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"No one can see every release during the entire calendar year - so we hope our lists can introduce and expose some of the many lauded Blu-rays and DVDs that surfaced during 2017. Hopefully you will find a few unique surprises. We don't discriminate based on regional limitations or broadcast standards. Expanding the borders of your digital entertainment horizons has always been the primary goal of this website. We always appreciate your suggestions and contributions."

DVDBeaver

DVDBeaver are proud to announce our voting results for Blu-ray and DVD of the Year - 2017.  I would like to give a very appreciative thank you to those 92 individuals (the most yet - next year we go for 100!) who participated (we published the complete results of 26 balloters below, but everyone's votes were counted in the totals!). This poll would not exist without the film aficionados who support world cinema and the DVDBeaver website. Thank you! We have done our best to help expose some of the important, and often clandestine, neglected digital packages, in both BD and SD, that surfaced in the 2017 calendar year.

 

We have had past years where Criterion is more closely challenged, but not this year. I had suspicions that Kino with their strong output would be second but Arrow is very dominant. Criterion generally can release 4 titles a month - maybe 5, recently - but with the UK editions it is over 85 for the year! Kino is over 200 for the year. Arrow similarly high. It has been another super-strong year. It's hard to keep up!

 

Two announcements:

Firstly, I'd like to warmly welcome Colin Zavitz as our new VP of business development and Versatile Miscellaneous Stuff - he does a little of everything. He's great - you will all love him. And thanks to Colin for this year's ballot tallying!

 

Secondly, I have purchased both a OLED65 LG TV with, essential, Dolby Vision + HDR (increasing the color depth to 10-bit per color) plus an Oppo Digital UDP-203 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. We will start to review the system and each machine, eventually comparing this 4k UHD format's discs to BD and DVD. We have started with a small section below and expect that next year we will have incorporated this format into our Top 100 list!

 

Acknowledgment, as always, to reviewers Eric Cotenas and Gregory Meshman who continue to expose new and old releases with informative reviews and Calendar updates. We wouldn't be here without them! And appreciation for input and support from Michael C., Monty, Michael B., JM Ryan, Alex D., Sean P., Tim L., Henrik S., Lynn L., Kat E., Brian M. and many others in our FB Group. Thanks everyone!

 

We're proud of our new listing pages made in 2017: CREATURE-FEATURES (on Blu-ray!), PRE-CODE FILMs (on Blu-ray!), SILENT ERA FILMs (on Blu-ray!), HAMMER Studios (on Blu-ray!) The 100 BEST Neo-Noirs (on Blu-ray!), The GREATEST 100 Westerns (on Blu-ray!), Giallo on Blu-ray!, ESSENTIAL NOIR on Blu-ray!, Shopping Guide for Blu-rays at Amazon.FR (France), Shopping Guide for Blu-rays at Amazon.DE (Germany) and our LATEST ARTICLES: Movies From... the End of the World The Beauties of Star Trek (TOS).
 

Owning an easily accessible digital library, of the greatest films ever made, in the best possible transfers is a quest of perfection many Cinephiles strive for and continue to achieve. Classic, nostalgic, vintage, or world cinema - has never had such accessibility, ever, for the discerning digital consumer.

 

NOTE: It's a safe bet that if we had early releases of Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE or The Éric Rohmer Collection that they would have listed even higher in the totals as they are both exceptional packages. We have neither, yet, to review.

 

The UK output was dominated by Arrow, in addition to much of their output expanding into region 'A'. Criterion packages are being released in Region 'B' (UK), "Indicator" (Powerhouse Films) are all Region FREE!, BFI, Second Run had another great year!, Studio Canal, Artificial Eye and their massive later-year boxsets, Masters of Cinema are always strong, Signal One, Screenbound, Network, 88 Films (love their output!), Third Window - and more.

 

North America has Criterion continuing to lead the way with help from Kino Lorber's massive output!, Twilight Time, exciting new Classicflix, Olive Films (and their improved 'Signature'  releases), Flicker Alley, Shout! Factory, Film Movement, Warner Archive, Milestone, Cinelicious Pics, Synapse, Severin, Grindhouse Releasing, Cinema Guild, Cult Epics, Oscilloscope, Vinegar Syndrome, Cohen Media, Strand Releasing, Film Detective and others.

 

DVD? We reduced DVD to a TOP 5 this year. Most balloters included zero picks, almost none did a full ten and many chose only 2 or 3. We didn't even include a DVD in the top 100, in 2017, and it, generally, remains infused with extremely eclectic, adventurous world cinema, Indie and documentary leanings. It's slowing but still has value for those seeking vintage or modern films that they can't see, or want to revisit, in alternative, as opposed to lesser (TV) venues. I still like DVD and bought probably 20+ editions in the last year, I'm just bothered by the price of some of the major studio's MoD releases. It certainly seems like a discourtesy towards the loyal fans who are purchasing them...  

 

Okay, let's get to it!    

 

25 Selected Balloters (click name to access votes):

 

 Sean Axmaker       Billy Bang          Simón Cherpitel          Darrick Conley

 

 Eric Cotenas          Christopher Doyle          Lee Eiseman         Gregory Elich   

 

Stuart Galbraith        Jeff Heinrich        Peter Henné       Louis Irwin

Benedict Keeler       Gregory Meshman       Scott Murray       Leonard Norwitz   

Luc Pomerleau           Jonathan Rosenbaum         Steve Rutt        James-Masaki Ryan

Schwarkkve      Per-Olaf Strandberg      (taikohediyoshi) Michael Connors       

Gary Tooze                     James White                           Colin Zavitz

The Totals (click to access)

THE TOP FIVE DVDs OF 2017

TOP TEN Blu-rays OF 2017    TOP 100 Blu-rays of 2017

4K UHD

 TOP LABELS        Best Cover Design

     'Black' and Blu (Film Noir on 2017 Blu-ray)     

'Yellow' and Blu (Giallo on 2017 Blu-ray)

 Notable Rant and Praise

 

 

Sean Axmaker
Seattle, WA, USA
http://parallax-view.org

 

1. The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
The Lost World [Blu-ray] (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
His Girl Friday [Blu-ray] (Howard Hawks, 1940) Criterion Us / UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series [Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 2017) Showtime
5.
Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology [Blu-ray] (Alice Guy, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Lotte Reiniger, et.al, 1902-1946) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
The Breaking Point [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Beggars of Life [Blu-ray] (William A. Wellman, 1928) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
Inferno 2D + 3D [Blu-ray] (Roy Ward Baker, 1953) Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Letter from an Unknown Woman [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1948) Olive Signature (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
Deluge [Blu-ray] (Felix E. Feist, 1933) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017

1.
The Bureau: Season 2 / Season 3 (France, 2016-2017) Kino Lorber R1
2. Romanzo Criminale Season 1 / Season 2 (Italy, 2008-2010) Kino Lorber R1

 

Billy Bang

1. Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 [Blu-ray] (Limite - Mário Peixoto, Revenge - Ermek Shinarbaev, Insiang - Lino Brocka, Mysterious Object at Noon - Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Law of the Border - Lütfi Ö. Akad, Taipei Story - Edward Yang) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)- if Criterion continue to put them out, they are always going to be blind buys for me. What could be more precious for cinephiles that the preservation of endangered film. This has an absolute masterpiece within- Yang's Taipei Story. As spellbinding as his last film Yi Yi. Of the others- Mysterious & Limite are as worthwhile. Law of the Border- talk about preservation from the rubble! Revenge- didn't care for sadly. Insiang- yet to watch!)
2.
Ghost World [Blu-ray] (Terry Zwigoff, 2001) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW). My of my very favourite films ever. Was delighted when Criterion announced it.Waited impatiently for the B&N half price sale and July to arrive!!!
3.
Ugetsu [Blu-ray] (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - This was voted top of the pile a few years ago if I remember right, for the DVD version. I just hope DVDBeavers have not forgotten it out of voting exhaustion!!! This Blu Ray print unlike the Masters of Cinema UK release, did not disappoint. Stupendous!
4.
The Tree of Wooden Clogs [Blu-ray] (Ermanno Olmi, 1978) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - when people are toting up lists of the Greatest Films Ever Made etc, what chance has Olmi's masterpiece against all the Citizen Kane's, Vertigo's and Pulp Ficton's' of this world. Do viewers have the patience any more to see what a miracle this film is?
5.
Fat City [Blu-ray] (John Huston, 1972) - UK Powerhouse Films (BEAVER REVIEW) - if we are talking about the flowering of American cinema in the 1970's- this, with The King Of Marvin Gardens, and The Last Picture Show, are the absolute highlights for me. I know the Twilight Time US release from 2016 would have stolen the thunder from this UK release in terms of votes sadly.
6.
Tampopo [Blu-ray] (Juzo Itami, 1985) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)- pure cinematic pleasure! Like Ghost World, just delighted that Criterion picked it up. And a simultaneous UK release!!! Scores high on the 'rewatch'-o-meter!
7.
They Live by Night [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1948) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - again a superlative Criterion release. The self enclosed fever of first love, the world be damned. Great bonus supplements too!
8.
Buster Keaton: 3 Films [Blu-ray] (Sherlock Jr., The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr.) - RB UK Masters of Cinema - Last year MoC put out the Complete Short Film. This year 3 films in superb restorations. Thank you & thank you.
9.
Housekeeping [Blu-ray] (Bill Forsyth, 1987) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - has the tone of a book (in this case Marylinne Robinson's novel) ever been so beautifully got into film as Bill Forsyth has done? A wonderful autumnal film of failure and withdrawal.
10.
45 Years [Blu-ray] (Andrew Haigh, 2015) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - I'm such a snob I held out for this Criterion release in the B&N sale over the easily available UK one. I wanted the cover art, and booklet and the bonus features. In short, I wanted the best keepsake. Mr Haigh is proving to be a master of tone too!

Deliberate leave outs-
The Aki Kaurismäki Collection (17 films + shorts on 10 discs - Crime and Punishment, Calamari Union, Shadows in Paradise, Drifting Clouds, Hamlet Goes Business, La vie de bohème, Ariel, Match Factory Girl, Leningrad Cowboys Go America, Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses, Total Balalaika Show, Take Care of Your Scarf Tatiana, Juha, The Man without a Past, Lights in the Dusk, Le havre, The Other Side of Hope) [Blu-ray] (Aki Kaurismäki) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye. I'm such a devotee of this director that I had already bought most of these Blu Rays individually from Finland, as they were released in 2014/15. The Finns had the foresight to include English subtitles on all.
Moonlight [Blu-ray] (Barry Jenkins, 2016) RB UK Altitude Film Distribution A new favourite but as we are basing our votes partly of the way a film 'curated' on Blu ray release, I sure this will get it's Criterion pick up soon.
L'argent [Blu-ray] (Robert Bresson, 1983) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) A protest vote, for Criterion being so skimpy on supplements, and not licensing the earlier Kent Jones commentary.
El Sur [Blu-ray] (Víctor Erice, 1983) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW). Like the Kaurismaki, bought the earlier Spanish release in 2013 I think.

Wish List on
Blu-ray - Straight Time (Ulu Grosbard 1978)- when Harry Dean Stanton died, I read in at least a couple of obituaries the oft stated comment 'it is said that no film with Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh could ever be truly bad'. Well here is a film with Harry Dean Stanton AND M. Emmet Walsh (and Dustin Hoffman and Gary Busey and Theresa Russell if that's not enough) that is crying out for an UK Powerhouse or Criterion release. Yes the DVD with its director commentary is good enough for now- but it's a great film not many people know enough about!

ED: I very much concur with Billy's wish choice and would add that it was based on Edward Bunker's novel, who wrote and gave a great commentary in this year's Arrow Blu-ray of Animal Factory (directed by Steve Buscemi)
 

Simón Cherpitel
photographer / designer / writer / cinemacom.com
 

The movies we enjoy speak to our feelings & our consciousness. As artistic creations, they reflect their creators: the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the actors.

What we…. or what I choose to watch reflects myself, my ideals, my desires, my opinions, what makes my feelings go up or down depending on what’s delivered to my eyes & ears.

These are the movies I've most enjoyed on BD this year because of what they give me during repeated watchings. Most are older & maybe things were simpler in the ‘old’ days, or maybe it’s just because i’m getting old. The newest is from 1980 & by a director who worked for Powell & Pressburger & David Lean as cinematographer in the early 1940s.

Altogether this past year, i purchased around 275 BDs & maybe 5 DVDs. One-third of the total came from overseas, & 40 were “double-dips” for better editions of already owned BDs.

1 - Ride the High Country [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1962) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - Sam’s first personal movie - it’s all there, his whole life & career, split into the two main characters, Gil & Wes, the good & the bad & the ugliness of the world (Hammonds & the mining camp) — the characters portray integrity vs compromise - they’re mixed up, Sam was mixed up - Sam made everything personal, which is why even his lesser movies graze greatness - his sense of humanity is real & affecting. (i call him Sam because he’s the only director i ever took a film class from in a dream.) There’s a strong sense of love & something to love in all his movies.
2 -
The Ballad of Cable Hogue
[Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1970) Warner Archive, ALL - Sam loved this more than any of his other movies, maybe because Sam found water in the desert of commercial Hollywood & for a time prospered then died relatively young but as grizzled & beaten up as any of his heroes, especially Hogue…..ah….but remember “Butterfly Morning”….
3 -
The Bravados (Henry King, 1958) Explosive Media, RB - Outstanding, unforgettable, generally overlooked Western of misbegotten revenge & inner comeuppance via Gregory Peck, about whom Sam Shepard & Bob Dylan wrote, “I’ll see him in anything…” (in “Brownsville Girl”, as you know referencing King’s The Gunfighter.)
4 -
Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L Mankiewicz, 1959) Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW) - Excepting possibly Huston’s Night of the Iguana, this is the most cinematic & mesmorising movie rendition of any Tennessee Williams play, perhaps because Mankiewicz was directing only, working from Gore Vidal’s script, while the play’s tormented emotional content adversely affected everyone involved, yet resulted in a fascinating work of performance & poetry.
5 -
Bad Day at Black Rock [Blu-ray] (John Sturges, 1955) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - This intense, modern day thriller in Western garb broke the ground for ‘old men’ as heroes & cast the mold of the prematurely aged Spencer Tracy’s iconic remembrance.
6 -
23 Paces to Baker Street [Blu-ray] (Henry Hathaway, 1956) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - Maybe the neatest, most endearing, nearly forgotten until now, London fog-based suspense mystery of all time, as well as Van Johnson’s most memorable movie.
7 -
Love in the Afternoon [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1957) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - One of Billy’s best & to me echoing the clearest ‘Lubitsch touch’ he always strove for. (Compare its B&W Euro ambiance with Trouble in Paradise.) In today’s sexual clime it might be considered an off-putting Allenic mesh of old man Cooper & ingénue Hepburn, yet they act so according to the era’s code that the movie remains an enduring delight.
8 -
Hopscotch [Blu-ray] (Ronald Neame, 1980) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Walter Matthau & Glenda Jackson make this a great screwball comedy that spoofs the generally sinister CIA---endlessly & repeatedly enjoyable.
9 -
The Violent Men
[Blu-ray]  (Rudolph Maté, 1955) Sidonis Calysta, RB - a tight, exceptionally well-acted, neatly scripted, & nearly forgotten top Western respected by the French more than Americans, directed by Dreyer’s Jeanne d’Arc cinematographer & with Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G Robinson & Brian Keith. Yes, it has forced French subs, but they’re mostly below the CinemaScope frame line & like most good Westerns there’s more image than talk----it’s super to have this BD after years visiting the DVD’s inferior picture.
10 - 5 way tie ! (ah-hah) -
Two Jean-Pierre Melville releases, putting 4 of his movies newly on BD:
Melville Boxset (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956-1972) StudioCanal, RB - 6 movies
Bob le flambeur (1956) - Léon Morin, pretre (1961) - Le Doulos (1963) - L’armée des ombres (1969) - Le Cercle rouge (1970) - Un flic (1972) - Just having Bob, the Fingerman & the Cop on BD for the 1st time makes this the best set of the year.
---with—
Le samouraï [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Whether this is Melville’s greatest, it’s clearly a classic & its spirit whispers in the ear of Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog.
—&---
a 3rd Peckinpah:
Junior Bonner [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1972) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW) - not a Western as it’s modern day & outside the ethos, but genuine Peckinpah, & more endearing than the other great enduring rodeo movie Ray’s The Lusty Men. (Thru my daughter i know some real life ‘bullfighters’, as they call themselves.)
—&—
a movie probably nobody else will name:
Phaedra [Blu-ray] (Jules Dassin, 1962) Olive Films - Dassin’s most daring extravaganza is an exhilarating experience, a totally over the top classic Greek tragedy played in the modern world of Onassis shipbuilding (before Ari got Jackie & JFK still lived). Phaedra kills herself from thwarted romance, while her lover stepson soars off the cliff in his modern chariot, & the father consoles the black-cloaked widows of the drowned sailors. Soaring Theodorakis score accentuates the deliciously hysterical madness shot in exquisite B&W.
—&—
the most beautiful vampire movie next to Herzog’s, which doesn’t need my vote to place well but I love it too much to leave it out:
Vampyr [Blu-ray] (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) - Dreyer’s excursion into the spooky is spooky indeed, its fangless apparitions more enduringly haunting than all the lip-smacking blood-suckers conjured up under Bram Stoker’s aegis.

