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The Buddhist Trilogy, Dark River & more from Arrow Academy in June

12 March 2018

June holds some exciting times for Arrow Academy and cinephiles. With two brand new titles, and additional releases now back in stock due to popular demand. 

On June 11th Arrow Academy brings us Akio Jissôji: The Buddhist Trilogy, a trio of films from one of Japan’s most celebrated directors. This Transient LifeMandara and Poem are among the director’s most controversial works and deal with topics as taboo as rape and incest. This release includes all the insight you expect from Arrow Academy with commentaries and introductions by David Desser.

Later in the month sees the release of Dark River, the latest from British filmmaker Clio Barnard. It’s a searing, Yorkshire-set drama starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean that will keep you gripped from start to finish and is set to become a modern British classic.

 

Akio Jissôji: The Buddhist Trilogy Blu-ray pack shot

Akio Jissôji: The Buddhist Trilogy | Blu-ray | 11 June 2018 | £54.99 

Akio Jissôji created a rich and diverse body of work during his five decades in Japan's film and television industries. For some, he is best-known for his science-fiction: the 1960s TV series Ultraman and 1998's box-office success Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis. For others, it is his 1990s adaptations of horror and mystery novelist Edogawa Rampo, such as Watcher in the Attic and Murder on D Street. And then there are his New Wave films for the Art Theatre Guild, three of which – This Transient Life, Mandara and Poem, forming The Buddhist Trilogy – are collected here. 

Winner of the Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno Film Festival, This Transient Life is among the Art Theatre Guild's most successful – and most controversial – productions. The film concerns a brother and sister from a rich family who defy the expectations placed on them: he has little interest in further education or his father's business, instead obsessing over Buddhist statues; she continually refuses a string of suitors and the prospect of marriage. Their closeness, and isolation, gives way to an incestuous relationship which, in turn, breeds disaster. 

Mandara, Jissôji's first colour feature, Mandara, maintained the controversial subject matter, focussing on a cult who recruit through rape and hope to achieve true ecstasy through sexual release. Shot, as with all of Jissôji's Art Theatre Guild works, in a radically stylised manner, the film sits somewhere between the pinku genre and the fiercely experimental approach of his Japanese New Wave contemporaries. 

The final entry in the trilogy, Poem, returns to black and white and is centred on the austere existence of a young houseboy who becomes helplessly embroiled in the schemes of two brothers. Written by Toshirô Ishidô (screenwriter of Nagisa Ôshima's The Sun's Burial and Shôhei Imamura's Black Rain), who also penned This Transient Life and Mandala, Poem continues the trilogy's exploration of faith in a post-industrial world.

Limited Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of This Transient Life, Mandara and Poem
  • Original uncompressed LPCM mono 1.0 audio on all three films
  • Newly translated optional English subtitles 
  • Introductions to all three films by David Desser, author of Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave 
  • Scene-select commentaries on all three films by Desser 
  • Theatrical trailer for Mandara 
  • Theatrical trailer for Poem 
  • Limited edition packaging, fully illustrated by maarko phntm 
  • Illustrated 80-page perfect-bound collector's book featuring new writings on the film by Anton Bitel and Tom Mes

 

Dark River Blu-ray pack shot

Dark River | DVD and Blu-ray | 25 June 2018 | £15.99 / £19.99

Clio Barnard, one of Britain's most distinctive contemporary filmmakers, follows The Selfish Giant and The Arbor with Dark River, a searing Yorkshire-set drama inspired by Rose Tremain's acclaimed rural novel Trespass. 

Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson – Saving Mr. Banks) returns home for the first time in 15 years, to claim the tenancy of the family farm she believes is rightfully hers. Once there she encounters her older brother Joe (Mark Stanley – Game of Thrones), a man she barely recognizes, worn down by years of struggling to keep the farm going whilst caring for their sick father (Sean Bean – Lord of the Rings). Joe is thrown by Alice's sudden arrival, angered by her claim and finds her presence increasingly difficult to deal with. Battling to regain control in a fraught situation, Alice must confront traumatic memories and family betrayals to find a way to restore the farm and salvage the bond with her brother before both are irrevocably lost. 

Combining the poetic realism of The Selfish Giant with a heightened strain of tragedy, Dark River is a dark folk tale of family secrets which has impressed critics and is set to become a modern classic of British drama.

Blu-ray Special Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Audio description track 
  • Interviews with director Clio Barnard, and stars Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean and Esme Creed-Miles
  • Behind the scenes 
  • Stills gallery 
  • Original trailer 
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options 
  • First pressing only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Will Massa, curator of contemporary cinema at the BFI

DVD Special Edition contents:

  • Standard Definition presentation 
  • Original 5.1 surround sound 
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Audio description track 
  • Interviews with director Clio Barnard, and stars Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean and Esme Creed-Miles 
  • Behind the scenes 
  • Stills gallery 
  • Original trailer 
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options

 

Arrow Academy June 2018 back in stock titles

The Dark Mirror Blu-ray pack shot

The Dark Mirror | Blu-ray | 11 June 2018 | £19.99

A man is stabbed to death, and all the signs are that his lover Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland – Gone with the Wind) is the culprit. But it’s impossible for Lieutenant Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell – Stagecoach) to prove this, as Terry has an identical twin sister, Ruth, and there’s no way of demonstrating which one has the cast-iron alibi. 

From this gimmicky premise, director Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase, The Killers) and producer/screenwriter Nunnally Johnson (The Woman in the Window) fashion a fascinatingly complex psychological film noir, as a psychologist (Lew Ayres – All Quiet on the Western Front) with a specialist interest in twins is brought in to help solve the crime. Delving deep into the personae of each sister, he finds himself falling in love with Ruth, which simultaneously helps him garner a better understanding of the twins’ relationship while also putting himself in considerable peril. 

