|DVDBeaver are proud to announce our
voting results for Blu-ray and 4K UHD of the Year - 2022 Poll
would like to give a very appreciative thank you to those 119
individuals who participated. Everyone's votes were counted in the
totals and, like every year, we are adding occasional quote comments!
This Year's Poll is, again, dedicated to... our Patrons - with great thanks. We would not exist without their support! To those that are unfamiliar, Patreon is a secure/verified third-party service where users can agree to a small monthly donation via credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below.
This year we welcome new participants
- commentarists Mr. Alan K. Rode and Daniel Kremer! Selections this
year spread to a huge diversity of genres and we welcome a few new
boutique labels - the more the better! No one can see every release
in the year and how we have 'good' opinions is to have lots of them.
THE TOP TEN BOXSETSs OF 2022
|THE WINNERS - BOXSETS (boxsets contain multiple films)|
First place is
Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Trilogy [4K
UHD] - It's no exaggeration to say that Francis Ford
Coppola's The Godfather (1972) has moved beyond the realm of mere
cinema to become a slice of American mythology. There are so many
indelible moments in this movie, it's hard to believe that
executives at Paramount Pictures originally envisioned it as a
quickie gangster flick, an even pulpier interpretation of Mario Puzo's wildly popular pulp novel.
The definitive saga of the Corleone family, overseen by director Francis Ford Coppola and based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo. A global cultural touchstone captivating fans across generations, the enduring cinematic legacy of THE GODFATHER has immeasurably influenced popular culture, and rightfully earned its legacy as one of the greatest in the history of motion pictures. Remastered and Restored in 4K UHD with HDR-10 and DolbyVision, this collection includes Academy Award winners for Best Picture THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II, alongside the acclaimed conclusion MARIO PUZO'S THE GODFATHER CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE. Includes both the Theatrical and 1991 Cuts of THE GODFATHER PART III, as well as a special features Blu-ray featuring all-new content.
"Restorations done with the utmost respect for the source, inclusion of the Coda version of the third film... An absolute must buy !" - Istvan Ribardiere
"A controversial choice perhaps given that the 4K release doesn't really add anything substantial in the domain of new extra features. However, the transfers are so revelatory in 4K that this is like seeing the films for the first time. An incredible showcase of what 4K UHD and a top notch television can do. " - Drew Morton
Second place from Universal Pictures,
home of the monsters since the era of silent movies, comes a second
Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection [4K
UHD] ,showcasing four more of the most iconic monsters in
motion picture history:
The Bride of Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera,
Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Starring Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and Claude Rains in the roles they made famous, these iconic films set new standards for horror with groundbreaking makeup, cinematography and special effects that have withstood the test of time.
This place is Severin's
All The Haunts Be
Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror.
The most comprehensive collection of
its kind. Experience 19 of the best-known, least-known, rarely-seen
and thought-lost classics of folk horror from around the world, all
restored from the best available vault elements.
12 Blu-rays, 3 CDs, 20 Feature films plus 15 hours of special features.
|"THE release of the
year for me. A whole new world, beautifully curated, gorgeously
packaged. I haven't been disappointed by a film in the set yet -
Australian films I didn't know about (I'm Australian and was
wwwhhhhaaaaaa?)" - Seamus Kirkpatrick
"A thorough look at the folk horror genre including the documentary Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror (Kier-La Janisse, 2021). If you liked the film November (2017), or The Field Guide to Evil (2018), you should consider this or at least check out the documentary." - Ken Schwarz
Fourth place is Universal's
Hitchcock Classics Collection (Saboteur
Shadow of a Doubt / The Trouble with Harry
Marnie / Family Plot) [4K
Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, directed some of the most exciting and memorable films in cinema history. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection features five films from the acclaimed director's illustrious career including Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, The Trouble with Harry, Marnie and Family Plot in stunning 4K resolution. Starring Hollywood favourites such as Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren, Shirley MacLaine, Joseph Cotten, Robert Cummings, Norman Lloyd, Teresa Wright, Bruce Dern and John Forsythe, this collection includes hours of bonus features and captures the artistry of one of the most innovative directors of all time.
|"This second set from Universal didn't get nearly enough appreciation. SHADOW OF A DOUBT and SABOTEUR in 4K." - Peter Yacavone|
Fifth place is Indicator's
Columbia Noir #5:
Humphrey Bogart 6 Blu-ray
A fifth foray into the
film noir output of Columbia Pictures, but, this time, with a twist.
Not only does this volume bring together six more gems from the
studio's archives, but it also serves as a showcase for the great
Columbia Noir #5: Humphrey Bogart Blu-ray package will be another
fan favorite. It's less-noirish, overall, but heavy on the iconic
Bogie. In 1999, the American Film Institute selected Bogart as the
greatest male star of classic American cinema. Bogart signed a
contract with the Fox Film Corporation for $750 a week, where he met
Broadway actor Spencer Tracy. The two men became drinking buddies
and best friends. In 1930, it was Tracy who first called him
"Bogie". I was always a huge fan of Dead Reckoning and
They Fall, but gained new appreciation for Knock on Any Door,
Joe and was surprised how much I enjoyed The Family Secret and its
moral conundrums. It was my first viewing of that film. So... the
best Blu-ray production company on the planet comes out with a
Humphrey Bogart set. It stacked to the gills commentaries, new
analysis and a 120-page booklet, plus the a/v has extensive
advancement over the ancient DVDs. Yes, get excited - this is a
must-own - limited to 6,000 copies. I wouldn't wait. Our highest
recommendation!" - Gary Tooze
"Bogie surprises in the lesser-known flicks included here, such as 1951's 'The Family Secret' (new to Blu-ray, as is the better-known 'Sirocco', also 1951.) The accompanying book runs 120 pages." - Jeff Heinrich
"Not the greatest Bogart films, but a wonderful boxset with amazing extras: audio commentaries on all six films, documentary shorts, pieces by Tony Rayns, Geoff Andrew and, especially by the late-Bertrand Tavernier on Tokyo Joe and The Harder They Fall, and an essay by the great Imogen Sara Smith." - Peter Rist
"As a farewell twist, Indicator round off their series of Columbia Noir box sets by showcasing two classic star vehicles one rarity and three lesser films produced through Bogart's Santana Company. Assembled with exceptional flair this is a box set par excellence." - David Redfern
"The quality of the films may be a bit mixed, but this is a quality boxset overall." - BGM
"Nick Ray & Mark Robson, among others - the only set i felt worth purchasing in 2022, with a new to BD by Nick Ray, & the best edition of Robson's The Harder They Fall, Bogart's final movie & he's powerful, while i chanced to meet Mike Lane bumming on Venice Beach one night during the winter of 1964-65, 10 years after & at a time when he had no work, & he dug a very worn LA Times movie review clipping from his wallet to prove his worth, not knowing I'd seen the movie, where he was also made to appear a couple of inches taller." - Simon Cherpitel
Sixth place is Arrow's
Two. Picking up where
Volume One left off, this sophomore collection of Hong
Kong cinema classics draws together many of the best films from the
final years of the Shaw Brothers studio, proving that while the end
was nigh, these merchants of martial arts mayhem weren't going to go
out without a fight! Armed with stunning special features and
ravishing new restorations, this boxset is even bigger and bolder
than the last one.
We begin with kung fu master Lau Kar-leung's instant classic The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, in which his adoptive brother Gordon Liu achieved overnight stardom as the young man who unexpectedly finds spiritual enlightenment on the path to vengeance; Lau and Liu followed the original with two comically inventive sequels, Return to the 36th Chamber and Disciples of the 36th Chamber, both included here. Already established as a genius at blending dazzling action with physical comedy, Lau himself plays the lead role in the hilarious Mad Monkey Kung Fu, coupled here with Lo Mar's underrated Five Superfighters. Next, we once again meet Chang Cheh's basher boy band the Venom Mob in no less than four of their best-loved team-ups: Invincible Shaolin, The Kid with the Golden Arm, Magnificent Ruffians and culminating in the all-star Ten Tigers of Kwangtung, co-starring Ti Lung and Fu Sheng.
|After Lau brings us
perhaps his best high-kicking comedy with My Young Auntie,
a playful star vehicle for his real-life muse Kara Hui, we see Shaw
Brothers fully embracing Eighties excess in our strangest double
feature yet: Wong Jing's breathtakingly wild shoot-'em-up
Mercenaries from Hong Kong, and Kuei Chih-hung's
spectacularly unhinged black magic meltdown The Boxer's Omen.
Last but certainly not least, Lau Kar-leung directs the last major
Shaw production, Martial Arts of Shaolin, filmed in
mainland China with a hot new talent named Jet Li in the lead role;
it is paired in this set with The Bare-Footed Kid, a
reverent remake of a Chang Cheh classic with Johnnie To (Running
Out of Time) in the director's chair and Lau back on fight
choreography duties, in arguably the ultimate filmed tribute to Shaws' everlasting cinematic legacy.
"The complete 36th Chamber of Shaolin trilogy and 11 other action films, with many extras including music CDs, in a really beautiful package." - Peter Rist
"Tbh the first Shawscope set I was a little underwhelmed by but this set has so many films I would recommend to people if they asked which Shaw films to watch first. And great packaging, fun extras etc. etc." - Seamus Kirkpatrick
Seventh place is Imprint's
Neo-Noir Cinema Collection One. This six-disc limited
edition collection brings together some of the best directors and
actors in six crime-soaked tales of hard-boiled detectives,
seductive women, mistaken identity, and suspense, in the best
tradition of the shadowy world of Neo Noir Cinema!
Includes After Dark My Sweet (1990), Rush (1991), One False Move (1992), Mortal Thoughts (1992), Flesh & Bone (1993), and Twilight (1998).
Limited Edition 6 Disc Hardbox with 60-page booklet featuring essays from Film Critics Walter Chaw & Peter Galvin. 2000 copies.
|"A fantastic set. As individual releases One False Move and After Dark, My Sweet alone would have been in my top 10 blu-rays of the year." - Tim Leggoe|
Eighth place is Second Run's
The War Trilogy:
Three films by Andrzej Wajda.
Andrzej Wajda was a recipient of the Palme d'Or, as well as Honorary Golden Lion, Golden Bear and Oscar Awards, and was a prominent member of the "Polish Film School" which this trio of cinematic masterworks prominently ushered in. Second Run's The War Trilogy: Three films by Andrzej Wajda on Blu-ray should be a strong reason for celebration. Seeing A Generation, and, notably, Kanal (the first ever made about the Warsaw uprising) in HD with the inclusion of Ashes and Diamonds - always cited as one of the greatest Polish films ever made with the Blu-ray set inclusion of complete, satisfying, commentaries, past director interviews, new insightful introductions, three short films plus the booklet put this package in the 'must own' category, imo. Described on the Criterion DVD box, these films are a "testaments to the resilience of the human spirit, the struggle for personal and national freedom, and Wajda's unique contribution to his homeland and to world cinema." This deserves attention for Boxset of the Year in our annual poll. Our highest recommendation! - GT
entrant. The third film in this set, 'Ashes and Diamonds', has
already had a couple of worthy Blu-Ray releases but this set finally
unites it with Wajda's two earlier films - 'A Generation' and
'Kanal' - along with some great extras." - Calvin MacKinnon
"Just in time for Christmas gift-giving, a triple whammy of classic world cinema by the late Polish director, new to Blu-ray. Of the three, 'Kanal' looks especially good." - Jeff Heinrich
"Second Run outdoes big C by giving us the whole trilogy in one go with *three* newly researched commentaries by Michael Brooke (when it comes to eastern European film...) instead of warmed-over podcasts. Keep 'em coming." - Chris Browne
Ninth place is Sony's
4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3 (It
Happened One Night / From Here to Eternity /
To Sir, With Love /
The Last Picture Show / Annie (1982) / As Good
As It Gets) [4K
Tied from tenth place is Indicator's
Universal Noir #1
- a new series of box sets - following Indicator's acclaimed
Columbia Noir series - focusing on the film noir output of another
of the major Hollywood studios, Universal Pictures.
Starring such high-profile talents as Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Vincent Price, Edmond O'Brien, Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame, and Jeff Chandler, the six films in this volume feature embezzlement and murder (The Web), confidence tricksters (Larceny), lovers on the lam (Kiss the Blood Off My Hands), an adoption racket (Abandoned), transatlantic criminals (Deported), and police brutality (Naked Alibi).
