Someday Santa will make one of our Bucket List dreams possible: To meet the brains behind Cohen Film Collection and thank the geniuses for their output of great films on Blu-ray.
The latest gem: The Buster Keaton Collection: Go West & College. Both flicks have been restored to their luster and laughter.
Heeding the expansionist call of Horace Greeley, an idealistic young man (though aptly named “Friendless”) hops a freight train westward to meet his destiny, first in a teeming metropolis—where he is roundly trampled by rush-hour foot traffic—then into the ranch lands of Arizona. His attempts at bronco busting, cattle wrangling, and even dairy farming all end in hilarious failure, but when a trainload of steer are unleashed on the streets of Los Angeles, “Friendless” decides to undertake an unorthodox, single-handed round-up.
Keaton’s ode to varsity life demonstrates the performer’s trademark brand of visual comedy as well as his remarkable agility. He stars as Ronald, a small-town, academically-inclined freshman who applies his wiry physique to a series of sports, in order to impress a fellow student (played by Anne Cornwall). He seems destined for failure, but when Mary is accosted by an overzealous rival (Harold Goodwin), Ronald discovers within himself an untapped wellspring of athleticism.
The first time I watched Jack Palance torment Joan Crawford, I was hit with a case of Sudden Fear. I wanted to join Joan in the closet and watch the wind-up toy getting closer . . .
On January 12, Cohen Film Collection released this rediscovered masterpiece of film noir on DVD. Crawford plays a successful playwright who marries a less than stellar actor (Palance) with a troubling secret.
She soon discovers that he not only married her for her money but that he plans to murder her with the help of his lover (played by Gloria Grahame) in a performance The New York Times hailed as “hard, brash and sexy”. This taut thriller, featuring a score by Elmer Bernstein, that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
We like to think of the Cohen Film Collection as competition to the Criterion Collection; Cohen 2K and/or 4K restorations are stunning; they usually add fascinating bonus tracks and keeps their prices at amounts the average person can afford.
This year, the marvels we considered Cohen’s Best of the Year . . .
At the very top of the list moves that silence remains golden. Buster Keaton, one of the most important and highly-regarded comedians of Hollywood history, is celebrated in three volumes. Comedian? Also film director, producer, screenwriter and stunt performer.
The Great Stoneface’s brilliance is seen in three essential restored Blu-ray volumes. The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 featuresThe Generaland Steamboat Bill, Jr.) The General is considered to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the greatest films of all time on international critics’ polls. Orson Welles called the film the greatest comedy, the greatest Civil War movie, even the greatest film of all time.
Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident, the film is an authentic-looking period piece that brings the scope and realism of Matthew Brady-like images to brilliant life.
Keaton portrays engineer Johnnie Gray, rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend (the so-underrated silent icon Marion Mack). When a band of Union soldiers penetrate Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, Johnnie Gray sets off in pursuit. InSteamboat Bill, Jr., as the son of a steamboat captain, Buster falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. When a cyclone rages, Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing his love and her father from a watery grave.
The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 2 features Sherlock Jr. and The Navigator. In Sherlock Jr., Buster plays a movie projectionist who daydreams himself into the movies he is showing and merges with the figures and the backgrounds on the screen. While dreaming he is Conan Doyle’s master detective, he snoops out brilliant discoveries.
And in another hilarious comedy, Keaton and his sweetheart are cast adrift on a deserted ocean liner. The ship finally runs aground on a desert island where the two unfortunates are chased by cannibals. A box office success, The Navigatoris also one of Keaton’s most revered films.
The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 3features Seven Chances and Battling Butler. In Seven Chances, Buster gets word that if he can be married by seven o’clock that evening he will inherit $7,000,000. When his sweetheart refuses, he proposes to everyone in skirts, including a Scotsman.
Hopeful still, he advertises for a bride and is horrified to discover 500 would-be-brides hot on his trail in a hilarious chase to the finish. Keaton remarked on occasion that Battling Butlerwas his favorite of all his films. Based on a Broadway play, the story revolves around a case of mistaken identity between two Alfred Butlers, one an effete millionaire (Keaton), the other the heavyweight champion of the world (the marvelous Francis McDonald).
