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Blu Christmas . . . without DVD

By BRETT MICHEL  |  December 18, 2009

As if that weren't enough from this great artist, Criterion is celebrating Kurosawa's centennial with the recent, monumental release of AK 100: 25 FILMS BY AKIRA KUROSAWA (DVD only, $399.95), featuring nearly all of the films he made over the course of his 50-year career. From his samurai epics, to his post-war noirs, to his reworking of Shakespeare adaptations, this linen-bound box is the most complete Kurosawa set ever released in this country. It also includes four rare films that have never been available on DVD (although five films, including the masterpiece Ran — previously released by Criterion — regrettably were left out due to rights issues) and an illustrated book featuring an introduction and notes on each film by Stephen Prince (author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa) and a remembrance by Donald Richie (author of The Films of Akira Kurosawa). It might not be available on Blu-ray, but you won't find a better collection for fans of world cinema.

If you and yours haven't had your fill of Japanese, Criterion's also done a fine job with THE HUMAN CONDITION trilogy (DVD only, $79.95), Masaki Kobayashi's anti-war epic, nine-and-a-half-hour humanist drama told from a doomed perspective during WWII, as well as with PIGS, PIMPS & PROSTITUTES: 3 FILMS BY SHOHEI IMAMURA (DVD only, $79.95). At the outset of the 1960s, Imamura was a leader of the Japanese new wave. With the three films in this set — PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS, THE INSECT WOMAN, and INTENTIONS OF MURDER — Imamura emerged as an important auteur.

Also emerging in the '60s were a series of increasingly crazed crime movies released by Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan, which is paid attention here by Eclipse, Criterion's no-frills line of important works that demand to be seen. So let this be seen: ECLIPSE SERIES 17: NIKKATSU NOIR (DVD only, $69.98), a five-film set that barely scratches the surface of its output, but will leave you thirsting for more.

From the eclipse, a new moon emerges ...
How could we compile a list that covers "the greatest films from around the world" without mentioning Catherine Hardwicke's soapy abstinence allegory, TWILIGHT ($34.99; $32.99)? The vampires and their NEW MOON have already taken a huge bite out of the box office — now, this holiday, Robert Pattinson can enter the living room (or let's face it: bedroom) of your girlfriend, your wife, your favorite chaste niece — or even your oversexed mother. Again and again. (And again.) Just make sure they . . . LET THE RIGHT ONE IN ($34.98; $26.98). Tomas Alfredson's fresh, sparkle-free, Swedish- language take on the bloodsucking legend is endearingly darker than anything dreamed up in Tweenland. If they're still parched, THIRST (DVD only, $29.98), Oldboy director Park Chan-wook's operatic transfusion of vampirism and heterosexual lust into the priesthood, should quench their bloodlust, cleansing their palate just in time for the eggnog.

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Related: Review: Remember Me, Review: Prodigal Sons, Review: A Prophet, More more >
  Topics: Features , Entertainment, Entertainment, Akira Kurosawa,  More more >
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