This stunning collection marks the UK Blu-ray premiere of all six films, and also features an array of fascinating contextualising extras, including newly recorded commentaries for each film, critical appreciations, archival short films, and a 120-page book.
set includes 'Deported' (1950), an unusual Hollywood noir almost
entirely filmed on location in post-war Italy. Co-star Marta Toren,
a 25-year-old Swedish beauty, tragically died of a stroke just a few
years later." - Jeff
"I may already own the movies individually but this was still a worthwhile up-grade for the extras and quality of the packaging. More convenient being region B also." - BGM
Screenwriter and director Miklos Jancso was the creator of a unique film language centered around his mastery of the tracking shot. The first internationally recognized representative of modern Hungarian filmmaking, his extraordinary works examined oppressive authority and the mechanics of power. Kino Lorber is proud to present six of his classic features restored in 4K from their original camera negatives by the National Film Institute Hungary - Film Archive. The Round-Up (1966) depicts a prison camp in the aftermath of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. A true classic of world cinema. The Red and the White (1967) is a haunting, powerful film about the absurdity and evil of war set in Central Russia during the Civil War of 1918. The Confrontation (1968) is a story of protest and rebellion set in 1947 Hungary, when the Communist Party has just taken power. Winter Wind (1969) consists of twelve fluid long takes that capture a mid-1930s group of Croatian anarchists. Red Psalm (1971) follows a group of farm workers who go on strike in 1890s Hungary, for which Jancso wont he best director prize at Cannes. Electra, My Love (1974) is a richly inventive adaptation of the Greek myth that consists of 12 single take, intricately choreographed set pieces.
"I don't think you'll find a better value release from this or any other year. Six restored Jancso films, most of which are making their HD debut, in a set that can often be had for less than $30. You'd forgive it being barebones, but Kino have generously saw fit to throw in some extras too - 7 short films and an audio commentary for each feature. Incredible." - Calvin MacKinnon
"Amazingly good value, with six films (including five of the director's best, with only Silence and Cry missing), and with audio commentaries on all six plus seven shorts." - Peter Rist
"Six films by the Hungarian master filmmaker which includes audio commentaries for each and seven short films at a very affordable price makes this easily the best boxset deal of the year." - James-Masaki Ryan
"Six masterpieces fully restored in 4K by the National Film Institute Hungary, loaded with short films, fantastic audio commentaries, and even a slim booklet (KINO?!) yet somehow Amazon is selling it for $25 most of the year. How is this not the greatest value proposition in the history of home video?!?" - Chris Browne
"I have my issues with Kino, but when they venture into the more interesting corners of the film world, it's rarely a fruitless effort. I'd be surprised if we didn't see all of these released by Second Run at some point too, but for now this is excellent." - Steve Rubin
NOTABLE BOXSETs in 2022 (but not in our Top 10) - in no order:
(CLICK Covers for more Information)
"Cinema of Discovery: Julien Duvivier in the 1920s (spectacularly evocative of a wide ranging imagination . Visually, evocative and extremely varied as to theme and subject matter ..and wonderfully restored)" - Lee Eiseman
of Psychotic Women (Severin) - God bless Kier-La Janisse. We
don't deserve her. Let's hope we see another Severin box set
supervised by her in 2023.
Scorsese's World Cinema Project, No. 4 (Criterion) - Good to
have both BluRay and DVD copies of another six films, especially the
Argentine, Prisonieros de la Tierra, a pioneering African film
directed by a woman, Sambizanga, and the rare Indian musical epic,
Obayashi's 80s Kadokawa Years (Third Window Films)
Little Rascals - The Complete Collection (Centennial
Obayashi's 80s Kadokawa Years UK Third Window RB
Films of Doris Wishman (AGFA) Strictly speaking three sets
that combine to make one set. I have no understanding of how I have
come to live in a reality where such a thing as this exists. I am so
grateful every day.
by Jim Sheridan: Four Films (Imprint) - An uncommon choice,
I'm sure. Three of the films already had blu-ray releases pretty
easily available. But that fourth one is The Field, a film
for which I never though there was a chance we'd see a blu-ray. Yes,
I know that Depression era Irish land ownership is a niche genre,
but this has to be the best in the class. And Richard Harris has a
top performance. I don't mean for him; I mean for anyone ever. It's
really quite something.
BERGMAN Volume 3 (BFI UK) - Absolutely blown away by this
collection of Bergman films between 1960 and 1966. Sven Nykvist's
high contrast monochrome cinematography is beautifully represented
across these films (except 'All These Women' of course, which
struggles to match the grade of its esteemed box set companions). 'Winter
Light' has never looked better. The existential angst and search
for true belief really struck me whilst viewing this set. Another
great BFI release.
Little Rascals - The Complete Collection Centennial Edition
(1929-1938) ClassicFlix. Generations of Americans have grown up
watching the films in this collection, in theaters and on
television. Over the years, they had been edited for content, cut
down to make time for commercials and generally neglected when it
came to preservation. ClassicFlix has stepped up and given all 80
sound of the Hal Roach produced Our Gang/Little Rascals sound shorts
full restorations and packaged them individually and in this box set
with all manner of extras including outtakes, home movies and
interviews with grown up members of the gang. These comedies are
more than just children's entertainment or nostalgia for a simpler
time. They are timeless. They are cultural touchstones and part of
our collective consciousness.
WHO COMPLETE SEASON 2 (aka WILLIAM HARTNELL SERIES 2)
|THE WINNERS - BLU-RAY|
|1) First Place is Masters of Cinema's Blu-ray of Carl Th. Dreyer's Vampyr which gains even more impact via this dramatically improved restored HD video presentation. Vampyr's disorienting visual effects and sound design advance the film to a profound level giving you an esoteric impression - as if the viewing belongs only to a select few. Truly unique and masterfully realized. As stated in the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray description; "Now unveiled for the film's 90th anniversary, one of the most visually and aurally distinctive horror films ever made finally comes to Blu-ray in the UK, in a definitive incarnation that achieves the full experience Dreyer intended audiences to have." No Cinephile's Blu-ray library will be complete without Vampyr... and the new restoration exemplifies that. Not to mention the book, new extras, inclusion of the two commentaries etc. The Masters of Cinema Blu-ray gets our absolute highest recommendation.|
|"...the definitive version on
Dreyer's film's centenary, which could end up #1 me-thinks" -
"Another revisitation of this Dreyer mood piece - call it horror if you wish. And why not?" - David Redfern
"Happy to see such a great film looking better and better every time they restore it some more." - Seamus Kirkpatrick
"Perhaps the most remarkable & profound early & enduring cinema horror show given a restoration that returns the battered classic near to what was viewed 90 years ago." - Simon Cherpitel
Second place is Flicker Alley's Blu-ray of Alfred L.
Performance. The most requested film in the early
years of the Film Noir Foundation's restoration campaign, is
finally available in digital form. An amazingly original
hybrid of film noir, supernatural fantasy, and backstage
melodrama, the film stars Joan Leslie as a Broadway actress
who magically relives the previous year of her life, but can
she alter the fateful mistakes and misjudgments that led to
a New Year's Eve tragedy? Think of it as film noir's answer
to It's a Wonderful Life or a full-length precursor
to The Twilight Zone.
Produced as a rare prestige picture by fledgling Eagle-Lion Pictures, the movie features an array of vivid performances: 21-year-old Joan Leslie as Sheila Page; Louis Hayward as her husband Barney; Virginia Field as Sheila's personal and professional rival; Tom Conway as a suave stage producer; and Richard Basehart in his movie debut as poet William Williams.
|In the years
after its 1947 release,
Performance seemingly vanished. For many who'd seen
it, the film's startling premise and stunning set-pieces
became merely a tantalizing memory. But thanks to the
dedication and diligence of the Film Noir Foundation in
collaboration with UCLA Film & Television Archive and the
Packard Humanities Institute,
Performance lives again.
"Have been waiting years to see this and was not disappointed. A good noir with a bit of fantasy thrown in." - BGM
"Rediscovered and restored this "film noir's answer to It's a Wonderful Life" is definitely high concept and worthy of our attention." - Ken Schwarz
|3) Third place is Indicator's Blu-ray of Frank Perry's The Swimmer. The film remains as brilliant and impacting as it was over a half-century ago. It was shot on location in Westport, Connecticut, the hometown of director Frank Perry. The stylized sequences export a hallucinogenic tone of guilt, regret, delusion and inability to embrace mistakes. It really is timeless and is continued to be lauded as a masterwork of cinema to this day. The new, 2022, Indicator Blu-ray has the best image quality, a new commentary, other supplements and a limited edition booklet. It has our highest recommendation!|
|One of the
few bona fide counter-cultural films to be produced by a
Swimmer is a sun-scorched and surreal suburban
satire that boasts a fine performance from Burt
Lancaster (Castle Keep, Buffalo Bill and the Indians) as
Ned Merrill, the all-American man who one day determines
to swim home to his Connecticut mansion via a series of
pools in his neighbourhood.
"A great package for such a hypnotic movie." - BGM
"Stunning boutique package from a British label that really delivered in 2022. The blues of the swimming pools and Burt Lancaster's eyes really sparkled in an exemplary transfer that captured the film's shift from light to dark beautifully. Clearly a troubled production (I am a film editor and seeing three editors in the credits is always a sign of a difficult post-production narrative). Limited edition had great extras and extensive writing on the lost Barbara Loden scenes. I am a huge fan of Loden's 'Wanda' and if these scenes / the original cut could ever be recovered, then that package would be the release of the decade. Even so, this was easily my top BR release of 2022." - Neil Williams
|4) Fourth place is Criterion's Blu-ray of Atom Egoyan's Exotica. A film about a father (Bruce Greenwood) grieving over the loss of his daughter - and his obsession with a young stripper, Christina (Mia Kirshner) who dresses in a schoolgirl uniform when she performs. It was inspired by Egoyan's curiosity at the role strip clubs play in society and the the ritualistic nature of table dances. Egoyan wanted to structure the story mirroring a gradually revealing striptease with the emotional stories of individuals being exposed through the course of the film. Remarkably Exotica had only a $2 million budget. Francis' (Greenwood) car was Egoyan's own 1990 Volvo 240 station wagon. It's a fabulous film about loss, obsession, dysfunction and how people survive in an over-sexualized culture. The Criterion Blu-ray is... perfect and will probably gets some year-end votes. Exotica is such a great film, finally done with deserved justice on a stacked Blu-ray. Strongly recommended!|
|One of the defining
independent films of the 1990s, Atom Egoyan's
mesmerizing international breakthrough
Exotica takes the conventions of the
psychological thriller into bold new
territory-unsettling, dreamlike, and empathetic. At the
neon-drenched Toronto strip club of the film's title, a
coterie of lost and damaged souls-including a man
haunted by grief (Bruce Greenwood), a young woman with
whom he shares an enigmatic bond (Mia Kirshner), an
obsessive emcee (Elias Koteas), and a smuggler of rare
bird eggs (Don McKellar) - search for redemption as they
work through the traumas of their mysteriously
interconnected histories in an obsessive cycle of sex,
pain, jealousy, and catharsis. Masterfully weaving
together past and present, Egoyan constructs a
spellbinding narrative puzzle, the full emotional impact
of which doesn't hit until the last piece is in place.
"One of my favorite "new to me" films of 2022, Atom Egoyan's haunting and heartbreaking Exotica finds itself on the Criterion Collection with a solid commentary between the filmmaker and composer, a wonderful conversation between Egoyan and actor/filmmaker Sarah Polley, and a mix of Egoyan's short films and even a feature (CALENDAR). For a newbie to Egoyan's work like me? I felt like I had a crash course in his work by the end of this." - Drew Morton
"Criterion should have released this as a 4K UHD for better compression but this was one of the most anticipated releases this year and the transfer was - at last - worthy of a blu-ray". - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard
"Canadian content, universally done, directed by Atom Egoyan and co-starring a young Sarah Polley. The disc includes a bonus feature film (1993's 'Calendar'), three shorts, and more." - Jeff Heinrich
|5) Fifth place is Arrow's Blu-ray of Tomu Uchida's A Fugitive from the Past. Considered the magnum opus of the five decades-long career of Tomu Uchida (Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, The Mad Fox), the epic crime drama A Fugitive from the Past was voted third in the prestigious Kinema Junpo magazine's 1999 poll of the Top Japanese Films of the 20th Century. In 1947, a freak typhoon sends a passenger ferry running between Hokkaido and mainland Japan plunging to the ocean depths, with hundreds of lives lost. During the chaos, three men are witnessed fleeing a burning pawnshop in the Hokkaido port town of Iwanai. The police suspect theft and arson, and when Detective Yumisaka (Junzaburo Ban) discovers the burned remains of a boat and the corpses of two men, he sets about tracking the shadowy third figure.|
mysterious Takichi Inukai (Rentaro Mikuni) takes shelter
with a prostitute, Yae (Sachiko Hidari), a brief
encounter that will come to define both of their lives.
A decade later, long after the trail has gone cold,
Yumisaka is called back by his successor Detective
Ajimura (Ken Takakura) as two new dead bodies are found.
Making its home video debut outside of Japan, this
adaptation of Tsutomu Minakami's 1700-page novel is a
landmark in master director Uchida's oeuvre. Its gritty
monochrome photography has the immediacy of newsreel as
Uchida uses the landscapes of postwar Japan to explore
the massive social upheaval and unspoken legacies of the
war, and create an unsettling karmic allegory of a man's
struggle to escape his past sins.
