HomeReviewsBlu-ray and DVD Review Round-Up: Films by Chantal Akerman, Kelly Reichardt, William...

Blu-ray and DVD Review Round-Up: Films by Chantal Akerman, Kelly Reichardt, William Wellman & more!

In the world of filmmaking, certain directors stand out for their unique contributions, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and cinematic artistry. Here are the Blu-ray and DVD review of those renowned directors movies.

Chantal Akerman, a Belgian filmmaker and artist, is renowned for her avant-garde approach and introspective storytelling.

Over a career spanning several decades, Akerman challenged conventional norms, exploring themes of identity, gender, and the human condition.

Kelly Reichardt, a contemporary American director, has carved her niche with a unique blend of minimalist storytelling and a deep connection to the American landscape.

Known for films like “Wendy and Lucy” and “Certain Women,” Reichardt’s work often revolves around quiet moments.

Turning back the clock, we find the legendary William Wellman, a pioneering force during the golden age of Hollywood.

With a career that spanned from the silent era to the 1950s, Wellman’s versatility was evident in his ability to helm films across genres.

From the iconic “Wings,” the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, to the gritty “The Public Enemy,” Wellman’s impact on the industry is immeasurable.

As we delve into the careers of these three cinematic maestros, it becomes evident that each has contributed to the evolution of filmmaking in its own unique way.

Let us explore the tapestry of their professional journeys, uncovering the threads that have woven them into the fabric of cinematic history.

Also Read More: Is Sarah Drew Pregnant In 2024? Weight Gain Baby Bump Rumors

Blu-ray and DVD Review: Certain Women (2016) The Criterion Collection

Kelly Reichardt hailed as one of America’s preeminent filmmakers, showcased her directorial prowess with “Certain Women,” a personal favorite from 2016 and arguably the pinnacle of her already illustrious career.

In a filmography characterized by patience, revelation, and intense focus, “Certain Women” is her most visually stunning work, capturing the ethereal beauty of Montana’s windswept landscapes.

Cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt’s work, surpassing even his remarkable achievements in “Meek’s Cutoff,” contributes to the film’s breathtaking aesthetics.

Adapted from Maile Meloy’s short stories, the film’s triptych structure defies narrative predictability, allowing stories to intersect with elusive implications.

The middle segment, a mysterious enigma, weaves emotional mysteries into the expressions of Michelle Williams, providing a thrilling narrative elision.

The first story, featuring Laura Dern as a tenacious lawyer, explores an unusual relationship with a demanding client (Jared Harris).

At the same time, the final tale delves into unfulfilled longing as ranch hand Lily Gladstone becomes enamored with lawyer Kristen Stewart.

While the last segment has garnered significant attention, rightfully so due to Gladstone’s poignant performance, the entire film resonates with emotional insight.

Populated by women who sublimate their feelings for various reasons, moments like Dern empathetically listening to her client.

Certain Women
Certain Women

Williams shedding her ingratiating façade, or Gladstone adjusting her hair while seeing Stewart for the last time expand the film beyond its frames.

Criterion’s Blu-ray, boasting a 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer, faithfully captures the film’s 16mm photography, showcasing grain beautifully and delivering detailed, sharp images.

The somewhat subdued color palette doesn’t compromise detail, and scenes with snow-covered landscapes are particularly vivid.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, intentionally sparse, accentuates the subtleties of the sound design, with Reichardt opting against a score except for a pivotal scene.

The supplemental features include three new interviews. Reichardt shares insights into her attraction to Meloy’s stories, her filmmaking experience, and the changes she made.

Producer Todd Haynes lauds Reichardt’s talents, while Meloy discusses the genesis of her stories and her admiration for Reichardt’s interpretations.

The package also includes a trailer and an insert featuring a thoughtful essay by critic Ella Taylor.

Varieté (1925) Kino Lorber

E.A. Dupont’s “Varieté” immediately captivates with its visually stunning camerawork, evident from the outset with a frame story set in a prison filled with evocative imagery.

The film showcases Dupont’s creative visual sense, seamlessly transitioning from striking close-ups to expansive long shots, always finding opportunities for dynamic camera movements.

The kinetic sequences featuring trapeze performances are particularly noteworthy, with the camera seemingly dancing along as if it were a performer itself.

The narrative unfolds as a hothouse melodrama centered around Huller, a carnival barker portrayed by the intense Emil Jannings.

His self-destructive obsession with Berta-Marie, a mysterious dancer played by Lya de Putti, serves as the focal point.

Rather than framing Berta-Marie as a conventional seductress, Dupont explores Huller’s internal struggles, portraying his desires as a simmering volcano ready to erupt.

As Huller abandons his family for Berta-Marie, the film expertly navigates the release of tension, only to build it up again masterfully towards an inevitable climax.

Kino’s Blu-ray edition presents a remarkable 1080, 1.33:1 tinted transfer sourced from the 2015 restoration, showcasing impressive depth and detail.


Despite minor scratches, the underlying image remains clear and stable.

The release includes two scores, one from a Berklee class and another from The Tiger Lillies, offering a unique cabaret/punk musical accompaniment.

