Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Criterion Collection Purchase # 2

My 2nd purchase was a few weeks later, though this time via  The previous 50% sale had ended and not all sellers on will ship internationally and if they do you are stung nearly $15 a film for shipping!

This time I picked up two titles:

Shock Corridor (Blu-ray)

Hobson's Choice (DVD) (review here)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hobson's Choice - Review # 2

Criterion Collection Spine # 461 

Available in DVD 

Special features:
  • New high-definition digital transfer from a restoration by the BFI National Archive, funded by the David Lean Foundation and StudioCanal
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini, co-authors of David Lean and His Films
  • The Hollywood Greats: Charles Laughton, a 1978 BBC documentary about the actor’s life and career, featuring interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A new essay by critic Armond White 
  • New cover by F. Ron Miller

The opening shot of this film is so typical of northern England, row after row of terraced houses. Add in other cinematography such as chimneys billowing smoke into the sky, children playing in the street, their Mothers sweeping the front step whilst talking with the neighbours and you have the backdrop of old Edwardian life. When you mix in the language used, the old British class system and the local pub it brings together a setting that makes this film so real life. 

Our attention is soon turned to Henry Hobson and his family, which consists of himself, a man who thinks he runs the household, and his 3 Daughters. Together they run the family boot-making store in Salford, Manchester. Two of his Daughters, Alice and Vicky, are in secret relationships and waiting for the right moment for their suitors to approach their Father. Henry Hobson learns, via his friends down the pub (a place he likes to frequent) that he would have to pay a “settlement” when any of his Daughter’s marries. The sum is an outrageous amount so he decrees that there will be no marriages for anyone. During this conversation it becomes apparent that Henry is only speaking of Alice and Vicky. Maggie, the eldest Daughter, enquires as to why she is not involved; the response is “you’re too old”. 

This sets in motion a chain of events that leads Henry on a downward spiral. Along the way he managed to land himself in a cellar, receive a lawsuit and face a serious health issue. He hits rock bottom as his Daughters move away and has to revaluate his life in order to survive. All actors in this film play their part to the max, another reason for its success. 

Overall this is a bloody hilarious British comedy and being a Northerner myself I could relate instantly to this film. The extras received included a very insightful documentary on the life and career of Charles Laughton. I also found the audio commentary to be very helpful in helping me understand the film better.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Criterion Collection Purchase # 1

I first took the Criterion plunge on 14 June 2013 when I took advantage of a 50% sale on  My first purchase was for:

Ivan's Childhood (Blu-ray)  (review here)

Anatomy Of A Murder (Blu-ray) (review here)

The Thin Red Line (Blu-ray)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ivan’s Childhood – Review # 1

Criterion Collection Spine # 397

Available in DVD and Blu-Ray

Special features:  
  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Interview with film scholar Vida T. Johnson, coauthor of The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue
  • New interviews with cinematographer Vadim Yusov and actor Nikolai Burlyaev
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Dina Iordanova; “Between Two Films,” an essay by Tarkovsky on Ivan’s Childhood; and “Ivan’s Willow,” a poem by the director’s father, Arseny Tarkovsky 
  • New cover by Neil Kellerhouse

What a fantastic way to start off my Criterion adventure.  Not only was Ivan’s Childhood my debut but also the Director of this film.  Andrei Tarkovsky announced himself to the world with this journey through war-torn Russia, set during WWII. 

Ivan’s Childhood follows a boy who, due to his young age and small size, is used by the Russian army to infiltrate enemy lines and carry out sabotage and reconnaissance missions.  It is after one of these missions that we are introduced to Ivan, a young Lieutenant called Galtsev and Captain Kholin, under whose command Ivan works.  Ivan and the Captain share a special relationship and Ivan is pleased to do his share for the Russian army. 

As the film progresses, and despite all the horrors he witnesses, we see Ivan desperate to stay with his comrades, to help his fellow Russians in the fight against Germany.  Captain Kholin has other ideas though and wants to send Ivan to Military School, keep him away from the immediate surrounding danger.  Circumstance dictates one final mission for Ivan and the Unit as they cross the river that separates them from the enemy.

For me the most poignant aspect of the film were the flashbacks shown throughout.  These were mainly of Ivan and his Mother, with the final one being with his Sister.  Carefree moments shared between a Mother, Child & Sibling, the type of moments that should fill a childhood.

Overall, Ivan’s Childhood is an excellent, realistic view of war through the eyes of a child.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

How It All Started

Whilst I have watched films throughout my life, it is only in the past 2-3 years that I have taken an interest in learning more about the visual art form we call film.  Via a small network of friends I have been exposed to literally a whole new world, including different actors/actresses, new genres and foreign language.

As my interest grew I toyed with the idea of starting my own collection of films on DVD/Blu-ray. Even though I have watched many films deemed "classics" I've never really subscribed to the notion that most films can be watched over and over.  To this end I did not see any benefit from spending money on a home collection.  In the past if I was not able to rent a film via Lovefilm (when I lived in the UK) I would try to buy a copy via amazon or ebay for as little as possible, watch the film, then resell. 

As my enjoyment of film watching has grown and my wanting to continue exploring the world of film I learnt about Criterion.  Not only do they offer a vast array of films but more importantly, for me, they offer extras.  These can include deleted scenes, exclusive interviews with those involved with the film production, booklets, as well as remastered / restoration of the actual film.  Given their expertise I thought that this would be a good place to learn.

Last month a friend of mine (@cine_scope) alerted me to a sale at, all their Criterion's were 50% off.  This seemed to be a good time to start so I had a look at the list of films on the Criterion website.  Not all titles are available as new, films go "Out Of Print" when Criterion loses the license etc so not all films were including in the 50% sale.  Nevertheless, there was plenty for me to choose from, in fact, had I bought all that I wanted there would have been some serious damage inflicted on my credit card.

I started to make myself a list, I am nearly half way through the Criterion Collection, of the films that I would like to own in the future.  Amazon hold 2-3 sales offering 40-50% off the Criterion Collection every year.  Barnes & Noble too hold sales, in fact they have one right now, offering 50% until 5 August, click the link above to go to their website.

And that is story about "How It All Started" with my Criterion Collection.  As I have said in the Blog title, I shall be sharing my purchases with you so please Follow by Email, Subscribe (links in the right column) or bookmark and check back.  Sharing this Blog with your friends via Twitter/Facebook is very much welcome, as are any comments.