In Our Opinion

FILMS IN REVIEW TOP TEN LISTS OF 2010

By • Feb 8th, 2011 • Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

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Roy Frumkes’ Top Ten (or Twelve) DVDs, BluRays, Theatrical & TV releases.

I see two theatrical features a week, and try to watch one DVD or BluRay every night. At that there are those who see three or four times what I do, but I haven’t figured out how to reduce my other activities like showering, exercising, going to the bathroom, and sleeping. So I remain behind the front guard of cinema enthusiasts in terms of viewing. Still, I’ve seen a lot, as have FIR’s other writers, so here are a few TopTen lists for the year we left behind:

My DVD & BluRay choices first: At a certain point, these are no longer in order, but the first few are…

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (Criterion) The archeological restoration of the year, this immaculate BluRay transfer is accompanied by a 2 1/2 hour compilation doc of equally pristine outtakes from the film, with sound, so that one can hear Charles Laughton directing, can see and hear the little girl chiding Robert Mitchum for forgetting his lines, Shelley Winters praying in Hebrew, the boy warmly following directions even though he comes off stiff in the final version, and countless other wonders. It’s one of the great treasure discs of all time. It’s been around for years, but has been updated slightly for this, its first home theater release.

THRILLER (Image/Universal) 14 DVDs containing 67 episodes. Though almost all the episodes have dated in one way – they now appear padded in an effort to support the hour time slot – they are still remarkably well lit (PIGEONS FROM HELL has the lowest key lighting I ever remember seeing on TV), elaborately scored by such luminaries as Jerry Goldsmith (with many M&E tracks isolated), dripping with fun star power (Henry Daniell is in five episodes – the first times I remember his being in the same films with Karloff since THE BODY SNATCHER in 1945), introduced and occasionally featuring Boris Karloff, and accompanied by insightful commentary tracks. It’s the best-produced DVD release of the year in terms of marshalling outside forces to bolster the original material. THE ALIEN QUADRILOGY, for example, is even more packed with phenomenal commentaries, featurettes, alternate cuts, etc. It’s astounding, to be sure. But all that material was within relatively easy reach. The producer of the THRILLER package had to think out what material would best accompany each of the 27 commentary-supported episodes without becoming redundant, and then go out and hunt down appropriate commentators, and he’s done a miraculous job. As examples: For THE FINGERS OF FEAR, a pre-meditated mixture of THE HANDS OF ORLAC and MR. SARDONICUS, about a pianist (played by SARDONICUS’ Guy Rolph) whose obsession with a rival performer leads to doom, the commentary track is all about horror filmusic, and for THE HOLLOW WATCHER, which has a vaguely Western theme, the commentary focuses on Horror Westerns.

METROPOLIS (Kino) Refer to Ben Peeples’ review, though it is better served on DVD, considering the format and degraded condition of the recently restored footage.

THE LEOPARD BluRay (Criterion) You don’t need a 3D TV, or 3D glasses, to get the depth effect here. The film is so gorgeously transferred, and Visconti layered it so elaborately with art direction, that you feel you are looking into those vast period rooms with bewildering dimensionality. Both versions are available, and there’s Nina Rota’s magnificent score.

THE ELIA KAZAN COLLECTION (Fox Home Entertainment) Plus a heartfelt doc by Martin Scorsese. This is a beautifully packaged, near-inclusive slew of Kazan films on DVD, showing his progression from stage-bound flicks to fully cinematic works.

THE ALIEN ANTHOLOGY (Fox Home Entertainment) This BluRay update trumps the earlier DVD release, something I didn’t think was possible. There are more supplementals, but just the increased sound quality alone is astounding.

KING KONG (Warner Bros Home Entertainment) Better than ever on BluRay.

THE HAMMER ICONS OF SUSPENSE COLLECTION (SONY Pictures Home Entertainment) – THESE ARE THE DAMNED, CASH ON DEMAND, THE SNORKEL, STEP ME BEFORE I KILL!, MANIAC and NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER. This was a genuine surprise – that so late in the game, six delightful non-horror Hammers would see the light of DVD. Pictorially they’re all fine. In terms of execution they vary in quality, but all of them are compelling, and CASH ON DEMAND and STOP ME BEFORE I KILL! Particularly so.

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (Paramount) – Refer to my review earlier in the year. On BluRay, it’s better-looking than it was when originally released.

GONE WITH THE WIND (Warner Bros) BluRay. Like film… And in a beautifully designed collector box.

DALI & DISNEY: A DATE WITH DESTINO (Disney) BluRay. I liked the end result of the long-buried, never completed short produced by Walt Disney and directed by Salvador Dali. But I loved the feature documentary made about the ill-fated venture. It captures their two creative personalities, and the times, and follies of creativity and genius.

OCEANS (Disney) The old True Life Adventures were never like this. From Monstro the Whale (in the flesh) to vast schools of fish doing head-trips on us, it’s an overwhelming experience.

TOP 12 THEATRICAL & TV releases:

THE SOCIAL NETWORK

BLACK SWAN

TOY STORY 3

THE GHOST WRITER

THE TOWN

HEREAFTER

TRUE GRIT

TRON LEGACY

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

MOVIES & MOGULS (Mini-seies)

FISH TANK

FROZEN

Bryan Layne next…

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