First things first: Robin Wood selects his "Top Ten Criterions." Now that's a list!
Criterion's Eclipse label is releasing two films by Larisa Shepitko today and Dave Kehr's review in the New York Times is a must-read: "This was a generation that had turned its back not only on the great masters of Soviet montage (Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin) but also on the oppressive tradition of Socialist Realism that had been imposed by Stalin and that survived, with only a few exceptions, well into the 1960s. Shepitko and her colleagues preferred elaborate long takes and composition in depth over the rapid, associative editing of the montage theorists, and they were far less concerned with questions of proper Socialist citizenship than with personal conscience and the fluctuations of that ultimate anti-materialist concept, the soul."
Jonathan Rosenbaum addresses the "Potential Perils of the Director's Cut."
"[B]ased upon the set of features released by Kino, [Lech] Majewski may be one of the most pretentious filmmakers alive and working," writes Michael Atkinson at IFC. "Or is he a visionary? What separates the two quantities, except taste and argument? When does Majewski's brand of rampaging, overtly symbolic experimentalism dip below the line of transformative art and into nonsense?... I was far from convinced until The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004), which is not only a deeply felt and artfully conceived tragedy, but a film that adopts a faux-home-movie strategy that effectively eliminates the possibility of Majewski's more indulgent tendencies." Also reviewed is Brand Upon the Brain!, "now paraded down the aisle in a Criterion tuxedo [and] prototypically essential [Guy] Maddin."
A special two-disc collector's edition of Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter has been postponed, but Doug Cummings offers a fascinating sneak peek at what might be included in that package when it eventually sees the light of day.
"Victor Sjöström was arguably the most important and influential Swedish director of his generation and The Outlaw and His Wife, a story of love and sacrifice at a devastating cost, is the director's masterpiece." Sean Axmaker for TCM. Meanwhile at the Parallax View, Sean gives us fair warning concerning the release of Orson Welles's Don Quixote.
John McElwee has been savoring Lost and Found: The Harry Langdon Collection: "Watch his handiwork (plus extensive extras) and you'll come away transformed (or not), for Langdon, like beer and asparagus, is a thing for which one either acquires a taste or resolutely doesn't. Enthusiasm comes not in half measure for Harry. It's all or nothing."
"Humphrey Bogart, compared with other 'icon' actors such as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, gives the Siren the most consistent thrill of pleasure, again and again, even in a relatively bad movie. This was brought home to her when she saw Dead Reckoning." Related: The Observer's Philip French on Bogart.
Michael W Phillips finds The Cat and the Canary "so atmospheric and lively that it makes me doubly sad that its director, Paul Leni, made so few films - including The Man Who Laughs and The Last Warning - before he died in 1929 at the age of 45. Could his career have survived the talkie transition? It's tantalizing to wonder whether his version of Dracula, planned but never completed because of his untimely death and the return of his chosen star, Conrad Veidt, to Germany, would have been better than Tod Browning's stodgy, unimaginative potboiler, but after viewing this film, the answer is manifestly apparent - of course it would have been better."
"All things, good and bad, must come to an end, and now this dire truth includes one of the best shows on British television, Foyle's War," writes DK Holm for the Vancouver Voice. "The three discs of Foyle's War: Set 5 are a valediction and a celebration, as well as a long goodbye."
The latest additions to Scott Tobias's "New Cult Canon" at the AV Club: Sonatine and Sexy Beast.
John Adair on Sátántangó: "[T]he location of the call in the chapel lends the message a divine authority (not unlike the lengthy Ezekiel quotation in [Béla] Tarr's earlier Damnation). Judgment is coming. The people have left their faith in disrepair. And there is nowhere in this bleak and barren countryside to hide."
Dina Iordanova on Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn: "This is yet another one of Sokurov's pensive and masterful documentaries that manage to come really close to the person that is being interviewed.... The film, commissioned by a Russian TV channel and shot in 1999 consists of two parts of about 90 minutes each, thus the total comes to slightly over three hours."
Raquelle has the Noir of the Week: The Dark Corner.
Online viewing tip #1. Karina Longworth at Shooting Down Pictures on Peter Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract. This is a fun one, laced with clips from several sources besides Greenaway. See also Kevin Lee's extensive notes.
Online viewing tip #2. AO Scott on Frank Capra's State of the Union.
DVD roundups: Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical), Paul Clark (Screengrab), DVD Talk, Peter Martin (Cinematical), Noel Murray (Los Angeles Times) and Slant.
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