Criterion Collection's The Passion of Joan of Arc is the Pick of the Week

This week's new releases include a couple of Criterions, Matt Damon getting shrunk, a Robert Altman horror film, and more.
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The biggest gap in my cinematic education has to be silent films.  I’ve only seen a few of them and they were mostly a struggle. With no audible dialogue, my attention tends to wane.  I start thinking about my day or things I need to do.  I look outside or at the messiness of my room.  I watch the cat and inevitably reach for my phone, and *poof* the movie slips by without hardly a thought from me.

The one silent film I’ve ever loved was The Passion of Joan of Arc.  Carl Theodor Dreyer’s telling of the trial and execution of the French saint is mesmerizing. It's shot mostly in close-up and spends an amazing amount of time zooming in on Joan’s face. She’s played by Maria Falconetti in her only film role and she’s fantastic in it.

It's been a long time since I’ve seen it, but it's a film that stays with you.  Criterion has upgraded it to Blu-ray and added in their usual assortment of extras.  I’m really looking forward to revisiting it.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle:  An updated sort-of sequel to the classic…well, yeah, ok, the original isn’t really a classic.  Its a fun family movie with a winning performance from Robin Williams and some really "cool for the time post-Jurassic Park CGI", but it's far from a great film.  It has been really interesting to see the reaction to this film from folks just a few years younger than me for whom the original really hits the nostalgic sweet spot.  This one stars Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, and Kevin Hart as avatars for the kids playing the video game (updated from the original's board game) who enter into the jungle we never actually see in the original.  Looks fun.

Ichi the Killer:  Takashi Miike’s blood-soaked splatter classic gets a new 4K transfer from Well Go USA.  You can read my full review here.

Baal (Criterion Collection):  Based upon the play by Bertold Brecht, Baal was directed by New German Cinema member Volker Schlöndorff.  It is about an anarchist poet (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) who feels that bourgeois society has rejected him so he sets off on a liquor-soaked rampage.

The Church:  Scorpion Releasing is bringing this Dario Argento horror film to Blu-ray.  It's about a church that was built upon a pile of dead bodies hundreds of years ago.  When a young librarian removes a rock from the catacombs, all sorts of evil is unleashed.

Images:  Robert Altman’s psychological horror is unlike anything else he ever made.  It was beautifully shot in Ireland and features a compelling performance from Susannah York.  You can read my full review here.

A Pistol For Ringo/The Return of Ringo:  A couple of Italian westerns from the 1960s get the Arrow Video treatment.

Downsizing:  Matt Damon gets small in this social satire from Alexander Payne.

Pitch Perfect 3:  The Pitches are back, this time for a USO tour overseas.  Presumably, they will sing acapella versions of hit songs again.

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