…..& now a wild bunch of more widely accepted cinema classics & movies of note:

Celine and Julie Go Boating [Blu-ray] (Jacques Rivette, 1974) RB BFI (BEAVER REVIEW) – Rivette’s most inviting enigma mysteriously wrapped in his puzzling quest for reality in illusion, or the latter in the former, far more accessible than the cineaste’s grail of Out 1, maybe because it’s tighter & shorter.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles [Blu-ray] (Chantal Akerman, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) - Unexpectedly riveting depiction of confinement by time, space & activity, so circumscribed that you wait for over 3 hours for something to break loose, which it does in sudden self-destructive violence & it may not be by chance that the director killed herself 40 years later.
The Last Laugh [Blu-ray] (F.W. Murnau, 1924) Kino - 2017’s most important silent movie transfer, beautifully executed, about misplaced respect for uniformed social status leading to personal tragedy whimsically changed into fairy tale conclusion. (Jannings’ early pride reminded me of Biberkopf working as guard in parking garage at end of Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz. Were these the personalities that empowered Hitler to rise?)

Memories of Underdevelopment [Blu-ray] (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, 1968) RB UK Mr Bongo

(BEAVER REVIEW)  - A human remnant of colonialism hangs on as a minor landlord in revolutionary Cuba, yet his ennui erodes any possibility of a place in the new society.
Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 [Blu-ray] (Limite - Mário Peixoto, Revenge - Ermek Shinarbaev, Insiang - Lino Brocka, Mysterious Object at Noon - Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Law of the Border - Lütfi Ö. Akad, Taipei Story - Edward Yang) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
All the movies in the set have enduring impact—yet for me, this was a set to see once & sell (with over 1500 movies on my shelves, i can only re-see so many every 2-3 years). All these 6 are intense aesthetic experiences, completely worth watching & generally real downers all. Yang’s Taipei Story echoes A Brighter Summer Day, & specially interesting is the interview with lead actor later director Hsiao-Hsien Hou.
His Girl Friday [Blu-ray] (Howard Hawks, 1940) Criterion Us / UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - Now we’re waiting for Bringing Up Baby.
Woman of the Year [Blu-ray] (George Stevens, 1942) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Tracy & Hepburn—that’s all there’s to say, as Gary said.
The Crimson Kimono
[Blu-ray] (Sam Fuller, 1959) Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW) - The year would not be complete without at least one wonderful Fuller melodrama.
The Quiet American
[Blu-ray]  (Joseph L Mankiewicz, 1958) Twilight Time, (BEAVER REVIEW)  - Mankiewicz has a go at Graham Greene before the American got ugly….& twisting the author’s tale to imagine Audie Murphy going innocently to hell & not coming back.
Festival [Blu-ray] (Murray Lerner, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Newport, RI. Relive or live the early 1960s—the folk boom, Joan Baez very young & stunningly alluring, the birth of the Dylan mystic….. As Gary said, “…an amazing time-capsule….the feeling of the time & place are ‘magical’ expressions beautifully exported…”
The Paradine Case [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1947) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - Another Hitch, tho minor, bites the BD with only three of his post 1938 movies remaining to be et: Mr & Mrs Smith, Stage Fright & Under Capricorn.
Bitter Victory
[Blu-ray] [Blu-ray] (Nick Ray, 1958) Sidonis Calysta, RB - Yes, forced French caps but mostly below the image.
The Harder They Fall (Mark Robson, 1956) Sidonis Calysta, RB - Bogart’s last movie with Schulberg smashing the boxing racket like he’d beaten the waterfront mob. Like all Sidonis of English films - non-removable subs.
Solaris
[Blu-ray] (Steven Soderbergh, 2002) Filmconfect (Rough Trade), ALL - I like this as well or better than the Tarkovsky adaptation of the same Stanislaw Lem sci-fi novel. It’s less philosophically ruminating, more focused on the protagonist’s failure to respect his wife’s persona & the resulting grief, allowing Tarkovsky’s persisting ambiguity to be ameliorated with forgiveness.
The Deadly Affair [Blu-ray] (Sidney Lumet, 1966) UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Big Knife [Blu-ray] (Robert Aldrich, 1955) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Sun Also Rises
[Blu-ray] (Henry King, 1957) Signal One, RB - In many ways the most entertaining of Hemingway stories put on screen, with Ty Power & Ava Gardner hoping something besides the sun may rise however futile according to the docs, while Errol Flynn stays delightfully drunk as he does in his other great final role trying to save the elephants, & Eddie Albert has a ball in both.
The Yakuza [Blu-ray] (Sydney Pollack, 1974) Warner Archive
- Super later Robert Mitchum thriller with magnificent Japanese acting presence of Takakura Ken.
Portrait of Jennie [Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1948) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)
Joe Versus the Volcano
[Blu-ray] (John Patrick Shanley, 1990) Warner Archive, ALL - Totally outrageous, preposterous, absurd latter day screwball comedy & concept made acceptable by the sincerity of players Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan. It’s unimaginable that only maybe Ebert & Schickel among critics appreciated at the time. A classic.
S.O.B. [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1981) Warner Archive - Hollywood satire is maybe Edwards’ finest, most biting comedy. Julie Andrews even bares a breast in support of the cause.
Seven Days in May [Blu-ray] (John Frankenheimer, 1964) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - Gary loves it even more than I — he’s seen it 20 times, me only 12.
Blood Alley
[Blu-ray] (William A Wellman, 1955) Warner Archive, ALL - Instead of wagon train of Western settlers, John Wayne skippers a steamer of Chinese refugees to freedom with San Francisco Bay & the Sacramento River doubling for the Formosa straits. If you know Marin County, you know that just round the bend lies San Quentin prison. An truly rousing fun adventure with Lauren Bacall looking great before she had to deal with Bogie’s dying.
The Sea Chase
[Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1955) Warner Archive, ALL - Like Blood Alley, another watery Wayne melodrama, this one with John as a ‘good’ German carrying out duty among Nazi swine, assisted by the love of a more mature Lana Turner, & rather less fun thru tragic overtones but feeling better today than it did but 10 years after the end of WWII.
Night Moves [Blu-ray] (Arthur Penn, 1975) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - Love this noirish mystery thriller, especially where Hackman’s character says “going to a Rohmer movie is like watching paint dry.”
The Savage Innocents [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1960) Olive Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Man with Two Brains [Blu-ray] (Carl Reiner, 1983) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - Agreed: “hilarious”. Few comedies endure because the jokes get stale, but here the laughter never fades because it’s inherent in the whole.
The Killer Is Loose [Blu-ray] (Budd Boetticher, 1956) Classic Flix (BEAVER REVIEW) - Unforgettable for 50 years after my first 13-year-old view. Boetticher went directly from this to his legendary teaming with Randolph Scott. Note the scene where Corey shoots John Larch thru the milk carton…..didn’t a man from Manchuria do the same a few years later?
Between Heaven & Hell
[Blu-ray] (Richard Fleischer, 1956) Signal One, RB (BEAVER REVIEW)
8 Million Ways to Die [Blu-ray] (Hal Ashby, 1986) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - Ashby’s last movie is not the slick hard nose run for profitable fun with a traditional Private Eye sneer where Laurence Block’s hero is relegated to LA instead of NY, instead it crashes in an unpredictable collision that enthralls thru Ashby’s & Jeff Bridges oddball playing behind & before the camera.
Dunkirk [Blu-ray] (Leslie Norman , 1958) RB UK Studiocanal - This version of the evacuation is minus only the aerial highlights of Nolan’s new spectacle, in fact the spare & brief air bits are completely real combat clips, while the human stories of the soldiers on the ground & beach & their civilian sailor rescuers characterise more deeply---I’m not sure as I've only read about this possible shortcoming of the new movie.
Hell in the Pacific [Blu-ray] (John Boorman, 1968) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - As Gary writes, “a bold effort & it works wonderfully well.”
 

3 of the great Billy’s:


One, Two, Three [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1961) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Fortune Cookie (Billy Wilder, 1966) Twilight Time, RA
Avanti! [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1972) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)


A newly discovered Blu-ray:


Attack!
[Blu-ray] (Robert Aldrich, 1956) Filmedia, ALL - Superbly sharp BD of brutal WWII duty & cowardice melodrama in stark B&W - This French ed has apparently been around awhile (from the listing date) at Amazon France, but Beaver never chewed it, & I only stumbled on by chance last spring (although I'd been looking for years). Now it’s also at Amazon USA but at steep price with earliest BD buyer review posted 2 months ago. The French subs are not forced, only optional.

The hour of the Western:
Beyond the 4 at the top, 10 more cowboy classics got Blu-rayed for the 1st time in 2017:


Duel in the Sun (Roadshow Edition) [Blu-ray] (King Vidor, 1946) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - David O Selznick’s splashy follow-up to GWTW makes for an operatic epic that sprawls beautifully towards tragedy & achieves the legend it seeks.
Hour of the Gun
[Blu-ray] (John Sturges, 1967) Twilight Time, ALL (BEAVER REVIEW) - The OK Corral gunfight has been done well more times than any other Western incident…. maybe it’s the 3-some of Wyatt, Doc & Clanton, with girls & brothers on both sides, giving lots of interrelationship complexity, & that Wyatt lived to PR the legend, whereas the Billy the Kid & Pat Garrett tale offers but two major characters on grey-tinged edges of the law, & the James gang has only the outlaw, his bro & a dirty little coward. (The 3 other enduringly entertaining OK shootouts are: Ford’s My Darling Clementine, Sturges’ Gunfight at the OK Corral, & Casmatos’ Tombstone, with a side note of Frank Perry’s ‘Doc’.)
Terror in a Texas Town [Blu-ray] (Joseph H. Lewis, 1958) Arrow US/ UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - Maybe only writer Dalton Trumbo could dream up a Western duel between a black-clad, one-handed gunslinger & a harpoon wielding sailor turned cowboy—unforgettable forever.
Four Faces West [Blu-ray] (Alfred E. Green, 1948) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW) - A lovely Western, literally, (& Gary says why), the sort that gave Joel McCrea his image of decency, without a shot being fired, like a precursor to Tourneur’s Stars in My Crown, one of my & Rosenbaum’s most cherished movies (in his essential 100)
Ulzana’s Raid
[Blu-ray] (Robert Aldrich, 1972) Elephant Films RB - Burt & Bob had wanted a heroic, naturalistic demise for the hero in their first movie Apache, & 18 years later do it with Burt switching sides to die & the chief going to his grave at the hands of a fellow Indian.
Night Passage
[Blu-ray] (James Neilson, 1957) Koch Media, RB (BEAVER REVIEW) - Highly entertaining with Stewart vs his bad bro Audie Murphy & Dan Duryea delightfully guzzling scenery & spitting out the subtext.
Bend of the River [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1952) RB DE Alive (BEAVER REVIEW) - The 2nd Mann/Stewart outing builds on Winchester ’73 like the 2nd movement in a Western symphony that sweeps from the Southwest to Western Canada & back again.
Lawman
[Blu-ray] (Michael Winner, 1971) Twilight Time, (BEAVER REVIEW) - A nearly absurdly bleak & brutal take on law, justice & pride leading to avoidable tragic results, & i like it mainly for the cast of Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee J Cobb, Robert Duvall, Richard Jordan, JD Cannon, Ralph Waite, Albert Salmi, Joseph Wiseman, John McGiver & the list seems to go on like many of their bodies dropping dead for no reason except wanting to ignore a wantonly accidental killing.
The Law & Jake Wade
[Blu-ray] (John Sturges, 1958) Warner Archives, ALL - Nearly all of Sturges’ Westerns are tightly woven with interestingly believable character interplays, & here we have Robert Taylor vs Richard Widmark & gang, with law & order a bit on the fuzzy side.
No Name on the Bullet
[Blu-ray] (Jack Arnold, 1959) Koch Media, RB - Who has gunman Audie Murphy come to town to kill? The question haunts the community & leads to the outing of several citizen’s hidden sins.
Wild Bill
[Blu-ray] (Walter Hill, 1995) Twilight Time, ALL - Going blind, Jeff Bridges plays the somewhat unhinged Hickok’s final card game like he’s indifferent to David Arquette’s nutty McCall, who hangs for it, shooting him in the back of the head over his deadman’s hand of aces & eights, in Deadwood, of course, whose name permeates the sense of the characters futures, including Ellen Barkin doing Calamity Jane & John Hurt looking on.

10 NEW 2016-2017 movies, some may be future classics but too soon to tell:

Julieta [Blu-ray] (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016) Sony Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
Things to Come [Blu-ray] (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016) MPI (BEAVER REVIEW)
Song to Song
[Blu-ray] (Terrence Malick, 2017) - A cinema lyric poet’s take on the ennui of people populating the pop music scene?….Or the impossibility or improbability of finding last love within those inhabitants?….Or coming to realise that there’s something more than merely losing yourself in the music of the moment…?
Voyage of Time (Terrence Malick, 2016) France Télévisions Distribution, RB - Movies’ premiere lyrical poet picks up & expands creation & life’s evolution from his introduction in The Tree of Life.
Paterson
[Blu-ray] (Jim Jarmusch, 2016) Universal, RA - A movie set in visual form similar to William Carlos Williams style embracing the mundane about a bus driver writing poetry similar to Williams’ in his spare time.
A Quiet Passion
[Blu-ray] (Terence Davies, 2016) Thunderbird Releasing, RB - Emily Dickinson ‘did not stop for death so death stopped for her’.
I Am Not Your Negro [Blu-ray] (Raoul Peck, 2016) Magnolia - The life & times of James Baldwin mostly in his words sensitively spoken by Samuel L Jackson.
The Accountant [Blu-ray] (Gavin O'Connor, 2016) Warner Brothers - A surprisingly intelligent & effective action thriller, far more satisfying than the comic book super heroes running rampant in today’s cinemas, with Ben Affleck equally surprisingly believable as an autistic numbers cruncher trained to be also an effective super combat artist.
Lion
[Blu-ray] (Garth Davis, 2016) Lionsgate, RA - A rather sweet movie from true story of a child lost in modern India growing up to find his old home using Google Earth, showing what seems the real India of the present in a manner not seen (I think) since the movies of Satyajit Ray.
Rules Don’t Apply
[Blu-ray] (Warren Beatty, 2016) 20th Century Fox, RA - Beatty makes a pretty buoyant movie while giving a fascinatingly quirky portrayal that makes you think this is probably pretty close to how Howard Hughes really was, much more than Leo’s more actorly performance in Scorsese’s biopic some years ago.

