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by Michael Barrett

22 Jan 2016

Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas is a landmark silent epic about the adventures of a diabolical criminal played by René Navarre. This shadowy yet elegant figure, a master of disguise, engages in an endless game of cat and mouse with a police inspector (Edmund Bréon) who can never catch him. When Kino released the five-film serial on DVD in 2010,


reviewed it here with analysis so insightful and informative that we can add nothing to it except our praise of the reviewer’s brilliance.

This new Blu-ray upgrade contains exactly the same program, including the critical commentary, the two excellent bonus shorts and the profile of Feuillade’s career. The only new feature is a gallery of the stylish, colorful, sometimes gory covers of the Fantomas novels in various editions. It stands to reason that people who haven’t seen the previous edition should benefit from the Blu-ray, but will those who already own the DVD derive anything in particular from this reissue?

by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick

6 Jan 2016

Steve Pick: What would happen if babies stopped being born, and the population of the world would be shrinking every day? Would there be chaos? Would nations lose all control, and countless interest groups battle over resources until the only civilized place on Earth would be England? By civilized, I mean a place where all non-native people would be treated worse than Donald Trump’s most horrific dreams?

Would the good people of England fetishize the youngest person in the world, sobbing uncontrollably when he is killed because of a refusal to live up to the image people have of him as some sort of special being? What if one of the outside people turned up pregnant?

by Michael Barrett

5 Jan 2016

Anamoprhosis (1991)

“Dark fairy tale-ish with an element of grotesquery and the pathological” is how one of the Quays, American twin brothers who live and work in London, describes their aesthetic in a commentary for This Unnameable Little Broom. We can’t be sure if it’s Stephen or Timothy talking, but it doesn’t matter in this case. That film is loosely inspired by an incident in the ancient epic of Gilgamesh, if you can imagine Gilgamesh as a Punch-like figure on a tricycle who wheels around a box-like room and cuts the wings off a weird flying creature.

It’s one of 16 titles in The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films, a Blu-ray upgrade of the 2007 two-disc DVD Phantom Museums, with four new films added. Fans shouldn’t discard that DVD, however, for the contents of Disc 2 mostly aren’t included on the new Blu-ray.

by Michael Barrett

4 Jan 2016

Are you in the mood to be retro-hip? Do you get the urge to be mod and pop, ‘60s style? Sure you do.

A batch of recent Blu-rays (and a couple of more digitally challenged items) offers a cross-section of the cinematic era when you couldn’t swing a hepcat without hitting something groovy. Here’s a guide to programming your own marathon. Only a few of these titles are certifiable “classics”, but they all exude distinctive flavors and aromas of that stylish decade. You can spot them at 100 paces.

by Michael Barrett

30 Dec 2015

David Golder (1930)

Julien Duvivier in the Thirties is perfect for Criterion’s Eclipse series because Duvivier epitomizes a once-celebrated filmmaker whose reputation and availability have gone into eclipse. The four films in this set show an artist whose command of the medium was such that even his earliest talkies display a visual and aural confidence beyond most of his contemporaries. Further, because they all star a versatile, balding, stocky character actor named Harry Baur, we incidentally rediscover his once-admired versatility as well, so that this might also have been named Harry Baur in the Thirties.

//Mixed media

Culture Belongs to the Alien in 'Spirits of Xanadu'

// Moving Pixels

"The symbols that the artifact in Spirits of Xanadu uses are esoteric -- at least for the average Western gamer. It is Chinese culture reflected back at us through the lens of alien understanding.

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