Coincidence brings them to the same backwoods Kentucky neighborhood, where Butler-the-flop finds love with a mountain girl, but not before antagonizing Butler-the-brute into a Madison Square Garden grudge match.
A classic of French cinema, Joan of Maid is Jaques Rivette’s ambitious two-part historical epic starring Sandrine Bonnaire. For Joan the Maid: The Battles, the first installment of his powerful yet restrained two-part study, director and co-screenwriter Rivette surveys the revelatory period where Joan met with royalty, joined the army and led the French into battle against the English.
As Joan, Bonnaire gets at the reality behind the legend, showing the matter-of-fact courage of a teenage girl. Joan the Maid: The Prisons, the second part of Rivette’s diptych, brought leading lady Bonnaire a César Award nomination for her powerful performance, as she plays out windows in the final two years of Joan’s life, from the battlefield victory, to prison life, to the stake.
The Return of Martin Guerreis one of the most stunning, beautifully filmed atmospheric movies of all time. One critic said “it literally looks like it was painted by Camille Pissarro”.
A thought-provoking story, indeed: In medieval France, some villagers challenge a man’s claim of identity when he (as he says) returns home from some time in the army.
So how do you prove that you are who you say you are, hundreds of years before fingerprinting and DNA? The village dentist is dragged out, as is the midwife who delivered him and the shoemaker who brings a wooden last he made of the husband’s foot before he went off to war.
Gérard Depardieu and Nathalie Baye, who has the difficult job of playing either his wife or his co-conspirator, depending on what’s actually going on, offer solid, riveting performances.
Gérard Depardieu also stars in the lovely Get Out Your Hankerchiefs, a complex, funny, sad, uncomfortaable and very French look at love and sexual dynamics. Depardieu plays a man who truly loves his wife, but is so bothered by his wife ‘s depression that he decides to ask a stranger to be her lover.
No luck, and now the two men are bewitched and
What does work is her love affair with a precocious 13-year-old boy who, in many ways, is the most mature character in the film. And she wants his baby!
This is an unconventional comedy that charmed and shocked the Oscars and went on to become one of the most talked-about French films of the decade.
Starting in 1999, Claude Lanzmann made several films that could be considered satellites of Shoah, the 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust he made without using a single frame of archival footage. Shoah: Four Sisters is a continuation of Shoah, comprised of interviews conducted in the ’70s that didn’t make it into his completed monumental work. In the last years of the late director’s life, he decided to devote a film to four women from four different areas of Eastern Europe with four different destinies, each finding herself improbably alive after war’s end: Ruth Elias from Ostravia, Czechoslovakia; Paula Biren from Lodz, Poland; Ada Lichtman from further south in Krakow; and Hannah Marton from Cluj, or Kolozsva’r, in Transylvania.
Survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, they tell their individual stories and become crucial witnesses to the barbarism they experienced. Each possesses a vivid intelligence and a commitment to candor that make their accounts of what they suffered through both searing and unforgettable. The frankness of their words, their intensely scrutinized faces, and their bravery as they revisit unimaginable experiences will make them lasting presences in the moral universe of younger generations. Lanzmann’s films remarkably stay within the immediate present tense, where the absolute horror of the Shoah is always happening.
Between the Lines, the sophomore 1977 film by trailblazing writer/director Joan Micklin Silver, marked her second independent production and theatrical follow up to the acclaimed Hester Street. Some consider this an adult version of The Front Page. At the offices of a Boston alternative newspaper, the staff members enjoy a positive and open-minded work environment.
Music critic Max (the brilliant Jeff Goldblum) uses his influence to score dates, while news reporter Harry (the brilliant John Heard) is dating the lovely Abbie (the brilliant Lindsay Crouse), the publication’s lead photographer. However, it seems as though their relatively carefree days are numbered when the owner of a major publishing company buys the paper, leading to more money, but even more changes.