Above were only movies making first appearances in the BD medium. Here are most of the best I’ve “double-dipped” for, generally furthered by new 4K restored transfers:

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival [Blu-ray] - Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - 4K overkill of 16mm original shows that finer is better, plus two new interviews added to the complete package from 8 years ago.
Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Super improvement over the UK Artificial Eye of only a year ago.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1974) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW) - 4K again proves superior, plus a ton of extra material, but Twilight Time’s Encore of 2016 worth keeping for additional commentary track.
Straw Dogs [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1971) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Close examination of Gary’s captures show that bit rate is not as vital as 4K trouncing 2K (presumably) --- a 5th great Sam BD for the year.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (50th Anniversary Special Edition) [Blu-ray] (Sergio Leone, 1966) (50th Anniversary Special Edition) - Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - Gorgeous new transfer, again 4K, & mucho xtras.
One-Eyed Jacks [Blu-ray] (Marlon Brando, 1961) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW) - Image on par with Criterion’s but valuable for the added commentary.
The Wild One [Blu-ray] (László Benedek, 1953) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
- Image improved over previous BD eds plus xtra xtras.
Compulsion [Blu-ray] (Richard Fleischer, 1959) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Image better than the UK Signal One but latter worth keeping for different extras.
The incredible Shrinking Man
[Blu-ray] (Jack Arnold, 1957) Arrow, RB - Image same as German edition, with several great extras added.
The Big Heat [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1953) - UK Powerhouse Films (BEAVER REVIEW) - Definitive edition so far, best image, with Twilight Time duo, Julie & Nick, commentary. Fortunately demand for movie is such that i’ve had no trouble selling off my previous ES & TT eds.
The Lady from Shanghai [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1947) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - Best transfer plus more extras but keeping the TCM ed for other extras.
Experiment in Terror [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1962) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - Edwards’ experiment in suspense totally succeeds with late policier noir ambiance, & UK Indicator again demonstrates that it cares enough to deliver the very best in transfers & extras.
Ronin [Blu-ray] (John Frankenheimer, 1998) Arrow US/UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - Advertised as new 4K transfer, it looks great & has Frankenheimer’s great commentary that I’d previously kept the old DVD for. It’s great that he recorded so many for the DVDs before he died, & wish other directors would take their cue from his approach, such as here where he talks about shooting on Super 35 for cropping more full matte & losing little of the horizontal in standard screen TV showings.
Inferno 2D + 3D [Blu-ray] (Roy Ward Baker, 1953) Twilight Time
(BEAVER REVIEW) - Improvement over Panamint import with English subs & commentary track - i was fortunate to see this in 3D in ’53 when i was 10—a mesmorising intro to Robert Ryan’s persona. I never forgot the movie. Baker went on to make the best of the Titanic movies, A Night to Remember.
The Party [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1968) RB UK Eureka Classics (BEAVER REVIEW) – Tremendously & repeatedly funny non-pink Kitty comedy by Edwards & Sellers, much improvised according to the extras, & the Brits also do it better from the US KL in image quality & having English subs that for whatever reason Kino is generally reluctant to give.
Letter from an Unknown Woman [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1948) Olive Signature (BEAVER REVIEW) - Olive again improves on itself in every way, as Gary thoroughly discusses.
Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) – Gary’s comparison makes it clear how much this new image is superior to the old----- a fitting effect for a movie about the importance of image.
Rawhide [Blu-ray] (Henry Hathaway, 1951) RB UK Signal One Entertainment (BEAVER REVIEW) - Improves on the USA KL with better image, English subs & a commentary.
Valdez Is Coming [Blu-ray] (Edwin Sherin, 1971) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW) - Slight image improvement over the German ed, & has commentary that lickety-split relates all sorts of info & convoluted trivia about the creative talent involved but very little concerning the movie, as though doing the commentary simply gave the commentator the chance to show off how much he knows about everybody.
Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW) Had em all but replaced for the sometimes better transfers, especially Big C, & mostly for all the great commentaries—nice HC booklet too. Probably the noir release of the year.
Broken Arrow [Blu-ray] (Delmer Daves, 1950) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - The image is surprisingly no better than & maybe identical to the Spanish edition I've had for several years, but it does have subs, benefitting my wife who’s hard of hearing.
The Apartment [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1960) RB UK Arrow - It’s supposed to be here before the end of the year, & assume it will be filled with the extra features that so far Arrow has not failed to provide.

A odd disappointment……but not really at $10:


Close Encounters of the Third Kind (40th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] (Steven Spielberg, 1977) Sony Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)L - Like Gary, I found the new ed image lacking---the older one simply looks better on my plasma…..thus I’ve given the new version to my daughter, but retained the new xtras disc. It seems in this case the 4K matters not over the previous presumably 2K, tho I’m curious why (according to Beaver specs) the feature is 20% larger in the previous ed, yet the bit rates are nearly identical?

& finally 2 DVDs:

1. The Westerner (Sam Peckinpah, Andre de Toth, Tom Cries, 1960) Shout Factory, ALL - The critically highly-rated but little seen TV series developed by Sam as a reputation building effort toward his ultimate epic ambition. Two discs have all the shows with commentaries on Sam’s directed eps by his usual gang of admirers.
2. The Dying of the Light (Peter Flynn, 2015) First Run Features, ALL - Actually released in Dec, 2016, but relatively unnoticed, about the fading profession of movie projectionist

Darrick Conley

 

1. Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films
2.
Hellraiser- Arrow
3.
The Sinbad Trilogy (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger) [Blu-ray] (1958-1977) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
The Thing - 4K Restored [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
Carrie - Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (Brian De Palma, 1976) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Liquid Sky - Vinegar Syndrome
7.
Five Element Ninja
[Blu-ray] (Cheh Chang, 1982)- 88 Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1970) UK/ US Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  
9.
The Flying Guillotine [Blu-ray] (Meng Hua Ho, 1975) RB UK 88 Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
The Brave Archer [Blu-ray] (Cheh Chang, 1977) RB UK 88 Films

 

Eric Cotenas

CineVentures Blog

Sacramento, CA, USA


1. George Romero Between Night And Dawn Limited Edition: There's Always Vanilla/Season of the Witch/The Crazies (George Romero, 1971-1973) Arrow Video; Region ALL

2. Spotlight on a Murderer (George Franju, 1961) Arrow Academy; Region ALL

3. Witchhammer (Otakar Vávra, 1970) Second Run; Region ALL

4. A Woman's Torment (Roberta Findlay, 1977) Vinegar Syndrome; Region ALL

5. The Story of Sin [Blu-ray] (Walerian Borowczyk, 1975) Arrow Video US

6. Swept Away (Lina Wertmüller, 1974) Kino Lorber; Region A

7. The Stendhal Syndrome (Dario Argento, 1977) Blue Underground; Region ALL (replacement version)

8. Rawhead Rex (George Pavlou, 1986) Kino Lorber; Region A

9. The Taisho Trilogy: Zigeunerweisen /Yumeji / Kagero-Za (Seijun Suzuki, 1980-1991) Arrow Academy; Region AB

10. Red Rings of Passion (Joseph Sarno, 1966) Vinegar Syndrome; Region ALL

 

DVDs

 

1. Love on a Branch Line (Martyn Friend, 1994) Second Sight; Region 2

2. Eight Films by Jean Rouch (Jean Rouch, 1956-1971) Icarus Films; Region 1

3. Rift (Erlingur Thoroddsen, 2017) Breaking Glass Pictures; Region 1

4. The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016) Strand Releasing; Region 1

5. B&B (Joe Ahearne, 2017) Breaking Glass Pictures; Region 1

6. Amnesia (Barbet Schroeder, 2015) Film Movement; Region 1

7. I, Olga (Petr Kazda and Tomás Weinreb, 2016) Strand Releasing; Region 1

8. A Woman A Part (Elisabeth Subrin, 2016) Strand Releasing; Region 1

9. Jonathan (Piotr J. Lewandowski, 2016) Wolfe Video; Region 1  

 

Christopher Doyle


Top 10 Blu-ray 2017

1. Blow-Up [Blu-ray] (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
Rumble Fish [Blu-ray] (Francis Ford Coppola, 1983) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
Lifeboat [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1944) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
Vampyr [Blu-ray] (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Funeral Parade of Roses [Blu-ray] (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969) Cinelicious Pics (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? [Blu-ray] (Sydney Pollack, 1969) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
Le samouraï [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
The Vietnam War (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, 2017). PBS, RA
10.
Barton Fink [Blu-ray] (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 1991) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

Lee Eiseman

1. Variety (aka Varieté) [Blu-ray] (Ewald André Dupont, 1925) Kino Lorber (Kino version with Berklee Silent Orchestra score)
2.
Behind the Door [Blu-ray] (Irvin Willat, 1919) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
The Young Girls of Rochefort [Blu-ray] (Jacques Demy, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
The Earrings of Madame de... [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1953) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy [Blu-ray] ( Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Man with a Movie Camera (and other works by Dziga Vertov) (1929) [Blu-ray] - RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T [Blu-ray] (Roy Rowland, 1953) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Westfront 1918 / Kameradschaft [Blu-ray] (G.W Pabst, 1930-1931) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
J'accuse [Blu-ray] (Abel Gance, 1938) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
11.
Bunuel Boxset 7-disc - [Blu-ray] (That Obscure Object of Desire, Belle De Jour - New 50th Anniversary Restoration, Diary of a Chambermaid, Phantom of Liberty, The Milky Way, Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Tristana) - RB UK Studiocanal
12.
Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
13.
The Marseille Trilogy (Marius, Fanny, César) [Blu-ray] (Alexander Korda, Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol, 1931-1936) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

14. Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology [Blu-ray] (Alice Guy, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Lotte Reiniger, et.al, 1902-1946) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

Most improved score for silent film Variety with Berklee Orchestra

Most useful movie website: DVD Beaver for preventing us from wasting our money in inferior transfers!

 

Gregory Elich

1. Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology [Blu-ray] (Alice Guy, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Lotte Reiniger, et.al, 1902-1946) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)
2. Le Moulin
[Blu-ray] (Huang Ya Li, 2015), Roots Films (RA): Unique, exquisitely done documentary of an avant-garde poetry group in 1930s Taiwan. The film is a poem itself, and like its subject, imbued with a deep love of modernism.
3.
Dead Slow Ahead
[Blu-ray] (Maruo Herce, 2015), Potemkine (RB): Gorgeous, other-worldly documentary about life aboard a cargo ship.
4. Super Citizen Ko
[Blu-ray] (Wan Jen, 1995), Group Power Workshop (RA): A thoughtful and quite moving film about an elderly man haunted by memories of political repression in 1950s Taiwan.
5.
I Am Not Your Negro [Blu-ray] (Raoul Peck, 2016) Magnolia
6.
Les Sorcières de Salem
[Blu-ray] (Raymond Rouleau, 1957), Pathé (RB)
7.
Witchhammer [Blu-ray] (Otakar Vávra, 1970) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy [Blu-ray] ( Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Right Now, Wrong Then
[Blu-ray] (Hong Sang-soo, 2015), Grasshopper (RA)
10.
Black Girl [Blu-ray] (Ousmane Sembène, 1966) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017

1. Eight Films by Jean Rouch (Jean Rouch, 1955-1969), Icarus (R1) (BEAVER REVIEW)
2. Absent Without Leave (Kek Huat Lau, 2016), Hummingbird (R3): The filmmaker sets out to discover the details behind the hushed history of his revolutionary grandfather and the struggle he participated in.
3. Machines (Rahul Jain, 2016), Kino (R1)
4. The Road to Mandalay (Midi Z, 2016), Edko Films (R3): If one can overlook the last few minutes, which seem to have wandered in, quite unwelcome, from an entirely different kind of movie, then this film about Burmese migrants in Thailand is otherwise something quite special.
5. Exquisite Ecstasies (Peter Tscherkassky, 1981-2015), Index (R0)
6. A Quiet Dream (Zhang Lu, 2016), CJ E&M (R3)
7. The Bacchus Lady (E J-yong, 2016), CGV Arthouse (R3)

 

Stuart Galbraith IV

Kyoto, Japan

 

1. The Wanderers [Blu-ray] (Philip Kaufman, 1979) - Kino
2.
Cease Fire! [Blu-ray 3D] (Owen Crump, 1953) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
The Sea Wolf [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1941) Warner Archive
4. [tie]
Daredevils of the Red Circle (12 Chapter Serial) [Blu-ray] (William Witney, 1939)  Kino & Sunset in the West [Blu-ray] (William Witney, 1950) Kino
5.
One, Two, Three [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1961) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
The Young Girls of Rochefort
[Blu-ray] (Jacques Demy, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
The Yellow Handkerchief (Yoji Yamada, 1977) Twilight Time; RA
(BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
Hell and High Water (Samuel Fuller, 1954) Twilight Time; ALL
(BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
The Yakuza [Blu-ray] (Sydney Pollack, 1974) Warner Archive
10.
Cyborg 2087 [Blu-ray] (Franklin Adreon, 1966) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Honorable Mention:
Funeral Parade of Roses, The Violent Years/Anatomy of a Psycho, Maigret Sets a Trap, Sayonara, The Devil’s Rain, Avanti!, Don't Torture a Duckling, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, Gun Fury (3-D), The Old Dark House, Erik the Conqueror, Funny Bones, Beggars of Life, The Crimson Kimono, Inferno (3-D), Willard, Caltiki, the Immortal Monster, The Delinquents, Deluge, Two for the Road, Othello

DVD
1.
Porky Pig 101 ( 5-disc) - Warner Archive
2. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series
(Various, 1972-1984) Time-Life; R1
3. Green Acres – The Complete Series
(Various, 1965-1970) Shout! Factory; R1
4. Lou Grant – Season Four
(Various, 1980-81) Shout! Factory; R1
5. Decoy – The Complete Series
(Various, 1957-58) Film Chest; ALL

Note:
This somewhat eclectic list is, by design, intended to acknowledge the varied ambitious aims and accomplishments by labels and the people working for them: restorations: their commitment to serials and B-Westerns (particularly the long beleaguered Roy Rogers series); quality commentary tracks (by Michael Schlesinger, Tom Weaver and others); to heretofore under-acknowledged foreign titles (The Yellow Handkerchief); to audio and 3-D restorations (Hell and High Water, Cease Fire!); and to acknowledge the high-def debuts of highly obscure titles (Cyborg 2087). On the admittedly waning DVD front, indie labels continue complete series runs of shows the bigger studios long ago abandoned half-finished or never released at all. Who says hard media is dead?

 

Jeff Heinrich

http://jeffheinrich.com/

 

1. Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Tampopo [Blu-ray] (Juzo Itami, 1985) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
The Marseille Trilogy (Marius, Fanny, César) [Blu-ray] (Alexander Korda, Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol, 1931-1936) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
Letter to Brezhnev [Blu-ray] (Chris Bernard, 1985) - RB UK BFI
5.
Housekeeping [Blu-ray] (Bill Forsyth, 1987) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Letter from an Unknown Woman [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1948) Olive Signature (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Manina, The Lighthouse-Keeper's Daughter [Blu-ray] (Willy Rozier, 1952) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Doctor Dolittle (Richard Fleischer, 1967). Twilight Time, Region FREE
(BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
The Vietnam War (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, 2017). PBS, RA


Top 5 SD-DVD Releases of 2017


1. The Murderers Are Among Us (Wolfgang Staudte, 1946). DEFA Film Library, R1.
2. The Russians Are Coming / Career (Heiner Carow, 1968/87, 1970). DEFA Film Library, R1.
3. The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996). First Run, R1.
4. Unlocking the Cage (Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker, 2016). First Run, R1.
5.
The Goddess (Yonggang Wu, 1934) R2 UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

Peter Henné

 

1. Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Le gai savoir aka Joy of Learning [Blu-ray] (Jean-Luc Godard, 1969) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
Good Morning [Blu-ray] (Yasujiro Ozu, 1959) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
Terror in a Texas Town [Blu-ray] (Joseph H. Lewis, 1958) Arrow US/ UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
They Live by Night [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1948) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism [Blu-ray] (Eros + Massacre, Heroic Purgatory and Coup d'etat) - Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
The Boy Friend [Blu-ray] (Ken Russell, 1971) Warner Archive
9.
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
Time to Die [Blu-ray] (Arturo Ripstein, 1966) Film Movement

Blu-Ray close contenders:

Spotlight on a Murderer [Blu-ray] (Georges Franju, 1961) UK / US Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Man from Planet X [Blu-ray] (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Ride the High Country [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1962) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me [Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 1992) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
 

Louis Irwin

 

1 Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
2
The Marseille Trilogy (Marius, Fanny, César) [Blu-ray] (Alexander Korda, Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol, 1931-1936) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
3
Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
4
L'argent [Blu-ray] (Robert Bresson, 1983) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
5
Celine and Julie Go Boating [Blu-ray] (Jacques Rivette, 1974) RB BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
6
The Éric Rohmer Collection (The Aviator's Wife | A Good Marriage | Pauline at the Beach | Full Moon in Paris | The Green Ray | My Girlfriend's Boyfriend | The Marquise of O... | Perceval | Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle | The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque) [Blu-ray] (Éric Rohmer, 1976-1993) RB UK Arrow
7
Eight Hours Don't Make a Day - A Family Series [Blu-ray] (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972-1973) RB UK Arrow
8
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
9
The Before Trilogy [Blu-ray] (Before Sunrise - 1995, Before Sunset - 2004, Before Midnight - 2013) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
10 Chinese Roulette (Fassbinder 1976) Arrow B