"An absolute masterpiece that, if more widely available, would rank very high in lists like the BFI/Sight and Sound poll..." - Istvan Ribardiere
"I'm a big fan of Tomu Uchida's A Fugitive from the Past and Arrow's release this year was an unexpected treat." - Calvin MacKinnon
|6) Sixth place is Fun City Edition's Blu-ray of Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way. A film considered the director's best American feature. He made noteworthy cinema like Born to Win and Intimate Lighting and this also gets better with each viewing. Originally Robert Mulligan was set to direct and Dustin Hoffman was going to play Alex Cutter. Cutter's Way seems a sad shift noting a counterculture disenchantment - a final, cynical, straw - a last gasp of idealism with Alex Cutter's experience in Vietnam - a lost eye, arm and leg - figuratively crippling him to battle the corruption of the system. This is an important film from the early 80s and I am very happy the Fun City Editions Blu-ray that incorporates essential a/v, new extras and combining many other supplements from past editions. Surely the definitive BD releases of this pessimistic, vital, masterwork. Strongly recommended!|
salesman and gigolo Richard Bone (Bridges) skates on his
good looks and avoids all responsibility. His best
friend Alex Cutter (Heard) returned from Vietnam with
his body ruined, but his mind sharpened and attuned to
the injustices and politics that led to his predicament.
After Bone witnesses a shadowy figure dump a young
woman's body in the trash, he fingers local oil magnate
J.J. Cord (Stephen Elliott) as the killer. As Bone backs
away from this accusation, Cutter charges forward on a
crusade to make Cord pay not only for this murder, but
for all the other crimes fat cats like him have
routinely gotten away with. Cutter's long-suffering wife
Mo (Eichhorn), struggles to keep her own head above the
surface, while steering the two men toward saner waters.
Based on Newton Thornburg's 1976 novel Cutter and Bone, and initially released under that title to poor reviews and box office, the film was reborn as Cutter's Way and became a highly acclaimed cult favorite. The lush, sunny Santa Barbara setting, luminously photographed by DP Jordan Cronenweth, is an ironic counter to the deeply cynical and tragic vibes of this neo-noir. The distinctly beautiful score by pop and rock maestro Jack Nitzsche ranks as one of his most stirring works. Helmed by Czech filmmaker Passer, Cutter's Way is one of the most impassioned & truthful critiques of the American hierarchy ever filmed.
|7) Seventh place is Imprint's Blu-ray of Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala. It is based on a 1923 memoir by Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenev. The title refers to the name of a native trapper. It shows a deep friendship of two men from totally different backgrounds. Dersu Uzala was filmed over two years in the far reaches of Siberia and won the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar in 1976. It's a masterpiece and it's very gratifying to see a label fearlessly tackle the prevalent issue of the ineffectual film stock and boldly put it on a stacked Blu-ray with commentary, video essay and much more. This should garner some votes in our year-end poll for the film if not the image. For Kurosawa fans, and beyond, though this is a must-own. Thanks for the effort Imprint!|
Uzala is the enthralling tale of an eccentric
Mongolian frontiersman (Maxim Munzuk) who is taken on as
a guide by a Soviet surveying crew. While the soldiers
at first perceive Dersu as a naive and comical relic of
an uncivilized age, he quickly proves himself otherwise
with displays of ingenuity and bravery unmatched by any
member of the inexperienced mapping team, on more than
one occasion becoming their unlikely saviour. An amazing
true story based on the memoir by Russian explorer
Vladimir Arsenyev. Filmed in the far reaches of Siberia,
it took over two years for Director Akira Kurosawa to
complete this timeless masterpiece of cinema which was
shot in 70mm and was honoured with the Oscar for Best
Foreign-Language Film in 1976. Starring Maksim Munzuk,
Yuriy Solomin & Mikhail Bychkov.
"This knocked the last snapper case DVD out of my collection, and that means a lot." - Steve Rubin
|8) Eighth place is Second Run's Blu-ray of Jan Nemec's The Party and the Guests. A wonderful embraceable film experience. Second Run have treated us to another masterpiece of the Czech New Wave in 1080P with this astute political satire on Communism/Socialism. There are also elements defining the human condition with some surrealistic curiosities. A very unique, Bunuel-ian, film that we strongly recommend. Second Run's Blu-ray from the 2021 restoration is a huge update in a/v and has valuable extras including two commentaries and more. Absolutely recommended!|
|A group of friends on an
afternoon picnic are accosted by mysterious authority
figures and compelled to join a lavish banquet in the
woods. Jan Nemec's surreal and sinister fable is a
barbed satire of authoritarianism and conformity, as
each of the 'guests' find their place among the
revellers, succumbing to the will of their menacing
Distinguished by being 'banned forever' by Czech authorities, Nemec's disquieting film was considered the most politically dangerous film made during the short flowering of Czechoslovak cinema in the 1960's.
Our edition of The Party and the Guests also contains Jiri Trnka's renowned animated short film The Hand (1965), another surreal and savage indictment of totalitarianism (again banned by Czech authorities), making its world premiere on Blu-ray.
Ninth place is BFI's Blu-ray
of Gary Oldman's
Mouth. This intensely powerful and emotional
landmark of British cinema has been remastered in 4K for
its 25th anniversary by the BFI National Archive, and
this release is the first time on Blu-ray anywhere in
Gary Oldman revealed himself as a filmmaker of uncompromising talent with Nil by Mouth, his debut and so far only directorial feature. Set on a council estate in New Cross, south east London (the area where Oldman himself grew up), a dysfunctional family encounters domestic violence, drunkenness, drug addiction and petty crime. Featuring career-best performances from Kathy Burke (winner of Best Actress at Cannes), Ray Winstone and Charlie Creed-Miles, all superbly supported by Laila Morse and Jamie Foreman, Nil by Mouth was awarded Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay at the 1998 Bafta awards.
long-gestating release of Gary Oldman's
Mouth is worth the wait. The new 4K restoration
is terrific and the extras are worth the price of
admission alone, including a new audio commentary with
Oldman, the only surviving footage from a never-finished
documentary Oldman was directing about his mother, and a
HD transfer of Terence Davies' early film 'Children'."
- Calvin MacKinnon
"Gary Oldman's one-film-wonder as writer & director stands the test of time as a brutal family drama, and the BFI's 2-disc release features an excellent 4K restoration plus a lengthy amount of excellent extras with Oldman's supervision and approval." - James-Masaki Ryan
Tenth place is Criterion's
Blu-ray of John Waters'
John Waters' Pink Flamingos is the first part of what Waters has described as his "Trash Trilogy", with Female Trouble (1974) and Desperate Living (1977). It was shot on a budget of only $10,000. It's famous for its grotesque, bizarre, and outrageously crude scenes. In 2021, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Waters recast the film with children and rewrote the script to make it kid-friendly in a 2014 project, Kiddie Flamingos. It would have been a cool supplement here. The scripts for Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living and Flamingos Forever (that was never made) were published in John Waters' 1988 book Trash Trio: Three Screenplays.
|Criterion's 50th Anniversary Blu-ray of John Waters' Pink Flamingos will make fans very pleased - a total celebration of the the work modestly referred to as "an exercise in poor taste" - an understatement, indeed with exhibitionism, voyeurism, sodomy, masturbation, rape, incest, murder, cannibalism, castration, foot fetishism, and eating dog sh*t. There is nothing like Pink Flamingos - before or after. Certainly recommended to the right crowd that might appreciate its elevation as pioneering abject art.|
Other Blu-rays with strong top 10 voting:
(in alphabetical order)
- Tsai Ming Liang 2020 (Grasshopper Films)
On my wish list last year and splendidly made true by Grasshopper Films. Not just the marvelous film itself but a 2nd disc with another film- Liang's 2015 documentary (Afternoon- 137 mins) with and about him & his long term collaborator/ actor Lee Kang- Sheng. Nothing in the history of cinema can come close to the life long collaboration between these two men who also live together, one gay and the other straight. A fascinating film about the comfort of male friendships.
(UK buyers- Grasshopper Films have a webshop and they will ship to you direct).
The Round Up - Milkos Jancso 1966 (Kino Lorber)
One of cinema's greatest masterpieces (never mind the 2022 Sight & Sound Poll) in a magnificent widescreen restoration by Kino Lorber, including short films and a 2nd disc of Jancso's The Red and The White which I am ashamed to say I still haven't found the time to watch although the Blu Ray was bought over 7 months ago!
Coach to Vienna - Karel Kachyna 1966 (Second Run)
Amazing that there are still films from the Czech and Slovakia new wave that I knew nothing about and that Second Run are on a mission to set right. The premise of this movie is simple but it takes great skill by Kachyna and his cinematographer Josef Illik to make an epic out of it. Just 3 actors but all of humanity's horror and goodness are shown in its economical 80 minutes." - Billy Bang
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931, Warner Archive): WA is knocking it out of the park with these loving restorations of pre-code horror (see also the Curtiz two-color Technicolor horror films from the last couple years)." - Drew Morton
Night of the Iguana (1964) Warner Archive, Long
awaited in a beautiful transfer with great extras
Wicker Man (Imprint) - The definitive release of
one of the great horror films.
Johnson Is Dead A heartbreaking documentary -
already available on Netflix, but the Criterion disc had
Kirsten Johnsen's commentary, which I listened to
immediately after watching the film. The supplements
were a rare inspired Criterion collation. They used to
be the leader at this.
vampire negro (Flicker Alley) - a long lost
amazing (proto-feminist) Argentine remake of Fritz
Lang's M, restored by Eddie Muller and the Film Noir
Foundation with great extras, including "The Three
Faces of 'M'," a critical comparison of the three
versions of the child killer story.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - 1931 / Warner Archive
Collection. I first 'saw' this movie in Richard J
Anobile's Film Classic Library in 1975. A complete
reconstruction of a film in book form. It featured over
1,500 frame blow-up photos shown sequentially with
dialogue. The new Blu-ray is a considerable advance on
People (Criterion) Criterion supplement their
new restoration of Ann Hui's masterpiece with
substantial extras, with Hui's own documentary
self-portrait 'As Time Goes By' being a
Celebration (Denmark, 1998) (Criterion).
Finally, a Blu-ray special edition (two discs in
minimalist packaging) of Danish director Thomas
Vinterberg's first Dogma '95 film, a devastatingly dark
dig at 'family values.'
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde(Paramount, Rouben Mamoulian,
1931) Warner Archive Collection
Warriors (1979, Walter Hill) Australia Imprint
The Jury - Lucky we live in the alternate
universe where John Alton shot a noir... in 3D.
Most Dangerous Game (Eureka)- Great movie. Great
(Criterion) Anarchic young female energy which I have
never seen captured in a film before. Looks great and
love having the films in the extras
Celebration (Criterion) - Fantastic film,
perfectly appropriate minimalist packaging.
Night of the Iguana - John Huston: WARNER
ARCHIVE - the finest playwright of the 20th Century (or
"modern" day) - Tennessee William's last great play &
poetic & comic dialogue given a rare sense of
authenticity by Huston shooting on a Mexican location
literally as remote as the one in the play, with a top
cast of Burton, Kerr & Gardner giving some of their best
movie performances, & throwing in Sue Lyon as a more
mature Lolita for the young lions.
Party and the Guests (Second Run UK) - A film I
had always wanted to see but never had the opportunity
until Second Run's exquisite restoration. The film
itself is another allegorical tale about the state of
our nations (in these troubled times, we are looking for
fables that represent the human condition).
Fantastically detailed commentary by Jonathan Owen plus
a second by Mike White's fabulous Projection Booth crew,
who were clearly passionate about this long banned film.
The inclusion of a booklet of essays plus the BR debut
of Tmka's animated surreal short 'The Hand'
(1965) made this a powerful, timely release.
(aka Daughter of Horror) (John Parker, 1955) Cohen -
Part Luis Bunuel, part noir ala Orson Welles' Touch
of Evil, and part avant-garde Twilight Zone,
this is perhaps the world's first feature length
experimental film. This unique movie has a nightmare
realism that is based on a real dream starring the
person who actually dreamed it! It is truly a one of a
kind experience, with evocative lighting,
expressionistic camera angles, seedy locations and
over-the-top disturbingly dark Freudian symbolism that
makes that of the average psychological thriller look
like Forbidden Planet.