Keep your eyes peeled for Michael J. Pollard, Marilu Henner, Lewis J. Stadlen, Joe Morton, Lane Smith, Jill Eikenberry and a slew of mother big and small-screen faves.
Before making Hollywood epics such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, director Richard Fleischer started his career with a series of low-budget B-features, often taking ripped-from-the-headlines tales of crime stories and spinning them into noir gold, of which an exquisite example is 1949’s endlessly entertaining Trapped.
A young Lloyd Bridges stars as hard-boiled hood Tris Stewart, a convicted counterfeiter doing time in the Atlanta pen. When a fresh batch of fake bills starts circulating, treasury agents bail Stewart out to help lead them to the maker of the fake plates. But Tris double-crosses the Feds, hooking up with his gun-moll sweetie (22-year-old Barbara Payton in her breakout role). They plan to heist the plates and hightail it across the border. With the Feds closing in and the double-crosses piling up, Stewart finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Will he trapped for good?
Although long sought by the Film Noir Foundation,Trapped was believed to have suffered the unfortunate fate of many B-films of the era—oblivion. But when a private collector deposited a 35mm acetate print at the Harvard Film Archive, the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive (with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust [The HFPA Trust]) sprang into action, restoring the film. The result, presented in a Blu-ray/DVD dual-format edition by Flicker Alley, honors the pitch-perfect performances, assured direction, and gorgeous cinematography of this edge-of-your-seat, noir classic.
Olive Signature line has released a Blu-ray edition of Bells of St. Mary’sthat is a significant improvement over the DVD released by Republic Pictures 100 years ago. The lack of specks and soot and and scratches leads us to believe the film has been (greatly) restored, though why Olive doesn’t use this bragging point is beyond us.
This is not a true “Christmas film”, but the warmth and heart and humor and luminous Ingrid Bergman make it worth a few viewings. We are still a bit surprised when we admit that she and co-star Bing Crosby (as a nun and a pastor at odds with each other) have appealing chemistry together.
Have an appetite for a dark, delectable comedy in the tradition of cannibal classics Eating Raoul and Delicatessen? Look no further than A Feast of Man (IndiePix Films), certain to satisfy your hunger (and funny bone).
When a wealthy and eccentric New York playboy prone to mischief dies unexpectedly, his four closest socialite friends are summoned to the late aristocrat’s country home overlooking the Hudson for a viewing of his video will. Only things don’t go quite as Wolf, the executor of the estate, had planne: Gallagher’s posthumous wish is to put his dearly beloved to the test—each will become a millionaire overnight if they can unanimously agree to consume his dead body and the group, has until the end of the weekend to reach a decision. Funny food for thought!
Say hello to the ultimate Tony Montana experience with the Scarface“The World Is Yours” Edition Gift Set (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). This gem is chockfull of goodies: The 1983 film is 4K UHD; experience the unforgettable film like never before with HDR for brighter, deeper, more lifelike color.
There’s also more than 2 and a half hours of bonuses, including the brand-new Scarface 35th Anniversary Reunion Feature, with an all-new conversation with director Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer. Another Blu-ray bonus: Both the original theatrical and alternate censored versions of Howard Hawks’ newly restored 1932 version Scarface. Perhaps best of all is the limited edition, individually-numbered replica of one of the most iconic props from the film.
After a 30-year-old bachelor, leaves his corporate job to pursue his dreams as an artist, he embarks on a new life as an Uber driver while working on a graphic novel titled Pixelia, which just happens to also be the name of this IndiePix Films release. One day, a transgender woman gets into his car and changes his life forever; they spend the whole day together, opening each other’s minds: she shares her desire to adopt a child, while he narrates the story of his graphic novel.
After a special bond quickly forms, he realizes his own queer identity, and the couple start to make their way in a culture that is not always friendly to alternative ways of life.
This LGBTQ festival favorite, made on a show string budget, is a prime example of India’s budding queer cinema movement.
