

Split into eight separate stories, each introduced by a title and the legend “I had another dream…”, Kurosawa spir...

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Bowie’s Big Screen Best

Merry-Christmas-Mr-Lawrence---David-Bowie,-Ryuichi-Sakamoto

Over twenty credited movie roles on his IMdb page testify to David Bowie’s impressive body of film appearances.

Not that he was an actor of extraordinary range. Although displaying a similar to aura to Jeremy Irons, it is difficult to imagine Dead Ringers or Die Hard With A Vengeance with the superstar in those roles.

Bowie’s big screen company was more along the lines of Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves. Actors whose performance ability is relatively narrow, but can be electrifying on the big screen when used effectively.

His first credited big screen appearance was in The Man Who Fell To Earth. Ostensibly playing an alien, the kaleidoscopic film can be read as a pretty accurate reflection of experiences the coke and excess addled Bowie was then going through.

Later roles would include Jare...

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