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Archive for February 24th, 2012

by Jaime Grijalba.

The Oscar race is done, and the principal winners are already known. They’re predictable at this time of year, but sometimes we have an itch, something that tells us that maybe not everything is said and done, there are many insider stories that tell us, for example, that maybe the winner that everyone is talking about is not going to be the real winner. So, here I am, supporting a sham, the awards season, the thing that most serious film enthusiasts hate, the Oscars. I don’t hate the Oscars myself, as much as I hate the options they take sometimes, but I think it’s always something to look forward to and it always brings up the conversation within friends… which was really the best film of 2011? For me the answer was clear, but for the Academy, they still have to choose, so here comes the entertainment, trying to predict what is going to happen.

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by Allan Fish

We all have our own ideas of what releases Criterion need to bring out in the upcoming months/years.  Requests ranging from the mad (Showgirls) to the unlikely (The Magnificent Ambersons).  As the chances of full blown Blu Ray releases of films is always going to be small, unless it’s an upgrade of an earlier DVD release, let us instead turn our attention to the strand of Criterion that is commonly seen as their burying tool, Eclipse.

Essentially, this was begun with the intention of getting releases out of films that they’d never otherwise get round to.  What it has turned into is a way to bury films that that should have been given full on releases.  So Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living gets a full on Blu Ray, while his musicals (The Smiling Lieutenant et al) languish in Eclipse.  (And where’s the upgrade of Trouble in Paradise, while we’re on the subject).  Nice to have them, yes, but any one of that boxset beats the 1933 film.  Most recently, we have Daisies, a film that deserves a full on release every bit as much as say Kalatozov’s Letter Never Sent, but gets buried in an Eclipse set, along with Capricious Summer, which anyone who’s anyone will tell you is a better film than Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains that got a full Criterion release.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1938 100m) DVD1/2

Aka. The Human Beast; Judas Was a Woman

A black smoke

Robert Hakim  d/w  Jean Renoir  novel  Emile Zola  ph  Curt Courant  ed  Marguerite Renoir  m  Joseph Kosma  art  Eugène Lourié

Jean Gabin (Jacques Lantier), Simone Simon (Severine), Julien Carette (Pecqueaux), Fernard Ledoux (Roubaud), Jean Renoir (Cabuche), Blanchette Brunoy (Flore), Gérard Landry (Dauvergne’s son), Jacques Berlioz (Grandmorin), Colette Regis (Victoire), Jenny Helia (Philomene),

Whenever I think of Jean Renoir’s classic adaptation of Emile Zola’s tale of violence and lust on the railways, I am reminded of that memorable speech made by Edward G.Robinson’s Barton T.Keyes in Double Indemnity referring to the couple who commit a murder being tied together on a train ride on which the final destination is the cemetery.  Though in the films of Satyajit Ray and Yasujiro Ozu trains are equated with the notion of moving from home and displacement amongst communities, in French cinema they have always been a symbolic reference point for studies of sexual obsession, dating right back to Abel Gance’s La Roue.  The almost phallic significance of various shots of locomotives entering tunnels, coupled with the deliberately fatalistic script, combine to evoke an erotic web of treachery, uncontrollable violence and sex by the sidings.  For some time it was perhaps overlooked against the poetic realist films of Marcel Carné and with coming between Renoir’s more accepted masterworks, La Grande Illusion and La Règle du Jeu, but this remains one of the great French films of the thirties. (more…)

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