The Broad City Complete Series(Paramount) has everything a queen or two could ever need. In addition to every single freakin’ episode, there are special features including outtakes, deleted/extended scenes, and every episode of Hack into Broad City and Behind Broad City. Plus, a special features only disc with more than 30 minutes of additional extras. Yaaaas!
Frank Capra’s heart-warming masterpiece is the best-known and most-loved holiday film. Now you can watchIt’s a Wonderful Life (Paramount) holiday classic like never before, newly remastered from the original film negatives and more vibrant than ever with stunning clarity.
With the endearing message that “no one is a failure who has friends”, Capra’s heartwarming masterpiece continues to endure, and after more than 70 years, this beloved classic still remains as powerful and moving as the day it was made.
Not to be catty, but little heroes can romp to the rescue with the PAW Patrol pups, as the canine crew use their tools, tech, vehicles and problem-solving skills to save Adventure Bay.
Each pup has a unique job and skills, but the pack must always come together as a team to save the day. The 3-DVD set PAW Patrol: Best in Snow Collection (Nickelodeon) deserves a spot in each kid’s stocking.
For the young and young-at-heart: Bumblebee & Transformers Ultimate 6-Movie Collection,
including Bumblebee and all five Transformers films, from visionary director Michael Bay and legendary producer Steven Spielberg.
Baby Boomer boom! The Toys That Made Us (Screen Media) is an American television series created by Brian Volk-Weiss. The first four episodes of the series began streaming on Netflix on December 22, 2017, and the next four were released on May 25, 2018.
The eight-episode documentary series, as it was originally touted, focused on the history of important toy lines. The first four episodes focus on the Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe toy lines with subsequent episodes featuring LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty and Star Trek. The Bu-ray set includes a free collectible!
Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphee & Eurydice in one of opera’s most beautiful masterpieces; his exquisite drama introduces us to Orpheus, the poet and musician whose every word and note communicate the most overwhelming love for his Eurydice.
This production features Gluck’s reworking of the original German opera into a French-language production which contains thrilling ballet sequences that will come to vivid life under the direction and choreography of the legendary John Neumeier. This production stars Dmitry Korchak as Orphée with Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice and Lauren Snouffer as Amour. Oui!
Democracies should protect their citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them, but the United States is increasingly failing to do so especially in areas like the Rust Belt, the manufacturing heartland of the nation that includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The investigative documentary The Corporate Coup d’Etat (First Run features) shows how corporations and billionaires have taken control of the American political process, and in doing so have brought economic hardship and ruin to vast swaths of the country. It combines insights from political thinkers and journalists with the experiences of citizens from the Rust Belt, where factory closures and outsourcing have left it desolate and people hopeless.
The film argues that the crisis predates Adolph Freak’s election by many years: Decades ago, U.S. democracy began selling its soul to big corporations; lobbyists and business-friendly politicians took control in Washington, gradually undermining the will of the people. Provocative and revealing, The Corporate Coup d État exposes what happened and where we are now.
Other First Run features topping the list: Tattoo Uprisingreveals the artistic and historical roots of today s tattoo explosion. This sweeping overview explores how tattoos were used in early Christian practices, how they were discovered halfway around the world during the voyages of Captain James Cook, and how they exploded in popularity in America beginning with artists like Ed Hardy.
There’s an unforgettable appearance by Werner Herzog, who allows a rare glimpse at his Ed Hardy tattoo.
Spanning three generations, Chasing Portraits is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and an unexpected path to healing. Moshe Rynecki was a prolific artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered during the Holocaust. For more than a decade his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, has searched for the missing art.
An elderly man, Octav Petrescu (portrayed by the brilliant Marcel Iures), returns to his childhood villa in Romania to sell it. Arriving there after a decades-long absence, Octavwanders through the atmospheric house and undulating grounds that surround it and is confronted and transformed by the memories and spectres of his youth, eventually finding answers to questions that have cast a shadow over his adult life.
