New York Times Holiday DVD Picks

Oct 31, 2008

This week, the New York Times compiled its special annual holiday movie preview, and judging by Charles Taylor and Stephanie Zacharek’s enthusiasm for a slew of upcoming DVD releases for November and December, it seems critics are looking forward to what’s going to be on the small screen as much as on the large. Taylor’s first choice is Criterion’s upcoming edition of Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express, which he calls a “comedy of romantic befuddlement . . . Chungking Express is one of those rare classics that isn’t just admired but cherished.” Samuel Fuller’s White Dog, on the other hand, is a film that hasn’t been fully embraced for many years. Taylor explains the controversy surrounding this film, preventing its theatrical release in 1982 and keeping it long misunderstood (and unseen), before concluding: “White Dog is among his [Fuller’s] most potent films, and also his most elegant, thanks to the photography of Bruce Surtees and Ennio Morricone’s score . . . It should never have taken this long for Americans to see White Dog.

Meanwhile, Zacharek touts Criterion’s release of Douglas Sirk’s wild melodrama Magnificent Obsession. Much has been written about Sirk’s gorgeous compositions and social commentary in such films as All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind, and Zacharek extends that praise to this earlier film: “Sirk’s placement of nature in relation to humans—with everything painted in lush colors, brighter than those of real life—amounts to a kind of visual optimism, a reassurance that not even the biggest problems are as dire as they might seem. These are larger-than-life issues rendered on a human scale.”