 

Benedict Keeler

 

1. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1974) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
The Wages of Fear [Blu-ray] (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
Buster Keaton: 3 Films [Blu-ray] (Sherlock Jr., The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr.) - RB UK Masters of Cinema
4.
The Thing - 4K Restored [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
The Apartment [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1960) RB UK Arrow
7.
Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
Daughter of the Nile [Blu-ray] (Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 1987) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
The Last Detail [Blu-ray] (Hal Ashby, 1973) RB Powerhouse Films UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
 

Gregory, Meshman

Atlanta, GA USA

 

1. Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW) (boxes from Arrow Academy - Ludwig, The Taisho Trilogy)
2.
Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films (Limited Edition releases - Liquid Sky (Vinegar Syndrome), The Fox with a Velvet Tail (Mondo Macabro))
3.
The Breaking Point [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) (Criterion noir - They Live by Night, Mildred Pierce, Rebecca)
4.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1970) UK/ US Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW) (gialli from Arrow - Don't Torture a Duckling, Phenomena, The Suspicious Death of a Minor)
5.
The Old Dark House [Blu-ray] (James Whale, 1932) Cohen Media Group (BEAVER REVIEW) (new restorations from boutique labels - Deluge (Kino Lorber), Seeds / Vapors (Vinegar Syndrome), The Saga of Anatahan (Eureka Video), The Lost World (Flicker Alley))
6.
The Before Trilogy [Blu-ray] (Before Sunrise - 1995, Before Sunset - 2004, Before Midnight - 2013) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW) (boxes from Criterion - Marseille Trilogy, Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2)
7.
Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) (most desired titles from Criterion - Blow-Up, His Girl Friday, Othello, Stalker)
8.
The Sea Wolf [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1941) Warner Archive (unexpected releases from Warner Archive - The Boyfriend, Ride the High Country)
9.
Funeral Parade of Roses [Blu-ray] (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969) Cinelicious Pics (BEAVER REVIEW) (new studios in 2016-2017 - Powerhouse Films/Indicator Series,ClassicFlix, Grasshopper Film, AGFA)
10.
The Cremator [Blu-ray] (Juraj Herz, 1969) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) (complete lineup of Second Run on blu - The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, My 20th Century, Vampir Cuadecuc, Witchhammer)

Big kudos for Kickstarter releases of silents on blu-ray, like Eric Grayson's Little Orphant Annie and Ben Model's When Knighthood Was in Flower.

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017
1.
Eight Films by Jean Rouch (Jean Rouch, 1955-1969), Icarus (R1) (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Porky Pig 101 ( 5-disc) - Warner Archive..... That's all Folks!!!!

Scott Murray

 

TOP 10 BLU-RAYS 2017

1. The Trip To Spain [Blu-ray] (Michael Winterbottom, 2017) Shout! Factory
2.
For Love of the Game
[Blu-ray]  (Sam Raimi, 1999) Universal Region A
3.
The Pumpkin Eater [Blu-ray] (Jack Clayton, 1964) UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
No Highway in the Sky [Blu-ray] (Henry Koster, 1951) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
T-Men and He Walked By Night [Blu-ray] (Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann, 1948) ClassicFlix (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
The Agnès Varda Collection (Cleo from 5 to 7, Jacquot de Nantes, L'une chante, l'autre pas, Le Bonheur, The Gleaners and I, The Beaches of Agnès, Vagabond, La Pointe Courte) [Blu-ray] (Agnès Varda) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW (BEAVER REVIEW (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
100 Years of Olympic Films [Blu-ray] (Leni Riefenstahl, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, Miloš Forman etc.) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
*Quatre Nuits d’un Rêveur (Robert Bresson, 1971) Eternanche/Imagica Region A
(BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Le samouraï [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
The Philadelphia Story [Blu-ray] (George Cukor, 1940) Criterion US / UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

* Came out in 2013

Rants (or why I chose what I chose):

The Trip To Spain: for me, the best new film of 2017 and the best in The Trip series, a touching and melancholic look at maleness and ageing, and a Europe sleep-walking towards its doom. The 6-part series (2entertain DVD Region 2) is better that the theatrical version because it more thoughtfully sets up the ending. In a year when practically every new film lacked ideas, rigour or originality (Hollywood was especially culpable), Winterbottom emerged as a modern-day Rousseau, while happily allowing many to presume he was just recording two middle-aged men trying to imitate the voice of Michael – “Sir Michael” – Caine. This I will watch (and already have) many, many times.

For Love of the Game: the most underrated film ever (accept by my friend Adrian Martin), a sports film that is hauntingly about the meaning and legacy of sport (in this case, baseball), but equally about what humanists liked to call the human condition, and also a love story that is up there with Leo McCarey’s Love Story. The Blu-ray is what we have waited for for decades. To me, Costner is the American actor of our era (and not a bad director, either) and DOP John Bailey one of the greats (and the favourite of my favourite Australian cameraman, and collaborator, Andrew de Groot). I have never liked another Sam Raimi (clearly my fault), so this film is proof one should never avoid a director whose taste seems not to be yours, because one day they could make a For Love of the Game.

The Pumpkin Eater: I haven’t seen the Blu-ray yet (it’s still in the mail), but I trust Gary Tooze at DVDBeaver as to its exquisite quality. Pumpkin is a masterpiece from a director who made three films that deserve consideration in any Top 10: The Innocents (go for the Criterion), Pumpkin and Our Mother’s House (still dreaming). For me, Clayton and Joe Losey made 1960s British Cinema a domaine perdu of intelligent, superbly crafted cinema. Watch The Servant or Accident or Pumpkin and contemplate in awe how the studios funded such filmmakers and audiences queued to see the results. In 1968, I took my fellow Year 12 students to Accident as our end-of-school treat and they all said it was the best film they had seen all year. Imagine that happening now.

No Highway in the Sky: I will watch anything with James Stewart, for he was a god come to Earth, and I suspect this performance is the greatest, better even than those in Mann or Ford. But why compare? We are grateful for every frame he ever gave us, just as we should be for director Henry Koster, a giant of ‘otherness’. This is the truest film about someone on the Autism Spectrum I have seen (my wife is on the Spectrum), just as the source novel by Neville Shute is the best book, and written long before the world knew what Shute was talking about. My wife (she has Asperger’s Syndrome) wept long and hard about the scene where Stewart goes to the cockpit and tries to convince the pilot that the plane will crash, but the pilot doesn’t understand. She says that sums up the frustration Aspies feel at failing to get through better than any lecture, book or even Wes Andersen (and he’s a treasure). This is an astonishing film, beautifully and sensitively made, with remarkable portrayals of the two main female characters. NB: a lesser Koster pleasure, but an exquisite Blu-ray (with Lucien Ballard’s colour-rich cinematography – not his muted style for Sam Peckinpah – has never looked so vibrant) is Dear Brigitte, also starring James Stewart (and, of course, a post-Le Mépris BB.)

T-Men and He Walked By Night: Is life without Anthony Mann films worth living? I wonder, for he is one of the giants, forever residing at the heights of Mount Parnassus. Yet, I avoided his films noir for decades, as I often find the despair in the genre too upsetting. But Mann is Mann and I can’t only watch his Westerns (though there is a lifetime of joy in that, and many have come out this year on Blu-ray in Germany, in very good if not quite sublime versions). Visually, Mann’s films noir demand the Blu-ray treatment they are now getting from Classicflix, with Raw Deal also released in January. He is one of the supreme masters, in all he does. NB: Watch the opening of Mann’s The Fall of the Roman Empire, shot by Aussie Robert Krasker, and weep. Yes, films once looked that good.

The Agnès Varda Collection, Breillat, Duras (Belgian, French, Vietnamese, but all speaking French) are proof of the brilliance of cinéma féminine. The definition may soon fade and disappear in our gen=der-neutralising times, but for those of us of a certain age the great women directors – too few and too infrequently fêted – have always been a welcome balance to the male view that has dominated by default the voices of cinema. Varda is in many ways the most approachable; it is inconceivable, surely, that anyone could not love, revere and celebrate a narrative feature like Cléo de 5 à 7 or a documentary like Daguerréotypes (sadly not in this box-set). Her selfless work on behalf of her departed husband, Jacques Demy, is extraordinary, especially as his shadow for a while partially eclipsed hers. But not now: Varda cannot be seen as anything but a great, which these Blu-rays truly celebrate.

100 Years of Olympic Films: Especially for the previously unseen footage of the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, where of great interest to me (it was to be my second feature, but …) an Australian gave up a certain gold medal because he believed sportsmanship was more important than personal glory. This 32-Blu-ray box-set is sporting cornucopia, lovingly presented.

Quatre Nuits d’un Rêveur: Since 1971, this has been my favourite film, bumping Robert Rossen’s Lilith, the most perfect film then made according to Jean-Pierre Melville, from top spot. (The only Blu-ray of Lilith is terrible because it’s in the wrong screen ratio; seek out the correct DVD instead.) There is nothing to say about Bresson and attempts to describe his work are almost inevitably pointless and even silly. I revere everything he did and had to instigate a rule of only one film per director in my Top 10, because otherwise there would be nine by Bresson. The Blu-ray is from Japan and has no English subtitles (only Japanese), but, thank heavens, the characters don’t speak much. The image is a bit soft, but this is the only digital release around, so let’s just be exceedingly grateful. Bresson thought the source short story (“White Nights” by Dostoevsky) to be flawed, but from it made a sublime meditation on love. PS: I know it was released last year, but seek out the rare Blu-ray of Mitchell Leisen’s Remember the Night (script by Preston Sturges), which is Bresson’s Pickpocket 19 years before Pickpocket.

Le samouraï: In my Top 10 between Carl Th. Dreyer’s Ordet and Chabrol’s Que la Bête Meure. There’s nothing left to say about this film. I know Melville thought he was better than Bresson, and he’s almost right. And I know this is not a flawless Blu-ray, but …

The Philadelphia Story: Not quite as great as Cukor’s Holiday, made two years earlier with Hepburn and Grant, and with genius playwright Philip Barry in even crisper and more prophetic form (he predates W. Somerset Maugham in nailing the encroaching spiritual disenchantment). Still, Philadelphia is pure joy, with a cast from the gods. Have two iconic male leads ever sparked more compatibly in a threesome romance as Cary Grant and James Stewart do? “Why, C. K. Dexter Haven. You have unexpected depths.” One could argue these boys prefigure Yves Montand and Sami Frey in Claude Sautet’s César et Rosalie, in finding bonds between men in a romantic triangle rather than the predictable enmity. The visual quality of the Criterion Blu-ray of Philadelphia is why Blu-rays exist. 

 

Leonard Norwitz

1. Westworld: The Complete First Season [4K UHD Blu-ray] - Warner
WESTWORLD has it all: concept, visuals, characters, performances, music, mystery, subtext. The Blu-ray is terrific. The UHD, better.
I thought I should re-acquaint myself with the original 1973 movie, written and directed by Michael Crichton and starring Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, and Yul Brynner as the gunslinger. It’s like comparing roller skates to a Ferrari’s (no offense, WFTDA). Westworld is not an example of a movie of its time. It’s just a bad movie with a smart concept. The only thing it has going for it is Brynner, whose role in that film, by the way, has nothing in common with Chris Adams expect that he is dressed in black.

So, back to the TV series. Let us be clear about this, the TV series is not just an updated version of the movie. It is a story told by the man - together with his wife, Lisa Joy - who wrote Memento and created Person of Interest and, with his brother, Christopher, co-wrote The Dark Knight and Interstellar. It has the sensibility of someone intrigued by how Time can be manipulated for dramatic purposes. It is that feature, even more than the amusement park simile that keeps our attention. It is also of no little consequence that the two Westworlds have no character roles in common. The focus is almost entirely on the androids and their creators, not on the guests, with the interesting exception of the “Man in Black” - a guest, played to perfection, I might add, by Ed Harris. No, WESTWORLD is a quite different species altogether. Its commonality with Crichton’s work, merely a copyright inconvenience. With Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden and Thandie Newton.

2.
The Vietnam War [Blu-ray] (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, 2017). PBS, RA
Kern Burns’ best and most important historical documentary to date is my Number 2 choice, a grade not given for excellence of image or sound, but for relevance and heart. If you care anything about the political world you live in, you owe it to yourself to watch this. . . all 17 hours.

3.
Dunkirk [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Christopher Nolan, 2017) Warner
To have seen this movie in a proper IMAX theatre was the movie-going experience of the year and then some. This, despite poorly judged audio levels (I’m convinced Nolan is hearing impaired!) The transition to home video is a compromise and probably couldn’t have been otherwise - cuts from the giant verticals of IMAX to wide screen can be tolerated in the theatre in ways they cannot at home, no matter the size of your screen. So, 1.43:1 is trimmed to 1.78:1, while the widescreen portions of the movie are retained at 2.20:1. The good news is that the IMAX faux bass is gone, even if relative sound levels remain the same. So the 50mm machine gun attack that makes us jump out of our skin is still several times louder than the bomb exploding 20 yards away. I thought these events occur too closely in time not to be noticed. Still do. Yet the work is still riveting, especially once you stop trying to figure out the Time thing.

4.
American Gods
[Blu-ray] (Brian Fuller & David Slade, 2017), Lionsgate,
AMERICAN GODS pushes the envelope well beyond the physical limits of what’s possible, to say nothing of acceptable, for a medium that once considered The Andy Griffith Show as philosophy worth thinking about, and All in the Family and M*A*S*H as cutting edge. Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel makes the transition to television and sweeps away all previous concepts of storytelling before it. Along with their peculiar take on history, legend and religion, Fuller & Slade do the Chris Nolan thing with Time, taking eight episodes before it all folds back on itself. Take a deep breath before entering. Do not expect to know where you are or why for some while into the series. And we thought the Jupiter Mission was an acid trip!

5.
My Life as a Zucchini
[Blu-ray] (Claude Barras, 2016), Universal, RA
Contrary to the usual sinister view of life in a foster home, Claude Barras presents a stop motion comedy-drama that will either have you throwing rocks at your screen for presumed dishonesty or melting your heart. I took the latter course. Ma vie de Courgette has been nominated for this year’s Academy Awards.

6.
Since You Went Away [Blu-ray] (John Cromwell, 1944) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Inexplicably absent from AFI’s listing of “America's 100 Greatest Love Stories,” SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, a WWII home front melodrama, made the year before the war ended, contains not one, not two, but six love stories, blended so beautifully you might not take note of any of them as such. The American Film Institute didn’t. Perhaps it’s because the primary object of the lead character’s (Claudette Colbert) love is never seen except in photographs. Yet stand-ins abound: in the dignity of Joseph Cotten’s torch-carrying affair he carries on his sleeve each time he visits the family; in the heartbreaking love story between the eldest daughter (Jennifer Jones) and the son (Robert Walker) of the family boarder (Monty Woolley); between Walker and Woolley, who can’t bring themselves to get past expectations; in the loyalty of the family cook (Hattie McDaniel) with hardly a patronizing trace of race; and, though it is no longer in fashion, love of country. When they say they don’t make movies like they used to, they’re talking about SINCE YOU WENT AWAY. A lovely and respectful transfer to Blu-ray.

7.
DOCTOR WHO: Series 10
[Blu-ray] (S. Moffat, 2017), BBC,
I may hold a minority view here, but I found Jenna Coleman a downright awful Companion, especially paired with Peter Capaldi, who seemed on the verge of seasickness for his first two seasons. I admit that Jenna’s makeup, with every pore carefully filled and every eyebrow hair precisely trimmed, didn’t help her humanity one bit. Pearl Mackie, on the other hand, the Doctor’s first black companion if I am not mistaken, is everything Jenna is not - a Barbie doll, for one thing, with her hair a-flung this way and not, nor could she mistaken for anything or anyone other than her own woman, despite her character’s name: Bill Potts. And she couples with Capaldi just so. Between the two of them and Moffat’s final season, they bring the Twelfth Doctor to his close with panache and, could it be possible!, originality. The usual standards apply to the Blu-ray.