From Oscar-nominated Josh Aronson and featuring a new song from Jon Bon Jovi, To Be Of Service is a documentary about veterans suffering from PTSD who are paired with a service dog to help them regain their lives.
The film follows these warriors with their dogs as this deeply bonded friendship restores independence and feeling for the men and women who so courageously served our country.
Inherited from Maria Montessori in 1907, the Montessori Method is a child-centered educational philosophy that celebrates and nurtures each child’s desire to learn, an approach valuing the human spirit and full development: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. The Montessori Method is increasing in popularity both in the U.S. and abroad.
Curious to see how the Method works first hand, filmmaker Alexandre Mourot sets his camera up in the oldest Montessori school in France (with kids from 3 to 6) and observes. He meets happy children, free to move around, working alone or in small groups. Some read, others make bread, do divisions, laugh or sleep. The teacher remains discreet.
Children guide the filmmaker through the whole school year, helping him understand the magic of their autonomy and self-esteem–the seeds of a new society of peace and freedom, which Maria Montessori dedicated her life work to.
Such is the wonder and joy of Montessori: Let the Child be the Guide.
Holy high notes! Melody Makers (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Visual), a chronicle of the birth of music journalism from the world’s oldest and longest standing seminal music magazine, is not just another music documentary; through a series of interviews from artists and journalists of the time, the film tells the true story of the rise and fall of the world’s most influential music publication and uncovers an era of tremendous creative freedom.
Who says the holidays can’t be a horror . . . and we don’t just mean when the in-laws come. George Roy Hill’s landmark science-fiction classic, Slaughterhouse-Five, tells the tale of World War II soldier Billy Pilgrim and how he was abducted by aliens. The flick took home the Jury Prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival and has been a favorite of sci-fi fans ever since. Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote the novel the book is based on, famously claimed, “I drool and cackle every time I watch that film.”
Not only is Arrow bringing this to Blu-ray for the first time in North America, but it comes with a brand new 4K restoration and a spaceship-load of special features. Yippee!
He was a true genius. And Kurt Weill’s Street Scene is an amazing mélange of show tunes, arias, jazz numbers, folk songs and spirituals, a true musical melting pot that aptly underlines the rich variety of characters that populate the New York City tenement block in the ’30s that’s the focus of this exceptionally vital and criminally undervalued work.
It was meant meant to be a truly American opera, half-way between his The Threepenny Opera and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and drawing from the famous play by Elmer Rice (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 1928).
Weill wrote Street Scene shortly after fleeing Nazi Germany. When he discovered the vitality of the American musical scene, his focus became to reconcile the Broadway musical with European traditional opera, jazzy and North-American tunes with an almost Puccinian-like lyricism. Under Tim Murray’s vivid and precise baton, the superb production by John Fulljames perfectly renders the vitality and energy released by the streets of New York that proved to be a great inspiration to the theatrical mind of the composer.
Released by BelAir Classiques, the staging generously evokes a bygone era of American history, simultaneously looking rundown and part of a dreamscape worth longing for.
Whenever Charles S. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, has something to say, we listen. Closely. The newest film the Cohen Film Collection has released: director Diane Kurys’ acclaimed debut film, Peppermint Soda, now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms.
In the vein of such coming-of-age classics as Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, Peppermint Soda captures a particular moment in the tumultuous life and development of two young people. Anne (played by Eléonore Klarwein) and Frederique (Odile Michel) are teenage sisters in 1963 France, torn between divorced parents and struggling with the confines of their strict school. Along the way, they undergo an awakening both political and romantic.
Diane Kurys’ celebrated film, with cinematography by Oscar-winning Philippe Rousselot, revels in the comedy and tragedy of the seemingly mundane, weaving a complex tapestry of everyday existence that also touches on the universal. The world cinema classic received a 2K restoration for its 40th-anniversary theatrical re-release in 2018, and Cohen Film Collection is proud to present k this striking new restoration for home viewing.
The flicwas the first film by actress-turned-writer/director Kurys, and instantly established her as a highly personal filmmaker drawing on her own life for cinematic inspiration. It won France’s Prix Louis Delluc, while the U.S. National Board of Review’s 1979 awards honored it as Top Foreign Film.
