Monday, 28 December 2015

Film Highlights of 2015

Film Highlights of 2015

- 29th Leeds International Film Festival (5th-19th November) - see previous blog post

- I finally bought my first Blu-Ray this year. My Darling Clementine got a special limited edition release from Arrow that included both theatrical and pre-release versions. It also features Allan Dwan's 1939 film Frontier Marshall which is based on the same Stuart Lake book that was the basis for John Ford's 1946 film. I've resisted getting a Blu-Ray player up to now. I think the format serves new releases well but I'm not at all convinced about older titles which look just a bit too pristine to my eyes. However if any Blu-Ray-only release could win me over then this is it, a film that lies above any sort of hierarchy. Last year Clementine got a Criterion release and this year it got a UK release worthy of the film's brilliance. I was reluctant to view the pre-release version for a long time as I'd always considered the theatrical cut to be more or less perfect but having finally watched it I was surprised to find the preview cut to be the superior version.

- Best filmgoing experience: Blade Runner on two separate occasions at Leeds Town Hall (3/4/2015 & 12/11/2015).

- Cinematic Revelation/Film Discovery of the Year: The Reflecting Skin (1990, Philip Ridley) at Hyde Park Picturehouse 10/11/2015. An overdue re-release and director approved restoration of the cult classic.

- 3 of the finest Westerns of the 1950s (ShaneMan of the West and Day of the Outlaw) got some excellent DVD releases courtesy of Eureka.

Other notable DVD releases:
The Tales of Hoffmann (Studio Canal), Thief (Arrow), Circle of Danger (Network), Grace of My Heart (Odyssey), The Jacques Rivette Collection (Arrow), King of the Hill (Fabulous Films), Seconds (Eureka), The Raging Moon (Studio Canal), Murder in the Cathedral (BFI), 3 Women (Arrow), Pickup on South Street (Eureka), The Town that Dreaded Sundown (Eureka), 80,000 Suspects (Network), Quatermass (Euston Films/Network), Society (Arrow), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (Eureka), Vivre Sa Vie (BFI), Cruel Story of Youth (Eureka), Dragon's Return (Second Run), Roberto Rossellini/Ingrid Bergman Collection (BFI), La Grande Bouffe (Arrow), Fruit of Paradise & Traps (Second Run), Wild River (Eureka), Jigsaw (Renown), Ganja & Hess (Eureka)
Region 1 releases: Abuse of Weakness (Strand), A Day in the Country (Criterion), 52 Pick-Up (Kino Lorber), Safe (Criterion), Cat People - 1982 (Medium Rare), Portrait of Shirley Vol. 1-3 (Milestone), La Cienaga (Criterion), Woman They Almost Lynched (Olive), Every Man for Himself (Criterion), Miami Blues (Shout! Factory), The Adventures of Gerard (MGM), Here is Your Life (Criterion), Variete (NFP), Some Call it Loving (Etiquette), Angst (Cult Epics), fat City (Twilight Time), Blind Chnace (Criterion), Wind Across the Evereglades (Warner Archive), Les Blank: Always for Pleasure (Criterion)

- The October issue of Sight and Sound had a marvellous feature on 100 overlooked films by female directors which gave me dozens of recommendations for films to check out.

- News that Jerry Lewis's notorious unreleased feature The Day the Clown Cried will eventually see the light of day.

- Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema - a fantastic season of films that in addition to titles I was already familiar with (Ashes and Diamonds, Knife in the Water, A Short Film About Killing) gave me a chance to see Eroica, The Promised Land, The Last Day of Summer, Provincial Actors and Illumination on the big screen.

- Lost Disney film found in the BFI archives

- 'David Lynch: The Man from Another Place' by Dennis Lim, a worthwhile study of its subject that arrives well in time for the return of Twin Peaks. Lynch fans also were blessed with a Criterion release of Mulholland Drive in October.

- The centenary of Orson Welles was marked with some great DVD releases: Too Much Johnson, Chimes at Midnight and The Immortal Story came courtesy of the Mr. Bongo label while the TV series 'Around the World with Orson Welles' got the BFI treatment. The BFI also released Chuck Workman's recent documentary 'Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles'. There was Simon Callow's 'One Man Band' published, a third volume of his extensive biography of Welles, and Welles's own unfinished memoirs were discovered this year. The Other Side of the Wind sadly remains another unfinished piece of the puzzle. With legal obstacles now removed, one hopes that a finished version of the film will one day be shown.

- Criterion announced it is releasing Edward Yang's 1991 feature A Brighter Summer Day in March 2016. I expect I'll mention this again among next year's highlights.

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