8.
ORPHAN BLACK: Season 5
[Blu-ray] (G Manson & J Fawcett, 2017), BBC, RA+?
Imaginative & implausible, feminist to the tenth power, engaging, baffling, at times thrilling, often heartwarming, ORPHAN BLACK comes to its conclusion with the fifth season. Whatever else you can say about it, it’s a show that knows when its hand is played out, even if its fanbase is placing odds on which clone will form the basis for the speculative spin-off. (My money is on Alison, as in “The Continuing Adventures of Alison and Donnie.”)

9.
Streets of Fire [Blu-ray] (Walter Hill, 1984) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Unlike Walter Hill’s misjudgment as to adding a comic strip to the otherwise excellent Blu-ray transfer of The Warriors, excess can only be a good thing for STREETS OF FIRE, which happy to say, suffers no such ill treatment in this snappy new transfer from Shout Factory. It hits all the right notes, and gets the sync right as a bonus. Gorgeous, gleaming color, smoke, fire, noise, music, great fight scenes. Let’s give a shout out to Walter and the Gang.

10.
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T [Blu-ray] (Roy Rowland, 1953) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Indicator edition of Dr. Seuss’ 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T makes for a surprising feast of color, music, dance and design, a fantasy musical film from six decades ago, clearly marketed for children, but thoroughly enjoyable for adults who appreciate whimsy and invention - more than the current crop of kids, I imagine. I’d like to be wrong about that.


Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017
(No time to put a DVD list together. Sorry.)
 

Luc Pomerleau

 

1. Celine and Julie Go Boating [Blu-ray] (Jacques Rivette, 1974) RB BFI (BEAVER REVIEW) An essential work of the Nouvelle Vague and perhaps Rivette's most accessible one for non-cinephiles, finally getting an upgraded edition.
2.
The Whales of August [Blu-ray] (Lindsay Anderson, 1987) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW) A neglected elegiac work by this director, featuring perfectly dosed performances by a handful of Hollywood veterans.
3.
Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) The third Welles Shakespearian film to get the royal treatment on BR; a lesson on how cinema can trick the viewer by seamlessly putting together shots filmed months and hundreds of kilometers apart.
4.
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW); ALL A superb restoration for what I think is the first BR for this master of animation. Will we eventually be blessed by a similar effort for the works of Trnka?
5.
Death in the Garden [Blu-ray] (Luis Buñuel, 1956) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW) Not as overtly surrealistic or strange as some of this other features, this is nevertheless completely faithful to the old master's usual political and philosophical concerns.
6.
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T [Blu-ray] (Roy Rowland, 1953) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW) A uniquely imaginative children's movie that is maybe even best suited for adults with a fascination for the absurd.
7.
Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) A beautifully conceived film that grows on me with each viewing, perhaps more than any other by Kubrick, in an well-appointed package.
8.
The Love of a Woman [Blu-ray] (Jean Grémillon, 1953) US / UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW) Not the most celebrated of Grémillon's movies, but the first one to appear on BR in the English-speaking world and offering a very informative documentary the director.
9.
Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW) No real masterpiece in the bunch, but the wealth of relevant and informative bonus material makes this an exemplary edition.
10.
Notfilm / Film [Blu-ray] (Ross Lipman, Alan Schneider, 1965-2015) RB UK BFI Samuel Beckett's only film script may not be the most memorable work in his total oeuvre, but the documentary and other bonuses enhances one's appreciation for this singular short.

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017

1. Voyage à travers le cinéma français (Bertrand Tavernier, 2016) Gaumont; ALL PAL In this 3-disc edition, Tavernier keeps the viewer constantly interested over the 3 hours of the main feature and a further hour and a half of bonus discussion. Excellent news: he has put together a follow-up to cover more in depth several films and directors he could mention mostly in passing (or not at all) in the first outing and this has already been broadcast on French TV, so that a video edition can be expected. (ED. also on Blu-ray)

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Chicago, Illinois, USA

 

1. Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 [Blu-ray] (Limite - Mário Peixoto, Revenge - Ermek Shinarbaev, Insiang - Lino Brocka, Mysterious Object at Noon - Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Law of the Border - Lütfi Ö. Akad, Taipei Story - Edward Yang) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
Vampir Cuadecuc [Blu-ray] (Pere Portabella, 1971) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
The 4 Marx Brothers at Paramount (The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup) [Blu-ray] (1929-1933) RB Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
Ana-ta-han [Blu-ray] (Josef von Sternberg, 1953) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
A Brighter Summer Day [Blu-ray] (Edward Yang, 1991) RB Criterion UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Moses and Aaron [Blu-ray] (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, 1973) Grasshopper Film
8.
Letter from an Unknown Woman [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1948) Olive Signature (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Lost in Paris [Blu-ray] (Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, 2016) Oscilloscope Pictures
10.
A New Leaf [Blu-ray] (Elaine May, 1971) Olive Signature

 

A major reason for listing Criterion's Othello first is that it includes the digital premieres of not one and not two but three Orson Welles features: both of his edits of Othello available with his own soundtracks, heard for the first time in the U.S. in several decades, and Filming Othello, his last feature.

And one more worthy mention:
Black Girl [Blu-ray] (Ousmane Sembène, 1966) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Steve Rutt
 

Top Blu-ray Releases of 2017


1. The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
The Thing - 4K Restored [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
The Marseille Trilogy (Marius, Fanny, César) [Blu-ray] (Alexander Korda, Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol, 1931-1936) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning [Blu-ray] (Maniac, The Gorgon, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Fanatic) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Buster Keaton: 3 Films [Blu-ray] (Sherlock Jr., The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr.) - RB UK Masters of Cinema
8.
My 20th Century [Blu-ray] (Ildikó Enyedi, 1989) RB UK Second Run
9.
Lino Brocka: Two Films [Blu-ray] (Manila in the Claws, Light and Insiang) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
Charlie Chaplin: The Essanay Comedies [Blu-ray] - BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017


1. Porky Pig 101 ( 5-disc) - Warner Archive
2. Every Picture Tells a Story: The Art Films of James Scott (Scott 1984) BFI ALL PAL
3. Louis Malle Documentary Collection (Malle, 1962-1986) Curzon AE, R2 PAL
4. Someday My Prince Will Come (Isaacs 2005) Second Run ALL PAL
5. Ta kafa: Stories from the Street (Zimmerman 2005) Second Run ALL PAL
(BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
The Goddess (Yonggang Wu, 1934) R2 UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
7. Dead Hands Dig Deep (Love 2016) Monster Pictures ALL NTSC
8.
The Spring River Flows East (Chusheng Cai, Junli Zheng, 1947) R2 UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
9. Betjeman - The Collection (Various,1968-1976) Simply Media R2 PAL
10. Eurocrime! The Italian Cop & Gangster Movies that Ruled the 70s (Malloy, 2012) Nucleus, R2 PAL

 

James-Masaki Ryan

1. Baby Driver (2-disc Blu-ray edition) (Edgar Wright, 2017) Sony (Australia) (ALL)
2. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films / Machete Maidens Unleashed (Mark Hartley, 2014 / 2010) Umbrella Entertainment (Australia) (ALL)
3.
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey [Blu-ray] - RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
Horus: Prince of the Sun (Isao Takahata, 1967) Diskotek (US) (RA)
6.
Rebecca [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
7. Rough Stuff (Jonathan Adams, 2017) Rough Stuff Pty Ltd (Australia) (ALL)
8.
The Thing - 4K Restored [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Yen Town Space in Inujima
[Blu-ray]  (Shunji Iwai, 2017) Universal (Japan) (ALL)
10.
Your Name. (5-disc Collector's Edition) (Makoto Shinkai, 2016) Toho (Japan) (ALL)
 

 

Schwarkkve
Once again, sorry to say, we can’t see everything that comes out in a given year. And that means that, for one reason or another, my list of Top Releases for 2017 is missing titles that I would consider to be likely candidates for inclusion- Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 [Blu-ray] (Limite - Mário Peixoto, Revenge - Ermek Shinarbaev, Insiang - Lino Brocka, Mysterious Object at Noon - Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Law of the Border - Lütfi Ö. Akad, Taipei Story - Edward Yang) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW), or the 100 Years of Olympic Films [Blu-ray] (Leni Riefenstahl, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, Miloš Forman etc.) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW), for example. Still, from those I have seen this year, there is a plethora of outstanding contenders. My selections are determined by my personal tastes which are eclectic (or erratic, depending on your p.o.v.), my personal finances, which prohibit, or at least severely inhibit, high end purchases or extensive indulgence, and my personal perspectives which weigh the relative merits of, say, the uniqueness of the production, personal appeal, its importance (artistically, culturally, historically), and the technical excellence of the pressing- along with other more tangible factors such as its availability at sales prices.

Top Blu-ray Releases of 2017
His Girl Friday [Blu-ray] (Howard Hawks, 1940) Criterion Us / UK (BEAVER REVIEW) – Finally, this quiescently Hawksian masterwork, a touchstone of Hollywood comedy and a high point in the careers of everyone involved in the production, receives the treatment it deserves. Light years removed from the bargain bin public domain knockoffs that have surfaced over the years, as well as an improvement over the previous Columbia SD releases of this title, Criterion have provided us with a generous 2-disc package that includes not only an excellent restoration of the film, but interviews with and special features about the cast and crew, trailers, a radio adaption of the film, a clever and informative insert in the form of an edition of the Morning Post, as well as two radio adaptions and a new 4K digital restoration of the “director’s cut” version of the 1931 film The Front Page. Whew! It was a long time coming, but this definitive edition of His Girl Friday was worth the wait.

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy [Blu-ray] ( Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) – Cornerstones of Neorealism, a movement that marked a turning point in postwar cinema, get the deluxe Criterion treatment. Aside from their historical importance and their influence on the next generation of filmmakers, all of these films are extraordinary works of art, expressive and vital, that in retrospect, appear to me classical in their rigorous vision- even as they make use of every means at hand to explore and develop a new way of expressing that vision to the world. This package does these films justice, supporting them in a presentation that is the best I’ve ever seen them look.

The Marseille Trilogy (Marius, Fanny, César) [Blu-ray] (Alexander Korda, Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol, 1931-1936) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) – Another collected trilogy of world classics from Criterion. Landmarks of humanism, whose epic span, theatrical realism and stylized romanticism produce a poetic transcendence. A collection of masterworks complete with extensive supplements, in a box set that is itself a work of art.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles [Blu-ray] (Chantal Akerman, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) - A truly unique cinematic experience that pushes the neorealism esthetic to the edge and beyond. Chantal Akerman’s technique works in contrast to the theatricality and pretense of what we normally think of as cinematic realism, exposing the so-called “reality” as artificial and manipulative. Her seemingly naturalistic depiction of mundane moments is actually a heightened verisimilitude, incorporating elements which evoke the temporal experiments of Warhol’s Sleep or Michael Snow’s Wavelength, the ritualistic behavior of routine actions found in Bresson’s Pickpocket, A Man Escaped, or Diary of a Country Priest, and the minimalism of Dreyer’s Ordet. It seems to me that this approach is also akin to the 1968 Straub and Huillet film, The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach. Both films present their subjects through a meticulous attention to detail, marshaling their various components in such a way as to not recreate reality, but create their own time and place. Akerman’s rendering of time (“(not) real time, not dramatic and codified [cinematic] time. I take ‘my time’…”) evokes a visceral reaction, forcing the viewer to actually experience the moment. Delphine Seyrig doesn’t so much act, as channel her character, not impersonating or representing, but creating Jeanne Dielman through emersion in the actions and the rhythms of the film. Once again, Criterion delivers a deluxe package that includes a booklet, a behind-the-scenes “making of” documentary, the director introducing her first film, and several interviews (including one with Chantal Akerman’s mother!).

Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) – Tarkovsky’s “other” science fiction film, based on the Strugatsky brother’s renowned 1971 novel Roadside Picnic. With the aid of the authors, Tarkovsky scaled back, condensed and altered the original material to provide himself a platform from which to explore his own concerns involving man making his way through a seemingly hostile or indifferent world, facing an environment filled with danger, illogic and contradiction, yet holding out hope for the possibility of salvation, a benevolent outcome, or at least the emergence of some sort of meaning. I’ve about run out of adjectives when it comes to describing the uniform excellence of the Criterion Collections’ restorations and supplemental materials. Suffice it to say that this release is no exception to the rule. The quality and detail of the improved image is profound.

The Lost World [Blu-ray] (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW) / The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) – Two excellent releases of late silent films, both of which are not only entertaining and “firsts” of their kind, but important harbingers of things to come. Willis O’Brien’s stop motion animation anchors the screen adaption of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel, the first ever feature-length commercial production to utilize this innovative technique, and provides the template for King Kong and almost every other dinosaur/adventure/quest for a “lost unknown continent that time forgot” movie to follow. Alfred Hitchcock’s third feature, the first to introduce many of his reoccurring tropes (an innocent man wanted for a crime he did not commit, the association of sex with violence, the idealized blonde heroine), is not only a defining moment in that director’s distinguished body of work (“the first true Hitchcock film”), but also a seminal work in the suspense thriller genre. Both The Lost World and The Lodger have been meticulously restored and packaged with excellent music scores, abundant supplements, informative booklets, and additional films by their creators. Along with copious dinosaur outtakes, The Lost World includes several early Willis O’Brien animated shorts and test footage for the proposed feature Creation (1930). The Lodger includes an entire second Hitchcock feature, the restored 1927, Downhill, also starring Ivor Novello.

Le samouraï [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) – In Le samouraï Melville moves into Bresson territory, applying an austere minimalism to his material while substituting Eastern stoicism and the code of bushido for the other director’s rigorous spiritual discipline and Catholicism. Here, Melville pares back plot, dialogue, even the color palate, to produce a spartan, yet striking, expressionistic effect. The iconic image of Alain Delon’s white gloved, trench coat wearing assassin in a fedora hat is at the same time both broadly rendered and sparingly realized- an exaggerated image that defines the character in a few conspicuous strokes. Many consider this Melville’s best film, and once more, Criterion brings us a primo restoration supported by a first rate set of supplements.

The Lure [Blu-ray] (Agnieszka Smoczyńska, 2015) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) – Another beautiful package featuring a striking one-of-a-kind movie experience- a genre crossing mash-up that that references MGM musicals, horror films, Hans Christian Anderson, feminism and ‘80s MTV among other things. An energetic postmodernist pop art extravaganza that exudes the seeming effortless improvisational certainty of a parkour practitioner navigating up, over, under, around and through their environment. It is nice to see that Criterion supports this kind of promising new cinema as well as the established classics and recognized masterpieces.

Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) – Last year Criterion gave us Chimes at Midnight. This year, it’s not one but two restored versions Welles’ Othello- both the US/UK release and the longer European version. Of course, Criterion bundles in a load of extras to support this disc (interviews, documentaries, a booklet) but the thing that most impressed me about this edition, revealed in the detail of the 4K scans, is the richness of the images and the quality and consistency of the production design. Amazing, considering that the film was shot on shoestring budget in multiple locations over a period of years.

The Adventures of Captain Marvel [Blu-ray] (John English, William Witney, 1941) Kino Lorber  (BEAVER REVIEW) / Daredevils of the Red Circle (12 Chapter Serial) [Blu-ray] (William Witney, 1939)  Kino - These two Blu-rays, although far from being Criterion style restorations packed with supplements, are important releases because they are “official” 1080P editions (remastered in 4K from archival materials) of two of the finest Republic Serials, made by arguably the greatest directing team working in that genre at the peak that studio’s creative output. Which is to say, they represent the acme of sound era serials. Each of these titles has been sited as the best of its kind and can usually be found on any serial aficionado’s Top Ten List. Over the past couple of years, Olive Films has released several of the later Republic cliffhangers (this year they put out a nice bare bones edition of Panther Girl of the Kongo), but these serials have been from the late ‘40s and the ‘50s- a time that is generally seen as a period of decline, of shrinking budgets and disappearing resources, forcing the filmmakers to find evermore inventive ways to rework their materials (stock footage, recycled action sequences, shortened chapter lengths, etc.) as the theatrical short film form was relinquished to television. With The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Daredevils of the Red Circle Kino has provided us with two legendary examples of the art form from its greatest era, presented in excellent quality editions with informative and enthusiastic commentary tracks (albeit somewhat less extensive in Daredevils’ case). Both of these releases are prime examples of the cliffhanger serial, an important and iconic cultural expression, now as extinct as the silent film.

