Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, we’re going to do something a little different. In honor of several recent Criterion Collection sales, we asked Robert Chipman, Don Shanahan, Sean Parker, and Nick Luciano to briefly talk about some of their recent purchases—why they bought them, what makes the film special, and, if they haven’t seen the film yet, what they’re expecting.
Robert Chipman (The Tree of Life, Don’t Look Now, Shoah)
Criterion recently unleashed their 24-hour flash sale on all products. I wanted to give a brief rundown of the films I snagged and why I felt the need to add them to my movie collection.
The Tree of Life
Back in 1998, Terrence Malick released his first film in 20 years with The Thin Red Line. The movie is one of the greatest films of the 1990s, and it was an exciting prospect as to what his next project would be. That film was 2005’s The New World. Failing to resonate upon initial release, though garnering acclaim recently, it felt like a disappointment compared to The Thin Red Line. Was that it for Terrence Malick?
Not by a long shot.
Creating one of the best films of the 2010s, The Tree of Life found Malick at his experimental peak. Told through various points in time, the main plot of the film deals with a family growing up in Texas. With this being a Terrence Malick film, there is much more to it, and I feel it is a film that everyone should experience.
Criterion offered up a two-disc set including a 4K digital restoration with multiple interviews and documentaries. The main selling point—beyond the fact it’s a great film—is the inclusion of the extended cut, which features an additional 50 minutes. If you are someone who loves The Tree of Life, grabbing this Blu-Ray disc is a no-brainer.
Don’t Look Now
I will admit, I came to know Don’t Look Now later in life than I would have wanted—having the ending spoiled before having a chance to view the film. Once I finally saw Don’t Look Now, I knew I’d need to add it to my collection. Nicolas Roeg directs Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in a thriller about parents dealing with the death of their daughter. Not wanting to spoil the film, as was done for me, I will leave the plot details at that.
In the past, when Criterion had their flash sales, Don’t Look Now had been sold out. Jumping on the sale early, I was not going to miss ordering the Blu-Ray this time. Coming with a 4K scan, plus interviews and documentaries, Don’t Look Now will be a welcome addition to my collection and is well worth the purchase.
I’m ashamed to say this, but I have yet to see Shoah. I’ve read about the film and seen snippets, but I have not sat down to watch the nine-hour-plus documentary as a whole. “Nine hours,” I can hear you say, and yes, that is a massive undertaking. When you’re documenting the Holocaust, though, nine hours barely scratches the surface.
Shoah (the Hebrew term for the Holocaust) is documented by Claude Lanzmann by interviewing persons from all facets associated with one of the worst periods of recent history. Along with the main feature, the Criterion Blu-Ray offers three additional documentaries shot by Claude Lanzmann plus a 4K transfer and interviews with Lanzmann and members of his film crew. Shoah is the Criterion release that I am most excited about, not because it is a splashy release, but because of its importance.
These were the films that I was able to snap up during the November flash sale. Did you get any releases? If so, let me know what’s going to be lining your DVD shelves.