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The Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2017

Posted by Amoebite, December 18, 2017 01:57pm | Post a Comment

Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2018

Has Criterion gone punk?? Based on the top selling Blu-rays at Amoeba this year it looks as if the primo purveyors of classic, foreign, and arthouse films found much of their success in alternative and cult-y titles by such provocateurs as Alex Cox, Terry Zwigoff, and John Waters. Perhaps it's a slight exaggeration, but based on the thin presence of films for Francophiles and classic film buffs, it seems that the prestigious label has gotten more angsty and alternative. Regardless, Criterion, as always, released a stellar collection of films in 2017. Here are the 10 best-selling Criterion Blu-rays at Amoeba.

Read all of our Best of 2017 lists.

Sid & Nancy Criterion Blu-ray Amoeba Music

10. Sid & Nancy 
Directed by Alex Cox, 1986
Released Aug 22, 2017

The long overdue Blu-ray release of Sid & Nancy has been one of the most anticipated Criterion releases in recent memory, and it couldn't have come at a more poignant time in lead actor Gary Oldman's career. Now regarded as a Hollywood mainstay, and garnering Oscar buzz for his recent portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hours, Oldman broke through to audiences in Cox's kinetic cult flick about the infamous, short lived, heroin-fueled relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (played by an equally fascinating Chloe Webb), before her gruesome, unsolved death by stabbing. Packed with extra documentaries, archival interviews of the real Vicious and Spungen, commentaries by the cast and crew, and more, this is the ultimate edition of the beloved punk-classic. 4K digital restoration.
Rebecca Criterion Blu-ray Amoeba Music 9. Rebecca 
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1940
Released Sept 5, 2017

Considered a favorite by many die-hard Alfred Hitchcock fans, Rebecca was the director's first production in Hollywood, after making a name for himself across the Atlantic. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier star is this psychological melodrama, in which the bliss of their new marriage becomes overshadowed by the memory, and possibly spirit, of Olivier's dead first wife. Filled with visual style, atmospheric special effects, and superb performances, Rebecca signaled the arrival of a new master in Tinseltown, and took home the Academy Award for best picture. The new Blu-ray is filled to the brim with special features, including various archival interviews with cast and crew members, three radio adaptations (including one by Orson Wells), screen tests, and a new conversation by legendary film critic Molly Haskell with Patricia White. 4K digital restoration.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me blu-ray Special Edition now available via Criterion!

Posted by Kells, October 22, 2017 07:26am | Post a Comment

When it was announced a few months ago that Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch's 1992 feature-length prequel to his seminal 1990 television series) would be getting the Criterion treatment, all us Twin Peaks obsessives noted the October release date and made a little shelf space to the left of our Definitive Gold Box Collections. Now the wait is over and the slick new Special Edition blu-ray release is here, teasing attractive director-approved specs and bonus features, and spurring fans to revisit the awesome glory of one of the most harrowing film viewing experiences worth surrender one's self to—especially if you, the viewer, has no prior knowledge of Twin Peaks lore. Personally speaking, having been disturbed by Fire Walk With Me when it first hit the theaters (I was only a year or two younger than main character Laura Palmer at the time), and then disturbed again earlier this year when the Alamo Drafthouse brought it back to the big screen before Twin Peaks made its surprising return to television for a third season set twenty-five years after the show's original run, I must say this lush realm of mystery, horror, beauty, and compassion Lynch has created is a deeply addictive gift that keeps on giving, if you've got the guts to stomach it. On that note, would it be wrong of me to venture that Fire Walk With Me is the most savory and satisfying yet deliciously difficult to swallow slice of the Twin Peaks pie? I think not.


Though connected to the larger narrative, Fire Walk With Me stands slightly apart from its televised companion piece both in terms of execution and style almost like a singular work of art. The settings and notions that audiences associate with the world of Twin Peaks—the diner, the roadhouse, the woods, those trees, coffee, donuts, cherry pie and such—are all present and familiar, but there is an added air of sophistication that imbues a tragic preciousness to the visual quality of this film, especially given the anticipation of a most certain act of murder. With its excellently stacked cast, exquisite cinematography, an absolutely incredible soundtrack, and the introduction of new contexts, old secrets, and a deeper invitation to try and solve a narrative that some view as a puzzle with missing pieces, Fire Walk With Me ignites a renewed fascination with Laura Palmer, her double life, the ugly truth of her demise, those who let it happen and the broader world of Twin Peaks as we think we know it. Though the sleepy Pacific Northwest town that would eventually mourn the untimely loss of their beloved homecoming queen is nought but a fictionalized setting for a subversive nighttime television drama that forever changed the way we associate mainstream media and high art, what makes this film so harrowing by comparison is the extent of and brutal veracity with which the terror and abuse Laura Palmer was permitted to suffer at home is depicted. Those scenes scream too real, and for some folks that may feel like an uncomfortable break from the wooing charms and riddles of  the original teleplay, but without the clues and truths introduced by Fire Walk With Me, the third season, or Twin Peaks: The Return, would be saddled with more explaining to do and a lot less to live up to.


