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All That’s Lost: Rebecca from the Criterion Collection

By Tony Williams. Criterion initially offered Rebecca (1940) on a 2-disc DVD edition in 2001 but following loss of copyright a few years later it became an expensive collector’s item, according to my colleague Chris Weedman. Now they have reissued this version in a new format retaining some of the earlier features but adding some […]

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The Charming “Lithuanian Cary Grant”: Walter Matthau in Hopscotch on Criterion

By Christopher Weedman. Walter Matthau (1920-2000) was among Hollywood’s most charismatic stars of the late 1960s and 1970s. During this fascinating period where New Hollywood favorites such as Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and even Woody Allen were becoming sex symbols despite possessing unconventional looks, Matthau parlayed his “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar as the […]

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The Sublime Beauty of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg on Criterion

By Christopher Weedman. When celebrated French film director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand were experiencing difficulty securing financing for Les parapluies de Cherbourg/The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), Italian producer Carlo Ponti remarked to Demy, “I really like your story. But you should shoot it in black and white, since color’s too expensive. You should change […]

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Mutating War Traumas: Monsters in the Machine by Steffen Hantke

A Book Review by Christopher Weedman. Steffen Hantke’s welcome new book Monsters in the Machine: Science Fiction Film and the Militarization of America after World War II (University Press of Mississippi, 2016) is an articulate and well-researched socio-political examination of the cycle of science fiction films that arose to popularity on American theater and drive-in […]

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The Roots of Social Change: Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree of Wooden Clogs on Criterion

By Christopher Weedman. The Criterion Collection deserves to be commended for their continued efforts to bring greater attention to the underappreciated films of director Ermanno Olmi. It is regrettable that, over the past fifty years, this Italian filmmaker’s deeply humanist oeuvre has largely lived in the critical shadows of the country’s acknowledged art cinema maestros […]

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More Than Plays on Film: Marcel Pagnol’s “Marseille Trilogy” Restored by Janus Films

By Christopher Weedman. Janus Films’ stunning 4K restoration of the “Marseille Trilogy” by the esteemed Marcel Pagnol is one of the essential revivals of the year. Adapted from Pagnol’s stage plays set in the provincial port city of Marseille in southern France, the three installments – Marius (Alexander Korda, 1931), Fanny (Marc Allégret, 1932), and […]

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The Resurrection of Abel Gance’s J’accuse (1938) on Olive Films

By Christopher Weedman. The past couple of months have been full of rich rewards for admirers of the late Abel Gance. This brilliant and innovative French film director enriched the visual vocabulary of the early cinema with his silent spectacles J’accuse (1919), La Roue (1923), and Napoléon (1927), which were instrumental in the evolution of […]

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Mifune: The Last Samurai – Overshadowing His Tribute

By Christopher Weedman. Released by Strand Releasing and narrated by actor Keanu Reeves, director Steven Okazaki’s new feature-length documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai (2016) is a well-intentioned yet underdeveloped tribute to the larger-than-life actor Toshiro Mifune. As the documentary boldly proclaims, Mifune possessed an unbridled energy and commanding screen presence that enabled him to loom […]

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A Fun Swansong: The Last Film Festival

By Christopher Weedman. The Last Film Festival’s comedic glimpse into the behind-the-scenes politics and turmoil that surround film festivals began as a joke between the film’s writer-producer-director Linda Yellen and its late iconic star Dennis Hopper during an encounter at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. When she asked him what he imagined the worst film […]

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Japan’s Modernist Enigma: Woman in the Dunes on Criterion

By Christopher Weedman. The haunting enigmatism and visual beauty of Woman in the Dunes (1964) has not diminished since its premiere over fifty years ago. Shot on a budget of $100,000 over four months in Tottori City, Tottori-ken, this Japanese art-house classic was released during the wave of modernist filmmaking that simultaneously made its way […]

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