Regarding bonus material, Kino’s release surpasses the UK disc from Masters of Cinema.

While the American version of the film is absent, viewers are treated to Dimitri Buchowetzki’s adaptation of “Othello” (1922), featuring Jannings and De Putti.

The inclusion of a visual essay by Bret Wood on Dupont’s style and a featurette on the Berklee orchestra adds depth to the release, making it a comprehensive package for cinephiles.

The Death of Louis XIV (La mort de Louis XIV, 2017) Cinema Guild

Albert Serra’s portrayal of the indignities of aging unfolds in his meticulous film, where the French king Louis XIV withers away amidst an entourage of well-wishers and physicians in blissful denial.

Each minor victory, be it a bite of biscuit or a farewell hat doffed, is celebrated as if a miraculous recovery has occurred.

Despite the optimistic assertions of the king’s attendants, the stark reality is that there will be no dramatic revival, a fact underscored by Jean-Pierre Léaud’s stunningly delicate performance as Louis.

In a poignant early scene, the king savors a rare pleasure—a brief visit from his beloved dogs.

The subtle trembling of Léaud’s cheeks as he grasps this fleeting moment encapsulates profound heartbreak.

Léaud’s performance becomes even more absorbing as the film progresses, conveying the king’s mounting sense of smallness and decay.

The layers of makeup and costumes only serve to enhance his portrayal, as Serra expertly captures the man’s inner turmoil.

A thematic successor to “Story of My Death” (2013), Serra’s film delves into epochal shifts and mortality with a narrative intensity, stripping away extraneous story elements.

The Death of Louis XIV
The Death of Louis XIV

The film explores whether a legion of medical professionals can save the king’s gangrenous leg, the fate of his legacy, and the simple desire for a glass of water served in the preferred crystal.

Profound and absurd elements coexist, but the film’s purpose feels finely tuned.

Cinema Guild’s Blu-ray release presents the film in a stunning 1080p, 2.35:1 transfer, showcasing Serra’s Rembrandt-like play with light and shadow.

The fine detail and consistent rendering of colors add to the visual richness. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack subtly immerses the viewer with spare details.

Extras include an NYFF Q&A with Serra and Léaud and Serra’s 2013 concert short “Cuba Libre,” also available on Second Run’s “Story of My Death” disc.

The release is rounded out with a trailer and an insert featuring an essay by critic Jordan Cronk.

Chantal Akerman by Chantal Akerman (1996) DVD only Icarus Films

Icarus is a significant curator of Chantal Akerman’s works on US home video, bringing attention to many of her lesser-known films.

Including the notable masterpiece “From the East” (D’est, 1993), a captivating exploration of the soon-to-be dismantled Soviet bloc.

Their recent Akerman release may not be considered essential, but it holds value for both dedicated Akerman enthusiasts and those new to her work.

Originally created for the long-standing French television series Cinéma, de notre temps, Akerman introduces unfamiliar pieces and gives a fresh perspective on well-known works.

While it might initially seem more suited for DVD bonus features, the film is a fascinating exploration.

Initially hesitant to include new footage, Akerman eventually agrees to shoot something featuring herself.

The film opens with shots in her apartment, where she reads from a script, expressing reservations about the project.

Her performance is consciously presented, raising fundamental questions about the essence of cinema and the blurry line between self-documentation and playing a character.

The second segment of the film showcases Akerman’s unparalleled grasp of cinematic form, cleverly editing together clips from her previous films.

Iconic scenes from “Jeanne Dielman” and “From the East” are interspersed with moments from less-known works.

Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman

Like the anti-capitalist musical “Golden Eighties” (1986) and the insightful “Portrait of a Young Woman at the End of the 1960s in Brussels” (1994).

The film not only sparks a desire to explore more of Akerman’s filmography but also underscores the underrepresentation of her works on US home video, despite the efforts of Icarus and Criterion.

In her introduction, Akerman emerges as an artist deeply committed to cinematic truthfulness, and the moments in her films reflect this dedication.

Each frame captures an unvarnished honesty about the world we inhabit.

Beggars of Life (1928) Kino Lorber

While perhaps not the most immediate association with William Wellman, Louise Brooks, or Wallace Beery, “Beggars of Life” is an exceptional collaboration among the trio.

The film, pulsating with Wellman’s sharp action sequences, offers a thrilling, psychologically probing, and humorously rousing narrative.

In the opening minutes, the film presents a remarkably modern sequence as Richard Arlen’s hobo detects the aroma of breakfast in a house.

Peering in, he discovers that the man eagerly anticipating the food on the table is dead, and Louise Brooks is dressed in his clothes, ready to escape after committing murder.

A flashback, with Brooks’ face superimposed over the events, reveals the atrocities her stepfather inflicted upon her, adding a layer of psychological depth to the narrative.

As Brooks and Arlen hit the road together, the film seamlessly combines thrilling railroad sequences with a sweetly romantic storyline.

Their relationship evolves into idyllic dreams amidst haystacks, providing a tender touch to the overall narrative.

