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Sight & Sound’s Best DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2014: From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse

Sight & Sound's Best DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2014: From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse

Sight & Sound has published their picks of the year’s best DVDs and Blu-Rays, drawing on contributors like Kent Jones, Kim Morgan, Kim Newman and Jonathan Rosenbaum to pick their favorites. Instead of publishing a master list, the magazine let each contributor write a bit about their personal top five or so favorites. Here, Jordan Cronk writes about his selections, which included Alain Resnais’s “Providence,” “Twin Peaks,” Criterion’s releases of “Love Streams” and The Complete Jacques Tati, and this late-period Godard gem:

Cohen Media Group have very quietly established themselves as one of the finest Stateside Blu-ray distributors, not only rescuing many under-recognised titles but also outfitting them with some stellar supplements in the process. Their 2014 slate was highlighted by the release of Jean-Luc Godard’s “For Ever Mozart” (1996), one of the director’s most accessible yet least discussed contemporary works. James Quandt’s essential commentary track elucidates many of the cinematic and literary references employed and exploited throughout, making a case for the film as one of Godard’s richest.

Film programmer Michael Blyth, meanwhile, picked some of the year’s best horror releases, from the underseen Canadian slasher “Curtains” to “Cannibal Holocaust,” Ruggero Deodato’s controversial found-footage inspiring film. This year’s big get for him, though, is the legendary Cabal cut of Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed.”

In a good year for horror fans, we’ve seen some stellar work from Scream Factory (the genre sub-division of US company Shout! Factory), who continue to prove themselves the Criterion of the exploitation world. Their Blu-ray reissues of gems like “Slumber Party Massacre,” “Final Exam” and George Romero’s underrated “Monkey Shines” have been nothing short of wondrous, but their crowning achievement in 2014 was the directors cut of Clive Barker’s 1990 curiosity “Nightbreed.” A genuine labour of love for everyone involved, and a gift for Barker fans who’d long given up hope on ever seeing his definitive edition.

Newman’s a horror connoisseur himself, but he devoted some space to some long-awaited TV releases:

Long absent from home video because of a rights quirk, the pop-art cult classic “Batman: The Complete TV Series” looks vivid on Blu-ray, and still works as a kids’ comic show, an essay in knowing adult humour (with a clutch of perfectly-hammed special guest villains) and a fond recreation of the charming quirkiness of the Batman comics in the era of Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson. The collector’s edition comes with a Batmobile model. “Sgt Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show: The Whole Series” is another complete set at last available for a show that has had several previous, tentative showings on DVD. Here are all four seasons of one of the great sitcoms, showcasing Silvers’ powerhouse performance as the ever-finagling Bilko and the sad-sack expressions of his exploited platoon.

Finally, Little White Lies editor David Jenkins related a personal story to help illustrate why the release of Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection was such an event for him:

One memorable day in my boyhood household was when my mother ‘accidentally’ recorded an omnibus episode of “Coronation Street” over the top of a taped-from-TV copy of Walarian Borowczyk’s 1972 film “Blanche,” an item treasured by my father. This didn’t really affect my parents’ relationship so much as it altered my father’s VHS storage techniques, and any positive change is good change. I’d never seen the film so couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, so Arrow’s labour-of-love Borowczyk boxset allowed me to locate a small but vital missing jigsaw piece from my youth. It’s a breathtaking feat, the lavish Blu-ray box-set equivalent of the moon landings. 

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