HALLELUJAH TRAIL: (Sturges 1965) (2K:RE) (Kino)
|1) First Place is Criterion's 4K UHD of Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity. It is Noir royalty. The suspense is a slow build with the interplay of two self-serving characters remains an essential and integral part of the cycle. Lust, obsession, greed, femme-fatale enticement and there devastating unconscionable consequences permeate the sly dialogue. It's a masterpiece of dark cinema. The Criterion 2160P encode with Dolby Vision HDR has similar contrast (brightness / darkness) as Criterion's new (and included) Blu-ray - it may be a semi-tone darker - richer, more consistent grain support and the best image for this classic - ever on digital. The bigger you project, the superior the visuals appear over every edition image to date. The 4K package is 3 discs - the 4K UHD with the highest resolution - it includes the Schickel commentary and the two Blu-rays (and supplements.) A Noir must-own.|
essential film noir given the respect it deserves from
Criterion." - Tim Leggoe
"This movie got me hooked on noir many years ago-from the very first scene- so seems only fitting it goes to the top of my list." - BGM
|2) Second Place is Masters of Cinema's 4K UHD of Robert Wiene's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". This was a very highly anticipated release. It is the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema. The film's extravagant twisted graphic style with obtuse angles and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets is the stuff of filmic legend. It is one of THE films you want to see in its best video presentation and this 4K UHD is it. The new Masters of Cinema edition has the best ever video, a new audio score option, a thorough new commentary, Kim Newman - the other older valuable extras, including the video essay and long documentary plus it offers a 100-page book. It is a must-own. Don't hesitate getting this for yourself for the Holidays.|
|"A first dip
into the 4k disc market with this welcome reissue of a
much-discussed European classic. It has never looked so
good and has excellent extras which provide pertinent
context. This experience gives me confidence to explore
further 4k Ultra HD discs." - David Redfern
"A few new supplements (additional commentary, a book, and a new score) plus the fact that this is the first silent film released on 4K propel this one up the list. Holding it back from the top: sans HDR this wasn't a night and day upgrade over the 2014 BD of the same 4K remaster. Also it also misses out on Kino's DJ Spooky score (cineasts deserve no less! :p)" - Chris Browne
"Sometimes this looks like a moving painting. Amazing. So beautiful. Like nothing I had ever imagined (at the risk of being hyperbolic, well no, being hyperbolic, don't care :) ). THE 4k release of the year for me." - Seamus Kirkpatrick
|3) Third Place is Warner's 4K UHD release of "Casablanca". This package has only the significant upgrade - in video. More modern and mainstream film friends would ask me what 'the greatest film of all time?' is - and, of course, it depends on many factors, but I usually say "Casablanca" to put the topic to rest. I think luck played a part and the universal tumblers clicked into place - it had contributions for a variety of writers and even with an exceptional A-level cast - none involved with the production expected it to reach the iconic status that it has. Bogie was at his most cool and Alpha-male charismatic, Bergman her most jaw-dropping-ly photogenic with additional unselfish support from Rains, Greenstreet, Lorre, Veidt - as there were an abundance of European exiles and refugees who were extras or played minor roles. The "duel of the anthems" sequence had many of the actors shedding tears reminding them of their own personal circumstances caused by WW2. Casablanca was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won three - Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. This 4K UHD transfer is easily the best and most film-like. It's never looked better on a home-theatre system. A bona-fide reason to become an adopter of this format. You will never regret it. This is an absolute must-own.|
|"No new extras but a step-up in picture quality for this classic." - BGM|
|4) Fourth Place is BFI's 4K UHD of Mike Hodges' "Get Carter" - a film that has been enshrined in the lore of British cinema... and has, certainly, passed the test of time with continued high praise. It's goal was to create a more realistic portrayal of criminal behavior than had previously been seen in British cinema. The plot is slowly revealing building upon the revenge factor and exemplifying Caine's anti-hero protagonist's remorselessness. It touches upon Britain's class structure with a dour look at life in the north. Other actors were considered for roles; Telly Savalas, Joan Collins, Barbara Parkins etc.. Hodges wrote the screenplay with Ian Hendry in mind for Carter - he eventually played 'Eric'. The character of the assassin was only seen as a "J" initial on his ring. It was Carl Howard's only film role. BFI's 4K UHD release of "Get Carter" is brilliant in terms of its film-like image, and has a plethora of supplements from the new, and older, commentary, interviews, 80-page booklet and more. Very strongly recommended!|
restoration of a British classic - approved by the
still-vital 90 year old director!" - Kevin Sunde
"A timeless gangster film that eluded audiences in its initial run but thankfully found a cult following, and is now regarded as one of the greatest British films of all time. The BFI's 4K restoration is an absolutely packed set with new and vintage extras." - James-Masaki Ryan
|5) Fifth Place is Criterion's 4K UHD of Martin Scorsese's magnum opus Raging Bull - a pure example of the great American tragedy - a searing biographical sports drama. No film, before or since, has come close to its visceral impacting level on boxing or any other sport. Yes, Chapman's 'extraordinarily tactile black-and-white cinematography' and Schoonmaker distinctive editing buoy the exceptional performances (casting many lesser-known actors and actresses - ex. Pesci was a struggling actor was working at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey) of a brilliantly written and magnificently realized story. Undeniably spoken with The Godfather as the greatest American film ever made in the last 1/2 of the 20th Century. De Niro read the La Motta autobiography on the set of The Godfather Part II and became fascinated by the character. He loaned the book to Martin Scorsese. The rest is cinematic history. Raging Bull in 4K UHD is the pre-eminent reason to adopt the new format for those serious home theatre aficionados who have delayed, what is, inevitable for them. We can't give a higher recommendation.|
|"Black and white in 4K with HDR doesn't seem to get the same level of love - but this release makes yet another strong case for why it should." - Drew Morton|
|6) Sixth Place is Kino's 4K UHD of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil - a film noir masterpiece whose Hollywood backstory is as unforgettable as the movie itself. Starring Charlton Heston (The Big Country, Ben-Hur), Janet Leigh (The Manchurian Candidate, Psycho) and Welles himself, this dark portrait of corruption and morally compromised obsessions tells the story of a crooked police chief who frames a Mexican youth as part of an intricate criminal plot. With its iconic ticking-bomb opening shot, shadowy cinematography by Russell Metty (Spartacus), evocative score by Henry Mancini (Arabesque) and memorable supporting turns by Akim Tamiroff (The General Died at Dawn) and Marlene Dietrich (Desire), Touch of Evil is a stylistic triumph that stands the test of time. This 3-disc special edition features 4K restorations of three versions of the film: the Theatrical version, the Preview version and the Reconstructed version based on Orson Welles' original vision.|
4K. Film Noir in 4K. I don't have a better sell for you.
It has all three versions, all the legacy special
features, and a couple new commentaries. But we all know
why you're getting it already – 4K high contrast
cinematography in HDR!" - Drew Morton
"An outstanding overall package." - BGM
|7) Seventh Place is Arrow's 4K UHD of David Cronenberg's "Videodrome". It was the first film by the director/writer to gain backing from any major Hollywood studio. It was lauded for its "techno-surrealist" aesthetic, and its cryptic, psychosexual themes. It is now hailed as a cult classic, one of Cronenberg's best, and an unforgettable example of the science fiction and body horror genres. On the Criterion director commentary Cronenberg stated that the idea for Videodrome came from his childhood. Cronenberg used to pick up American television signals from Buffalo, New York, late at night after Canadian stations had gone off the air. He would be concerned that he might see something disturbing or unusual. Arrow's 4K UHD release is a towering package offer both cuts in 2160P, a Tim Lucas essential commentary and a mass of other extras including a booklet, poster etc. For the director's fans this alone would be a reason to upgrade to a 4K system. It has our highest recommendation!|
|"Arrow keep doing their marvellous work with cult movies in 4K and I hope that Canada's greatest director will get more releases of his oeuvre on this label, many of which have been lacking decent transfers for years." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard|
Eighth Place is Kino's 4K UHD of Stanley Kubrick's "The
Killing". It has the highly notable video
upgrade - rife with grain and vastly superior contrast,
plus the highly valuable commentary (there was none on
the Criterion or Arrow Blu-rays.) "The Killing" was
written by Kubrick and Jim Thompson and based on the
novel Clean Break by Lionel White (James B. Harris
bought the rights before United Artists, and Frank
Sinatra.) Kubrick and Harris moved from New York to L.A.
to shoot the picture, and Kubrick went unpaid during the
shooting, surviving on loans from Harris, but it helped
establish Kubrick's reputation. The lines in "The
Killing" are so Noir:
"You'd be killing a horse - that's not first degree murder, in fact it's not murder at all, in fact I don't know what it is... killing a horse out of season."
Sherry: "You don't understand me Johnny. You don't know me very well."
Johnny: "I know you like a book. You're a no good, nosy little tramp. You'd sell out your own mother for a piece of fudge."
It has a dark cinema dream cast and is filled with wonderful self-serving characters. A masterpiece that is a must-own in this 4K UHD format. Don't hesitate.
|"Another outstanding release of a top noir." - BGM|
Ninth Place is Second Sight Films's 4K UHD of Nicolas
(2011.) A laconic best in the business getaway driver
with a strict professional code has his loner lifestyle
turned upside down when he falls for his neighbour
Irene. With her ex-con husband owing protection money
she's drawn into a dangerous underworld and only the
driver can save her.
"The cult favorite finally arrives with a gorgeous 4K HDR transfer and Atmos remix, bringing Nicolas Winding Refn's neon soaked Los Angeles and Cliff Martinez's Vaporwave synth pads to their highest highs. There's also a nice mix of new supplementary materials as well from a new commentary and a conversation between Refn and Martinez. The now out of print version also came with a beautiful booklet of essays and a reprint of James Sallis's original novel. Like all of Second Sight's work, a gorgeous doorstop of a release." - Drew Morton
|"I'm not the
biggest fan of the film, but this is about as thorough a
release of a film that it's possible to do. EVERYTHING
that can possibly be said about Drive is in this
set." - Tim Leggoe
"For their limited editions, no one puts together a better overall package. Absolutely gorgeous." - Steve Rubin
|10) Tenth Place is Severin's 4K UHD of Dennis Hopper's Out of the Blue. It's been called "shocking" (Film Comment), "blistering" (Filmmaker) and "a flat-out masterpiece" (The Playlist) yet remained virtually unseen for over 40 years. Now experience this "haunting portrait of juvenile delinquency that ranks among the most powerful in American cinema" (Chicago Reader) from actor/director Dennis Hopper as it's never been seen before: Linda Manz "gives one of the greatest teenage performances of all time" (Film Comment) as a 15-year-old who idolizes Elvis, punk rock and her ex-con father (Hopper), is surrounded by junkies and predators, and follows them all down a one-way road to oblivion. Sharon Farrell (THE STUNT MAN), Don Gordon (THE LAST MOVIE) and Raymond Burr co-star in "a film about extremes, directed by an extremist" (Time Out) featuring music by Neil Young.|
the Blue wasn't quite the forgotten masterpiece
I had expected based on assessments from friends and
colleagues (I found it a bit too melodramatic - still a
bit too much like an after school special at times), the
special features on the Severin disc helped me make
sense of the very raw and real portrait of a young woman
from a broken household. Of course, most of those
features were about star Linda Manz, who I only knew
from DAYS OF HEAVEN. She's a firecracker here -
and her performance alone makes the film worth seeing."
- Drew Morton
"Last year, the BFI put out a superb release of Dennis Hopper's Out of the Blue on Blu-Ray that I thought was one of the best releases of 2021. I didn't expect Severin to go one better less than a year later. Not only does it get a nice 4K bump but Severin further lengthen the extras list with additional interviews and Leonard Yakir's short film Mainstreet Soldier. Definitive and essential, it's one of the most comprehensive releases ever centred on a single film." - Calvin MacKinnon
(Synapse): Top three Argento here with three
commentaries, a feature length doc, and an incredible
Dolby Vision transfer.
ROAD HOUSE (Vinegar Syndrome): The cult classic neo-Western gets a substantial upgrade from the already loaded Shout set with new bonus features and a stunning Dolby Vision transfer, all wrapped up in a beautiful box with a booklet of essays.
THE FRIGHTENERS (Turbine): Six discs may seem obscene for this solid Peter Jackson horror comedy, but let's not forget that this is the home video release where PJ's obsession with documenting every aspect of the production process began. The 4.5 hour documentary from the LaserDisc/DVD comes along for the ride (still in SD - which is probably as good as it gets) and gets an additional 90 minute documentary of the cast and crew looking back on the legacy of the film, primarily conducted over on Zoom. There's two cuts of the film (director's and theatrical), both in 4K with Dolby Vision, and a new open matte version (HD only).
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (Paramount): Demo quality sound and vision right here - no surprise.
THE BATMAN (Warner Bros.): Gorgeous, inky, blacks. A 4K release designed for an OLED. Just wish that director commentary wasn't only on the iTunes version only!
ALLIGATOR (Scream Factory): Yes, it's a profoundly dumb monster movie. Yes, Michael V. Gazzo's eyebrows look like they're about to take flight. But ALLIGATOR is so goddamned goofy and Robert Forster is so magnetic that you don't care. A great B-movie that gets the red carpet treatment on 4K thanks to Shout, who even got Bryan Cranston to record an interview about his time as an effects assistant." - Drew Morton
Regle du Jeu / Rules of the Game, J. Renoir -
UHD Reservoir Dogs - Not since the LaserDisc
release, has there been a home video release worth
purchasing. The blu-ray was an unwatchable DNR'd mess.
The level of detail on this 4K UHD is amazing.
Proposition (BFI) - Great under seen Australian
film given an unexpectedly comprehensive (and beautiful)
package from BFI.
(2021, Mamoru Hosoda) Japan VAP
in the Rain (Warner)- My favourite musical,
which has a good story for this genre.
(Criterion) This looks so chunky and thick. Again, just
beautiful. Great extras too.
"Thriller (Vinegar Syndrome) - Great alternate version included for those who aren't fans of hardcore pornography taking a big part of the runtime!" - Leif F.