The Cohen Film Collection’s deluxe Blu-ray and DVD of Peppermint Sodaboth include interviews with Diane Kurys and actress Eléonore Klarwein; the featurette “A Meeting with Yves Simon;” a scrapbook of the film; the French restoration trailer; and the 2018 re-release trailer.
Paris, 1880. The 40-year-old sculptor Auguste Rodinfinally receives his first state commission, The Gates of Hell, which will include The Kiss and The Thinker, two of his most famous creations. Constantly working, he shares his life with his lifelong partner, Rose, and his mistress, young Camille Claudel, the gifted student who becomes his assistant and a talented sculptor in her own right during a decade of passion, mutual admiration and creative collaboration.
Following their painful breakup, Rodin continues to work relentlessly while facing both the rejection and enthusiasm provoked by the sensuality and originality of his sculptures. Rodin’s statue of Balzac, long in the making and rejected during his lifetime, will become the starting point of modern sculpture.
Cohen Media Group will release the 2017 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or nominee Rodin on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms on October 2. The biographical drama, starring Vincent Lindon as the great sculptor, is the latest from Jacques Doillon, the multiple award-winning director of Ponette, La Drôlesse and dozens of other films that have made him one of the most esteemed European auteurs of the last 40 years.
Bonus features on theBlu-ray and DVD include the featurette Sculpting Rodin.
One of the first Merchant Ivory productions, the sumptuous Shakespeare Wallah established the tone for so many of the collaborations to come from producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory: the deft, multilayered screenplay by their frequent collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, luminous cinematography, a wry sense of humor and a cast of characters rich in their very human complexity.
Cohen Film Collection’s new restoration of the film, released in theaters nationwide in 2017, came from the 35mm composite fine grain master held at the archive of the George Eastman Museum. The scan and 2K digital restoration was completed in conjunction with the British Film Institute’s Unlocking Film Heritage program. This breakthrough film is now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms.
The true story of British actor-manager Geoffrey Kendal and his family of traveling theatrical players is used as a fascinating lens into the ever-evolving relationship between Great Britain and India. The film follows Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendal) and his wife, Carla (Laura Liddell), as the actor-managers of a troupe who travel through ’60s post-colonial India staging Shakespeare’s plays. But the Buckinghams come to realize to their dismay that classic English theater is falling out of favor in a changing country where the public has become more excited by the explosion of vibrant Bollywood films – and, more deeply, is looking to move beyond everything British. Meanwhile, the Buckinghams’ daughter Lizzie (future Britcom favorite Felicity Kendal) becomes involved in a love triangle that would fit perfectly in both a Shakespeare drama and a Bollywood musical.
With music by the great Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and memorable performances by cinema icons Shashi Kapoor and Madhur Jaffrey (who won the Silver Bear award for Best Actress at the 1965 Berlin International Film Festival),Shakespeare Wallahremains a one-of-kind gem of modern world cinema.
Both the Blu-ray and the DVD editions are supplemented with a wealth of bonus material, including a conversation with the filmmakers, featuring Ismail Merchant, James Ivory, Shashi Kapoor and Felicity Kendal; the film’s original trailer; and its 2017 rerelease trailer.
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Daughter of the Nileis the groundbreaking 1987 drama from one of modern world cinema’s most acclaimed filmmakers, and Cohen Media Group celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary with 4K digital restoration.
A rediscovered gem in the filmography of Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-hsien, Daughter of the Nile is a neon-lit, contemporary drama inspired by the heroine of a Japanese manga series. With Hou’s gentle but keen observation, the film follows a young woman and her brother as they float along the periphery of the Taipei underworld, intriguingly blending gangster tale with mood-drenched introspective drama. Based on the personal experiences of frequent Hou screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen, the film is a profoundly moving observation of marginalized youth.
The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1987 Turin International Festival of Young Cinema and was entered into the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.