Honorable Mention –

They Live by Night [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1948) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Ray’s confident manipulation of his resources and involvement with his material produce a signature tension in his films, already discernible in this, his first feature. His blending of hard-edged, no-nonsense naturalism, intense melodrama, and unabashed romanticism, wedded to striking visuals and propelled by a committed sense of drama, make for an exhilarating and engaging style. A stunning debut and a key film in the lovers on the run subgenre, this title finally gets the release it deserves. Once again, thank you Criterion.
Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW) – Hands down, the best this masterpiece has ever looked on video. It is absolutely breathtaking, with a 4k digital restoration, correct frame ratio, and an abundance of extras on a second disc.
When Knighthood Was in Flower (Robert G. Vignola, 1922) Undercrank Productions (ALL) – A
promising trend over the past couple of years has been the advent of a DIY movement on the part of movie buffs (film scholars, industry professionals and other interested parties) to restore, or at least clean up and release decent versions of older movies (particularly silents), licensing the rights and obtaining their source materials from private collectors, film museums and archives like MOMA or UCLA. Some of these efforts, like those produced and/or distributed by silent film composer and accompanist Ben Model’s Undercrank Productions (see DVD releases below), are crowd funded and have been very well produced- successfully bringing films, which would have been otherwise unavailable, to a wider, appreciative audience. WKWIF stars Marion Davies in the epic breakout feature that was to make her a star of the first magnitude. Unseen before on home video, the film was scanned from a Library of Congress 35mm nitrate print of the “road show” version, with original tints and a special hand-colored sequence (night riders carrying blazing torches) digitally recreated. This edition contains both Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film with a new theater organ score by Ben Model and a very nice 16-page booklet by film researcher and Marion Davis biographer, Lara Gabrielle Fowler. It is an exemplary independent release of a landmark film that has been little seen in the decades following its theatrical debut.


DVD Releases – I’ve not seen many and purchased only a few “DVD only” releases this year. Of those, the following seem worthy of recognition:

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana, 2017) Kino (Region 1) – This eye-opening, award winning documentary makes a compelling argument for influence of Native American culture on American popular music, specifically rock and roll. Using recordings, archival footage, filmed performances and on camera interviews with musicians, scholars and people in the music industry, Rumble illustrates its thesis and makes its case. Citing the instrumental rhythms and vocal patterns of delta bluesman Charlie Patton, the Big Band stylings of Mildred Bailey, and the proto-rock power chords of Link Ray, the film traces the impact of these and other contributions by Native Americans on the various forms of American music. An informative and entertaining essay on a heretofore neglected topic.

The Mysterious Airman (Henry Revier, 1929) The Sprocket Vault (ALL Regions) – A fairly routine 10-chapter late silent serial featuring generally excellent picture elements, impressive aerial sequences, authentic behind the scenes glimpses at airplane manufacturing, and location work highlighting unspoiled 1920’s southern California landscapes. It has been restored and given an original and atmospheric musicals accompaniment, as well as a knowledgeable and very thorough audio commentary which provides an excellent context for the serial. This entertaining piece of cinema archeology, with its remarkably detailed visuals, authentic period-appropriate musical score and informative elucidation by Richard M. Roberts, allows us to recreate what a typical film going experience must have been like in 1929.

Porky Pig 101 ( 5-disc) - Warner Archive (MOD/ ALL Regions) – A truly archival 5-disc collection of 101 classic Porky Pig cartoons, most of which are black and white, with a couple in 2-strip Technicolor. Presented in chronological order, the quality of the source material ranges from excellent to decent and there are some extras in the form of several commentaries and a couple of storyboards. A nice made-on-demand package put together by the Warner Archive for animation buffs and fans of Warner Bros. “first cartoon superstar.” Entertaining, informative, and of historical interest.

Undercrank Productions 2017 catalogue of DVD releases (Lon Chaney: Before the Thousand Faces: 3 Rare Universal Features from 1915-1916, Whispering Shadows/The Devil’s Assistant (1921/1917), Beauty’s Worth (1922), The Bride’s Play (1922) Undercrank Productions (ALL Regions) - A mixed bag of vintage productions (source material ranging from 35mm nitrate theatrical prints to archival 28mm home viewing releases) lovingly restored and reissued by aficionados both amateur and professional who have made the move from passive consumption to passionate involvement with their pastime. For silent movie fans or anyone interested in cinema history, these releases are definitely worth checking out.

Per-Olof Strandberg

Helsinki, Finland

 

1. The Before Trilogy [Blu-ray] (Before Sunrise - 1995, Before Sunset - 2004, Before Midnight - 2013) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Toni Erdmann Maren Ade 2016 Future Film RB
3. I, Daniel Blake Ken Loach 2016 Scanbox RB
4.
The Story of Sin [Blu-ray] (Walerian Borowczyk, 1975) Arrow Video US

5.
Personal Shopper [Blu-ray] (Olivier Assayas, 2016) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Melville Boxset [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956-1972) StudioCanal, RB
7.
Lady Macbeth
[Blu-ray] William Oldroyd 2016 Altitude Film RB
8.
Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion US UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
Elle [Blu-ray] (Paul Verhoeven, 2016) Sony (BEAVER REVIEW)
10. Toivon tuolla puolen / The Other Side of Hope Aki Kaurismäki 2017 Future Film RB

taikohediyoshi (Michael Connors)
 

Top Blu-ray Releases of 2017

 

Silent:

 

Variety [Blu-ray] (Ewald André Dupont, 1925) RB UK Masters Of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW) There was a 2015 blu ray release by F W Murnau Stiftung with English subtitles, so it should have been the release of that year too. There is a Kino Classics release in the USA. Ewald André Dupont directs Emil Jannings in a carny story much like the ones Lon Chaney made for MGM, but it’s Karl Freund and Carl Hoffmann’s cinematography which makes the movie a lodestar in film history. The Entfesselte Kamera [Unchanged Camera] techniques which were used extensively in Der letzte Mann year before are now used in a less arty, more commercial film to great effect. A big hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Cinema never looked back.

Wagon Tracks Blu-ray--William S. Hart (Actor), Jane Novak (Actor), Lambert Hillyer (Director). At the 50 minute mark, a thirteen minute night sequence begins which is very well done. The night shots are the highlight of the film. John August is the cameraman. Print is in remarkably good condition and the transfer is razor sharp.

2 Short Films of Chaplin 2 Blu-ray Finally someone had the good sense of collecting the shorts Chaplin made for First National, but not in The Chaplin Revue on one Blu-Ray.
The Salvation Hunters DVD - Josef von Sternberg (Regisseur) [dvd only]. This is the movie von Sternberg made before Woman of the Sea. Chaplin like this movie so much that he hired him but he hated the delivered film, the above mentioned Woman of the Sea, so much that he burned that negative.

Anime:

 

Yuri Norstein Collection 2K Restoration Edition Blu-ray The Russian animator gets a Blu-ray release of some of his short films.
In This Corner Of The World (Blu-ray + DVD) The US
Blu-ray has English subtitles and extras. The most visually satisfying experience of the recent anime releases.
I also recommend the
art book in Japanese

"Your Name." Blu-ray Standard Edition
Director: Makoto Shinkai Another very satisfying visual experience. I have the Japanese Blu-ray, and there is also a
North American release at an attractive price. The colors jump off the screen.
Speed Racer: Complete Series [Blu-ray] (Tatsuo Yoshida, 1967) Funimation (BEAVER REVIEW) - no Japanese sound track but we do have Corinne Orr assaying the role of Trixie, the greatest role for an actress since Lady Macbeth.

Two recent live action movies from Asia caught my eye:


[
Nagasaki: Memories of My Son
Blu-ray —dir: Yamada Yoji] (2015 release but English friendly release this year) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Panorama [Hong Kong] Yamada is a favorite of mine. Not as good as The Little House or Kabei, but still very good. Yamada's next film What A Wonderful Family! 2 is out on Japanese blu-ray. No English friendly release yet.
[
Our Time Will Come--dir: Ann Hui]
Blu-ray —Hui’s latest. Hong Kong release has English subtitles. Looks gorgeous—cinematography by Lik-wai Yu. Hui has probably wrapped her part in Eight & a Half which has yet to get a release--as far as I can tell.

Opus Arte has three Shakespeare releases worth your while:


RSC William Shakespeare: The Tempest Blu-ray - Simon Russell Beale (Actor), Mark Quartley (Actor), Simon Trinder (Actor), Gregory Doran (Director) Visually satisfying.
RSC William Shakespeare: King Lear
Blu-ray - Antony Sher (Actor),‎ Natalie Simpson (Actor),‎ Gregory Doran (Director)
Globe on Screen Shakespeare: Richard II
[Charles Edwards; Henry Everett; William Gaunt; Jonny Glynn; David Sturzaker; Simon Goodwin (director) ]
Now both the RSC and The Globe have all released performances of the Henriad plays, (Richard II through Henry V).


From France:


Les Sorcières de Salem [Combo Collector Blu-ray + DVD] Acteurs : Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Mylène Demongeot, Alfred Adam, Pierre Larquey. Réalisateur: Raymond Rouleau. Arthur Miller's The Crucible filmed for the first time. The script by Jean Paul Sartre is an improvement on Miller’s play. Miller’s Crucible also got a blu ray release this year.
Voici le temps des assassins [
Blu-ray] Jean Gabin Julien Duvivier (Réalisateur) got a stand-alone blu ray release on 6 septembre 2017. Last year’s Pathé combo release is oop. One of the greatest policiers francais ever made. Everybody’s bad, and everybody gets what’s coming. NOTE: It does NOT have English subtitles!
 

Gary Tooze

Toronto, Canada

 

Like previous years, I don't feel my input in the poll is essential. It seems redundant for me to mimic the general consensus extolling an impressive lineup of Criterion, Arrow, Indicator, Masters of Cinema editions, of which, I fully concur with all raves expressed. My preference would be to mention discs that I greatly appreciated having on Blu-ray - mostly because of the film and that weren't mentioned extensively by anyone else. It's only my opinion, so here are some of my less-predictable choices, of releases that I felt deserved more love than our poll might express to them. They are in alphabetical order:

 

21 Grams [Blu-ray] (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2003) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)

23 Paces to Baker Street [Blu-ray] (Henry Hathaway, 1956) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Adventures of Captain Marvel [Blu-ray] (John English, William Witney, 1941) Kino Lorber  (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Agnès Varda Collection (Cleo from 5 to 7, Jacquot de Nantes, L'une chante, l'autre pas, Le Bonheur, The Gleaners and I, The Beaches of Agnès, Vagabond, La Pointe Courte) [Blu-ray] (Agnès Varda) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW (BEAVER REVIEW (BEAVER REVIEW)

Barton Fink [Blu-ray] (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 1991) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Beggars of Life [Blu-ray] (William A. Wellman, 1928) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Burning Bed [Blu-ray] (Robert Greenwald, 1984) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

China Moon [Blu-ray] (John Bailey, 1994) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Compulsion [Blu-ray] (Richard Fleischer, 1959) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Criss Cross [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1949) Cinema Cult (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Culpepper Cattle Co. [Blu-ray] (Dick Richards, 1972) RB UK Signal One (BEAVER REVIEW)

Dawson City: Frozen Time [Blu-ray] (Bill Morrison, 2016) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Day of the Jackal [Blu-ray] (Fred Zinnemann, 1973) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz, 2007) Region FREE Dissidenz Films

Erik the Conqueror [Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1961) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

Fritz Lang: The Silent Films (The Spiders, Harakiri (SD), The Wandering Shadow (SD), Four Around a Woman, Destiny, Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, Spies, Woman in the Moon, The Plague in Florence) [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1919-1929) Kino

German Concentration Camps Factual Survey [Blu-ray] - RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

Gold [Blu-ray] (Stephen Gaghan, 2016) Lionsgate (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (50th Anniversary Special Edition) [Blu-ray] (Sergio Leone, 1966) - Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Hammer Film Edition [Blu-ray] (The Horror of Frankenstein, Scars of Dracula, Blood from the Mummy's Tomb, Demons of the Mind, Straight on Till Morning, Fear in the Night, and Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde) Studio Canal DE

Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning [Blu-ray] (Maniac, The Gorgon, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Fanatic) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

Housekeeping [Blu-ray] (Bill Forsyth, 1987) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

I'll Be Seeing You [Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1945) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Indian Runner [Blu-ray] (Sean Penn, 1991) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Inferno 2D + 3D [Blu-ray] (Roy Ward Baker, 1953) Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Informer [Blu-ray] (Arthur Robison, 1929) - RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

Island of Terror [Blu-ray] (Terence Fisher, 1966) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

Junior Bonner [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1972) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

Lifeboat [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1944) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Lost World [Blu-ray] (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Love Witch [Blu-ray] (Anna Biller, 2016) Oscilloscope Laboratories (BEAVER REVIEW)

Love with the Proper Stranger [Blu-ray] (Robert Mulligan, 1963) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Lovers on the Bridge [Blu-ray] (Leos Carax, 1991) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Ludwig (4-Disc Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] (Luchino Visconti, 1973) RB Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

Magnificent Obsession [Blu-ray] (Douglas Sirk, 1954) RB FR Elephant Films (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Man from Planet X [Blu-ray] (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Man with Two Brains [Blu-ray] (Carl Reiner, 1983) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Manster - Half Man, Half Monster [Blu-ray] (George P. Breakston, Kenneth G. Crane, 1959) Shout! Factory

The Miracle Worker [Blu-ray] (Arthur Penn, 1962) Olive (BEAVER REVIEW)

Night Moves [Blu-ray] (Arthur Penn, 1975) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

OSS 117: Five Film Collection (OSS 117 Is Unleashed / OSS 117: Panic in Bangkok / OSS 117: Mission For a Killer / OSS 117: Mission to Tokyo / OSS 117: Double Agent) [Blu-ray] (various, 1963-1968) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Party [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1968) RB UK Eureka Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Piano Teacher [Blu-ray] (Michael Haneke, 2001) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Portrait of Jennie [Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1948) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

Quarry [Blu-ray] TV Series (Michael D. Fuller, Graham Gordy, 2016) HBO (BEAVER REVIEW)

Rawhead Rex [Blu-ray] (George Pavlou, 1986) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

Rawhide [Blu-ray] (Henry Hathaway, 1951) RB UK Signal One Entertainment (BEAVER REVIEW)

Ride the High Country [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1962) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Savage Innocents [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1960) Olive Films (BEAVER REVIEW)

Seven Days in May [Blu-ray] (John Frankenheimer, 1964) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Sicilian Clan [Blu-ray] (Henri Verneuil, 1969) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Silkwood [Blu-ray] (Mike Nichols, 1983) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Since You Went Away [Blu-ray] (John Cromwell, 1944) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Something Wild [Blu-ray] (Jack Garfein, 1961) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

La Strada [Blu-ray] (Federico Fellini, 1954) RB UK Studio Canal (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh [Blu-ray] (Sergio Martino, 1971) RB UK Shameless (BEAVER REVIEW)

Streets of Fire [Blu-ray] (Walter Hill, 1984) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

Swept Away [Blu-ray] (Lina Wertmüller, 1974) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Take the Money and Run [Blu-ray] (Woody Allen, 1969) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Terror in a Texas Town [Blu-ray] (Joseph H. Lewis, 1958) Arrow US/ UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? [Blu-ray] (Sydney Pollack, 1969) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Tower [Blu-ray] (Keith Maitland, 2016) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Umberto D [Blu-ray] (Vittorio De Sica, 1952) RB UK Cult Films (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Unknown Girl [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, 2016) RB UK Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Vampire's Ghost [Blu-ray] (Lesley Selander, 1945) Olive (BEAVER REVIEW)

Veep - Season 5 [Blu-ray] - HBO

The Vikings [Blu-ray] (Richard Fleischer, 1958) RB UK Eureka Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Wasp Woman / Beast from Haunted Cave [Blu-ray] (Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Monte Hellman, 1959) Retromedia (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Wonderful Worlds Of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 2: 1961-1964  [Blu-ray] (Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts, First Men in the Moon) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

Woody Allen: Seven Films - 1986-1991 [Blu-ray] - Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Radio Days (1987), September (1987), Another Woman (1988), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Alice (1990), Shadows and Fog (1991) - RB UK Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Yellow Handkerchief (Yoji Yamada, 1977) Twilight Time; RA (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

DVD

Coronet Blue - The Complete Series (1967) Kino Lorber

The Goddess (Yonggang Wu, 1934) R2 UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Spring River Flows East (Chusheng Cai, Junli Zheng, 1947) R2 UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

James White
Head of Restoration, Arrow Films

 

1. Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films
2.
The Old Dark House [Blu-ray] (James Whale, 1932) Cohen Media Group (BEAVER REVIEW)
3.
The Cremator [Blu-ray] (Juraj Herz, 1969) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
Liquid Sky (Slava Tsukerman, 1982) (Vinegar Syndrome
5.
The Breaking Point [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Funeral Parade of Roses [Blu-ray] (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969) Cinelicious Pics (BEAVER REVIEW)
7.
Drunken Master [Blu-ray] (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1978) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
All the Sins of Sodom / Vibrations [Blu-ray] (Joseph W. Sarno, 1968) Film Movement Classics
9.
Hardcore [Blu-ray] (Paul Schrader, 1979) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

10. The Wages of Fear [Blu-ray] (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

Protocol precludes me from including any of the Arrow titles I’ve worked on this year, but I feel especially privileged to have overseen new restorations of
The Apartment (Billy Wilder), The Thing (John Carpenter), Ronin (John Frankenheimer), Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Phenomena and Cat O’Nine Tails, George Romero’s The Crazies and Season of the Witch, Mario Bava’s Caltiki, the Immortal Monster and Erik the Conqueror, The Legend of the Holy Drinker (Ermanno Olmi) and A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton). My sincere thanks to the great restorations teams I’ve worked with on these and all our other projects this year.

