10 Years of Rialto Pictures: 10 Discs Box Set
(US DVD: 28 Oct 2008)
Rialto Pictures was founded in 1997 by Bruce Goldstein, Repertory Director for the Film Forum, a renowned old-style art house in New York. Goldstein created Rialto to supply these much needed restorations of 35mm film prints of classics by directors like Jean-Luc Godard and Federico Fellini and other movies that are ripe for rediscovery, such as Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows and Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers. Rialto, in accordance with Criterion, has recently released a wonderful 10 Year Anniversary ten-disc DVD retrospective of their work containing Army of Shadows, Band of Outsiders, Billy Liar, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Au hasard Balthazar, Mafioso, Murderous Maids Rififi, The Third Man, and Touchez pas au grisbi.
This set is in some ways a more manageable version of the mammoth 50 Years of Janus Film retrospective released by Criterion last year. Both collect essential films on DVDs with crisp transfers but no frills or extras. Each movie in the Rialto set includes a brief set of liner notes that summarizes the plot with some useful historical and contextual analysis. Most of the films cover a post-war to late ‘60s period when art houses became popular in American cities and the term codified a certain type of urbane international sensibility. The art house tradition that Rialto represents is European, primarily French, of the ‘50s and ‘60s, before the New Waves got too freaky or revolutionary. Though almost exclusively western, Rialto represents the high standards of this art house scene in storytelling, formal and technological adventurism, and intellectual stridency. Goldstein’s curatorial eye looks back with an eye that can easily edit out the fads for kitschy existentialism or political naïveté that marred lesser works. He also seems fond of enjoyable entertainments, particularly crime thrillers and comedies that show art house fare need not be boring or pretentious.