Criterion Collection

Film Review: Shining Restoration of Jean Cocteau’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau)

CHICAGO – One of the legendary films in cinema history is Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete,” also known to generations as “Beauty and the Beast.” The restored re-release is touring the country, and in Chicago it’s currently at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Patrick McDonald of will lead a discussion of the film there on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Film Review: Magic of Orson Welles Rings the ‘Chimes at Midnight’

Chimes at Midnight

CHICAGO – Another wondrous pleasure about director Orson Welles – as if he needed something else on his resume – is the discovery of his film career after the “Citizen Kane”/studio system/boy wonder period of the 1940s. Facing difficulties cobbling together financing for his evolving vision, he resorted to overseas money, international casts and more-for-less. One of the prime examples is “Chimes at Midnight” (1965), a Shakespeare amalgamation that is just another example of Wellesian audacity and yes, genius.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Release of Peter Weir’s Mesmerizing ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a mesmerizing film. Most who go into it know that it tells a tragic (possibly true) story with no resolution. And so it becomes a slow burn, in which the atmosphere and dread of unseen danger hangs thick in every frame.

Blu-ray Review: Feeling of Timelessness in ‘La Vie de Bohéme’

La Vie de Boheme DVD

CHICAGO – What is amazing about the texture of this 1992 film version of the 1848 Henri Murger novel, “La Vie de Bohéme,” is that it looks like it could have been filmed during the French New Wave period of the late 1950s/early ‘60s. The Criterion Collection offers a stunning new Blu-ray transfer of a now classic adaptation.

Blu-ray Review: Another Spectacular Criterion Edition of Chaplin Classic in ‘The Gold Rush’

The Gold Rush

CHICAGO – There are certain filmmakers who just seem to make perfect fits for The Criterion Collection. Wes Anderson’s films have been given stellar editions. David Fincher. Akira Kurosawa. And, of course, Charlie Chaplin. The Criterion editions of “Modern Times” and “The Great Dictator” are two of my personal faves and a third Chaplin classic entered the collection this month when the company inducted “The Gold Rush,” one of the most popular silent films of all time.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Edition of Ozu’s Timeless ‘Late Spring’

Late Spring

CHICAGO – Two of the best things about the Criterion release of Yasujiro Ozu’s “Late Spring” happen to be proof of why the film and its director have become so important to so many film historians — appreciations from two talented people influences by the moving work, now available on Criterion Blu-ray and re-released Criterion DVD. Critic Michael Atkinson writes a beautiful essay in the booklet and the great director Wim Wenders (“Wings of Desire”) provides a fantastic documentary from 1985, “Tokyo-ga.” about the director. Both are reason enough to buy the movie.

Blu-ray Review: Risque, Delightful Comedy ‘Design For Living’ From Criterion

Design For Living

CHICAGO – From the very first scene, a first-silent exchange in which a beautiful woman enters a train car to see two handsome men sleeping across from her and chooses to draw them on her sketch pad before falling asleep and waking up to flirt with both of them outright, “Design For Living” is a romantic comedy masterpiece. I’m stunned to admit that I had never seen the Ernst Lubitsch risque joy but now I consider it one of my favorite Criterion editions. The movie is laugh-out-loud funny with three stars at the peak of their skills — charming, engaging, enjoyable. I’ve been doing this long enough that it’s increasingly rare to see a classic film for the first time that floors me like “Design For Living.” It’s stellar.

Blu-ray Review: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Lady Vanishes’ Gets Criterion Upgrade

The Lady Vanishes

CHICAGO – Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes” isn’t one of his most heralded films. You don’t hear it mentioned on most lists of the best works of arguably the most influential director who ever lived. And yet it was the third film chosen for The Criterion Collection and has now been given the upgrade and joined the esteemed Blu-ray ranks of the most important collection in the history of home entertainment. If you’re unfamiliar with this witty, delightful gem of a thriller, there’s no other way to experience it for the first time. And if you’re a fan of Hitchcock’s more famous films, do yourself a favor by checking out one of his earliest.

Blu-Ray Review: Landmark Japanese Film ‘Harakiri’ in Criterion Form


CHICAGO – I’m always amazed when smart people tell me they don’t see foreign films. The fact is that our foreign film market is worse than it’s ever been with fewer and fewer works from other countries actually making an impact in this one. I see dozens of foreign films a year and I’m still just chipping at the iceberg of the international film scene. One of the countries with the most vibrant filmmaking histories is Japan and for proof that they’ve been making intriguing dramas for decades now look no further than the Criterion edition of “Harakiri,” a striking drama that won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and has recently been released on Blu-ray for the first time.

Blu-Ray Review: Incredible Criterion Edition For Olivier Assayas’ ‘Carlos’


CHICAGO – Not all movies are similar in what they demand of the viewer. Obviously, a light mainstream romantic comedy requires a different level of commitment than a French period piece, but even art movies have varying degrees of viewer requirements. Even within the Criterion Collections, there are shorter, easier films and then there are releases like “Carlos,” a stellar epic that runs close to six hours and is accompanied by extensive, elaborate special features.

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  • Offer, The

    CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of appears on “The Morning Mess” with Dan Baker on WBGR-FM (Monroe, Wisconsin) on May 5th, reviewing the new miniseries “The Offer,” about the creation of the classic film “The Godfather,” currently streaming on Paramount+.

  • Murder on Horizon

    CHICAGO – Time to get back to live stage shows! The Otherworld Theatre of Chicago (Wrigleyville Neighborhood) presents an immersive sci-fi experience – AKA audience participation – on a space station, enticingly titled “Murder on Horizon.” The audience is part of solving the mystery as a futuristic gumshoe goes from suspect to suspect to find the killer of a prominent scientist.

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