5 items from 2014
The Criterion Collection has a pedigree that few other media distribution outlets can match. Widely respected for bringing consumers the highest possible quality editions of landmark, respected, and exemplary films, their only peer is perhaps the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (an audiophile-focused line of remastered classic albums), and the Mfsl doesn’t have nearly the same skill at curating its catalogue. To be a Criterion film means something in the film community because it implies a level of artistic excellence. Solaris, The Seventh Seal, Ikiru, The 400 Blows. Even if you haven’t seen these films, they mean something in the common language of film buffs; they imply a level of excellence. To be a Criterion film is, contextually, to be the top of your form. Browsing the list of releases reads like a must-watch list for any engaged film fan.
However, with any list so carefully organized and selected, »
I have not read the book, so I will not be making a page-to-screen comparison when it comes to The Fault in Our Stars, nor should I even if I could. That said, The Fault in Our Stars is a good movie for what it is, which is a movie about kids with cancer. We're talking about a story that's inherently emotional and sad, thus meaning it's incumbent on the director, writers and actors to make sure we ultimately care about the characters and their situation rather than just beating us over the head with their sickness. In those terms, this film does its very best to live up to that goal, a goal it sets out to accomplish in its opening narration, promising this to be the truth of what it's like to live with cancer... buckle up. Directed by Josh Boone (Stuck in Love), based on the novel »
- Brad Brevet
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
By the time Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress was released in 1958, it was more or less settled that the Japanese filmmaker — the only Japanese filmmaker most average moviegoers had heard of at that point — was among the world’s best. This was after Rashomon, after Ikiru, and after The Seven Samurai. Kurosawa’s talent was beyond question, and his global cinematic prominence was growing. However, his last three films, while positively received by critics, did not do so well with audiences. He needed something that would combine quality with commercial success. “A truly good movie is really enjoyable, too,” he once said. “There’s nothing complicated about it.” He would meet this condition with The Hidden Fortress, out now on a new Criterion Collection Blu-ray/DVD combo. While not containing the narrative innovation, »
- Jeremy Carr
A life spent at the movies gets the cinematic epitaph it richly deserves in “Life Itself,” documentarian Steve James’ meticulous and intensely emotional portrait of the late Roger Ebert. Given unfettered access to Ebert during what turned out to be the last four months of the venerated critic’s life, James cuts — as in all of his best work — straight to the human heart of the matter, celebrating both the writer and the man, the one inseparable from the other, largely in Ebert’s own words. One can only hope that this CNN Films presentation, a natural for wide fest play, will also end up on the bigscreen, where Ebert himself surely would have wanted it.
James, whose own association with Ebert dates back to 1994 (when the critic waged an impassioned campaign on behalf of the director’s debut feature, “Hoop Dreams”), began filming in December 2012, just as Ebert was »
- Scott Foundas
I first watched Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (1957) six years ago. It was only the third film from Kurosawa I'd seen and I actually wrote a piece (which was really nothing more than an extended synopsis) after my first viewing right here, which is a rather interesting read six years removed. I remember not entirely enjoying Throne of Blood, when I first watched it and reading the piece linked above I see I found it largely interesting due to the fact it's an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" while I also take issue with the length of some scenes, a complaint I read now and realize how much my taste has changed since writing that post. If you were to ask what I remembered of Throne of Blood before rewatching Criterion's newest Blu-ray upgrade, I'd say it would be 1.) the ghostly white spirits in Spiders' Web forest; 2.) the smoke-filled visuals »
- Brad Brevet
5 items from 2014
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