One of the pleasures of owning DVDs of the greatest movies ever made is that you can return quickly to a scene you want to watch again, or freeze and enlarge imagery for careful study. The latter is particularly helpful regarding the possible murder in the park sequence in Michelangelo Antonioni’s surreal “Blowup.”
But perhaps the best thing about a DVD is the fact that you do own it. The film is yours to watch whenever you want.
Movies come and go on streaming sites such as Netflix, which, along with technical glitches, can be frustrating, especially if the title you keep putting off watching magically disappears into Netflix’s mysterious vapor. Also, would it stress out the powers-that-be at Netflix to make a list of everything they offer and categorize them by subject: movies, television, travelogue, etc.?
Speaking of Netflix, who knew there was so many videos of stand-up comedians available or that everybody and their sister traveled to some far off mountaintop to sample weird native cooking and record the experience?
I am currently enjoying the British “Bodyguard” on Netflix, and I also like “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” I’m grateful for the return of David Letterman. Truth be told, Stephen Colbert, in Dave’s old slot on CBS, simply isn’t cutting it. He needs to be quiet when his guests are talking; you know, answering the questions he’s asked. I much prefer Seth Meyers’ comedy chops and interviewing skills.
There was a brief moment of giddy gratification in the cinesphere regarding streaming with a website called FilmStruck. Alas, the great FilmStruck is no more. It was a smart and capable marriage of Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection combined with a lot of respect for motion picture history.
Then the villain (boo hiss) arrived in the form of AT&T, which bought Time-Warner, the owner of Turner Classic Movies. FilmStruck was part of Warner Media and before you could sing “I was born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho,” some corporate bozo at AT&T decided to terminate FilmStruck. He said the streaming service wasn’t monetizing its eyeballs, or there weren’t enough eyeballs being monetized. Anyway, he said something dumb about eyeballs.
However, there’s good news. The Criterion Collection, that great restorer of important cinema, is starting its own streaming service, which is perfect for people who are ignoring the ridiculous philosophy from self-help guru Marie Kondo being shoved down our throats about clutter being bad for you and insisting you throw out DVDs you haven’t watched in a year.
And yes, as to be expected, Kondo has a program on Netflix about decluttering your home, which I think is the very definition of irony. She’s welcome to come and clean my house anytime. She can start with my VHS tapes and music cassettes.
The Criterion Collection releases exceptional DVDs of vital movies, and it isn’t going to stop. It’s merely adding streaming to its portfolio. Its web channel begins service on April 8 in the United States and Canada.
Every month Criterion issues superb DVD and/or Blu-ray editions of films you’ll value watching. Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful “Notorious,” from 1946, is now available in a sublime 4K restoration.
In “Notorious,” written by the former hard-as-nails journalist Ben Hecht, an American undercover agent (Cary Grant) falls in love with the free-spirited daughter (Ingrid Bergman) of a convicted German spy. The agent convinces her to go to Brazil and become friendly with, and spy on, an important fellow (Claude Rains), whose baronial home is being used by post-WWII Nazi collaborators.
Grant and Rains both desire Bergman, but there’s uranium to discover and an amazing crane shot that swoops down a staircase to highlight a secret key in Bergman’s hand. Romantic thrillers don’t get any better than this. It’s Hitchcock at his most accomplished.
This Criterion release of “Notorious” includes two discs, new audio tracks, and a dozen tantalizing extras, including insightful commentary, a documentary film about the movie, interviews, an analysis of the famous key shot, newsreel footage, trailer and teasers, a program about Hitchcock’s storyboarding skills, a Lux Radio Theatre version of the movie, and more.
“Notorious” is a classic you’ll be very glad to own.
NOIR ESSENTIALS: When Alex Weinstein isn’t watching films, especially on Turner Classic Movies, he’s reading about them, and when he isn’t watching or reading about them, he’s working at the Eastern Hills Cinema.
He’s a young guy devoted to classic old films, a sincere and dedicated cinephile eager to share his passion with other movie fans about Hollywood’s hardboiled melodramas, those productions now placed under the banner of “film noir.”
Weinstein, who was raised in Lockport, is the programmer of the popular “Noir Essentials,” a monthly series of films from the 1940s and 1950s featuring shadows, seduction, and secrets.
His new season of five top-notch noir features is called “Departures.” It runs Wednesday nights at 7:30 at the Eastern Hills Cinema beginning on March 20 with Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant “Strangers On A Train,” which is my favorite movie from the director.
Weinstein, who introduces each film, is also showing Michael Curtiz’s “The Breaking Point” on April 17, Carol Reed’s “Odd Man Out” on May 15, Orson Welles’ “The Lady From Shanghai” on June 12, and Frank Borzage’s “Moonrise” on July 10.
Admission is $7.
Michael Calleri reviews films for Night & Day. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.