I consider myself an amateur cinephile. By which I mean I take films seriously - I watch with a critical eye, I attempt to understand the artistry and craftsmanship of cinema, and I do my best to dig into the history of the medium. But I also have a life, a job, a family, and not nearly the time I need to dedicate myself full-time to watching movies. This means there are large gaps in both genre and history of movies that I’ve never seen. There is a very long list of movies I really ought to watch before I can consider myself a full-fledged cinephile.
Someday, man, someday I’ll get there. Maybe.
Pioneers of African-American Cinema would certainly fill in one of those gaps. This five-disk set covers a huge selection of the so called “race films” made from 1920-1940. These were films made outside the studio system that not only starred, but were written, directed, and produced by African Americans.
Funded through Kickstarter by Kino Lorber last year, this project quickly exceeded its goals allowing for an expansion of additional content. With help from film archives from around the world, the boxed set now includes over twenty hours of films, including 16 feature-length films plus short films, trailers and film fragments and a large collection of new introductions and interviews.
It is a nice-looking set and a perfect place for burgeoning cinephiles to fill in one of their many gaps of film history.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Dementia 13: Francis Ford’s first legitimate film as a director (he’d made a couple of super low budget nudie films prior) gets a new Blu-ray release.
Hardcore Henry: An action film shot like a first-person shooter style game in which the camera acts like our protagonist's eyes. Ugh, I can’t play those style games as they make me nauseated after about ten minutes. I can’t imagine what it would be like to endure 90 minutes of this and not even be able to control the action myself.
Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection: All four films from this classic women-in-prison franchise have been packaged together in this terrific upgrade from Arrow Video.
The New World (Criterion Collection): Terrence Malick’s lush take on the Pocahontas story gets the Criterion treatment. I’ve not seen this movie and like far too many of Malick’s films, it's been sitting in my to-watch list since it came out.
The Boss: Melissa McCarthy stars in this comedy about a rich and powerful business tycoon who loses it all when she’s busted for insider trading. Once out of prison, she tries to climb back up the ladder via Girl Scout cookie sales. I’m not much for McCarthy’s style of comedy and nothing about this sounds the least bit interesting.
Criminal: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds star in this action flick about a dangerous convict who has the memories and skills of a dead CIA agent implanted into his mind. That’s a really terrible-sounding plot but the cast is so good I’ll have to give it a try.
Sing Street: The new flick by John Carney who did the wonderful Once. This one is about a 14-year-old boy who tries to win the heart of a girl by telling her she can star in his band’s new music video. The only problem is he’s not actually a member of a band. Sounds fun.
I Am Wrath: John Travolta and Christopher Meloni star in this revenge flick about a dude whose wife is murdered and his need to find them and kill them. I like revenge flicks and those actors well enough but this was directed by Chuck Russell whose other credits include The Mask, The Scorpion King, and Eraser. Not exactly the sort of resume that screams “watch my next movie.” But we’ll see.
Doctor Butcher M.D.: Wonderful looking grind house flick gets a much needed Blu-ray release from Severin video. Read Luigi Bastardo’s full review here.