 

Colin Zavitz
DVDBeaver VP of business development and versatile misc. stuff,
Toronto, Ontario

 

1. Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
2.
Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films
3.
Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
4.
The Handmaiden - Special Edition [Blu-ray] (Chan-wook Park, 2016) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW)
5.
The Thing - 4K Restored [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
6.
Le samouraï [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)  
7.
Blood Rage [Blu-ray] (John Grissmer, 1987) Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
8.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1970) UK/ US Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
9.
George Romero Between Night And Dawn Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (In There s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch and 1973's The Crazies) Arrow US / UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
10.
Rawhead Rex [Blu-ray] (George Pavlou, 1986) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2017

1.The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016) Strand Releasing; R1

 

 

TOP SELECTIONS IN ORDER - Top 100 Voted Upon (minimum 3 separate votes required):

 

  Votes

           1.      Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)

533

           2.      Othello [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1952) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)

  462

           3.      Stalker [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

  332

           4.      Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films

  229

           5.      The Thing - 4K Restored [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

  216

           6.      The Fabulous Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1962) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

  202

           7.      Buster Keaton: 3 Films [Blu-ray] (Sherlock Jr., The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr.) - RB UK Masters of Cinema

  198

           8.      Blow-Up [Blu-ray] (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

  197

           9.      The Wages of Fear [Blu-ray] (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

  191

           10.    The Old Dark House [Blu-ray] (James Whale, 1932) Cohen Media Group (BEAVER REVIEW)

  189

           11.    The Marseille Trilogy (Marius, Fanny, César) [Blu-ray] (Alexander Korda, Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol, 1931-1936) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

  180

           12.    Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology [Blu-ray] (Alice Guy, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Lotte Reiniger, et.al, 1902-1946) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

  171

           13.    Le samouraï [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

  168

           14.    His Girl Friday [Blu-ray] (Howard Hawks, 1940) Criterion Us / UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

  165

           15.    Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 [Blu-ray] (Limite - Mário Peixoto, Revenge - Ermek Shinarbaev, Insiang - Lino Brocka, Mysterious Object at Noon - Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Law of the Border - Lütfi Ö. Akad, Taipei Story - Edward Yang) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)

  158

           16.    Celine and Julie Go Boating [Blu-ray] (Jacques Rivette, 1974) RB BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

  134

           17.    Four Film Noir Classics (The Dark Mirror, Secret Beyond the Door, Force of Evil, The Big Combo) [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph H. Lewis, 1946-1955) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

  113

           18.    Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy [Blu-ray] ( Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

   110

           19.    The Lost World [Blu-ray] (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

   107

           20.    The Before Trilogy [Blu-ray] (Before Sunrise - 1995, Before Sunset - 2004, Before Midnight - 2013) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

   106

           21.    The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

   105

           22.    Ana-ta-han [Blu-ray] (Josef von Sternberg, 1953) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

    103

           23.    Tampopo [Blu-ray] (Juzo Itami, 1985) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    102

           24.    The Breaking Point [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    101

           25.    Beggars of Life [Blu-ray] (William A. Wellman, 1928) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    99

           26.    Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1974) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    97

           27.    Le Moulin [Blu-ray] (Huang Ya Li, 2015), Roots Films (RA)

    95

           28.    One-Eyed Jacks [Blu-ray] (Marlon Brando, 1961) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    94

           29.    The Pumpkin Eater [Blu-ray] (Jack Clayton, 1964) UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

    93

           30.    The Young Girls of Rochefort [Blu-ray] (Jacques Demy, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    90

           31.    The Wonderful Worlds Of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 2: 1961-1964  [Blu-ray] (Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts, First Men in the Moon) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

    84

           32.    Ghost World [Blu-ray] (Terry Zwigoff, 2001) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)

    83

           33.    Witchhammer [Blu-ray] (Otakar Vávra, 1970) Region FREE UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

    82

           34.    Ride the High Country [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1962) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

    80

           35.    Death in the Garden [Blu-ray] (Luis Buñuel, 1956) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)

    77

           35.    Housekeeping [Blu-ray] (Bill Forsyth, 1987) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW) 

    76

           37.    L'argent [Blu-ray] (Robert Bresson, 1983) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    75

           38.    The Cremator [Blu-ray] (Juraj Herz, 1969) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

    72

           39.    The Éric Rohmer Collection (The Aviator's Wife | A Good Marriage | Pauline at the Beach | Full Moon in Paris | The Green Ray | My Girlfriend's Boyfriend | The Marquise of O... | Perceval | Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle | The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque) [Blu-ray] (Éric Rohmer, 1976-1993) RB UK Arrow 

    69

           39.    The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1970) UK/ US Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    69

           39.    The Story of Sin [Blu-ray] (Walerian Borowczyk, 1975) Arrow Video US

    69

           42.    George Romero Between Night And Dawn Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (In There s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch and 1973's The Crazies) Arrow US / UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

    65

           42.    The Earrings of Madame de... [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1953) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

    65

           44.    Funeral Parade of Roses [Blu-ray] (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969) Cinelicious Pics (BEAVER REVIEW)

    64

           44.    The Big Heat [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1953) - UK Powerhouse Films (BEAVER REVIEW)

    64

           46.    Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning [Blu-ray] (Maniac, The Gorgon, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Fanatic) Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

    62

           47.    The Vietnam War (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, 2017). PBS, RA

    57

           47.    Charlie Chaplin: The Essanay Comedies [Blu-ray] - BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

    57

           49.    Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism [Blu-ray] (Eros + Massacre, Heroic Purgatory and Coup d'etat) - Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)

    55

           49.    Letter from an Unknown Woman [Blu-ray] (Max Ophüls, 1948) Olive Signature (BEAVER REVIEW

    55

           51.    Rebecca [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    53

           52.    Behind the Door [Blu-ray] (Irvin Willat, 1919) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

    52

           52.    Lino Brocka: Two Films [Blu-ray] (Manila in the Claws, Light and Insiang) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

    52

           52.    Liquid Sky (Slava Tsukerman, 1982) (Vinegar Syndrome

    52

           55.    Junior Bonner [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1972) Kino Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

    50

           55.    The Piano Teacher [Blu-ray] (Michael Haneke, 2001) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    50

           57.    Melville Boxset (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956-1972) StudioCanal, RB

    43

           57.    The Sinbad Trilogy (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger) [Blu-ray] (1958-1977) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    43

           57.    They Live by Night [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1948) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    43

           60.    Les Sorcières de Salem [Blu-ray] (Raymond Rouleau, 1957), Pathé (RB)

    41

           60.    Variety (aka Varieté) [Blu-ray] (Ewald André Dupont, 1925) Kino Lorber (Kino version with Berklee Silent Orchestra score)

    41

           62.    Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz, 2007) Region FREE Dissidenz Films

    40

           62.    Panic in the Streets [Blu-ray] (Elia Kazan, 1950) RB UK Signal One (BEAVER REVIEW)

    40

           62.    Spotlight on a Murderer [Blu-ray] (Georges Franju, 1961) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    40

           65.    Sorcerer [Blu-ray] (40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) (William Friedkin, 1977) RB UK Entertainment One

    39

           65.    Love with the Proper Stranger [Blu-ray] (Robert Mulligan, 1963) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    39

           65.    The Last Detail [Blu-ray] (Hal Ashby, 1973) RB Powerhouse Films UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    39

           65.    The Yellow Handkerchief (Yoji Yamada, 1977) Twilight Time; RA (BEAVER REVIEW)

    39

           69.    Vampyr [Blu-ray] (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1932) Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)

    37

           70.    100 Years of Olympic Films [Blu-ray] (Leni Riefenstahl, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, Miloš Forman etc.) - Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

    36

           70.    The Handmaiden - Special Edition [Blu-ray] (Chan-wook Park, 2016) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW)

    36

           70.    Dawson City: Frozen Time [Blu-ray] (Bill Morrison, 2016) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    36

           70.    The Philadelphia Story [Blu-ray] (George Cukor, 1940) Criterion US / UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    36

           70.    The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T [Blu-ray] (Roy Rowland, 1953) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    36

           75.    Deluge [Blu-ray] (Felix E. Feist, 1933) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    33

           75.    Carrie - Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (Brian De Palma, 1976) RB UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    33

           77.    The Agnès Varda Collection (Cleo from 5 to 7, Jacquot de Nantes, L'une chante, l'autre pas, Le Bonheur, The Gleaners and I, The Beaches of Agnès, Vagabond, La Pointe Courte) [Blu-ray] (Agnès Varda) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW (BEAVER REVIEW (BEAVER REVIEW)

    31

           78.    Swept Away [Blu-ray] (Lina Wertmüller, 1974) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

    30

           78.    Since You Went Away [Blu-ray] (John Cromwell, 1944) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    30

           78.    I'll Be Seeing You [Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1945) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    30

           81.    Fritz Lang: The Silent Films (The Spiders, Harakiri (SD), The Wandering Shadow (SD), Four Around a Woman, Destiny, Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, Spies, Woman in the Moon, The Plague in Florence) [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1919-1929) Kino

    29

           82.    Inferno 2D + 3D [Blu-ray] (Roy Ward Baker, 1953) Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW)

    27

           83.    The Informer [Blu-ray] (Arthur Robison, 1929) - RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

    25

           84.    Ludwig (4-Disc Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] (Luchino Visconti, 1973) RB Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    24

           84.    The 4 Marx Brothers at Paramount (The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup) [Blu-ray] (1929-1933) RB Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) (BEAVER REVIEW)

    24

           86.    Vampir Cuadecuc [Blu-ray] (Pere Portabella, 1971) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

    22

           86.    The Lady from Shanghai [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1947) Region FREE Indicator UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    22

           88.    The Love of a Woman [Blu-ray] (Jean Grémillon, 1953) US / UK Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    21

           88.    Black Girl [Blu-ray] (Ousmane Sembène, 1966) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    21

           88.    La Strada [Blu-ray] (Federico Fellini, 1954) RB UK Studio Canal (BEAVER REVIEW)

    21

           91.    Mildred Pierce [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1945) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    20

           91.    The Taisho Trilogy (Limited Edition) (Zigeunerweisen, Kageroza, Yumeji) [Blu-ray] (Seijun Suzuki, 1980-1991) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

    20

           93.    Bend of the River [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1952) RB DE Alive (BEAVER REVIEW)

    19

           93.    The Legend of the Holy Drinker  [Blu-ray] (Ermanno Olmi, 1988) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

    19

           95.    Ken Loach Collection [Blu-ray] (Riff Raff, Raining Stones, Ladybird Ladybird) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)

    18

           95.    Moses and Aaron [Blu-ray] (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, 1973) Grasshopper Film

    18

           97.    Manina, The Lighthouse-Keeper's Daughter [Blu-ray] (Willy Rozier, 1952) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)

    15

           98.    The Adventures of Captain Marvel [Blu-ray] (John English, William Witney, 1941) Kino Lorber  (BEAVER REVIEW)

    14

           99.    Variety [Blu-ray] (Ewald André Dupont, 1925) RB UK Masters Of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)

    13

           99.    Blood Rage [Blu-ray] (John Grissmer, 1987) Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)

    13

 

THE WINNERS - DVD

 

 

First Place is Icarus Films DVD of Eight Films By Jean Rouch. Jean Rouch was an inspiration for the French New Wave (in 1968 Jacques Rivette would say Rouch is the force behind all French cinema of the past ten years ), and a revolutionary force in ethnography and the study of Africa. From 1946 when he made his first film in Niger, until his death in 2004, Rouch made more than 100 films, most on African subjects, including the seven which are the focus of this boxed-set. Beginning in 1955 with his most controversial film THE MAD MASTERS (Les Maîtres fous), through 1969 s darkly comic LITTLE BY LITTLE, these films represent the most sustained flourishing of Rouch s practice of shared anthropology, a process of collaboration with his subjects. Astonishing on their own terms, now restored and released for the first time, EIGHT FILMS BY JEAN ROUCH is essential for anyone interested in better understanding the development of ethnography and the cross-currents of colonialism and post-colonial social change in Africa, as well as documentary film practice, film history, and world cinema as a whole.

                      

 

 

Second Place is Warner's Porky Pig 101. That’s NOT all, folks! Warner Bros. first cartoon superstar, everyone’s favorite pantless porcine, Porky Pig, takes center stage. From his humble beginnings as the breakout star of a schoolhouse talent show in I Haven’t Got a Hat to his slimmer, slaphappy sidekick stage alongside Daffy Duck in Porky Pig’s Feat, across Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes, in two-strip Technicolor and scintillating black and white, Porky’s ascent from rascally school gang member to superstar spokespig is fully on display in this 5-disc, 101-cartoon (plus some bonuses) collection. Presented in chronological order, with key commentary by noted animation scholar and superfan Jerry Beck on select shorts of significance, this tome contains all the ’toons you need to become a true professor of Porky Pig-ology.

.

              

 

 

Third Place is BFI's The Goddess ("Shen nu"). Ruan Lingyu, one of the most famous stars of early Chinese cinema, gives a devastating performance as an unnamed goddess an ironic euphemism for a prostitute in this profoundly moving but rarely seen classic of world cinema. A tragic tale of shame and maternal sacrifice, Ruan stars as a mother desperate to provide for her young son and forced to take brutal vengeance on her pimp.

Newly restored by the Chinese Film Archive, this iconic film boasts a new score by renowned composer Zou Ye. Premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2014, this long-awaited release makes one of the most important early Chinese films finally available on DVD in the UK, and will delight all fans of silent cinema.

 

         

 

 

Fourth Place is BFI's The Sprimng River Flows East ("Yi jiang chun shui xiang dong liu").Often cited as one of the masterpieces of Chinese cinema, The Spring River Flows East is an epic and tragic melodrama set in Shanghai and Chungking around the time of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Part one, Eight War-Torn Years, tells the heart-rending story of a working-class couple, Sufen (Bai Yang) and Zhang Zhongliang (Tao Jin), who marriage is torn apart when the war forces Zhongliang to flee from Shanghai to Chungking. Part two, The Dawn, sees Zhongliang return to Shanghai. His fortunes transformed, he has married into a wealthy bourgeois family but his world is undone by a chance meeting with the now-destitute Sufen.

   

         

     

 

 

 

Fifth Place is Strand Releasing's The Ornithologist. Fernando, a solitary ornithologist, is looking for endangered black storks along a remote river in northern Portugal when he is swept away by the rapids. Rescued by a couple of Chinese pilgrim girls on their way to Santiago de Compostela, he plunges into a dark, eerie forest, trying to get back on track. But as he encounters unexpected and uncanny obstacles and people who put him to the test, Fernando is driven to extreme, transformative actions. Gradually he becomes a different man: inspired, multifaceted, and finally enlightened.

