Monday 30 December 2013

Greg Klymkiw's 10 Best DVD and Blu-Ray Releases of 2013 - Don't rent or download - BUY! BUY! BUY!

The 10 Best DVD and Blu-Ray Releases of 2013
(in alphabetical order)
By Greg Klymkiw

American Mary
Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada
The Blu-Ray edition of American Mary, one of the best Horror films made in years is completely and utterly orgasmic. It's ultimately the best way to see the movie at home - bar none. Dynamic Duo directors The Soska Twins have a great imagination, but even better, they have a phenomenal eye (well, actually, make that, uh... FOUR eyes) and this is a true keeper.

Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room
Milestone Films/Milestone Cinematheque
Baby Peggy was 19 months old in 1920 and became one of the world's most beloved child stars in countless shorts and features. This is her story. This terrific documentary by Vera Iwerebor includes the most delightful extras imaginable - the full length Baby Peggy feature Captain January and three Baby Peggy Shorts.

The Lord of the Flies
The Criterion Collection
The Criterion release of Peter Brook's adaptation of William Golding's classic book is another must-own title. The Criterion version includes the following items: New, restored digital transfer (box set edition); new, restored 4K digital film transfer, supervised by editor and cameraman Gerald Feil, ASC (two-DVD and Blu-ray editions), with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition, Audio commentary featuring director Peter Brook, producer Lewis Allen, director of photography Tom Hollyman, and Feil, Audio recordings of William Golding reading from his novel Lord of the Flies, accompanied by the corresponding scenes from the film, Deleted scene, with optional commentary and Golding reading, Interview with Brook from 2008 (two-DVD and Blu-ray only), Collection of behind-the-scenes material, including home movies, screen tests, outtakes, and stills, Excerpt from a 1980 episode of The South Bank Show featuring Golding (two-DVD and Blu-ray only), New interview with Feil (two-DVD and Blu-ray only), Excerpt from Feil’s 1973 documentary The Empty Space, showcasing Brook’s theater method, Living “Lord of the Flies,” a piece composed of never-before-seen footage shot by the boy actors during production, with new voice-over by actor Tom Gaman, Trailer, PLUS: An essay by film critic Geoffrey Macnab (two-DVD and Blu-ray only) and an excerpt from Brook’s autobiography The Shifting Point, New cover by Kent Williams (two-DVD and Blu-ray editions); new cover by Olga Krigman (box set edition).

Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada
From Anchor Bay Canada in partnership with Raven Banner comes the most triumphant DVD for any Canadian Film ever! This DVD is comparable to a Criterion Collection release. This phenomenal no-budget Canadian movie from Astron-6 must be seen by all burgeoning (and maybe even quite a few veteran) filmmakers. Dive into the fabulous extra features and learn how to make your first feature the RIGHT WAY!!! This DVD is practically a film school in a box. DON'T WASTE MONEY ON FILM SCHOOL, JUST BUY THIS DVD!!! And if you DON'T agree these guys made EXACTLY the kind of first feature REAL FILMMAKERS must make when they are bereft of money, then you are a POSEUR! In the tradition of John Paizs and Guy Maddin, Astron-6 is the REAL THING!

The Message
Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada
Moustapha Akkad's historic epic is brought to Blu-Ray glory and includes the Arabic version of the film and an excellent making-of documentary. This, along with its Akkad companion piece The Lion in the Desert (also on Anchor Bay Blu-Ray) star Anthony Quinn as a formidable butt-kicker for Islam. These are important works that present a unique perspective on the birth of the religion as well as the historic struggles between Islam and the colonial forces of Mussolini.

The Criterion Collection
Fans of Robert Altman's masterpiece have waited their whole lives for this home entertainment release. The film holds up brilliantly (as it always does) and it looks great. I must admit, I'm still going through the bounty of added value features, but so far, they are up to the high standards of Criterion. This DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION features: • New 2K digital film restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray • Audio commentary featuring director Robert Altman • New documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with actors Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Allan Nicholls, and Lily Tomlin, assistant director Alan Rudolph, and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury • Archival interviews with Altman • Behind-the-scenes footage • Demos of Carradine singing his songs from the film • Trailer • One Blu-ray and two DVDs, with all extras available in both editions • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell

Repo Man
The Criterion Collection
Alex Cox's quintessential, if not utterly seminal 80s cult film classic gets its much-deserved & long overdue Criterion Collection treatment in this ABSOLUTE MUST-OWN BLU-RAY. What shines are all the other added value features. Deleted scenes, many of which are genuinely terrific in and of themselves, are presented with some very amusing interstitial segments involving some extremely surprising guests joining Cox in the proceedings. A taped roundtable discussion between Cox, producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks, Zamora, Richardson, and Rude on the making of the film seems at first a repeat of the issues discussed in the commentary track, but proves to be an excellent supplement. New interviews with musicians Iggy Pop and Keith Morris and actors Dick Rude, Olivia Barash and Miguel Sandoval are thoroughly delightful. The two utterly exquisite highlights of Criterion's great disc are a "cleaned-up" television version of Repo Man - replete with all sorts of hilarious alternatives to the more "foul" elements of the picture as well as scenes not used in the theatrical version; and the second item is a phenomenal taped conversation between producer Peter McCarthy (whose questions are always terrific) and Harry Dean Stanton. Stanton's philosophies on life and work are insanely cool - so convinced are we of his POV that we only think AFTER watching it that he might have brilliantly been pulling our respective legs. He probably wasn't, but this interview is, I think so historically important that it works as a mini-film unto itself and feels less like an "extra" and closer to the sort of creative approach taken years ago by the master of these sorts of things, Laurent Bouzerau. The packaging is impeccable and the added booklet is packed with tons of great reading (including Cox's original financing proposal for the film). The artwork and art direction of the booklet, the box and the menus are all first rate. This is not only a great and important movie, but overall, the Criterion presentation (along with the exquisite transfer) is one of the best I've had the pleasure to dive into in years.

The Criterion Collection
Seconds has been given the royal treatment on the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray. Here are the disc's highlights: A stunningly restored 4K digital film transfer, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack, a genuinely great commentary with Frankenheimer, a surpringly insightful interview withactor Alec Baldwin, excerpts from "Hollywood on the Hudson" TV show from 1965 that has on-set footage and a Hudson interview, a fine making-of with interviews from Frankenheimer’s widow and actor Salome Jens (who plays the film's "love interest"), a 1971 interview with Frankenheimer, a decent visual essay by film scholars R. Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance and the de rigueur booklet that has the added value of a superb essay by movie critic David Sterritt.