Hou Hsiao-hsien emerged in the ’80s to become one of the leading figures, along with Edward Yang and Chen Kunhou, of the New Taiwanese Cinema, a movement away from the kung fu films and overwrought melodramas of the past to an emphasis on realistic portrayals of everyday life, a style often compared to Italian neorealism. Hou’s Daughter of the Nile sits among a string of masterpieces-A Summer at Grandpa’s, A City of Sadness, The Puppetmaster, Flowers of Shanghai-that led him to be voted Director of the Decade for the 1990s in a poll of American and international critics put together by The Village Voice and Film Comment. His most recent film, The Assassin,brought him the Best Director prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
In addition to offering digitally restored picture and sound, Cohen Film Collection’s release boast a wealth of extras. Both the Blu-ray and DVD include an audio commentary track by film scholar Richard Suchenski, a new interview with Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns and the 2017 rerelease trailer.
Cohen Film Collection starts the New Year off with another gem: Merchant Ivory Productions’ modern classic Heat and Dust, now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms. The 1983 multi-generational drama—about the clash between modern-day India and its past Raj era of British rule, and starring Julie Christie and Greta Scacchi—has received a striking new 4K digital restoration.
Merchant Ivory’s magnificent film moves effortlessly between the vibrant world of modern India and the magnificent splendors of the Raj. Cross-cutting between two generations, the acclaimed film by the longtime team of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a sprawling epic of self-discovery and a lush evocation of the prismatic and sensuous beauty of India.
As she searches for answers to the mystery surrounding a long-ago affair between her aunt Olivia (portrayed by Greta Scacchi) and an Indian prince (Shashi Kapoor), Anne (Julie Christie) becomes immersed in the local culture, the pull of the past simultaneously leading her into a clearer view of her own future. Jhabvala adapted her own novel to great effect, and Richard Robbins created the haunting score. The film earned the Merchant Ivory team nine BAFTA nominations and a Palme d’Or nomination at Cannes for director Ivory.
Cohen Film Collection has given Heat and Dustlavish treatment on disc. The two-disc DVD includes a feature-length audio commentary track; the film’s original trailer as well as its 2017 re-release trailer; and the the rarely shown 1975 Merchant Ivory film Autobiography of a Princess, starring James Mason.
The two-disc Blu-ray includes all of the above plus an interview with producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory, writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, composer Richard Robbins, and cast members Greta Scacchi and Nickolas Grace; the featurette Remember Heat and Dust; a new conversation between Ivory and filmmaker Chris Terrio; and a new on-stage Q&A with co-star Madhur Jaffrey.
Once again, Cohen Film Collection has released, for the first time in HD, a collection of films by Claude Chabrol, one of the most prolific and widely respected of French film directors. As one of the prime instigators of the French New Wave, Chabrol directed lean narrative films whose keenly observed realism typically drew inspiration from the suspense film and psychological thriller. The triumvirate of films include:
In one of Chabrol’s darkest dramas, Marie Trintignant gives an astonishing performance as Betty, a woman whose alcohol-soaked life has finally fallen to pieces. She fortunately falls under the care of an older woman (Stéphane Audran) with a similar background, but her benefactor’s sympathies may be misplaced. Gushes the Chicago Sun Times: “One of the most eerily disturbing and mesmerizingly powerful films.”
Based on a script by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Chabrol explores the point at which jealousy and obsession turn to madness. François Cluzet plays Paul, a young husband who, along with his beautiful wife (Emmanuelle Béart at her sexiest) runs a country hotel. Paul soon becomes obsessed with his wife’s flirtations, but is it all in his head? Roger Ebert’s take? “Made with the practiced ease of a master.”The Swindle
Isabelle Huppert and Michel Serrault star as a couple of small-time con artists looking for the next big game in this psychological thriller tinged with wry humor. Into their web stumbles a naïve financial courier (François Cluzet) accompanying what might be their biggest score yet. “Disturbing, compelling, and very smart stuff”, says Entertainment Weekly.
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some