The introduction of Wallace Beery’s character, Oklahoma Red, adds another dynamic layer to the film.

A hobo big shot with a mix of menace and charm, Beery’s performance complements Brooks’ calm and understated approach, creating a perfect symbiosis.

Kino’s 1080p, 1.33:1 transfer, sourced from 35mm film elements, presents about-average image quality for a film of this era.

While there is inherent softness in parts of the image, the minimized damage and consistent presentation contribute to an overall pleasing visual experience.

Beggars of Life
Beggars of Life

The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track features a lively score from the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra based on selections from the original release cue sheet.

Including two audio commentaries, one from Wellman’s son, William Wellman Jr., and another from Louise Brooks Society’s founding director, Thomas Gladysz, adds valuable insights.

A booklet essay by critic Nick Pinkerton provides excellent contextual information about “hoboing” and the film’s journey from page to screen.

The Treasure (Comoara, 2015) — DVD only IFC

Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure made a reasonably substantial splash at Cannes in 2015, like countless festival darlings.

Winning the Prix Un Certain Talent prize and garnering plenty of positive notices from critics, seemingly fading away into the ether.

It’s been nearly two years since the film’s limited US release, and it’s finally arrived on US home video in an unsurprisingly underwhelming DVD-only release.

Perhaps Criterion or another label with an IFC deal was considering picking up the film, but it’s not hard to see why other labels must have eventually passed.

Porumboiu is one of the marquee names in Romanian filmmaking, but this is a minor effort.

All that early buzz focused on the film’s ending.

The DVD’s lead pull quote is A.O. Scott gushing about the “punchline, and one can understand why, as it starkly and charmingly departs from the deadpan bureaucratic comedy of the rest of the film.

The Treasure
The Treasure

But viewed with some distance from the hype surrounding the film’s premiere, this is a conclusion that mostly provokes a shrug.

More memorable is the sequence in which protagonist Costi (Toma Cuzin) and his neighbor Adrian (Adrian Purcarescu) hire a guy with a metal detector to search Adrian’s family’s property.

Here, Porumboiu’s sense of low-key comedy shines as a series of minor exasperations mount in a tidily built tower of annoyance. The following 20 minutes just feel like stalling to get to that ending. Is it really worth it?

Even considering the limitations of the format, the image on IFC’s DVD release is not great, plagued with a fuzziness that doesn’t favor a film mostly composed in medium and long shots.

Aside from some trailers, you won’t find any extras either.

The Big Knife (1955) Arrow Video

The follow-up to one of the greatest noirs ever, the apocalyptic Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife, turns his attention to Hollywood venality.

Based on Clifford Odets’ play, the film is patently ridiculous melodrama, florid language, and amped-up emotions stewing together inside the Hollywood estate of marquee icon Charles Castle.

Under Aldrich’s direction, this material is compulsively watchable, careening from heightened moment to heightened moment with a cast entire of actors hungry to devour each scene they’re in.

Palance grimaces and grumbles determined not to re-sign his studio contract despite the best efforts of boss Stanley Shriner Hoff (Rod Steiger), who has a host of blackmail tactics up his sleeve.

Castle wants to reconcile with his semi-estranged wife, Marion (Ida Lupino).

Still, his attentions are divided between her, Hoff, liquor, and the host of visitors that stroll through his house, including Jean Hagen and Shelley Winters.

Like Mike Nichols with his adaptation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Aldrich understands that a theater-to-film adaptation can embrace the limitations.

The Big Knife
The Big Knife

So-called “stagy” material, and he turns Castle’s home into a pressure cooker, with only a handful of scenes that venture outside its confines.

The material may be pulpy — even risible in its depiction of substance abuse — but it’s easy to buy in with the way Aldrich builds the framework for it.

Arrow’s 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer is heaven for lovers of black-and-white films with heavy grain structure.

Sourced from a new 2K restoration, the image handles the grain exceptionally well, with only a few moments of density fluctuation scattered here and there.

Fine detail is abundant, grayscale separation is rich, and images are consistently sharp.

The uncompressed 2.0 mono mix sounds good on the surface, though there’s a persistent low-level hiss that’s noticeable if turned up loud enough.

Extras include an audio commentary from critics Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton and an archival interview with Saul Bass on his title’s work.

A trailer and a vintage featurette are also included.

Also Read More: Vanessa Morgan Parents: Father Loyar And Mother Catherine

Ashish Dahal
Ashish Dahal
Ashish is a prolific content writer, blends with the creativity with precision in his writing. His work, characterized by clarity and engaging storytelling has gathered a loyal readership. His passion for words fuels his constant pursuit of excellence.

Expertise: Anime Reviews Genre-Specific Blogs


  • Ability to research on different topics to generate engaging content.
  • Proficient in writing informative content.
  • Analytical skills to interpret the content.
  • Experience

    Ashish Dahal has combined his interests and content writing. Through his work, he showcases enthusiasm and ability to deliver captivating content consistently. Ashish's writing demonstrates his passion for storytelling and content creation.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

- Advertisment -