"Dune: Part 1 [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Denis Villeneuve, 2021) Warner Bros. - I haven't, as of yet, made the move to 4K UHD. I still have not found an affordable projector that meets both my technical and spatial requirements. However, I did get the opportunity to watch the Ultra High Definition disc of Villeneuve's opus projected large on a 120-inch 1:1 high gain matte screen, and I can say, truthfully, that this viewing really fired up my interest in the format and motivated me to renew my search for a workable 4K solution. It significantly enhanced by appreciation for a movie that I've seen several times before, with the UHD image ideal for rendering the rich details and textures of the film's epic scale. This release could serve as a demo video for the 4K UHD format." - Ken Schwarz
LOST HIGHWAY (Criterion):
- Peter Yacavone
'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list
Some titles come out late in the year and aren't seen, or get swept under our collective radar under, deserve more attention or I just liked. This is my 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list of a few under-announced Blu-rays and a couple of 4K UHD titles that, I think, some genre-fans, cinephiles etc. may wish to take a second look. For myself, they have appeal for various reasons (in alphabetical order):
|Adoption [Blu-ray] (Marta Meszaros, 1975) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Angela Mao: Hapkido (1972) & Lady Whirlwind (1972) [Blu-ray] - RB UK Eureka Entertainment (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Appointment [Blu-ray] (Lindsey C. Vickers, 1982) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Arsenic and Old Lace [Blu-ray] (Frank Capra, 1943) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Beverly of Graustark [Blu-ray] (Sidney Franklin, 1926) Undercrank Productions (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|British Film Noir [Blu-ray] - Dancing with Crime (John Paddy Carstairs, 1947) / The Green Cockatoo (William Cameron Menzies, 1937) Cohen (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Brute [Blu-ray] (Gerry O'Hara, 1977) R0 UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Capture [Blu-ray] (John Sturges, 1950) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Cloak & Dagger [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Richard Franklin, 1984) Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Come Drink with Me [Blu-ray] (King Hu, 1966) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Le Corbeau [Blu-ray] (Henri-Georges Clouzot,1943) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Creature from Black Lake [Blu-ray] (Joy N. Houck Jr., 1976) Synapse Films (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Creatures the World Forgot [Blu-ray] (Don Chaffey, 1971) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz [Blu-ray] (Luis Bu�uel, 1955) VCI (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Cure [Blu-ray] (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Curious of Dr Humpp [Blu-ray] (Emilio Vieyra, 1969) RB UK 101 Films (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Days [Blu-ray] (Ming-liang Tsai, 2020) Grasshopper Film (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Dead Mountaineer's Hotel [Blu-ray] (Grigori Kromanov, 1979) Camera Obscura (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Dementia [Blu-ray] (John Parker, 1955) Cohen (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Diary of a Mad Housewife [Blu-ray] (Frank Perry, 1970) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Don't Let the Angels Fall [Blu-ray] (George Kaczender, 1969) Canadian Int'L Pics (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Dressed to Kill [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Brian De Palma, 1980) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Edgar G. Ulmer Sci-Fi Collection [Blu-ray] (The Man from Planet X - 1951, The Amazing Transparent Man - 1960, Beyond the Time Barrier - 1960) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Execution in Autumn [Blu-ray] (Hsing Lee, 1972) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW) Entertainment|
|The Films of Doris Wishman: The Twilight Years [Blu-ray] - American Genre Film (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell [Blu-ray] (Terence Fisher, 1974) RB UK Second Sight Films (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|French Noir Collection [Blu-ray] [Speaking of Murder / Back to the Wall / Witness in the City] (AKA Le rouge est mis / Le dos au mur / Un temoin dans la ville) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Ghost and the Darkness [Blu-ray] (Stephen Hopkins, 1996) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Ghost Stories for Christmas Volume 1 [Blu-ray] - Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968) | The Stalls of Barchester(1971) | A Warning to the Curious (1972) | Lost Hearts (1973) - RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Great Escape [4K UHD Blu-ray] (John Sturges, 1963) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Jigsaw [Blu-ray] (Val Guest, 1962) Cohen (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Lancelot of the Lake [Blu-ray (Robert Bresson, 1974) Gaumont (BEAVER REVIEW) (technically came out in Nov. 2021)|
|Larks on a String [Blu-ray] (Jiri Menzel, 1969) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Laughing Woman [Blu-ray] (Piero Schivazappa, 1969) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue [Blu-ray] (Jorge Grau, 1974) Synapse (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|La llorona [Blu-ray] (Ramon Peon, 1933) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Lost Highway [4K UHD Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 1997) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Man on a Swing [Blu-ray] (Frank Perry, 1974) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Man Without a Star [Blu-ray] (King Vidor, 1955) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Marnie [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Miller's Crossing [Blu-ray] (Joel Coen / Ethan Coen, 1990) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Monster [Blu-ray] (Patty Jenkins, 2003) RB UK Second Sight Films (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Morvern Callar [Blu-ray] (Lynne Ramsay, 2002) Fun City Editions (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Most Dangerous Game [Blu-ray] (Irving Pichel / Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1932) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Mr. Klein [Blu-ray] (Joseph Losey, 1976) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Mummy [Blu-ray] (Terence Fisher, 1959) RB UK Second Sight Films (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Mystery Men [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Kinka Usher, 1999) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Natural Enemies [Blu-ray] (Jeff Kanew, 1979) Fun City Editions (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Nightmare Alley [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Guillermo del Toro, 2021) 20th Searchlight Pictures US (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Nineteen Eighty-Four [Blu-ray] (Rudolph Cartier, 1954) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Pandora and the Flying Dutchman [Blu-ray] (Albert Lewin, 1951) RB UK Screenbound Pictures (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Party and the Guests [Blu-ray] (Jan Nemec, 1966) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Paths of Glory [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1957) Kino|
|The Pemini Organisation 1972-1974 [Blu-ray] (Hunted, Assassin, and Moments) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Pickpocket [Blu-ray] (Robert Bresson, 1959) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Planet of the Vampires [Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1965) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Play For Today Volume 3 [Blu-ray] (Edna, the Inebriate Woman, Just Another Saturday, Bar Mitzvah Boy, The Mayor's Charity, Coming Out, A Hole in Babylon) RB UK BFI|
|Rain [Blu-ray] (Lewis Milestone, 1932) VCI (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Rebels of the Neon God [Blu-ray] (Ming-liang Tsai, 1992) Big World Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Red Angel [Blu-ray] (Yasuzo Masumura, 1966) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Rouge [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kwan, 1987) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Shadow of a Doubt [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Sky West and Crooked [Blu-ray] (John Mills, 1966) RB UK Network (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Strange Love of Martha Ivers [Blu-ray] (Lewis Milestone, 1946) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Summertime [Blu-ray] (David Lean, 1955) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Swimmer [Blu-ray] (Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack, 1968) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Szerelem (Love) [Blu-ray] (Karoly Makk, 1971) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Tales of Hoffmann [Blu-ray] (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1951) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Tangerine [Blu-ray] (Sean Baker, 2015) RB UK Second Sight Films (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Three Films by Mai Zetterling [Blu-ray] (Loving Couples / Night Games / The Girls) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|Two Undercover Angels / Kiss Me Monster [Blu-ray](Jesus Franco, 1969) - Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|The Unguarded Moment [Blu-ray] (Harry Keller, 1956) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|An Unsuitable Job for a Woman [Blu-ray] (Christopher Petit, 1982) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|El vampiro negro (The Black Vampire) [Blu-ray] (Roman Vinoly Barreto, 1953) Flicker Alley|
|Voices [Blu-ray] (Kevin Billington, 1973) Indicator US (BEAVER REVIEW)|
|A Walk in the Sun [Blu-ray] (Lewis Milestone, 1945) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)|
The Whistle at Eaton Falls [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1951) Flicker Alley
|The Worst Person in the World [Blu-ray] (Joachim Trier, 2021) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)|
Favorite Commentaries of 2022:
There were so many
commentaries in 2022 by Kino, Indicator, Imprint etc. for their
consistent inclusions. Criterion, the pioneer of the feature, still
appears to be distancing themselves from new commentary track
Winner for the second year in a row is:
Multiple mentions for:
Tim Lucas (from 2022 - Touch of Evil 4k, Shock, The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (1929) + The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu (1930), Samson and the 7 Miracles of the World, Night Gallery - Season Two + Three, Count Yorga, Vampire, Repeated on new issues of Planet of the Vampires, Videodrome 4k, For a Few Dollars More 4k, A Fistful of Dollars 4k)
David Del Valle (The Unguarded Moment, The Web, The Amazing Transparent Man, Son of Samson, Terror Out of the Sky, Gypsy Wildcat, Mata Hari, Golden Earrings re-issues on Count Yorga, Vampire + The Return of Count Yorga etc.)
Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson (The
Taking of Pelham One Two Three 4k,
Escape from Alcatraz 4k,
High Plains Drifter 4k,
In the Heat of the Night 4k)
*Nathaniel is the most active commentarist - bravo!
Adrian Martin (Remember the Night, Kuhle Wampe, Liv Ullmann's Faithless, The Man Who Loved Women (Blake Edwards remake of Truffaut) for Umbrella Burt Reynolds boxset) - a personal favorite - why isn't he doing 50 commentaries a year?
Honorable mentions: Amanda Reyes, Samm Deighan, Kat Ellinger, Alex Cox, Troy Howarth, Steve Haberman, Constantine Nasr, C. Courtney Joyner, Michael Brooke, Lee Gambin, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas + Josh Nelson, Jason A. Ney, Glenn Kenny, Farran Smith Nehme etc. etc. etc..
- Gary Slatus
"Damn the Defiant! Get Carter, Creatures the World Forgot
with Kim Newman"
"Kat Ellinger (The Laughing Woman)"
"The Daniels on Everything Everywhere All At Once"
"Gary Oldman, nil by mouth"
"Nick Pinkerton & Glenn Kenny on Arrow's
Wolf of Wall Street 4K."
"David Flint on Mondo Macabro's "Love Brides of the Blood Mummy",
David Flint and Adrian J. Smith on Mondo Macabro's "The Horrible
Sexy Vampire", Amanda Reyes and Ewan Cant on Vinegar Syndrome's
"Don't Open Till Christmas", and Michael Brooke on Second Run's "The
"1.) Julie Kirgo on Kino's release of "The Rainmaker"
"Ladies and Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains - Lee Gambin and Allison
"Kirsten Johnsen on Dick Johnson is Dead"
"For discs I haven't mentioned: Aaron Gerow's brilliant
scene-specific commentary on Arrow UK's (region B) A Fugitive from
the Past; Carl Franklin's (1999) commentary for Indicator UK's
(region B) Devil in a Blue Dress; and, someone I didn't know,
Felicia Feaster on Tangier (1946), for Kino Lorber's "Film Noir: The Darkside of Cinema IX."
"Indefatigable horror buffs Stephen Jones and Kim Newman indulge
themselves in a brisk knockabout commentary for The Most Dangerous
"John Sayles/Bill Forsyth/Daniel Kremer on
Breaking In (1989), David
Del Valle on Golden Earrings (1947) and The Unguarded Moment (1956),
Bill Ackerman on Natural Enemies (1979), Daniel Kremer and Daniel
Waters on North Dallas Forty (1979), Daniel Kremer on He Who Must
Die (1957), Samm Deighan is generally a favorite commentator, along
with Scout Tafoya."
"Michael Brooke's sprawling academic effort spread across four films
between the (Kino) Jansco and (Second Run) Wajda sets. Making up for
lost time - somebody give this man an honorary film / history degree
or two?! He puts in the work, and it shows."
"Samm Deighan: Ebola (Vinegar Syndrome) A foul and unforgivable Cat
III Hong Kong film which is expertly contextualised by this
commentary and yes Anthony Wong is really one of the greats and how
had I never seen that??"
"Imogen Sara Smith for Touch of Evil (Kino)"
"Once again I say the voice I want to hear bringing me insight
belongs to Imogen Sara Smith. Anything she does is gold. If I have
to pick one, I'll go for Touch of Evil.
"Julie Kirgo - (& the late Nick Redmond, God bless him) - eg: the
2022 BFI Beat the Devil - she's personal, friendly, speaks clearly &
is always delightful with her personal honest appraisals & detailed
comments, never stooping to filling time/space with the stats anyone
can get from the IMDb, which too many commentarians load their
yabber with to the point of boring blabbering. I cannot understand
why she's not commissioned to do more, except perhaps her honesty
prevents her from endorsing & saying good things about movies she
F"RANK HENENLOTTER - "The Curious Dr Humpp"
4) Second Run
Kudos, obviously, to Kino Lorber - a powerhouse of production volume - fine transfers, commentaries and venturing to 4K UHD with important classic cinema, Criterion for their extensive catalogue of releases, Second Run, Second Sight Films and Fun City Editions for making new gains travelling up the list and to newcomer Deaf Crocodile!
Comments (most responses were just the name of the company but here are a sampling of some of the comments balloters made):
"Between Criterion, Arrow, Kino, and Severin"
"Indicator - for consistently rescuing lost gems"
"Deaf Crocodile (runner up: Mondo Macabro)"
"Kino Lorber Studio Classics (Great titles, ALWAYS great transfers, great ORIGINAL studio artwork)"
"Second Sight, for the amount of care they lavish on every release they put out."
"Overall, its got to be Criterion this year. Expanded the catalogue into new and diverse areas, while also getting the balance right with their choices of established, canonical "classics" - especially on 4K UHD. Presentations/extras have been top notch too."
