lørdag 11. juli 2009

My favorite DVDs

There are a lot of great DVDs out there, and getting that perfect edition really adds to your movie-watching experience. Reading an informative booklet adds to your understanding of the movie and often helps to put it in a historical and cinematic context. Documentaries, interviews and not to forget the packaging itself helps making watching movies a multi faceted experience. The Criterion Collection has always been a favorite of mine, as well as BFI and Masters of Cinema and are duly represented here. Here are my favorite DVDs:

Videodrome (criterion collection)

My favorite Cronenberg-movie also has one of the best releases from Criterion. Fantastic coverart, booklet, a cover that simulates a VHS-Cassette, fantastic image-quality, sound and bonus features (a 26 minute clip from a tv-show where Cronenberg, Carpenter John Landis and Mick Garris discusses movies. GREAT!). Some really interesting documentaries and two audio commentaries (One with Cronenberg and Mark Irwin, and another with Deborah Harry and James Woods). This is a fantastic DVD!

Mr Arkadin (Criterion Collection)

Another fabulous Criterion DVD; Mr Arkadin by Orson Welles. Welles had much trouble with releasing his movies uncut. Studios involved themselves, often "butchering" his films beyond recognition. Criterion has done a fantastic job by recreating the movie the way its supposed to be (a lot of research and a lot of hunting down various versions with different sequences in them). The result is a stunning 3-disc set with three versions of the movie: The Corinth version, Confidential Report and the new version done by Criterion. The last version is hands down the best of them. It also features a book of the film, audio commentary by Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore, documentaries, interviews with the main actor and an interview with Simon Callow.

Salo, 120 days of sodom (BFI)
The BFI-version of Pasolini's Salo is the most complete version, featuring a sequence not available elsewhere. It has a great packaging, and informative booklet and some great extras. Very good documentaries on Pasolini's life, two documentaries on the making of the film and a short movie by Julian Cole about the last days of Pasolini.

F for Fake
(Criterion Collection)

A fantastic documentary about art and forgery by Welles has gotten a stunning treatment from Criterion. Great packaging, great extras and a good booklet. The extras are: A documentary about Orson's unfinished projects, a documentary on a famous art forger, a 2000 60 Minutes interview with Clifford Irving about his Howard Hughes autobiography hoax, a 1972 Hughes press conference exposing Irving’s hoax and an introduction by Peter Bogdanovich.

(Masters of Cinema)

This edition from Masters of Cinema features no extras. BUT, it has a stunning transfer, great artwork and a glorious 72-page booklet that really makes it worth the extra money.

(Masters of Cinema)

Murnau's American masterpiece has gotten a great treatment from Masters of Cinema. The dvd features
  • Restored high-definition transfer
  • Original English intertitles
  • Original Movietone score (Mono) or alternative Olympic Chamber Orchestra score (Stereo)
  • Audio commentary from cinematographer John Bailey
  • Outtakes with optional John Bailey audio commentary or intertitles
  • 'Murnau's 4 Devils - Traces Of A Lost Film': Janet Bergstrom's documentary about the film Murnau made after 'Sunrise' (40 mins)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Original 'photoplay' script (150 pages in pdf format)
  • Booklet containing essays (by Robin Wood, Lotte H. Eisner, R. Dixon Smith, Lucy Fischer and David Pierce), reprints and rare production stills
A great buy!

Roman Polanski Collection
(Anchor Bay)

Anchor Bay has collected three brilliant films by Polanski in this great boxset: Knife in the Water, Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac. It has great image quality and features a bonus disc with many early shorts by Polanski. A booklet is also included.

(Criterion Collection)

Hitchcock's haunting Hollywood debut, Rebecca, is currently a Criterion out-of-print edition. It's pricey, but this DVD includes:

  • Glorious new digital film and sound restoration
  • Commentary by film scholar Leonard J. Leff, author of Hitchcock and Selznick: The Rich and Strange Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick in Hollywood
  • Isolated music and effects track
  • Rare screen, hair, makeup and costume tests including Vivien Leigh, Anne Baxter, Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, and Joan Fontaine
  • Hitchcock on Rebecca, excerpts from his conversations with François Truffaut
  • Phone interviews with stars Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson from 1986
  • Hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos chronicling the film’s production from location scouting, set photos, and wardrobe continuity to ads, posters, and promotional memorabilia
  • Production correspondence and casting notes
  • Deleted scene script excerpts
  • 1939 test screening questionnaire
  • Essay on Rebecca author Daphne du Maurier
  • Footage from the 1940 13th Annual Academy Awards™ ceremony
  • Re-issue trailer
  • Three hours of complete radio show adaptations:
  • 1938 Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre broadcast, including an interview with Daphne du Maurier
  • 1941 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast starring Ronald Colman and Ida Lupino, including an interview with David O. Selznick
  • 1950 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
  • PLUS: A 22-page booklet, including liner notes by Robin Wood, author of Hitchcock’s Films and Hitchcock’s Films Rev
Comprehensive? I think so! Brilliant DVD!

torsdag 2. juli 2009

Lars von Trier's "Antichrist"

I wrote earlier in my blog about how I feared Von Trier had "jumped the bandwagon" in terms of shockingly violent movies. I wrote:

"But Von Trier has in a way jumped the bandwagon. In the past, Von Trier always made highly original movies that were not occupied with trends (like Dancer in the Dark , Dogville and The Idiots). Of course, I have not seen Antichrist and this is just based on the controversy surrounding the movie, but it seems like he's taken shortcuts, instead of making highly original movies. I hope I'm wrong here, and that Antichrist is the deeply disturbing piece of art I want it to be."

I was wrong. Antichrist was a deeply disturbing piece of art. Von Trier clearly creates his own unique universe, not copying European directors like Noe and Haneke. Von Trier blends the present with a mythological past, and successfully comments on humans, man and woman, in an abstract way. He's not just portraying the man and woman on screen, but calling them "He" and "She" he clearly adresses the sexes, and humans in a more abstract way. It is a deep and thoughtful study of the good and bad qualities inherent in man and womens nature.

Nature is a key word. Von Trier uses animals and a rural setting to further underline his point; man is a part of nature. We cannot be completely rational, we have urges, instincts, an inner animal. For Von Trier, the woman is more in touch with these feelings or instincts, and the man tries to bury it with rational thinking. Von Trier paints the man as just as animalistic as the woman, but worse: he justifies it with rational thinking. The ending showing the smug Willem Defoe thinking he has done human kind a favor or something, being really satisfied with himself.

This post will not read well if you haven't seen the movie, but my aim has been to involve people who have seen it and not promoting it to people that has not seen it. But it is really brilliant. Fantastic photography, subjectmatter, script, acting, directing. Maybe Von Trier's best movie.