Watched Journal: Best of 2022
Top 5 Blu-ray archival releases of 2022:
The Driver 4K UHD [Studio Canal]
Walter Hill's 1978 classic minimalist crime thriller starring Ryan O'Neal as a getaway driver and Bruce Dern as the cop on the chase is one of my all time favorite films. For years, the only blu-ray available was the long out of print Twilight Time disc and imports. Studio Canal has released a beautiful new 4K restoration of 'The Driver' on 4K UHD with a new interview with Hill on the making of the film. Questionable cover art aside, this is my favorite release of the year as the 4K UHD market has entered the niche phase, with a slew of catalog releases becoming collectables like 180 gram vinyl.
Save The Tiger [Imprint]
Jack Lemmon's Oscar winning performance in 'Save the Tiger' as middle aged man in moral crisis Harry Stoner is one of his best roles and a masterclass in acting. Imprint's terrific Blu-ray, with a great suite of supplemental features, makes this little discussed Paramount gem prime for reprisal.
Natural Enemies [Fun City Editions]
Jeff Kanew's long lost and forgotten 'Natural Enemies' plunges the man in conflict drama to the darkest abyss. Once again, Fun City Editions has breathed new life into an unseen film that save for an obscure '80's VHS release had all but disappeared. Hal Holbrook's monologue in the beginning of the film, confessing that today he will kill himself and his family, puts into motion a dour character study of a broken man driven to the edge. The late Louise Fletcher and Halbrook are in their prime as the bitter husband and wife wallowing in a domestic nightmare with a truly unsettling conclusion. FCE did a great job rescuing and restoring 'Natural Enemies' and the disc features an extensive interview with Kanew on the movie's origins, filming, rollout and legacy.
The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection Vol II 4K UHD
After releasing Hitchcock's essential classics ('Psycho', 'Vertigo', 'The Birds', 'Rear Window') in Vol 1's glorious 4K collection, Universal digs deeper into the brilliant director's filmography with Vol II. There's the majestic technicolor of the dark comedy 'The Trouble with Harry'. The Douglas Sirk soaked melodrama 'Marnie' starring Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren, both never looking better. One might think the WWII era spy film 'Saboteur' would feel dated, but Hitch's masterful direction and the film's stark, beautiful B&W photography elevate it to top-shelf film noir. 'Shadow of a Doubt', Hitch's personal favorite of his films, is a timeless thriller about a creepy, possibly murderous Uncle who arrives to visit/torment his sister and her family in sleepy Sonoma County. But my favorite of this collection is Hitch's last film, 'Family Plot', a revelation in stunning 4K. Released in the 1975, 'Family Plot' features a cast of New Hollywood stars including Karen Black, Bruce Dern and William Devane, all delights in a fun swan song from the master.
Lost Highway 4K UHD [Criterion Collection]