 

      

 

 

BLU-RAYs OF THE YEAR

   
First Place is Criterion's Barry Lyndon.  Stanley Kubrick bent the conventions of the historical drama to his own will in this dazzling vision of brutal aristocracy, adapted from a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. In picaresque detail, Barry Lyndon chronicles the adventures of an incorrigible trickster (Ryan O'Neal) whose opportunism takes him from an Irish farm to the battlefields of the Seven Years' War and the parlors of high society. For the most sumptuously crafted film of his career, Kubrick recreated the decadent surfaces and intricate social codes of the period, evoking the light and texture of eighteenth-century painting with the help of pioneering cinematographic techniques and lavish costume and production design, all of which earned Academy Awards. The result is a masterpiece a sardonic, devastating portrait of a vanishing world whose opulence conceals the moral vacancy at its heart.

         

 

 

In Second Place Criterion's Othello. Gloriously cinematic despite its tiny budget, Orson Welles's Othello is a testament to the filmmaker s stubborn willingness to pursue his vision to the ends of the earth. Unmatched in his passionate identification with Shakespeare's imagination, Welles brings his inventive visual approach to this enduring tragedy of jealousy, bigotry, and rage, and also gives a towering performance as the Moor of Venice, alongside Suzanne Cloutier as the innocent Desdemona, and Micheal MacLiammoir as the scheming Iago. Shot over the course of three years in Italy and Morocco and plagued by many logistical problems, this fiercely independent film joins Macbeth and Chimes at Midnight in making the case for Welles as the cinema's most audacious interpreter of the Bard. 

         

 

 

Third Place is Criterion's Blu-ray of Andrei Tarkovsky's final Soviet feature - a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic postapocalyptic landscape, and a rarefied cinematic experience like no other. A hired guide the Stalker leads a writer and a scientist into the heart of the Zone, the restricted site of a long-ago disaster, where the three men eventually zero in on the Room, a place rumored to fulfill one s most deeply held desires. Adapting a science-fiction novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Tarkovsky created an immersive world with a wealth of material detail and a sense of organic atmosphere. A religious allegory, a reflection of contemporaneous political anxieties, a meditation on film itself Stalker envelops the viewer by opening up a multitude of possible meanings.

        

 

 

Fourth Place is Synapse Films, Limited Edition Steelbook, of Dario Argento's masterpiece of horror comes to home video in an exclusive new 4K restoration from the original uncut, uncensored 35mm Italian camera negative and with the original 4.0 English surround sound, for the first time EVER! Painstakingly restored over the past three years, Synapse Films has created the ultimate special edition of SUSPIRIA with the supervision and approval of the film s Director of Photography, Luciano Tovoli, and loaded with a separate Blu-ray disc of amazing extras! SUSPIRIA is presented in its original glory for its 40th Anniversary!

 

 

 

Fifth Place is Arrow's The Thing - A research team based out in the snowy wilds of Antarctica find themselves besieged by a terrifying, shape-shifting creature which has found its way into their base. When it becomes clear that the creature can take the form of any organism it so chooses, the tension within the team reaches breaking point any one of them could be... The Thing.

Critically panned at the time of its release, John Carpenter's The Thing has rightly gone on to become one of the most celebrated sci-fi horror efforts ever made now newly restored by Arrow Video in a stunning 4K transfer supervised by Carpenter and director of photography Dean Cundey.

 

           

 

 

Sixth Place is Second Run's The Fabulous Baron Munchausen. Often described as the Czech Méliès , visionary filmmaker Karel Zeman has been a profound influence on whole generations of film artists from Jan vankmajer to Tim Burton, the Quay Brothers to Terry Gilliam, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Wes Anderson. His ground-breaking innovations in the use of live-action and animation mark him as one of the great masters of 20th Century fantasy cinema, ranking alongside his more celebrated Western counterparts Willis O Brien and Ray Harryhausen. The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (Baron Prá il) is perhaps Zeman's most beloved achievement.

Still regarded as the finest film adaptation of Gottfried August Bürger's outlandish tales of Baron Munchausen (made famous in his 1786 book), Zeman's wildly inventive and outrageously fun take on the incredible adventures of the bragging Baron come to life in a film celebrating the courage and imagination of dreamers and poets.

 

             

 

 

Seventh Place is Masters of Cinema's Buster Keaton: 3 Films (Sherlock Jr., The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr.). Between 1920 and 1929, Buster Keaton created a peerless run of feature films that established him as "arguably the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies". Collected here are three key films from that era; Sherlock Jr., The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr. Together they represent a true master at his peak, and The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present all three films from stunning new 4K restorations available for the first time on Blu-ray anywhere in the world.

 
 

 

In Eight Place is Criterion's Blow-Up - In 1966, Michelangelo Antonioni (L’avventura) transplanted his existentialist ennui to the streets of swinging London for this international sensation, the Italian filmmaker’s English-language debut. A countercultural masterpiece about the act of seeing and the art of image making, Blow-Up takes the form of a psychological mystery, starring David Hemmings (Deep Red) as a fashion photographer who unknowingly captures a death on film after following two lovers in a park. Antonioni’s meticulous aesthetic control and intoxicating color palette breathe life into every frame, and the jazzy sounds of Herbie Hancock, a beautifully evasive performance by Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), and a cameo by the Yardbirds make the film a transporting time capsule from a bygone era. Blow‑Up is a seductive immersion into creative passion, and a brilliant film by one of cinema’s greatest artists.

.

            

 

 

Ninth Place is BFI's 4K Restoration of Henri-Georges Clouzot The Wages of Fear Critically hailed upon its original release, The Wages of Fear has maintained its reputation as a classic of world cinema and was responsible for propelling its director Henri-Georges Clouzot to international fame.

In a squalid South American village, four desperate men are hired by a US oil company to embark on a treacherous journey, transporting a volatile cargo of nitro-glycerine to a massive oil well fire. Friendships and courage are pushed to the limit in this nail-biting thriller by a director who would go on to be dubbed the 'French Hitchcock'.

 

             

 

 

Tenth Place is Cohen Media's The Old Dark House. From the director of Frankenstein, a group of stranded travelers stumble upon a strange old house, and find themselves at the mercy of the highly eccentric, and potentially dangerous, Femm family. This well-performed, atmospheric thriller features the first starring horror role for Boris Karloff, as the hulking, disfigured butler. Based on the novel Benighted (1927) by J. B. Priestley. The Cohen Film Collection is proud to present this stunning new 4K restoration.

         

 

 

Label Results

 

Top Labels (total votes over 100)


#1 - Criterion (1984) 
#2 - Arrow Video (717)

#3 - Kino Lorber (548)

#4 - Eureka - including MoC (416)
#5 - Indicator (402)
#6 - Warner (298)
#7 - BFI (297)
#8 - Second Run (264)

#9 + #10 - Flicker Alley and Synapse - tied (206)

 

Once again Criterion just have so many strong releases, but congratulations should go to Kino who have jumped up a few spots from last year and Second Run (solely on the strength of their Blu-ray releases). Honorable mention (in no order): Lionsgate, Twilight Time, Vinegar Syndrome, Olive, Studio Canal (UK), Severin, Artificial Eye, Signal One, Oscilloscope, Network, Shout! Factory, Vinegar Syndrome, Universal, Sony and Cohen Media...

 

 

Film Noir on Blu-ray

Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann, Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, Michael Curtiz, Joseph H. Lewis, Robert Aldrich, Samuel Fuller are just a few of heavy-hitters of film noir who saw their films upgraded to blu-ray format last year, sometimes for the first time, sometime in superior edition.  There were a few hiccups - disappointing upgrade of The Stranger from Olive Films and a missing minute of The Big Knife from Arrow Academy (first reported in a DVDBeaver review that, thankfully, was acknowledged and a replacement program been promised).  But there have been more good news.  We have 2 new studios joining film noir market - Powerhouse Films in UK with their outstanding presentation of Columbia Pictures movies (hopefully, more studios will join) and ClassicFlix in US providing us with remastered editions of neglected classics, often with nice supplements. The Criterion Collection added a number of film noirs to their lineup, including one of Gary's favorite They Live by Night and one of my favorites, little seen and underrated until now The Breaking Point.  Looking back, it's been a great year for "dark cinema" in HD, so here is the list of titles released in 2017 (don't forget to check out our Essential noir on blu page that debuted in 2017). We include a few titles that may not be classified as film noir, but would be interesting to seek by noir aficionados.                                                

-Gregory Meshman

Another Man's Poison (Irving Rapper, 1951) ClassicFlix
The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955) RB UK Arrow Academy
 
The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1951) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films)
The Big Knife (Robert Aldrich, 1955) Arrow Academy
The Breaking Point (Michael Curtiz, 1950) The Criterion Collection
Call Northside 777 (Henry Hathaway, 1948) RB DE Pidax
 
Crime of Passion (Gerd Oswald, 1957) ClassicFlix
The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Twilight Time

Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949) R0 AUSTRALIA Cinema Cult (Shock)
The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak, 1950) RB UK Arrow Academy
Force of Evil (Gerd Oswald, 1948) RB UK Arrow Academy

Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945) Kino Lorber

He Walked By Night (Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann, 1948) ClassicFlix
Hell Drivers (Cy Endfield, 1957) RB UK Network
Hell on Frisco Bay (Frank Tuttle, 1955) Warner Archive 
The Killer Is Loose (Budd Boetticher, 1954) ClassicFlix
Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947) Twilight Time

The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films)

The Man Between (Carol Reed, 1953) RB UK StudioCanal
Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941) RB UK Signal One

The Man Who Died Twice (Joseph Kane, 1958) Kino Lorber

Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945) The Criterion Collection

Panic in the Streets (Elia Kazan, 1950) RB UK Signal One

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) The Criterion Collection
The Scar (aka Hollow Triumph) (Steve Sekely, 1948) Kino Lorber
Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang, 1947) RB UK Arrow Academy

The Stranger (Orson Welles, 1946) Olive Films
T-Men (Anthony Mann, 1947) ClassicFlix
They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948) The Criterion Collection
You Only Live Once (Fritz Lang, 1937) ClassicFlix

 

Giallo on Blu-ray in 2017

 

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 this year from Shameless, Shout! Factory, Cult Epics, X-Rated Kult Video, 88 Films, Arrow UK / US , Dorado Films, Synapse US, Code Red, Blue Underground of films by Sergio Martino, Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Fernando Di Leo, Luciano Ercoli, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, Emilio Miraglia, Francesco Barilli, Sergio Martino and others.

NOTE: Death Walks / Red Queen are for standalone editions that were released in 2017. Initially they were released in sets in 2016.

 

All the Colors of the Dark [Blu-ray] (Sergio Martino, 1972) RB UK Shameless
Amuck [Blu-ray] (Silvio Amadio, 1972) RB UK 88 Films
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1970) Arrow UK / US
Bitterer Whiskey (aka Two Males for Alexa) [Blu-ray] (Juan Logar, 1971) RB DE VZ-Handelsgesellschaft
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (in The Paul Naschy Collection) [Blu-ray] (Carlos Aured, 1974) Shout! Factory 
Body Puzzle [Blu-ray] (Lamberto Bava, 1992) RB UK 88 Films
Cold-Blooded Beast (aka Slaughter Hotel) [Blu-ray] (Fernando Di Leo, 1971) RB UK 88 Films
Death Laid an Egg [Blu-ray] (Giulio Questi, 1968) Cult Epics (no review for this edition)
Death Walks at Midnight [Blu-ray] (Luciano Ercoli, 1972) Arrow Video UK / US
Death Walks on High Heels [Blu-ray
] (Luciano Ercoli, 1971) Arrow Video UK / US
Delirium [Blu-ray] (Lamberto Bava, 1987) RB UK 88 Films / Code Red US
Don't Torture a Duckling [Blu-ray] (Lucio Fulci, 1972) Arrow Video UK / US
A Dragonfly for Each Corpse
(in The Paul Naschy Collection II) [Blu-ray] (León Klimovsky, 1975) Shout! Factory 
Eyeball
[Blu-ray
] (Umberto Lenzi, 1975) RB DE X-Rated Kult Video 
The Fox with a Velvet Tail (aka In the Eye of the Hurricane) [Blu-ray] (José María Forqué, 1971) Mondo Macabro US / RB UK 88 Films
The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave [Blu-ray
] (Emilio Miraglia, 1971) Arrow UK / US
The Night of the Scorpion [Blu-ray] (Alfonso Balcázar, 1972) Dorado Films  
The Perfume of the Lady in Black [Blu-ray] (Francesco Barilli, 1974)  RB UK 88 Films
Phenomena [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1985) Synapse US / Arrow Video UK
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times [Blu-ray] (Emilio Miraglia, 1972) Arrow UK / US
The Slasher ...Is the Sex Maniac! (aka So Sweet, So Dead) [Blu-ray] (Roberto Bianchi Montero, 1972) Code Red

The Stendhal Syndrome [Blu-ray]  (Dario Argento, 1996) Blue Underground

The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh [Blu-ray] (Sergio Martino, 1971) RB UK Shameless

The Suspicious Death of a Minor [Blu-ray] (Sergio Martino, 1975) Arrow UK / US

Suspiria Three disc (2 Blu-rays + 1 CD) LE [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films

Torso [Blu-ray] (Sergio Martino, 1973) RB UK Shameless

Tropic of Cancer [Blu-ray] (Gian Paolo Lomi, Edoardo Mulargia, 1972) RB FR Le chat qui fume 
Watch Me When I Kill [Blu-ray] (Antonio Bido, 1977) RB UK 88 Films
 


 

 

The new 4K UHD format requires both a 4K TV and 4K UHD Player. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are incompatible with existing Blu-ray players, although the 4K UHD Players are backwards compatible (The Oppo Digital UDP-203 will play 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, and CD.) The format currently supports three disc capacities, each with their own data rate: 50 GB with 82 Mbit/s, 66 GB with 108 Mbit/s, and 100 GB with 128 Mbit/s. There is content available from Sony, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. 20th Century Fox, Paramount Home Media Distribution, and Walt Disney Studios. It destroys streaming in terms of quality, this format is Region FREE playable worldwide plus more broadcast is going the 4K route - notably for live sports. This is different from 4K restored Blu-ray transfers which are becoming more common from Criterion, Arrow and others. As stated above, DVDBeaver has purchased a OLED65 LG TV with Dolby Vision + HDR (increasing the color depth to 10-bit per color) plus a versatile Oppo Digital UDP-203 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. But we have not reviewed any UHD titles to date. Predictably this format is superior to Blu-ray (3,840 x 2,160 resolution) and has initially gravitated to releasing popular, modern, action and visually dynamic film in this disc format (see the majority below).  But David Lean's 1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai coming to 4K UHD is encouraging (I have not see the quality) as a precursor that we will see more older, respected and even vintage cinema getting upgraded for superior home theatre presentations. Imagine Michelangelo Antonioni, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa or Terrence Malick in 4K UHD - it's, no doubt, coming! Many of the Christopher Nolan films were shot in 65mm and are reported to benefit greatly from their new 4K UHD disc transfers. We hope to see some of our favorite labels bring great films to this format in the near future.

Michael B, tells us in FaceBook: "I haven't had much chance to have a proper investigation yet, but I can unreservedly recommend 'The Revenant', 'Blade Runner' and 'Planet Earth II'. And 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' is fascinating for technical reasons, as it's 4K HDR mastered at 60fps - I'm not convinced that it works very well as a dramatic medium for cinema, but it could be incredible for capturing live music/theatre."

and thanks to Monty B. for our OLED65 LG TV purchase recommendation where he tell us:

"You will get addicted to TV all over again. I have never witnessed a TV image more beautiful than what an LG OLED can give." He, of course, was right.

 

Here are only some of the 4K UHD tiles that came out in 2017:

 

3:10 to Yuma [4K Ultra Blu-ray] (James Mangold, 2007) Lionsgate

Alien: Covenant [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Ridley Scott, 2017) Fox Home Entertainment UK

Apollo 13 [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Ron Howard, 1995) Universal Studios

Baby Driver [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Edgar Wright, 2017) Sony Pictures UK

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk [4K Ultra HD Blu-ray] (Ang Lee, 2016) Sony Pictures

Blade Runner: The Final Cut [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Ridley Scott, 1982) Warner

The Bridge on the River Kwai [4K UHD Blu-ray] (David Lean, 1957) Sony Pictures

A Charlie Brown Christmas [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Bill Melendez, 1965) Warner

Christopher Nolan Collection [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Dunkirk, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Prestige, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar) Warner

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (40th Anniversary Edition) [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Steven Spielberg, 1977) Sony Pictures

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes