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January 05, 2010


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That PINNOCHIO still is amazing. I don't have a Blu-Ray player yet myself, so I'm very much looking forward to part 2 of this, to see if there are any big DVDs I missed. More than likely there are. I loved when you did this feature at PREMIERE, and I do believe that's how I found out about the Val Lewton set, for which I'm eternally grateful.

Michael Adams

Glad to see Hot Fuzz on your list. So much is going on that wonderful new jokes jump out every time I see it. It doesn't seem to be the kind of film, compared to New World, say, that cries out to be Blu, but it does look much better than it did in theaters.

The Blu revelation of 2009 for me is North by Northwest. I'd seen it at least twenty times but never noticed ROT's yellow undies until this time, and EMS is much more attractive than before. Blu makes a great film even greater.

Tom Russell

I too found that "article" about Criterion rather stupid, especially given the whole "contemporary" part of the mission statement, as you cited. And I'm the guy who picked a snit about ARMAGEDDON's presence in its catalogue and, IIRC, inspired a recent "Criterion isn't a non-profit" response.

I kinda wish Criterion had access/DVD rights to the films that were in their laserdisc collection, which was a bit more eclectic (Ghostbusters! Spinal Tap! Boogie Nights!), and helped in some ways to broaden the Strictly Arthouse image that D'Addario thinks they're squandering.

Fabian W.

What, no ZODIAC Director's Cut Blu-Ray? That was in January, right?

James Keepnews

Couple o' things:

* "the still-contention-fomenting Blu-ray Disc format" -- for realz?? Some people would still prefer Betamax? Seriously, I thought this was the long-preferred DVD format for the cinephile, even as against HD-DVD. Who is doing the contending, and why?

* You are too kind by half to Mr. D'Addario, and deserve to give him the full Glenn on The Auteurs, elsewhere. I realize Newsweek is viewed across a broad swath of world history as an unassailable pinnacle of indie/arthouse cred. And yet. To paraphrase a Bryon Coley review from many years ago, please fuck him.

* You've been name-checking Dead and Buried more than once of late, and it interested me since Mr. Sherman (whose memorable, underrated Vice Squad is the only thing I've seen by him) has pretty much written it off, even more than his hacked-up Death Line/Raw Meat -- in his Shock Cinema interview he refused to discuss it at all. Discuss...

* Never, ever understood the Vanishing Point cult, except in principle (speed freak, long drive, chases, hip black DJ/Tiresias stand-in, etc.) In practice, however, I found it so goofy and unbelievable -- where to begin? Tiresias/Little declaiming on Newman's "crazy luck", about which he became informed....how? I'll sit through Jeanne Dielmann or Wavelength again, though I know how both will end, before I will for Vanishing Point. I'd sooner die -- is that what people mean when they call the film "existential"?

* And to close out by potentially further stoking cinephilic wrath: is now a good time to admit I prefer Sorcerer over Wages of Fear? No? too late...

Tom Russell

But... but... WAGES OF FEAR is good. It's moody, taut, incredibly visceral, not to mention delightfully sordid. It takes the time to set up its mileau and the stakes, which to my mind makes the action sequences all the more satisfying and thrilling.

SORCERER, on the other hand-- all it really has going for it, I think, is the score by Tangerine Dream. Which is (in all seriousness) nothing to sniff at, I think it's an absolutely lovely score, certainly evocative, but the film as a whole I find to be quite underwhelming. (Though this might be my well-documented anti-Friedkin bias speaking.)

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, James, and I'm certainly not trying to unleash cinephilic wrath upon your person-- I'm just curious what qualities SORCERER has that puts it over WAGES OF FEAR in your book.

As for Vanishing Point, I thought it was pretty neat but wasn't as wowed by it as I thought I'd be, given the hype. My wife introduced me to it and seemed to get a lot bigger kick out of it than I did. She also had seen it when it came out in theaters, and was probably better able to get back in touch with the film's original "zeitgeist" than I; a lot that might seem silly or curious in my child-of-the-eighties-and-nineties eyes are forgiven/understood by her eyes (just as my affection for the Transformers or Thundercats cartoons seem rather alien to her).

Granted, I have no idea how old you are, Mr. Keepnews, and this explanation could for you personally not hold very much water. But that was my experience with it, at any rate.


I don't agree with James Keepnews about many things, but SORCERER vs. WAGES OF FEAR is one of them. Granted, it's been ages since I've seen either one, but the sweaty tension everyone says they feel when watching WAGES OF FEAR is how I felt watch SORCERER, and SORCERER doesn't have its protagonist celebrate his survival and new solvency by weaving across the road like a cartoon drunk, so that fate can kill him.

Tom Russell

I'll agree that the ending of WAGES, while in keeping with the film's cynical nature, is a little much.


You know, I can't stand "Fight Club" as a movie, but I'm forced to agree it belongs on this list just for technical reasons. Great transfer.

Chris O.

Glenn, did you agree with Wells' assessment/near-heart attack re: "The French Connection?" It's not on your list and I've avoided picking it up as well.


Wow, how horrible that Criterion offers presumably more commercial films like BUTTON as a way of funding presumably less commercial films like 2 OR 3 THINGS! Why, that would put them in the same category as all the other studios and companies that successfully balanced art and commerce! I have no real interest in BUTTON, but if it means I get to finally see MADE IN USA, or THAT HAMILTON WOMAN, or the wonderful Eclipse packages of the last few years, what's the real problem here? Someone should get D'Addario off the commune and put a copy of Thomas Schatz's THE GENIUS OF THE SYSTEM into his hands.


I think what's neat about VANISHING POINT, silly as it is, is the network of counter-culture types who help Kowalski on his existential road journey. It gives it a definite cultural moment. And the cars are bad-ass.

david hare

Glenn, no love for the ITV Red Shoes (region B locked)? Or are you holding out for the inevitable Criterion second half of this year? It topped my list of Blus for the Beaver - inna hell of a strong field.

Watching Marienbad again in the Criterion Blu (the Canal is virtually identical in quality) it finally dawned on me this is the first of Resnais' Musical Comedies. Francis Seyrig's (Delphine's bro) humongous, Desormiere-esque organ score is the key, along with the name of the play and author they're all watching.

James Keepnews

James does not consider Wages bad, just that Sorcerer's better. What puts it over? I saw Wages after Sorcerer and was surprised to believe the homage exceeded the original. I realize it was the 50's but for so grimy and "existential" a journey in Wages, it felt contrived and maybe not all that grimy compared to the journeys realized in Sorcerer (if only Sam Fuller had directed it!). Make no mistake, Friedkin is way, way over the top with some of the material -- guilty Irish goons hitting a Catholic Church during a wedding where the bride has a fresh black eye, mmm, subtle, and that's just Roy's path in. The "removal" of the tree in the jungle path is perhaps the most riveting sequence in all of Friedkin's films. And the bottomless cynicism throughout plus the no exit coda, matching many no exits leading up to it. For me, Wages pales by comparison, where Sorcerer is a key 70's film for me, if for few else.

Glenn Kenny

@ David Hare: Yes, I was very high on the ITV "Shoes," but as the Criterion version is a certainty I held out; many readers accuse me of trying to bust their bank accounts so I thought I'd show some mercy. It is spectacular but I have no reason to think the Criterion won't be just as good!

That's an interesting perspective on "Marienbad," I'll have to try looking at it that way soon!

@ James, I'm not sure about "Sorcerer"'s superiority, but I know damn well I'd like to see it again, sooner than later.

James Keepnews

Glenn -- Me, too! If I'm not mistaken, the primary reason there hasn't been a major Sorcerer video release is because of how utterly pissed off the studio is at Friedkin, still! Certainly, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls details Billy's divadom in the jungle during the making of Sorcerer pretty thoroughly, though 25 years is quite a long time to hold a grudge, no matter how poorly it did at the box office nor the auteur's manners and/or absence thereof. You'd think Mrs. Friedkin might be able to twist an arm or three, though that may be a related problem...

Chris O.

Finally had time to find your comments re: "The French Connection." Consensus is clear across the board. Will avoid.

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