Acclaimed director Keisuke Kinoshita adapted a Shichirō Fukazawa novel in 1958, setting his haunting film in rural, 19th-century Japan. Ballad of Narayama — which arrives on Blu-ray from Criterion today — explores an ancient folkloric tradition in which elderly and infirmed relatives are carried to a mountain and left to die. Orin (Kinuyo Tanaka) approaches her 70th year and faces her final days on Mount Narayama, but she embarks on a quest to secure her family’s happiness before her journey to the mountain. It’s an allegorical, stylish Japanese classic that inspires thoughts of other epic film quests — stories that defined obsession, sacrifice, adventure, greed, self-discovery, and a search for the truth. Add to our list, below. … Read More
While Moonrise Kingdom is currently making Wes Anderson fans swoon, one film that inspired the director’s filmography is getting a Blu-ray release today from distinguished distributor Criterion. Harold and Maude was digitally restored and lovingly packaged by the company, and we can’t get enough of it. The darkly comedic, unconventional love story centers on a morbid, wealthy 19-year-old man (Bud Cort) and the bohemian 79-year-old widow he falls for (Ruth Gordon). It’s a heartbreaking, but inspiring tale, and a landmark of 1970′s cult cinema.
The youthful rebellion of the counterculture movement, and the anxiety of the Vietnam War are reflected through Harold and Maude’s relationship. The 1971 film clearly expresses an anti-war sentiment through its characters that buck authority in different ways and carve their own path despite the odds (a loving push from Gordon’s feisty octogenarian is crucial here). We thought of other cinematic couples from various points in film history that also found love in a countercultural landscape. Dig into our picks, then leave your own in the comments below. … Read More
Plan 9 from Outer Space from cult director Ed Wood hit Blu-ray this week. The film has famously been dubbed the worst movie ever made. We can’t help but admire the low budget filmmaker’s ability to craft an alien invasion — a charming feat considering his lack of resources (cardboard cutouts and model-kits on strings abound), amateur cast, and weirdly intercut footage of Bela Lugosi who posthumously starred in the sci-fi schlockfest. In celebration of all the best, worst movies out there, we wanted to examine a few other favorites. It’s all subjective, but these are a couple of standouts that managed to be entertaining despite the odds. Share your picks below, and let us know if you approve of ours in the comments section. … Read More
Evolving from a small, experimental community into a widely used network with some of the best content on the web, Tumblr has quickly proven its worth. For the film lover, there is a vast array of high quality content ranging from behind the scenes thoughts on the moviemaking process, to cinematic art and gorgeous film stills, and creatively curated takes on favorite celluloid moments. We’ve compiled a list of a few essential Tumblrs that cineastes should thoroughly enjoy. See what insightful, inspiring, and fun blogs we’ve shared after the jump, and tell us about your favorite Tumblrs below. … Read More
1. Deadline is reporting that Dianne Wiest and Chris Cooper are negotiating to play the leads in HBO’s forthcoming Noah Baumbach-helmed adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s award-winning novel, The Corrections. We approve heartily!
2. Dark Blood, the movie that River Phoenix was filming at the time of his death, might be getting released almost… Read More
Harry Dean Stanton and the blue-skied expanses of the Southwest can be seen in all their splendor in Criterion’s restoration of Wim Wenders’ open-hearted look at ’80s America.
Four years after abandoning his family, a haunted, laconic Stanton mysteriously appears in the desert. Reconnecting with his precocious seven-year-old son, he sets out to find his long-gone wife in Texas. The film’s sublime effect lies in how Wenders lets the journey unfurl, unhurriedly and moodily, with his outsider’s camera taking in everything from California suburbia to middle-of-nowhere highways. … Read More
On the centenary of Akira Kurosawa’s birth, Criterion pays tribute to the Japanese cinema great with a monumental box set, AK 100.
The 25 films gathered in this treasury include Kurosawa’s ultimate whodunit and international breakthrough Rashomon; his ever-epiphanic masterpiece Seven Samurai; the princess-and-peasants caper that inspired Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress; and colorful, late-career opuses like Kagemusha. … Read More
New from Criterion, Arnaud Desplechin’s lovely, novelistic drama captures the long holiday reunion of the crazy and royal Vuillard family.
Catherine Deneuve stars as the materfamilias who learns of her life-or-death need for a bone-marrow transplant. With doting husband Jean-Paul Roussillon, she assembles the tribe, including their adult children: sad-eyed eldest Annie Consigny, banished son Mathieu Amalric, and reformed youngest Melvil Poupaud.
With all the blood relatives roped into one house — as well as their neuroses, internecine feuds, and half-obscured amours — Desplechin creates a tale overflowing with poetry, tenderness (and its opposite), iris effects, and visual and verbal nods to everything from the New Wave to Emerson. … Read More
The unruly early films of Yugoslav “Black Wave” iconoclast Dušan Makavejev are rounded up in the latest Eclipse box… Read More