"Second Run for consistently introducing (or reintroducing) little-seen arthouse classics with an emphasis recently on Czech, Slovakian, and Hungarian cinema."
"Potemkine - This French company does a great job : Russian directors, Kieslowski 4K UHD premieres of the 3 Colors trilogy and Veronique, Nick Roeg's films, silent films, etc. most of them in exceptional transfers with valuable extras and sometimes collectibles. I would buy every single release if they weren't so pricey..."
"Second Run, for its continuing good taste in unearthing gems from Eastern Europe like 'Coach to Vienna', its close attention to English subtitles, its minimalist packaging design, and its indie spirit."
"Via Vision Imprint is my new favorite label. They release an interesting selection of films and titles which often seem to be unavailable to their U.S. competition. And they include great commentaries with their films. And they're Region A."
"Kino Lorber because they don't sit on their licenses and thereby suppress their releases for years on end. When Kino makes a deal with a studio, the movies are released in a rapid burst over a few years."
"Kino Lorber, they release so many fine titles if excellent transfers at reasonable price."
"Imprint. The sheer quality and quantity of Imprint's 2022 releases makes this a no contest. An exceptional year from a label which has rapidly become the one whose releases I anticipate more than any other."
"Kino Lorber - Consistently stellar 4K UHDs of classic films, without slathering everything with HDR"
"Kino Lorber for the great range of their offerings and really good pricing; and, Indicator for all of their extras."
"A tie between 2 U.K. distributors: Second Run, for their unearthing of Slavic gems like 'Coach to Vienna', region-free discs, accurate English subtitles, minimalist packaging design, and spirit of independence. Indicator, for their ambitious deep dives into back catalogues, exhaustive extras, lovingly prepared books and boxsets, and rediscovery of under-appreciated directors like Mitchell Leisen."
"Indicator Powerhouse - For meticulous care and lavish attention of their releases. Several titles this year shone a welcome light on forgotten films and neglected filmmakers. They also continue to go the extra mile in devising their much-appreciated box sets. Indicator maintain a substantive lead in boutique physical media and give competitors such as Criterion a run for their buck."
"Kino Lorber, Imprint, Indicator."
"Imprint. Australian distributor Via Vision's Imprint label has really made a name for themselves, with great packages for films with new extras and many receiving worldwide Blu-ray debuts. And with an announcement of going ahead with the 4K UltraHD format with "War of the Worlds", they will be a label to continue to watch for both Blu-ray and UHD in 2023."
"Kino Lorber for a second year in a row! Not only do they continue to release the lion's share of catalog films, they now seem to be getting a crack at the most wanted 4K licenses. This time out they even outdid Second Run with a career-spanning Jancso set."
"Deaf Crocodile- because they've dug up some glimmering jewels which many of us had either written off or plain forgotten about."
"Like last year, Kino takes the honours due to the volume of their output, range of titles, and the use of original poster art on their covers."
"A huge cheat here but AGFA and Bfi Flipside for the same reasons. A stable, steady release schedule (I can actually keep up with all of them) - each release a lovingly curated gem - wonderful contextualising extras and some that are just fun - if I had a label this is exactly how I would want to release things - it feels like every release is a mix tape made by a good friend. I have every release and I love them so."
"1) Panorama Entertainment 2) Kino Lorber 3) Gold Ninja 4) Severin 5) Indicator"
"Kino Lorber (for sheer volume and quality)"
"When I factor in everything I care about - film quality, film transfer quality / restorations, commentaries and extras, packaging and design, quantity of releases, customer service, price, sale events, catalog staying in print - I remain convinced that Criterion cannot be beat. Second Sight and Indicator have more beautiful packaging, Kino releases more, etc. but when I rank everything, they're high enough in every category to maintain the top spot."
"Amazingly KL - A special re-appreciation of sometimes maligned KL (especially for their terribly botched BD of the Kramer movie above [Pride & Passion]) for providing a plethora of middle-line, watchable 'old' movies whose pleasure increases as current cinema continues veering in continuing meagerly plotted or 'comically' over-plotted & ultra-portrayed or thinly-sketched directions."
"I was going to say INDICATOR as I love their Autumn sale that always ends up bolstering my collection with many British classics and they have produced some stunning Limited Edition releases. However, looking at my final selection it has to be the BFI - they keep delivering excellent physical releases with imaginative extras."
"Second Sight who not only dedicate themselves to restoring holy grail titles, but also convinced me to finally get a region-free player."
"Indicator (because I wait with baited breath for every monthly announcement of future releases)"
- On the whole, when it comes to presenting masterpieces and
classics of world cinema in quality editions with excellent
restorations, superb authoring and the inclusion of supplementary
materials, nobody surpasses Criterion. But this year my vote for
favorite label goes to Kino because of the sheer volume of their
output. There may not be a plethora of Criterion-like super
restorations or editions with extras up the wazoo (many Kino
releases are pretty bare bones), but for diversity of content their
catalogue can't be beat. This year's releases ranged from classics
like William Wyler's Detective Story and Rouben Mamoulian's Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to a special edition of Jack Cardiff's
hallucinatory Girl on a Motorcycle (aka Naked Under Leather), a box
set of French Noir, Nadav Lapid's Ahed's Knee and Bedtime for Bonzo,
all presented in affordable editions with excellent looking
transfers. In 2022, Kino also brought out an impressive array of 4K
UHD titles including Tropic Thunder, Touch of Evil, Dressed to
Kill, Escape From Alcatraz, and The Apartment."
"(1) STUDIOCANAL- What a job they
are doing with their catalog! Perpetually underappreciated.
"BFI is typically my favorite label for choice in film and lavish supplements - brings me back to the glory days of >$100 Criterion laserdisc sets."
Countless TV-based entertainment came to disc this past year - mostly recent series, and Dr. Who etc., we mostly focus on older series. Here are a few that received mention in our poll (and six made-for-TV Movies):
Film noir, proto-noir, and near-noir (1936-1965) released on Blu-ray in 2022 (in alphabetical order) BIG thanks to Gregory
The Sleeping Tiger
(Joseph Losey, 1954) RB UK StudioCanal
Giallo on Blu-ray in
2022 (and on 4K UHD)
The term "giallo" (translated literally as "yellow") refers to a particular cinematic form of, mostly, Italian-produced murder mystery films that can blur the line between art and exploitation. There are new Giallo Blu-ray releases in 2022 (in chronological order) BIG thanks to Gregory!
(Ernesto Gastaldi, 1965) Severin
Best Cover Designs:
Another year for impressive artistic covers whether from new inventive artists or replicas of vintage posters! Arrow, Criterion, Kino, Masters of Cinema, Indicator and a few other labels getting a fair share of votes. So many inventive covers, often chosen from extensive, artistic, old poster designs.
Some Steelbooks (often exclusive) were chosen, if most not enough votes to make the listing.
Many are collectable in their own right. (Mostly in alphabetical order! - each received 4 or more votes!)
(CLICK COVERS FOR MORE INFORMATION!)
(CLICK to ENLARGE)
This year we had three prizes - Criterion's Blow Out 4K UHD, Arrow's Silent Running 4K UHD and Kino's French Noir Blu-ray boxset - and a much harder contest. Of the 208 films, David H. got 198 correct, Geoff D. got far less and Norm B. had even less again. I, myself, cannot remember #189 if anyone solves it - please let me know. So, David, a 3-time winner now, gets first choice of the disc prizes, Geoff can pick between the remaining two and Norm gets the last one. Thanks to all who participated.
3) Footsteps in the Fog
4) Dirty O'Neil
5) Savage Sisters
6) In the Mood for Love
7) Dersu Uzala
8) Deep Red
9) Citizen Kane
11) The Girl Can't Help It
12) Blonde Venus
13) Written on the Wind
14) Deep Thrust (Angela Mao)
15) Spanish Fly
16) The Playbirds
17) Caged Heat
18) White Goddess (White Savage)
19) Creature with the Atom Brain
20) The Swimmer
21) The Body of My Enemy
22) One-Armed Boxer
23) The Bridge on the River Kwai
24) Touch of Evil
25) For a Few Dollars More
26) Monsieur Beaucaire
27) Monsieur Beaucaire (again)
28) Monkey Kung Fu
29) The Great Moment
30) Raging Bull
31) The House Across the Lake (aka Heat Wave)
32) Galaxy of Terror
33) Mulholland Drive
34) The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
35) Massacre Time
38) Double Indemnity
39) Audrey Rose
40) The Tales of Hoffman
41) Wild Strawberries
42) The Swindle
43) Deadly Weapons
44) Violent City
45) A Time for Dying
46) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
47) Cain and Abel
48) Le Cercle Rouge
49) The Monolith Monsters
50) Night of the Living Dead
51) The Men
52) The Laughing Woman
|53) The 8
Diagram Pole Fighter
54) Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo
55) Miracle in Milan
56) Morvern Callar
59) Born to Win
60) Invasion of the Body Snatchers
61) Grand Slam
62) Blood of the Vampire
63) The Flight of the Phoenix
64) Mr. Klein
65) Bride of Frankenstein
66) The Bridge on the River Kwai (again)
68) Vampire Circus
69) God's Gun
70) Killer's Kiss
72) Written on the Wind (again)
73) The Apartment
74) Two Undercover Angels
75) Tokyo Decadence
76) The Green Cockatoo
77) The Wicker Man
78) Gypsy Wildcat
79) Nightmare Alley
81) War of the Worlds
82) Back Street
83) The Godfather
85) The Sun Shines Bright
86) Naked Alibi
87) Double Indemnity (again)
88) And God Said to Cain
89) The Fearmakers
90) 'Round Midnight
91) The Party and the Guests
92) The Killing
93) Nightmare Alley
94) The Piano
95) Miracle in Milan (again)
96) Deep Red
97) The Climax
98) The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu
99) The Killing (again)
102) The Pumpkin Eater (again)
103) A Fistful of Dollars
104) Night Creatures
of Mora Tau
106) Murphy's War
107) The Stylist
108) Virgin Witch
109) The House Across the Lake (again)
110) The Capture
112) The Killing (again)
113) In the Heat of the Night
114) Chicago Confidential
115) L'Enfer aka Torment
116) The Piano (again)
117) A Fistful of Dollars
118) Double Indemnity (again)
119) The Indian Tomb
120) In the Mood for Love (again)
121) For a Few Dollars More
122) Red Angel
123) Son of Samson
124) The Coca-Cola Kid
125) Creature from the Black Lagoon
126) Without Warning
127) The Phantom of the Monastery
128) Beyond the Time Barrier
129) Monster on the Campus
130) Fragment of Fear
131) Horror Express
132) Kill Them All and Come Back
133) Blood of the Vampire
134) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (again)
135) Jigsaw (again)
136) Son of Samson
137) Deep Red (again)
138) Miller's Crossing
139) Shanghai Express
140) Conquest of Space
141) Come Play With Me
142) Fire in the Sky
143) The Harder They Fall
144) The Razor's Edge
145) Outside the Law
148) The Devil Strikes at Night
149) Come Drink with Me
150) Mr. Klein
151) The Mummy
152) La llorona
153) Beat the Devil
154) Creature with the Atom Brain
156) Forbidden Love
on Chain Gang
159) An American Werewolf in London
161) Parallel Mothers
162) Zombies of Mora Tau
163) Night Gallery
164) Love Slaves of the Amazons
165) Raging Tide
166) Shadow of a Doubt
167) Bride of Frankenstein (again)
168) Mulholland Drive (again)
169) Reform School Girls
170) Hotel Fear
171) Love on the Dole
172) The Out of Towners
173) The Untouchables
174) Massacre Time
175) The Great Escape
176) Love Affair
177) The Body of My Enemy (again)
178) Shadow of a Doubt (again)
179) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (again)
180) Crazy Mama
182) The Pumpkin Eater
183) Love Slaves of the Amazons (again)
184) Planet of the Vampires
185) The Man from Planet X
186) Man Made Monster (aka The Atomic Monster)
187) A Hard's Day Night
190) Get Carter
191) Love (Szerelem)
194) Johnny Stool Pidgeon
195) Curse of the Crimson Atlar
196) Man Without a Star
197) Creatures the World Forgot
198) Night Key
199) A Walk in the Sun
201) The Round-Up
202) Mad Dog Morgan
204) Where There's Life
205) The Brain from Planet Arous
206) Casque d'Or
207) Remo Williams
208) Man on a Swing
"Reports of the death of DVD are greatly exaggerated"
Again, we had a few DVDs selected this year - rare vintage serials, documentaries, kickstarter, and other, silents, public domain content, shark movies, older TV series, westerns, peplum etc, - the format is far from dead. I still have many DVDs in my 'rewatchable' shelf including The Fountainhead, Impact, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Strange Illusion, Day of the Triffids and many more, that may never be on Blu-ray.
(CLICK COVERS FOR MORE INFORMATION!)
"1. The Valley of the Giants 1919 was a Kickstarter by Ed Lorusso and it's on Grapevine Video DVD and
BEVERLY OF GRAUSTARK, Marion Davies, 1926, Sidney Franklin,
- David T. Steere Jr
"I am Alfred Hitchcock - May have been
released earlier but only in zone 4 2022. Love anything Hitchcock.
