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Grey Gardens (DVD)


Now that the HBO movie adaptation of the same name is out on DVD, I made it a point to check out the 1975 original, which was released a while back by Criterion. It is a good, solid presentation of a documentary that, at over 30 years old, still looks pretty good (especially considering it was probably filmed in 16mm).


The movie is as compelling as any documentary about a mother and a daughter living in an old house could manage to be. Presented in its original aspect ratio (1.33:1) and without great bells and whistles, the transfer is as solid as one can expect. The extras include audio interviews with the younger Edie.


Watched together with the HBO movie, this is about as good as any documentary gets.

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Jean-Luc Godard's Made in USA (DVD)


Hooray for Criterion for finally giving us a DVD release of this long-awaited Godard movie which for the most part had not been seen in the US in decades, and had never been released on home video here in America.


The movie looks awesome on DVD (of course it would look even better on blu) with Godard's bold use of bright, primary colors becoming a feast for the eyes, just as the movie plays with conventional notions of narrative and spoofs many aspects of gangster & noir movies, to great effect for those who are familiar with the genre.


Among the extras there is a long, detailed analysis of what inspired Godard during this period in his career, which also outlines some of the things that will have been obvious to many knowledgeable movie buffs (such as his constant allusions to famous American actors and directors).


Although I'd love to see this on blu-ray, the DVD is definitely worth a rental, or maybe even buying if you're a really big Godard fan.



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I finally got a chance to revisit The Seventh Seal, this time on the Criterion blu-ray that was recently issued. It's a great edition, with incredibly sharp image and really good sound; I can see why some feel it is a bit too grainy for their taste.


This could easily be the best blu-ray transfer of any classic foreign-language movie I've seen yet. It really made the movie look and sound as though it was brand new. There are practically no flaws visible to the naked eye, that I could notice.


I took a look at some of the shorter extras, of which I enjoyed the "Bergman 101" the most, but I didn't take a look at the "Bergman Island" documentary; I want to come back to it and watch it after I have had a chance to revisit some more of Bergman's films, since I've not seen most of them since I was in college.

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Missing (DVD)


I'd been meaning to revisit Costa-Gavras' Missing for a very long time, and I'm very glad to report the movie doesn't disappoint on repeat viewings, especially when it has been transferred to video with so much care by the folks at Criterion (licensing the film from Universal).


The movie looks great even though it's more than a quarter-century old. The framing fits perfectly within a HDTV screen, and the source material was in almost pristine condition. As many familiar with the story already know, the movie is set in an unnamed South American country, but it is in fact based on a real-life story about an American citizen who disappeared in Chile shortly after Augusto Pinochet's coup d'etat (the film was actually filmed in Mexico).


The extras are extensive and include very interesting interviews with Costa-Gavras and the relatives of the American who disappeared, whose story has been told pretty much as it happened although one or two names have been changed.


One of the most interesting anecdotes told by Costa-Gavras about filming in Mexico has to do with the cooperation by the Mexican Army, which had originally promised to lend some tanks for the shooting, but backed down at the last minute. The producers then tried to secure some tanks from Hollywood - only to be told at the U.S.-Mexico border that foreign tanks, even prop ones, were not allowed into Mexico. Finally, the production designer improvised and built wooden tanks (they actually look pretty real in the movie).


This is a really great story about a very dark episode of U.S. foreign policy, and the devastating consequences that it had for Chileans and many foreign citizens who happened to be in Chile at the time. It deserves to be seen.

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Repulsion (DVD & blu-ray)


At long last, Criterion has reissued Repulsion on DVD and blu-ray, after many many years during which the movie was only available on horrible PD versions. (Criterion had last issued this on laserdisc in the 90s).


Thank goodness, Criterion has now re-licensed the title from Sony Pictures, which apparently still holds some claim to the rights; or at least access to the negatives.


The new Repulsion looks absolutely flawless, with great mono sound; the movie is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1, which means very slight pillar-boxing on HDTV sets and minor letterboxing on 4:3 TV monitors.


There's also plenty of bonus features, which I barely had time to start exploring over the last few days, including documentaries made for French TV at the time of the movie's filming/release.


Even after more than 40 years, Repulsion remains one of the most genuinely disturbing movies ever made; some have called it Psycho turned inside out. This was Polanski's first English-language effort and from what I understand, he made quite a splash.


(Catherine Deneuve's character in the movie is a French-speaking Belgian living in London; why her sister speaks English with a flawless British accent isn't really explained, but it doesn't matter).


It would be great if Criterion continues to license movies that Sony has rights to; Beat the Devil immediately comes to mind.

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  • 2 months later...

Just came across this at blu-ray.com:


*Criterion Starts BD Case Replacement Program*


Criterion When The Criterion Collection started releasing titles on Blu-ray, many enthusiasts complained about the cardboard Digipak cases used by the studio. Now Criterion has switched to clear plastic cases for future titles, and owners of the existing cardboard cases will be able to replace them with the new ones, albeit for a price.


The first replacement case available is that for 'The Third Man'. Indeed, some forum members have reported having recently received that title from Amazon in the new case.


A Criterion representative has detailed the replacement program: "We currently have THE THIRD MAN replacement cases in and we will be receiving the rest come November. The cost for a replacement case is $5, which includes shipping. If you would like to go ahead and purchase an upgraded case for THE THIRD MAN simply make a payment of $5 to the email address store@criterion.com through PayPal, providing your mailing address and item needed in the message field, and we'll send it out to you! If you prefer to receive (it and other) cases together, I would advise waiting until we have all cases available and then making the payment of ($5 each) through Paypal."



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