A wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle.
4 New to Netflix
6 New to Blu-ray/DVD
"4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" (Criterion)
Criterion has taken some deserved flak over the last few years for its catalog's heavy focus on Western European and American filmmakers. They've endeavored to expand their vision over the last couple years with more directors from countries other than France and the United States. I'm particularly happy to see them embracing the work of Romanian Cristian Mungiu, whose "Graduation" and "Beyond the Hills" were recently inducted into the most elite Blu-ray/DVD club in the world. Now they get to his breakthrough (and still best) film, the 2007 winner of the Palme d'Or. With new interviews and a new transfer, the time is right to reappraise one of the most acclaimed works of the '00s.
New 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with Mungiu
New interview with film critic Jay Weissberg on the New Romanian Cinema
The Romanian Tour, a short documentary from 2007 on the film’s reception in Romania
Press conference from the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, featuring Mungiu; director of photography Oleg Mutu; and actors Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, and Alexandru Potocean
Alternate and deleted scenes
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by critic Ella Taylor
Way back in September 2018, it seemed almost certain that we would get a repeat of the 2016 race for major awards wit "La La Land" and "Moonlight." The directors of both films were returning with their anticipated follow-ups and audiences in places like Venice and Toronto were going crazy for both "If Beale Street Could Talk" and "First Man." Five months later, neither director nor picture landed Oscar nods, although it almost feels like a positive for both. Now history will fully regard "First Man" as an underrated drama, a movie that deftly conveys the true danger and heroism of the space race with amazing technical elements and tight, confident direction. The film looks incredible at home, and sounds even better. A decade or so, people will be surprised it didn't win multiple Oscars, much less get nominated.
Shooting for the Moon – Take an intimate look at the production of First Man and the collaborative relationship between Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling.
Preparing to Launch – It's difficult to believe that First Man is the first major feature film to tell the journey to Apollo 11. Hear from Director Damien Chazelle and his cast why now is the time to tell the story of this historic event.
Giant Leap in One Small Step – A heroic character study, First Man sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back.
Mission Gone Wrong – Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone terribly wrong. Go behind the scenes to see how he trained to nail the landing, performing the majority of his own stunts.
Putting You In the Seat – Through the use of innovative technology, most of First Man was shot in-camera. Take an in-depth look behind the lens of this epic film.
Recreating the Moon Landing – Filmed in IMAX to show the vastness of the moon, find out all that it took to recreate the most famous moment in NASA history.
Shooting at NASA – Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Damien Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to First Man.
Astronaut Training – Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming First Man.
Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross
I'll never forget the buzz in the room at the World Premiere of "Halloween" back in September. I'll also never forget that sinking feeling in my stomach, relatively early, when I realized the film just doesn't work. Yes, I'm in the minority here, and I love that people are taking to the story of Michael Myers again (also Jamie Lee Curtis rules) but this is a case of hype and marketing leading viewers to see something that just isn't there. Actually it's more the power of nostalgia, like when you hear a new album from a band you loved when you were a kid, refusing to realize that they've lost a beat and don't write songs like they used to. Again, I'm happy "Halloween" was a hit. I just wish it was a better movie.
Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween
The Original Scream Queen
The Sound of Fear
Journey of the Mask
The Legacy of Halloween
George Tillman Jr.'s adaptation of the hit novel works because of how much the director trusts his cast, particularly Amandla Stenberg and Russell Hornsby, to overcome the inherent cliches in the narrative. Tillman is careful to make his film both incredibly timely and yet also embedded with themes of inequity and protest that reflect the history of injustice and the civil rights movement. And yet, most of all, this is a story about people. Tillman recognizes that if we come to believe in and care for the characters than the messages will come from them, organically and far more powerfully. This is a movie that should have made more money and received more critical attention. It certainly will on DVD.
Maverick and Seven Protecting Their Home
Starting a Conversation
The Heart of Georgia
Thank U Georgia
Starr: Shine Your Light
Audio Commentary by George Tillman, Jr., Amandla Stenberg, Russell Hornsby, Angie Thomas and Craig Hayes
The Criterion choices from the historic career of Alfred Hitchcock are always interesting. Probably at least in part due to ownership, Criterion hasn't been releasing the "hits" like "Vertigo," "Psycho," or "The Birds," bringing home some of what could be called the less-popular Hitch films like "The 39 Steps," "The Lady Vanishes," and this gorgeous 4K restoration of the incredible "Notorious." Don't get me wrong. "Notorious" has its diehard fans, but it's just not on cable as much as, say, "Rear Window." And so it's nice to see what could be called underrated Hitch being given the lavish, Criterion treatment. Like so much Hitchcock, "Notorious" is a film that gets better with each viewing.
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentaries from 1990 and 2001 featuring film historian Rudy Behlmer and Alfred Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane
New interview with Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto
New program about the film’s visual style with cinematographer John Bailey
New scene analysis by film scholar David Bordwell
Once Upon a Time . . . “Notorious,” a 2009 documentary about the film featuring actor Isabella Rossellini; filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich, Claude Chabrol, and Stephen Frears; and others
New program about Hitchcock’s storyboarding and previsualization process by filmmaker Daniel Raim
Newsreel footage from 1948 of actor Ingrid Bergman and Hitchcock
Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Notorious from 1948, starring Bergman and Joseph Cotten
Trailers and teasers
PLUS: An essay by critic Angelica Jade Bastién
Well, this is a weird one. So much of the success of "Deadpool" and "Deadpool 2" has been built around the fact that it is the only major R-rated superhero franchise. So what does Fox do? Release a PG-13 version! At least you have to give them some points for creativity, as they didn't just release a censored version but shot some new footage with Fred Savage that spoofs "The Princess Bride." Still, the foul mouth and disturbing references are part of the charm of Wade Wilson, and so a PG-13 version of him feels inherently flawed. It's the kind of thing that may have made for fun special feature on a Special Edition, but you have to be a diehard Deadpool fan to add this one to your collection.
None...but the movie is kind of a special feature itself
The 2020 Oscar nominations.
A review of Netflix's Dracula, from the creators of Sherlock.
A review of the new Netflix crime docuseries about former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.
A collection of the reviews given our highest possible grade in 2019.