Best Reissues of 2018

10. Shampoo (Criterion)
This is one of a great run of 1970s movies directed by the great Hal Ashby, who was the subject of a enlightening documentary Hal, that I saw at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year. Shampoo starred Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn but it was Lee Grant who picked up an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Felicia Karpf.

Here’s some more on this re-release from Criterion.

9. The Serpent’s Egg (Arrow)
Legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s sole Hollywood excursion. It might also be his darkest ever work.

8. Early Hou Hsiao-Hsien: Three Films 1980-1983 (Eureka)
The pick of these three early works by Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien has to be The Boys from Fengkuei, which I reviewed here.

7. Iron Monkey (Eureka)
The first of two appearances on this list from Hong Kong action superstar Donnie Yen – and the first of two big screen depictions on the list of real-life character, the legendary martial artist Wong Fei-hung, although Yen doesn’t play Wong in either movie.

Here’s my review for Louder Than War.

6. Midnight Cowboy (Criterion)
I love this. I love this. I love this, and that final scene on the bus from New York to Florida never fails to bring a lump the throat. Controversial on its release, it was given an X-rating and went on to become the only X ever to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards (albeit that classification no longer exists).

Today it might just be best remembered for Harry Nilsson’s take on the Fred Neil song Everybody’s Talkin, although the main theme by John Barry is my musical highlight.

5. Smithereens (Criterion)
A blast from the punk era set in a grimy NYC. Which I reviewed here.

4. Gas Food Lodging (Arrow)
A film that deserves to be better remembered. This release comes with some neat extras including Reel Women (Chris Rodley, 1995), a documentary looking at the challenges women face in the movie industry in the 1990s – and it would be interesting to hear what these directors think of the same situation today. I’ll take a closer look at Allison Ander’s finest film in my American Indie series at some point in 2019.

Seeing this again even let me forgive her for helming the ill conceived Four Rooms segment that starred Madonna, and becoming involved in Sex and The City.

3. Daisies (Second Run)
A true cinematic one-off. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll always remember it. This new digital transfer, with restored image and sound approved by the director, makes the colours dazzle and the release comes with some fantastic extras including two separate audio commentaries, one by Peter Hames and Daniel Bird, the other by Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan. Reviewed here.

2. Once Upon a Time in China (Eureka)
Jet Li at the peak of his powers stars here as the aforementioned. The first in the series is fantastic. The second – where Donnie Yen co-stars – arguably belongs in that rare category of sequels that actually improve on a classic original. Okay, things tail off as the series moves into a franchise but as a whole this might just be the best martial arts box-set ever released.

1. Woodfall: A Revolution in British Cinema (BFI)
Released this summer to mark the sixtieth anniversary of influential British independent production company Woodfall, this nine disc collection includes eight films from the Angry Young Man/Kitchen Sink/British New Wave era.

These are – Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1959); The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, 1960); Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960); A Taste of Honey (Tony Richardson, 1961); The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962); Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963); Girl with Green Eyes (Desmond Davis, 1964) and The Knack… and How to Get It (Richard Lester, 1965).

Richard Burton was miscast as original Angry Young Man Jimmy Porter in Nigel Kneale’s adaptation of John Osborne’s celebrated play Look Back in Anger. Once seen as a radical leftist figure, Jimmy now comes across as a boorish dick but Mary Ure is excellent as his downtrodden wife Alison. Oh and that sentimental ending!

Things soon pick up, especially with the trio of Kitchen Sink classics Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; A Taste of Honey and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, a trio of films that can truly be said to live up to that revolution in British cinema claim.

There are also some fascinating extras here that include experimental shorts made around the same time that the features were made, and new cast & crew interviews from those involved in the main films.

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