"Journals of Jean Seberg - Mark Rappaport:
KINO CLASSICS - riveting examination of a tragic celebrity life from
1995, before such docudramatisations were a flavor of the month."
"I bought some DVDs this year, but none were new releases. I do have a correction for last year though! I thought I hadn't bought any, but Kino's British Noir III snuck past my notice, so that gets my retroactive vote for DVD of the (last) year!" - Steve Rubin
|Notable Rants and Praise|
|This is going to be a controversial opinion, but I don't think every film benefits from a 4K release. I'm just glad that I can own certain titles without having to have a 4K player, despite the fact that I do have a few 4K titles. - David Hollingsworth|
|Praise for BFI Flipside, for bringing forgotten films back to the light, and for supporting them with such wonderful extras! - Nick Garlick|
|Criterion has decided UK buyers of
their releases have no need for the 4K disc option . Hence it you
wanted Double Indemnity with that option, you had to look to buy the
US version. I waited close to 6 months for a reasonable price drop
to get it that way from US Amazon
Thanks for everything
|Why hasn't someone started a petition to CANCEL the Warner Bros. home video cover art department? Everything they release is an abomination, particularly Casablanca and Green Mile. Warner Bros. early 1980s oversize VHS cases had more aesthetic appeal. - Warren Ketter|
|First, I'm so happy to see some
half-assed HD transfers get fixed up for 4K (looking at you,
RESERVOIR DOGS and OUT OF SIGHT). But, as great as some of these 4K remasters are, the studios really need to do the work and carry over
all the archival extra features so completists don't have to keep
three versions of the release around.
Second, can we make dual-format or at least digital codes a norm on releases? That SONY PICTURES CLASSICS set is beautiful - but it's 4K only!
Also, less of a disc label issue and more of a hardware issue - but LG needs to release new firmware for their OLEDs that doesn't get so aggressive with protective screen dimming (auto static brightness limiter - ASBL). Watching the awful 4K remaster of HEAT was like squinting through shadows because of the combo platter of a crap transfer and the agro ASBL function and it flat out ruined beautiful moments in THE GODFATHER. Finally, can Sony finally give us Dolby Vision support on the PS5? It's 2022 now for crying out loud.
- Drew Morton
|I decided not to highlight studio
releases, due to the sheer number of incredible boutique offerings
in 2022 - but it was a great year for top quality 4K discs. Nope,
Giant, Poltergeist, The Batman all stood out.
Some labels have taken criticism for their approach to UHD upgrades. If someone forked out big money for a "Limited Edition" blu ray, they're entitled to be a bit annoyed to have to pay again. For me, maybe what Capelight in Germany do would be a solution -offer a disc only option at reduced cost. That being said, Arrow's 4K presentations of Robocop/Videodrome were outstanding and I'd much rather have them with the same extras as the blu, than not have them at all.
Special shout out to the Disc Connected on YouTube. Those kind of channels "aren't my cup of tea", but Ryan knows his stuff and did some great interviews this year. My go-to to keep up to date with all things physical media- DVDBeaver aside.
- James Laycock
|We're nearly seventeen years into
the Blu-ray format and seven years into the UHD format. Someone
create a resume play script for use with BD-Java disc authoring for
- Eric Cotenas
|In France, Umiversal released their
second set of 4K UHD Hitchcock titles only as a 9 discs affair,
which meant every cinephile with 4K capabilities wanting to get
Shadow of Doubt et al had to buy Vertigo, The Birds, Psycho and Rear
Window a second time... Seriously ?!?
- Istvan Ribardiere
|RANT: It's been great during the past few years for Paramount to reenter the physical media business. However, it's a bummer that
their focus has been on modern mediocrities and that films like "The Shootist", "Donovan's Reef" and "Cheyenne Autumn" (even mediocre
John Ford is historically significant) have thus far been ignored.
RANT: Criterion sits on their licenses for years before releasing them. Many of us will likely die of old age before seeing all of our favorite films released in HD.
RANT: I view Criterion as both a blessing and a curse to physical media collectors. There's little doubt that the product Criterion produces is head and shoulders above the competition ("film school in a box"), and I personally included six Criterions in my vote in this year's top ten.
So many of Criterion's selections in 2022 seemed like they were driven by a non-cinematic agenda. It seems evident that many releases were based more by the race, gender and sexual orientation of the filmmaker, rather than by superlative artistic quality or the historical significance of the film.
That's not to say that the Criterion releases in question haven't been good. "Devil With A Blue Dress" and "Eve's Bayou" are legitimately great movies. And certainly Shaft, while not a great film, is a lot of fun and of sufficient historical significance to merit the Criterion treatment. Indeed, all of the films in question that I'm criticizing here are, in fact, good movies.
However, it's dispiriting that so many classic films which have stood the test of time have continued to be ignored by Criterion. In 2022, these films have languished for yet another year:
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore,
The Bad Sleep Well,
Ball of Fire,
La Bête Humaine,
Big Deal On Madonna Street,
The Big Sky,
Bondu Saved From Drowning,
Bringing Out The Dead,
The Devil and Daniel Webster,
Le Deuxieme Souffle,
Les Enfants Terribles,
Green For Danger,
I Know Where I'm Going,
I walked With a Zombie,
Knife In The Water,
Miracle at Morgan Creek,
Murmur of the Heart,
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,
Pepe le Moko,
Ruggles of Red Gap,
The Seventh Victim,
Shoot the Piano Player,
Small Back Room,
The Spirit of the Beehive,
The Thief of Baghdad,
Trouble In Paradise,
And more classic Japanese films than you can shake a stick at.
Criterion is a private company. As such, they have no fiduciary obligation to any shareholders and have every right to release whatever they wish. One has to wonder, however, what the underlying business rationale has been in having so many "identity" releases during the past few years while continuing to sit on so large a number of classic releases for such a very long a time.
RANT: Warner Archives: same rant as Criterion sitting on their films for years. Warner Archive's philosophy of only releasing beautiful restorations on Blu-ray is highly praiseworthy. However, 15 years after the advent of the Blu-ray disc, they still haven't made much of a dent in what is truly an enormous back catalog of Warner, MGM and RKO films. It would be great if Warner Archives would consider licensing out more of their material to a company like Kino or Powerhouse. Maybe then what would be released wouldn't be 100% stunning, perfect restorations, but, say, 80 or 90 percent quality would be sufficient to make many people happy. My fantasy would be a label like Powerhouse or Kino pumping out multiple box sets of Warner/RKO noirs within a matter of a few years (a la Columbia and now, Universal).
- Gary Slatus
|It has never been a better time to
be a film collector! This year had a huge amount of releases, both
top-notch 4K UHDs and blu-rays. So many boutique labels giving
Criterion and the Hollywood studios a run for the money. How is it
possible to whittle down ten releases from all the ones I purchased
this year? I haven't even had time to see every release either! I
seem to be changing out my entire library of blu-rays for newly
remastered 4K UHDs!
Criterion will be in the running for the top spot for the 4K UHD box
of the Three Colors trilogy. The French 4K UHDs have enormously
improved transfers, compared to the blu-rays. What other treasures
will be released in 2023 to beat this?
|Another brilliant year here in the
UK, with most boutiques digging really deep to unearth some gems,
and some astounding and sometimes unexpected 4K restorations
cropping up. Exciting times too, with big shifts in the UK market:
Eureka continue to mine the Hong Kong action whilst also delivering
one of the most diverse Masters of Cinema lineups in recent memory
(and some other genre affair too...spaghetti westerns are finally
back in fashion!), Indicator maintaining what they do best (great
box sets and very special editions of classics, both well renowned
and cult, and some surprises too...early Mexican cinema, for
example!), Arrow are firing out some huge individual titles but also
not forgetting what they're now strongest at (massive crowd-pleasing
box sets), Second Sight working hard at no-holds-barred,
director-approved editions (particularly impressed with Drive, The
Witch and Tangerine), BFI delivering their expected assortment of
deep cuts (including some much-awaited Bresson titles, which I was
very happy about).
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year though is Fran Simeoni of Arrow Video leaving that label after over a decade of service to set up his new venture, Radiance Films. The initial slate was already very exciting and with more brilliance promised, it's already shaping up to be a promising influence on both the British and North American home video scene over the next few years. They're even distributing 'hosted labels' much like Vinegar Syndrome in the US, including US label Fun City Editions and brand new UK label Mawu Films (who will mostly be concentrating on Latin American and African cinema.) Exciting stuff!
- Ben Keeler
|Thanks for continuing to serve two
masters: the DVD producers and willing consumers. How about
considering some sound files as well as frame grabs?
- Lee Eiseman
|Just one gripe: some distributors
have stopped sending actual discs out for review (even simple 'check
discs') and instead offer, as Disney puts it, 'gratis digital copies
that deliver the film to you sooner." Thanks, but that's missing the
point: the physical media we reviewers take the time to appreciate
contain so much more than the film itself. Besides the video and
audio special features on the disc itself, there's the booklet, the
cover (reversible, if it's an Arrow release), the box, everything
that goes into a unique package that is tangibly different from what
streaming provides and, ultimately, is a much richer experience.
- Jeff Heinrich
|Please bring back the category of
BEST DVD. An awful lot of good stuff is coming out via Kickstarter
- David T. Steere Jr
|The slip disc packaging of the
landmark Technicolor Hollywood drama A Star is Born issued by Warner
Archive was rather disappointing. Those egregious yellow font subs
are still being used on their current releases. Urgh!
Welcome back George Feltenstein and take a bow! Collectors of vintage Hollywood studio films hope 2023 will witness Warner Archive pressing ahead with their excellent program of digital restorations using the best possible source material.
FORGET THE MAIN FEATURE AND SAVOUR
THE EXTRAS 2022 AWARDS
- David Redfern
|This was the year that confirmed-
though it was already obvious- that having physical copies of movies
and shows was a vastly superior strategy than having "digital
access" or streaming availability. Whole chunks of animated titles
are effectively gone thanks to corporate incompetence but if you
were able to get the DVDs of INFINITY TRAIN... well, the impact is
The speed at which things are going OOP is a bit bewildering. I went looking for THE HANDMAIDEN and the De Palma / De Niro set and the prices started at '1 Kidney.'
We might be in the Golden Age of the Box Set but man is it murder on the pocket book.
Corollary to the Above: I do hope many of these same boxsets are broken into single releases. Some of the reasons certain films are collected are done so under "iffy" reasons.
How does Disney get away with NOT doing a disc of BARBARIAN, one of their sleeper hits from 2022?
If you'd told me in 2017 that ALLIGATOR or TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 would have 4K discs before SOUND OF MUSIC or MASH, I'd have asked your family to have you committed to Arkham Asylum. How are the boutiques, especially the boutique labels that specialize in "junk cinema," lapping some of the major studios when it comes to physical releases? (Well, I have ideas but I also hope this text will get published.)
Might as well repeat my hopes that TRUE LIES, THE ABYSS, and STRANGE DAYS get upgraded releases.
And my plea that THE DEVILS get a top-flight release with all the cuts. So many layoffs at Warners and somehow the prude (seriously, apparently it's one guy) that holds it back is still there.
I'd like to shine some light onto Deaf Crocodile for their releases of some insanely rare Soviet films and express my hopes for more.
In fact, I love Vinegar Syndrome's 'Partner Labels' program. Lots of cool labels and one place to find them.
I admire A24 for their efforts on some of their titles, but for crying out loud, could you make some that fit on my shelves?
Speaking of which, who has the best shelves? Seriously, the physical media shelf is a lost art.
- Gabriel Neeb
With upgrades from DVD to Blu-ray to 4K UHD, it can be disappointing when previously released extras are not ported over to the next generation format. Baffling were the UHD upgrades such as "Giant", "Singin' in the Rain", "Reservoir Dogs" to name a few that were lacking many of the previously released extras.
The BFI licensed the audio commentary by Sergio Mims for "Mary, Queen of Scots" from the 2020 Kino Lorber Blu-ray release. This was one of the worst commentaries I've ever heard, with poor audio quality, a number of factual errors, completely unorganized, and with Mims giving up 4 minutes before the end of the film. Cheaply done supposedly "expert" commentaries are popping up on a number of discs recently, and some have been a waste of time and effort due to budget cuts, lack of time for research and organization, or just plain sloppiness.
While Imprint gets credit with a number of amazing releases this year, there have been some disappointments with titles having no extras at all, such as "The Road Home", "Golden Boy", "Storm Center", and "I Am the Law".
France's Carlotta has been releasing some incredible boxsets in world cinema this year, with director boxsets of Kinuyo Tanaka, Satyajit Ray, Pier Paolo Pasolini and more with excellent transfers and lengthy extras.
Sony, has been pushing their 4K UltraHD format heavily with their many releases over the year, as well as indies like Vinegar Syndrome, 88 Films, Eureka Entertainment, Kino Lorber, Shout! Factory and other labels also putting effort into 4K releases for worthy upgrades. Physical media may be on the downward trend for the mainstream, but thankfully there are a number of companies and fans keeping the trend alive.
