Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Criterion Madness

Whilst my reasons for going Blu-ray region free last month should seem obvious, one of the main factors for me was the ability to play Criterion Collection discs. Interestingly, I never really got into Criterion DVD's, in fact I have only ever owned 4 over the course of my collecting - Rushmore, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Spirit of the Beehive and The Rock. I am now down to 1 (Spirit of the Beehive).  Blu-ray is a different kettle of fish though and I have been more than happy to increase my buying in order to diversify my collection and blind buy titles that I have never seen as the experience on Blu-ray is about the best you could ever get for some of these films!!  Anyhow, without further ado, here is my current Criterion Collection haul:

From master film-maker Fritz Lang we have M (1931), I was torn between this version or the beautiful German 2 disc version from Universum, but in the end went for Criterion simply because it was easier and cheaper for me to obtain.

 Next up we have Belle De Jour (1967), I managed to resist the Studio Canal Digibook edition that was released here in Australia, but have decided to grab the Criterion edition as I got it for a bargain price (and couldn't resist hi-def Catherine Deneuve!)  I also picked up Charade (1963) which was previously only available as a special feature on the horrible remake here in Australia - so I am really looking forward to re-watching this classic on Blu-ray!

Then we have two Blu-ray upgrades from my previous DVD collection.  Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998) and Rushmore (1998)

Following the upgrades we have two great films from totally different eras in the form of Brian De Palma's fantastic Blow Out (1981) starring a young John Travolta and featuring an awesome performance by John Lithgow as well as 1972's Solaris from pioneering Russian auteur Andrea Tarkovskiy

 Stepping back in time again we have Robert Mitchum's most powerful performance and sadly actor Charles Laughton's only directorial credit in the form of 1955's Night of the Hunter. This release comes with 2 discs housed in a wonderful digipack case.

Much like the release above, Akira Kurasawa's epic Seven Samurai (1954) is also given the 2 disc treatment and is housed in a similar digipack case

Some incredible cinema right there and I am very proud to have such wonderful additions to my collection... Of course there are plenty more on the way and Criterion do such a fantastic job that I am more than happy to part with my hard earned money for these fantastic editions of some of cinemas greatest achievements!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Favourites of 2011

I have finally gotten around to thinking a little about the movies I saw last year and whilst I know I am going to take some crap for at least one of the movies on my list below,  I would ask that you don't judge it until you have seen it! and if you have seen it, well....

In no particular order, these are the 5 best films I saw last year:

The Adventures of Tintin - Spielberg returns to the kind of movies he was born to direct!  It is just a shame he also released War Horse on the same day. Tintin is what Indiana Jones 4 should have been!

The Guard - Brendan Gleeson shines in this great independent Irish film that is as funny as it is serious.  I do enjoy films that have great characters and The Guard has some of the best in recent times!

Hanna - I really enjoyed this action romp featuring a 16 year old girl trained as an assassin.  Whilst it won't be to everyone's liking, you can't argue that it certainly creates its own look and feel! Great score by the Chemical Brothers too!

Sucker Punch - Boy was there some hate for this film when it came out!  I saw the film in Imax and came out wanting... then the Blu-ray came along with the 18 minute extended cut and finally a number of things fell into place. Snyder is clearly a visual director and despite its over preachy message the film it magnificent to look at and just as good to listen to!

Winnie the Pooh - OK, so this is a bit of a cheat.  The movie came out exclusivley to Big W on Blu-ray and DVD, but it is such a great film with a very wide appeal and it is so nice to see Disney finally give the silly old bear a decent outing after the abomination that is the CGI series.  I highly recommend reliving some of your childhood by returning to the 100 Acre Woods.

Special mention: Another Earth

Best Australian Movie

The Tunnel - Made on a budget brought about by fan sponsorship and given away for FREE on the Internet, whilst The Tunnel does have a number of horror movie cliches there is certainly enough originality to keep you interested. Nice to see some local productions using new business models in an otherwise draconian industry.

Special mention: Red Dog and The Hunter

Best Documentary

Bill Cunningham: New York - Following the life of New York Times fashion pages photographer Bill Cunningham, the documentary was certainly the most  enjoyable outing I had had to a doco this year! Even better when I wasn't expecting to like it at all!

Special mention: Life Cycles and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.