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Fowler’s Flix 08.11.19: Criterion Rules

John Hurt is Winston Smith in Criterion's timely reissue of "1984."
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Watching a recent Trump rally, as his obsessive fans started chanting in unison “Send her back!”, I mentally couldn’t help but return to the prophetic scene of the “Two Minutes Hate” in Michael Radford’s adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and how ominous a warning that film truly is, one that apparently no one seems to believe anymore in the declining years of America.

Criterion is giving the world another chance, however, by releasing this long-suffering classic on Blu-ray as part of their vaunted reissues collection. Featuring a bravura performance by John Hurt as Winston Smith and the late Richard Burton as his torturer O’Brien, few films have ever been as truly faithful to a novel the way Radford was here; even twenty-five or so years later, this film should be shown in schools before it’s too late and we’re all eventually sent to Room 101.

Entering the two-fisted realm of hard-hitting martial arts flicks, Criterion really outdoes itself with the seminal Jackie Chan double-feature Police Story/Police Story 2. Starring Jackie as Hong Kong police inspector Ka-kui, usually against the wishes of his superiors, he takes on the Chinese underworld—with cute girlfriend Maggie Cheung in tow—with plenty of punches, kicks and that patented kung-fu slapstick that has separated Chan’s work from all of his then imitators for over forty years.

David Lynch’s 1986 masterpiece Blue Velvet has also met the high Criterion standards, and not a moment too soon. Criterion has been releasing most of Lynch’s work over the past few years, with this psycho-sexual murder mystery on many a fan’s wish-list; young Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan), while walking through a field behind his house, finds a severed ear. This seemingly strange body part sends him on a disturbing path of his town’s twisted underbelly, with Dennis Hopper delivering a trademark performance that should have won him an Oscar.

Somewhat dated from its original release almost 20 (!) years ago, I kind of feel the same about Hedwig and the Angry Inch now as I did then—an amazing soundtrack with a decent film to go with it that, sadly, falls apart, for me, in the third act. Born on the communist side of Germany, from a young Hedwig gets a botched sex-change that enslave him/her to the titular measurement. Now in America, Hedwig sets off on a cross-country tour that with either save him/her or destroy him/her.

A few other titles, like A Face in the Crowd and Do the Right Thing have also been recently released and, if you’re a superfan, quickly head to Barnes and Noble for their triumphant fifty-percent off sale while it lasts—it’s definitely not to be missed.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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