Taking it back to the mention of people who prefer Twin Peaks story as working puzzle-story with missing pieces, this Criterion release features The Missing Pieces—a 90-minute presentation of deleted scenes and alternate takes from the film assembled by David Lynch. Additionally, there new interviews with Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) and soundtrack composer Angelo Badalamenti, a truncated version of Between Two Worlds wherein David Lynch talks to actors Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), and Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer), plus trailers and more. If you're looking for a way into Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me might not be the best place to start, even though it is where the tale technically begins. Nevertheless, this masterful feat of avant-garde TV turned film-making is one the greatest, if not the very best, of David Lynch's major works, and it is an absolute must-see if only for the stellar performances and photography alone. What are you waiting for?


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Top 10 Horror and Exploitation Blu-rays of 2016

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 26, 2016 05:24pm | Post a Comment

by Gabriel Wheeler

Most of us live in world where we can stream movies 24/7, but there are still quite a few of us who want physical copies of our favorite films, whether it’s for the artwork or the inclusion of extras like commentary, alternate cuts, behind-the-scenes photos, and more. Many amazing horror and exploitation movies found their way to Blu-ray this year, so without further ado here are my top 10 sleazy and scary Blu-rays for 2016.


Blood Father10. Blood Father (2016. Jean-Francois Richet. Lionsgate Films)

This is the only movie on the list that actually hit theaters in 2016. Mel Gibson plays John Link, an ex-biker on parole who runs a tattoo parlor out of his trailer in the desert. Out of the blue, his missing daughter gives him a call asking for money and so begins their high-octane journey full of mayhem. This is the ultimate dad film mixing elements of Breaking Bad and Mad Max. Also available on DVD.


 

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Shohei Imamura's "Vengeance is Mine"

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 13, 2016 01:22pm | Post a Comment

Vengeance Is MineBy Nazeeh Alghazawneh

At least once a month an elderly woman approaches me and tells me that I remind her of her son, either in the way that I look or because of my demeanor or simply because of my age. They’re very sweet and a little bit sad but most of all, full of nostalgia, which is always more sweet than sad until you think about it too much. They love to tell me about them. These mothers love to tell me about the love they have for their sons - an unconditional, boundless love that’s familiar and intimate at the same time but mostly uncomfortable. However, I nod my head and I listen because a heart is speaking to me and that’s the best thing about mothers: they always speak with their hearts.

It’s 1979 and Japanese New Wave director Shohei Imamura releases his first feature-length fiction film, Vengeance is Mine (available on DVD and Blu-ray), after a decade of making documentaries. For 140 minutes we’re introduced to Iwao Enokizu (played by Ken Ogata), a textbook sociopath with a penchant for murdering innocent people for reasons he couldn’t explain. Based on the real life serial killer Akira Nishiguchi, the film depicts the 78-day killing spree with faithful objectivity; Enokizu’s exploits aren’t glorified or celebrated, but they are fully realized. Imamura’s camera hangs low and aloof behind our protagonist, following him with that lecherous sense of dread and paranoia that a hunted murderer on the run probably feels. Ogata’s performance finesses a presence on the screen that is volatile, dripping with an anxiety that ultimately makes you feel uneasy, but dedicated to him nonetheless. The worst part is just how charming he is. It’s a concoction of Kit’s (Martin Sheen) aimless nonchalance from Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Bronson’s (Tom Hardy) gleeful desire for violence from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. Enokizu lacks any regard for anyone in his life, including himself, which appears to fuel his desire to kill; he seems to be angry that he’s even alive.

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The Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2016

Posted by Amoebite, December 7, 2016 12:51pm | Post a Comment

Top 10 Criterin Blu-ray of 2016

Film fans rejoice! It's been an exciting year of releases for Criterion, the primo purveyors of classic, foreign, and arthouse films. 2016 saw the release of much sought after cult flicks, bonafide classics dearly in need of restoration, as well as contemporary films that are poised to be classics in future years. This year's list of top ten selling Criterion Blu-rays features two films by American auteur Robert Altman and two by the acclaimed genre-satirists Joel and Ethan Coen. While the list was heavy on American films this year, there were, as you'd expect from Criterion, a few foreign pictures in there too.

10. In a Lonely Place
Directed by Nicolas Ray, 1950
Release Date: May 10, 2016

Nick Ray's romantic noir remains one of the quintessential films about the gin-soaked underbelly of Hollywood. Humphrey Bogart, in one of his greatest performances, stars as a washed up screenwriter suspected of murder. Neighbor Gloria Graham backs his alibi, and in the process a romance develops between the two, only to be threatened by her suspicion that he may not be innocent after all. 2K digital restoration. 

9. Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1964
Release Date: June 28, 2016

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