- James-Masaki Ryan
|Completing a ballot for '22 is
simultaneously the easiest and most difficult to date. The boxed set
selection was the clearest cut in years, meanwhile 2022 saw 4K catalog releases come into their own (and how does one rank these?
On the film's merit? The significance of the visual upgrade? The
definiteness of the total package? Are 4K film series grouped into
"boxed sets" supposed to challenge against the supplementally and
curatorially superior - though visually out-classed - standard BD
entries?). As a result standalone BD releases suddenly become a deep
dive without any clear target. Is best to single out one entry from
each of the top ten labels and call it a day? I might just do that
for 2023. I guess it's further testament to the embarrassment of
riches we continue to reap... and just think, Radiance hasn't even
gotten started yet.
Also, I don't know why this bothers me (well, yes, it bothers me because I don't have 4K players scattered around the house) but the lack of standard BD discs on 4K sets is getting on my nerves. Standard operating procedure should be one 4K disc with the feature film / audio commentaries - all video-based supplements should be relegated to the "backup" BD along with a copy of the feature film.
- Chris Browne
|Gary, I hope you don't mind my
mentioning it, but I think your overburdening and disrupting the
flow of your 4K UHD reviews with the large red and white text list
in the middle, that details the 4K UHD packages you have reviewed to
date. I'm sure your discerning readers are able to discover these
- Harvey Clarke (ed. Harvey - you are right!)
|Much deserved praise for "filmmuseum"
DVDs. This year's releases that I bought, include #121, Lav Diaz's
Batang West Side produced by the Austrian Film Museum (a double
disc), and #119, a double disc of two documentaries on Alice Guy
Blaché, and a number of her shorts, produced by the Munich Film
Museum. I usually get these at one of the Italian archival festivals
(Bologna in June and Pordenone in October), but they can be ordered
I find that although Criterion are continuing an excellent schedule of releases, they are a bit too expensive. And for my interests, even though I live in North America, I continue to buy a lot of UK discs, especially from Indicator, Eureka, and Second Run, because they are so good.
- Peter Rist
|It was far more challenging to
whittle down the long list of candidates into their respective "10
Best Slots" than in previous years. That alone is proof-positive
physical media is flourishing now more than ever before. And just
about every label has continued to produce great releases, with rare
exceptions. In fact, this may be the first time since I began as a
collector in the mid-1980's that the great titan in physical media,
Criterion, has fallen out of my Top 3 of boutique distributors.
If there was room on my ballot, I would have heaped even more praise onto Kino Lorber for its commitment to preserving the staples of cinema history, along with furnishing us lesser-known genre films of all kinds. Highlighting their stellar lineup was a trio of Kubrick gems from his formative decade of the 1950's - "Killer's Kiss," "The Killing" and "Paths of Glory." And to continue the auteur momentum, a pair of seminal Billy Wilder masterpieces - "Some Like it Hot" and "The Apartment." Not to be outdone, 2022 also saw Orson Welles' genre re-defining "Touch of Evil."
All six of the aforementioned films made their worldwide debut onto the 4K format, and in stunning transfers. Bravo Kino!
Kino Lorber was also responsible for resurrecting the great noir maestro, Robert Siodmak, with a trio of his films: "Devil Strikes at Night," "Farewell (Abschied)" and "Time Out of Mind." Additionally, Kino Lorber distributed no less than a half dozen boxsets devoted to film noir, along with countless individual releases.
Flicker Alley released several noir gems in their own right: "Repeat Performance," "The Guilty/High Tide," and "El Vampiro Negro," as well as Siodmak's "The Whistle at Eaton Falls."
Indicator continued its devotion to film noir with the release of "Columbia Noir #5: Humphrey Bogart" and "Universal Noir #1." And the rest of their output was second to none among boutique physical media distributors.
It was a particularly strong year for auteurs (the aforementioned Kubrick, Welles, Wilder and Siodmak), with many releases celebrating the grand masters, along with some fringe names ripe for discovery. For example:
AGFA: Three Doris Wishman boxsets: "The Twilight Years," "The Moonlight Years" and "The Daylight Years."
Artificial Eye: the mammoth "Wim Wenders: A Curzon Collection" boxset, "Wings of Desire" 4K Steelbook, "The Essential Tavernier" boxset, and "The Essential Becker" boxset.
Robert Bresson: "L'Argent" (BFI), "Pickpocket" (BFI), "The Trial of Joan of Arc" (BFI) and "Le diable, problament" (Gaumont/France).
Walter Hill: "The Warriors" (Blu-Ray Imprint LE) and "The Driver" (4K Studiocanal UK).
Mike Hodges: "Get Carter" (4K BFI LE) and "Croupier" (4K Arrow UK LE)
Lewis Milestone: "Edge of Darkness" (Warner Archive), "Rain" (VCI) and "A Walk in the Sun" (Kit Parker Films).
Directed by Jim Sheridan: Four Irish Films boxset (Blu-Ray Imprint LE).
"Jerry Lewis at Columbia" (Imprint LE) and "The Ladies Man/Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown" (Umbrella).
"Edgar G. Ulmer Sci-Fi Collection" and "Damaged Lives" (both sets from Kino).
There were boatloads of truly great boxsets that debuted as well: "All the Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium of Folk Horror" (Severin), "The Alfred Hitchcock Collection (Volume 2)" (4K Universal), "Shawscope: Volume 2" (Arrow), "Herzog: A Collection, Volume 2" (Shout Factory), "Rainer Werner Fassbinder Collection: Volume 3" (Arrow UK), "The War Trilogy: Three Films by Andrzej Wajda" (Second Run LE), "Essential Film Noir: Volume 3" (Imprint), "30 Years: Sony Pictures Classics" (Sony), "Vengeance Trails: Four Classic Westerns" (Arrow), "Lies and Deceit: Five Films by Claude Chabrol" (Arrow), "Rogue Cops and Racketeers: Two Crime Thrillers" (Arrow), "The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee: Collection 2" (Severin), "Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection (Volume 2)" (Universal), "Gothic Fantastico: Four Italian Tales of Terror" (Arrow), "The Sonny Chiba Collection" (Shout Factory) and "The Infernal Affairs Trilogy" (Criterion).
Perhaps it would be a good idea to expand the Top Boxsets category to 10 in future polls?
I would also like to pay tribute to two underseen gems that made their worldwide debut on Blu-Ray this past year: "He Who Must Die" (Kino Lorber), one of Jules Dassin's most personal films, and "Natural Enemies" (Fun City Editions), in my estimation one of the most underrated American films of the 1970's, directed by journeyman Jeff Kanew.
This past year also marked the 4K UHD debut of the great Luis Bunuel's sublime late-period masterpiece, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (Studiocanal UK). Speaking of which, how is it that not a single Bunuel film made it onto Sight and Sound's 2022 Critics' Top 100 Poll? Might be reason enough to sour many cinephiles on that publication's "authority" going forward (although the Directors' Top 100 List from the same poll somewhat ameliorated that glaring omission by at least including "Viridiana"). There are many such oversights, but that's a discussion for another time and place.
I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up my one qualm about these year-end polls, namely: why isn't there a Top TV Releases category? With the proliferation of so many streaming platforms producing high quality content these days (both in the States and internationally), in addition to the hundreds of classic television shows that get released onto physical media annually, surely there is enough room in our "cinematic" sensibilities to bring to light praise-worthy television programs?
In this post-Covid digital age, wherein the majority of people watch all their entertainment at home, it makes sense to celebrate this new golden age of television programming taking shape over the last couple decades.
Regardless, if I could cast a vote for the top TV release of the year, hands down it would be "Better Call Saul: The Complete Series" (Blu-Ray/Sony Pictures). This equally impressive prequel to arguably one of the greatest television crime series produced this millennium, "Breaking Bad" (perched alongside The Sopranos, The Wire and True Detective).
And what would a summation of 2022 in physical media be without making special mention of the 4K UHD debuts of two of the most beloved American film classics: "Casablanca" (Warner Bros. UCE Steelbook UK) and "Singin' in the Rain" (Warner Bros. UCE Steelbook UK)?
Pretty amazing year in physical media.......since you asked me!
- Anthony Dugandzic
Studios/labels that keep releasing the same movie over and over, in different packaging, without any upgrade in transfer or extras.
The normal rant about Disney and their hold on the Fox titles. It should not be allowed!
Thanks to all the labels and studios that continue to support physical media. There is no better time to be a collector and 2023 is shaping up to be another great year with some of the announcements I have seen so far.
The studios and labels that use original poster art on their covers. I love the old movie posters. They were so creative, and in some cases a bit daring.
Love what Warner Archive is doing but with so many great titles in their catalogue maybe they need to licence out more of them. Would love to see more Blu-rays from their noir boxsets, such as The Narrow Margin, Crime Wave and Decoy.
|As it becomes clear to me that the
physical media market is increasingly geared toward collectors, I'm
both heartened and saddened. We are gaining access to lesser known
films, that even just a few years ago I think even most aficionados
wouldn't have heard of or at least agreed that we'd never see good
releases. The other side of that coin is the necessary evil of
funding these obscure releases, through collector gimmicks (I'm
looking at you slipcovers), 4K hype (when it's great, it's
undeniably great, but the temptation to mess with color grading and DNR is often too strong to resist, leaving us with mixed results),
the releasing of not so great films, and rereleasing of the same
films from different labels over and over (has anyone not done a
film noir box yet?). I'm enjoying the good parts of this while they
last, but I remain concerned that the industry will implode. This
tactic has led to that result for every other collectible I can
think of before, and I don't see why this won't be different for us.
In a perfect world, best of the year lists (for anything) wouldn't come out until the following February or March, giving people time to digest late entries, catch up on purchases, and so on. I understand why it works as it does, of course. But that does leave some releases in limbo, either because I haven't purchased them yet, I have but they haven't arrived yet, or occasionally, they aren't released until the last couple weeks of the year. So here are some honorable mentions to a few that I think could have been contenders had they been released earlier in the year.
Honorable Mention Blu-ray: Twilight (Kino)
Honorable Mention 4K UHD: The Trial (Studio Canal), Casque d'Or (Studio Canal)
Honorable Mention Box Sets: Michael Haneke Trilogy (Criterion), The War Trilogy: Three Films by Andrzej Wajda (Second Run), Cinema's First Nasty Women (Kino), Three Films by Hong Sangsoo (Cinema Guild)
|My selections are limited to 'new on
BD' titles unless they are such an upgrade as the MoC Vampyr. 2022's
'list' is the easiest ever to determine, as there were sadly so few
new-1st-time BDs of classic titles, & i was able to replace only 6
of my remaining 130 DVDs with BDs, while there were too many new BD
releases offering various meagre improvements over previous
- Simon Cherpitel
|LOVE these Podcasts: THE VIDEO
ARCHIVES, PURE CINEMA, COLORS OF THE DARK & FILM GRAZE. Has
introduced ne to lost gems and forgotten treasures.
LOVE the TARANTINO book 'Cinema Speculation' (although having no index is infuriating and has meant I have had to develop an elaborate system of post-its to find the films/chapters)
LOVE the continued coverage of all things Blu Ray by DVD Beaver. I am in there foraging at least once a week.
CONFUSED by the Sight and Sound/BFI poll of Best 100 Films of All Time - feel that Critics box-ticking has created an unbalanced list. I LOVE JEANNE DIELMAN. But it is not the number 1 film of all time. The Directors' List was a lot more interesting. Still - at least it got people talking about Cinema.
HATE the Criterion UK release pattern. The film choices are bizarre and need to be more considered. More cinematic canon.
Here is my annual call for BEATS (2019) . Director Brian Welsh's personal coming-of-age and hallucinatory trip into the Scottish Rave Scene deserves a Blu Ray release. A day-glo Trainspotting that deserves to reach a wider audience.
We may need to add a VHS category next year after hearing Tarantino and Avery's argument about the strengths of the format on their Video Archive podcast!
|-The cover art for Ordinary
People... speaks for itself.
-Arrow UK's limited Wolf of Wall Street for being the first blu-ray package to include drug paraphernalia.
-HOT TAKE: 2007 Godfather remaster > 2022 Godfather remaster
-Will Arrow ever start including essential titles in their Essential Gialli sets?
- Leif F.
|My praise is all for you, DVD
Beaver. You consistently review and highlight the best out there,
without bias or favour. My screen watching experience would be a
fraction of what it is without your existence. Long may you flourish
- James Kemp
|*The worst crime of the year was
another BD of the Lady from Shanghai instead of a 4K release. Damn
*CRITERION, don't save your your TOHO and NIKKATSU titles for streaming!! RELEASE THEM on blu-ray!
*Where are Chabrol's early 70s films?
*The Film Detective did a great job releasing part of the Wade Williams catalogue. Now how about releasing the good ones, like CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR. And CAPTAIN KIDD for good measure.
- Peter Yacavone
ALL THE HAUNTS BE OURS (Severin Films US) - Haven't seen it because it is not released outside the States. Please, please, please release this in the UK. We invented Folk Horror for Pagan God's sake! I can see how good it is from the description and reviews. It deserves a place on my reinforced shelves... - Neil Williams
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Best to us all in 2023!