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The Best Classic Films on Blu-ray in 2020

Many formats have come and gone and streaming competes, to a degree, but these best classic films offered on Blu-ray in 2020 prove irresistible.

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Film

Decode the Pre-Code: Four Hot Early Talkies Hit Blu-Ray

Sinuous camera moves and stylish direction, endings that surely wouldn't have flown after the Code crackdown: four pre-code talkies from Cecil B. DeMille, Phil Goldstone, Victor Halperin, and Stuart Walker.

Books

Sheena Kamal's 'No Going Back' Unfurls a Thrilling Noir

Kamal's psychological thriller, No Going Back, utilizes crime-noir tropes but with purposeful deviations.

Books

Ottessa Moshfegh's 'Death in Her Hands' Is Not What It Seems

A character named Magda dies, and lives, in language only in Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands. But then again, don't all literary characters?

Film

The "Luxurious Loneliness" of Anime Film 'Perfect Blue'

In Satoshi Kon's 1997 masterpiece, Perfect Blue, former J-Pop idol Mima Kirigoe's crisis of identity echoes our current 'epidemic' of loneliness -- upsetting the boundary between private and public agency, the desire to hide and the compulsion to be seen.

Film

The Cyclops and the Sunken Place: Narrative Control in 'Watchmen' and 'Get Out'

Hollywood is increasing Black representation but Damon Lindelof and Jordan Peele challenge audiences to question the authenticity of this system.

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'Breathing Through the Wound' Will Leave You Gasping for Air

As dizzying as Víctor Del Árbol's philosophy of crime may appear, the layering of motifs in Breathing Through the Wound is vertiginous.

Film

Why 'Dead Silence' Is the Forgotten Gem of James Wan's Horror Oeuvre

James Wan's supernatural ventriloquism film, Dead Silence, was buried alive in the catacombs of cinema's history by a mountain of awful reviews upon its release. But its take on the horrors of misogyny may compel you to watch it now.

Television

What We Want vs. What We Need: How 'Twin Peaks: The Return' Resists Nostalgia

David Lynch and Mark Frost's seminal Twin Peaks is rich with insight as to how both people and works of fiction can age gracefully.

Television

Is 'The Alienist' a Critique of Capitalism or a Pro-Neoliberal Narrative?

Author Caleb Carr's The Alienist explores the 19th century psychiatric debate between free will and determinism. TNT's nearly identical adaptation of the novel, however, comes up with a completely different conclusion.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Film

'The Serpent's Egg' Marks One of Ingmar Bergman's Strangest Efforts

The Serpent's Egg bares many of the Bergman's trademark features – the suffocating auras of despair and an underdog's sense of triumph over tragedy – but falls short of a more intelligent rendering of human drama.

Film

Ross Is the Name, Crime Is the Game: 'My Name Is Julia Ross'

My Name Is Julia Ross is fast, direct, and easy fun. It never tests the viewer's patience with unnecessary trills.

Film

'70s Horror Film Let's Scare Jessica to Death Fools Everyone

Writer-Director John Hancock and co-writer Lee Kalcheim take the gothic heroine from hundreds of penny dreadfuls and allow her to have her agency in the most unusual horror film, Let's Scare Jessica to Death.

Books

'Serenade for Nadia' Is a Beautifully Wrought Tale of Political Crimes Past and Present

Serenade for Nadia's complex plot allows Turkish author Zülfü Livaneli to sermonize on topics as varied as anti-Semitism, secularism and modernity, the role of faith in the modern world, diversity and multiculturalism, media and journalism, and more.

Books

Who Can I Be Now? Picking Through Mat Osman's 'The Ruins'

Mat Osman's mystery, The Ruins, turns excess into artistry.

Film

Hitchcock, Quietly Suspenseful

Hitchcock's silent films demonstrate that he was not only a master of visual storytelling but confidently made silents as though they had sound effects.

Film

Why Pat O'Connor's 1989 Bomb, 'The January Man', Is Worth Watching Today

Considered in relation to the postmodern explosion that would rock Hollywood during the second half of the '90s, The January Man registers as a pop culture curio that was ahead of its time.

Books

Sam Wasson's 'The Big Goodbye' Puts Roman Polanski's 'Chinatown' in Its Place

Social historian Sam Wasson's The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, is a graceful and compelling elegy to both Roman Polanski's landmark film, and the end times of old Hollywood.

Film

Debut Sci-Fi / Fantasy Film, 'The Vast of Night' Revels in Mystery

Andrew Patterson's debut film, The Vast of Night, compels its audience to listen to a radio conversation and watch a mysterious play. Interview with director Andrew Patterson and actors Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick.

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'The Night Stalker' Crept Through the 1970s Constraints of Made for TV Film

In the '70s there was something sinister sneaking into suburban homes between the sitcom and the 11 o'clock news where the real horrors played out. The made for TV horror film The Night Stalker would be among the best.

Film

'When a Stranger Calls Back' Betters Its Spooky Predecessor

Although not as well known as John Carpenter or Brian DePalma, Fred Walton brilliantly complicates that old mystery -- is the killer in the house? -- with 1993's When a Stranger Calls Back.

Television

In HBO's 'Watchmen', the Devil Doesn’t Disappear

Damon Lindelof's over-plotted, over-anxious, daring, genre-hopping offshoot of Alan Moore's alternate-history graphic novel, Watchmen, is less a show about hunting down the bad guys than it is about the twisted turns and stubborn legacies of racist trauma in America -- and the resistance to atoning for it.

Film

Godard's Sci-fi/Noir Alphaville' Is Witty and Subversive

Alphaville's pulpy sci-fi plot acts as a warm coat of familiarity as Godard slyly subverts one genre trope after another.

Film

David Lynch's 'Lost Highway' Loosens Our Grip on What and Whom We Think We Know

We move through life among strangers whom we try to make less strange by identifying repetitive behaviors as identity. At some point, we might even say we "know" a person. Lynch's Lost Highway shows that we don't know anything about each other.

Film

Tea and Scones Suspense: Hitchcock's "English" Movies of the Early 1940s

Although Hitchcock left Great Britain for the United States in 1939, his first two films -- Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941) -- nonetheless remained set firmly in English culture. His depictions helped craft perceptions of English life for decades to come.

Farisa Khalid
Film

Stop Laughing: A Difference of Laughter Between British and American Hitchcock

While Alfred Hitchcock is famous for the humor that he injected into his thrillers, there are striking differences in the humor between his British and American periods.

Film

Hitchcock 101: 1935-1938 - 'The 39 Steps' to 'The Lady Vanishes'

In Day Two of our Director Spotlight series on the Master of Suspense, we revisit the four strongest films of Alfred Hitchcock’s British period.

Film

New York Film Festival 2019: 'Bacurau'

Loony anti-colonialist Brazilian satire Bacurau doesn't always balance its humor with its bite, but its communitarian soul, oddball wit, and dark vision of the future still hits home.

Film

Gothic Mystery 'Dominique' Indulges in Mood

Michael Anderson's Dominique hones in on an atmosphere richly dripping with nouveau gothic dread.

Film

'Ad Astra' Does Daddy Issues Well

Ad Astra has the astronomical humanism of Interstellar mixed with the morose nihilism of Apocalypse Now, fueled by a booster rocket of daddy issues.

Film

'Ad Astra' Says Goodbye to the Great White God

At its better moments, James Gray and Dan Bradley's Ad Astra brings forth larger themes beyond the usual space action-thriller.

Film

'Quatermass and the Pit' Peers into the Dark Nature of Human Evolution

Nigel Kneale's book and screenplay, which Hammer Films made into Quatermass and the Pit, raises many provocative questions regarding the nature of human evolution and the conception of the devil itself.

Film

Doris Day Plays Kit and Mouse in Hitchcock Imitator, 'Midnight Lace'

Followed on a foggy night, a menacing voice on the telephone, trapped in an elevator... Doris Day's Kit Preston verges on a nervous breakdown in Midnight Lace.

Television

The Pulpy Origins of Netflix's 'Typewriter'

Less polished than Netflix's usual fare, Sujoy Ghosh's new haunted house series, Typewriter, borrows from India's rich tradition of genre fiction.

Books

Farewell to the "Father of Montalbano", Sicilian Novelist Andrea Camilleri

The beloved character Salvo Montalbano, like its author, the late Sicilian novelist Andrea Camilleri ("il padre di Montalbano"), can be brusque and ornery, but he has a strong ethical code and passionate commitment to justice.


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