With the aid of impressively seamless special effects devised by the legendary Eugen Schüfftan (Metropolis), Olivia de Havilland gives a virtuoso performance as both sisters, only revealing their very different personalities when they’re alone together: one warm and loving, the other an ice-cold murderess.

Special Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements 
  • Uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack 
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Commentary by film historian Adrian Martin 
  • Noah Isenberg on The Dark Mirror, the author and scholar provides a detailed analysis of the film 
  • The Dark Mirror (1950), a condensed radio play adaptation starring Olivia de Havilland 
  • International poster gallery 
  • Trailer for Siodmak’s other 1946 film noir, The Killers 
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

Force of Evil Blu-ray pack shot

Force of Evil | Blu-ray | 11 June 2018 | £19.99

In this classic Film Noir, an ambitious but unscrupulous lawyer (John Garfield – The Postman Always Rings Twice) works for the mob, and scents the prospect of a personal fortune when he helps concoct a plan that will merge all of New York City’s numbers rackets into a single powerful and unbreakable operation. 

But one of them is run by his own brother (Thomas Gomez – Key Largo), who is much happier as an independent, mainly because it allows him to apply his own ethical standards to prevent innocent people from being corrupted by his shady activities. And it’s the Cain-and-Abel clash between them that gives the film its tragic dimension. 

After a brilliant writing career (Body and Soul), Abraham Polonsky was given a shot at directing, and he turned out one of the most original thrillers of its era, combining poetic dialogue worthy of Clifford Odets (Sweet Smell of Success) with a forensically Marxist critique of the capitalist system (the “force of evil” that underpins everything in American society). Martin Scorsese frequently cited it as one of the most influential films in his life, and it’s easy to see why.

Special Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements 
  • Uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack 
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Introduction by Martin Scorsese 
  • Commentary by critics Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme 
  • An Autopsy on Capitalism, a visual essay on the production and reception of Force of Evil by Frank Krutnik, author of In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity 
  • Commentary on selected themes by Krutnik 
  • Two radio plays: Hollywood Fights Back (1947), 35 Hollywood stars protest the blacklist and Body and Soul (1948), a radio version of Abraham Polonsky’s breakthrough script starring John Garfield 
  • International poster gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

 

Secret Beyond the Door Blu-ray pack shot

Secret Beyond the Door | Blu-ray | 25 June 2018 | £19.99

The Bluebeard legend has been adapted many times through the years. This classic film noir variation on the tale incorporates influences from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca into the mix, with gripping results. 

Soon after architect Mark Lamphere (Michael Redgrave – Dead of Night) marries Celia (Joan Bennett – Suspiria), she gradually begins to suspect that he has a past life that he’s been keeping from her. But she doesn’t know the half of it, and when he leaves on a business trip, she starts to uncover the sinister secret of his purpose-designed house and its apparent surplus of rooms, the seventh of which is kept firmly locked. What lies beyond its door? 

From the strongly expressionist use of symbolic flowers and shadows in the opening sequence, legendary director Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M) stamps his artistic signature on every frame, helped by suitably high-contrast cinematography by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter) and a score by composer Miklós Rósza (The Killers) that insinuates itself into every emotional nook and cranny.

Special Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements 
  • Uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack 
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing • Commentary by film noir expert Alan K. Rode 
  • Barry Keith Grant on Secret Beyond the Door, the author and scholar introduces the film 
  • The House of Lang, a visual essay on Fritz Lang’s style by filmmaker David Cairns with a focus on his noir work
  • Bluebeard (1947), a radio play aimed at children drawing on the same source as Secret Beyond the Door 
  • International poster gallery 
  • Trailer for Lang’s 1943 noir, Hangmen Also Die!
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

The Big Combo Blu-ray pack shot

The Big Combo | Blu-ray | 25 June 2018 | £19.99

Lieutenant Diamond (Cornel Wilde – The Naked Prey) is determined to bring down mob boss Mr Brown (Richard Conte – Thieves’ Highway), even if it means jeopardising his own career, but the feeling is mutual and the unscrupulous gangster is more than willing to operate outside the law to get his man. The confrontation escalates, leading to some wince-inducing set-pieces involving such handy props as a radio and a hearing aid. 

This masterpiece from Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy, Terror in a Texas Town), drenched with sleazy innuendo, came late to the film noir cycle, but is now considered one of the defining examples of the genre, not least thanks to some extraordinary chiaroscuro lighting by the great cinematographer John Alton (already an Oscar-winner for An American in Paris) and a heartbreaking performance by Jean Wallace (No Blade of Grass) as Brown’s troubled girlfriend. The film also boasts a menacing early performance from a pre-stardom Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) as one of Brown’s henchmen. 

When the film was revived in London in the mid-seventies, a polemically breathless Time Out review called it “almost certainly the greatest movie ever made… as heady as amyl nitrate and as compulsive as stamping on insects”.

Special Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements 
  • Uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack 
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
  • Commentary by noirchaeologist Eddie Muller 
  • Geoff Andrew on The Big Combo, the critic and programmer offers an introduction to and analysis of the film 
  • Wagon Wheel Joe, a visual essay on director Joseph H. Lewis by filmmaker David Cairns 
  • Original Screenplay (DVD/BD-ROM content) 
  • International poster gallery 
  • Trailer for Lewis’ final, noir-themed film, Terror in a Texas Town 
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow