HomeReviewsBlu-ray Review Round-Up: “Manakamana,” “Love Streams” and more!

Blu-ray Review Round-Up: “Manakamana,” “Love Streams” and more!

Discover cinematic brilliance in recent Blu-ray reviews: “Manakamana” showcases Nepal, “Love Streams” explores family, and more await!

In a recent Blu-ray review round-up, standout releases include “Manakamana,” an immersive documentary capturing a cable car’s transformative journeys in Nepal.

“Love Streams,” a John Cassavetes masterpiece, graces the collection, offering an emotional exploration of familial bonds.

The reviews delve into these cinematic gems’ visual and thematic brilliance, providing insights for cinephiles seeking extraordinary experiences.

The diverse selection promises to elevate home viewing with captivating narratives and visually stunning presentations.

Each title adds depth and variety to the ever-expanding realm of high-quality Blu-ray releases, offering audiences a compelling reason to enhance their home entertainment collections.


The newest creation from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, renowned for avant-garde documentaries like Leviathan (2013) and Sweetgrass (2009), Manakamana (2014) presents another mind-expanding, utterly captivating voyage to a different realm.

Directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, Manakamana is a formal departure from Leviathan, where extreme camera placements turned observation into abstraction.

In this film, the camera remains stationary for 11 shots of nearly identical length, capturing the ascent and descent of a cable car in Central Nepal.

Blu-ray Review

These fixed shots immerse viewers in the experiences of men, women, children, and others traveling to and from a sacred Hindu temple.

Initially, the film may seem centered on repetition, suggesting a Jeanne Dielman in a gondola concept.

However, while the deliberate pace contributes to a mesmerizing effect, the filmmakers have structured it in a consistently surprising manner.

Unexpected figures entering the frame prompt a reevaluation of one’s perception of the riders.

Some rides unfold like miniature thrillers, creating suspense as viewers decipher the nature of the riders’ relationships.

Others offer pure delight, such as two women racing to finish melting ice cream bars or three band members snapping endless photos. Each ride unveils insights into people, culture, or history.

Despite the seemingly basic one-long-take format, the non-linear sequence adds a playful twist to expectations.

Cinema Guild presents a compelling package featuring a 1080p, 1.78:1 transfer that vividly captures the Nepalese landscape and the expressive faces of the riders.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack maintains a suitable subtlety, occasionally interrupted by the thunderous noise of machinery when the cable traverses specific areas.

Bonus content comprises a director commentary, an additional 30 minutes of rides and behind-the-scenes footage, a trailer, and a booklet containing an essay by Dennis Lim and a director Q&A session.

This comprehensive set offers an immersive experience for enthusiasts eager to delve deeper into the nuances of Manakamana.

Cinema Guild / 2014 / Color / 1.78:1 / 118 min / $34.95

Love Streams

Consider this a crucial addition to Criterion’s already indispensable John Cassavetes box set. Love Streams (1984) is one of Cassavetes’ final directorial efforts and marks his ultimate on-screen performance.

While his contributions behind the camera are widely acclaimed, his role as a captivating performer, especially when sharing the screen with his wife, one of the greatest actresses of her generation, is equally noteworthy.

In Love Streams, Gena Rowlands and Cassavetes portray siblings whose individually self-destructive journeys ultimately reunite them.

Blu-ray Review
Love Streams

Despite spending most of their on-screen time apart, a palpable connection emerges through their shared experiences of broken relationships and self-deception, navigating the complexities of love with uncertainty.

Cassavetes consistently portrayed nuanced perspectives of his flawed characters, but his camera delves deep into Love Streams, creating an emotionally challenging and draining viewing experience.

Unlike some of his earlier works, such as A Woman Under the Influence (1974) or Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), where dysfunction coexisted with optimism for the future, Love Streams presents a bleak portrayal of the present reality.

Criterion’s 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer, based on a 2K restoration, delivers stunning visuals akin to the earlier box set.

A pristine, uncompressed mono track complements the clear, well-resolved images with stable grain and vibrant colors.

The extensive extras include new interviews, a video essay, a behind-the-scenes documentary, a commentary track, a trailer, and a booklet with an essay by Dennis Lim.

The Criterion Collection / 1984 / Color / 1.85:1 / 141 min / $39.95

We Won’t Grow Old Together

A poignant companion to Cassavetes’ works is Maurice Pialat’s We Won’t Grow Old Together (1972, Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble), offering an unflinchingly raw portrayal of relationships.

Jean (Jean Yanne), a misogynistic and needlessly cruel partner, engages in a tumultuous cycle of breakups and reconciliations with the younger woman, Catherine (Marlène Jobert), whom he claims to love.

Blu-ray Review
We Won’t Grow Old Together

Despite the emotionally exhausting nature of their interactions, Pialat’s exceptional formal construction deliberately omits conventional explanations, leaving the viewer to grapple with the enigmatic and charged reunions and disintegrations that define their relationship.

Kino presents Pialat’s masterpiece to Region A-locked audiences through a robust Blu-ray edition, offering a 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer, and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

The film exhibits a slightly cool, blueish hue in most images, yet the transfer remains clear, showcasing commendable levels of fine detail and well-rendered film grain.

Bonus features comprise a brief appreciation by filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, an interview with Jobert, a trailer, and an insert featuring an essay penned by Nick Pinkerton.

Kino Lorber / 1972 / Color / 1.66:1 / 115 min / $34.95


Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket (1959) is a quintessential thriller, possibly the epitome of the genre.

Like his earlier work A Man Escaped (1956), Bresson’s efficient heist film offers gripping suspense, allowing viewers to appreciate it purely as a tension-filled cinematic experience without delving into its underlying spiritual or humanistic themes.

Blu-ray Review

Drawing inspiration from Crime and Punishment, Pickpocket traces the escalating exploits of a young thief (Martin LaSalle) driven by a compulsion to steal, engaging in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with a police officer while neglecting his ailing mother.

Despite Bresson’s association with asceticism, a fresh viewing of Pickpocket reveals a film infused with intense emotion and sublimated thrills, culminating in a profoundly impactful conclusion.

The 1080p Blu-ray enhancement from Criterion is a visual masterpiece, showcasing silver-toned, cinematic images with significantly enhanced clarity and detail compared to the previous respectable DVD version.

Abundant extras, such as an insightful commentary by James Quandt, an introduction by the deeply influenced Paul Schrader, and various documentary programs, have been seamlessly transferred from the DVD release.

The Criterion Collection / 1959 / Black and white / 1.37:1 / 76 min / $39.95

Southern Comfort

Walter Hill clarifies in Shout! Factory’s recent interview on their release of Southern Comfort (1981) that he does not view the film as any form of commentary on the Vietnam War.

While stars Keith Carradine and Powers Boothe may disagree, Hill’s disinterest in the film as a metaphor is evident.

Blu-ray Review
Southern Comfort

Regardless, Hill crafted an intense, escalating action film where National Guardsmen provoke Cajuns in the Louisiana swamps, transforming routine field exercises into a full-fledged guerrilla war.

Hill’s movie oscillates between beautifully atmospheric and brutal, depicting the serene natural setting disrupted by the brutality of men on both sides.

The film’s final sequence exploits this tension, elevating it to a nerve-wracking level before ultimately easing off at its conclusion.

Shout’s 1080p transfer, with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, lacks sharpness, displaying occasional mishandled grain and some soft sequences.

Despite these issues, it generally provides a pleasing viewing experience with a consistent color palette and satisfactory fine detail.

The uncompressed mono track is clear and crisp, effectively handling quiet and chaotic moments. The extras consist of the mentioned set of interviews, along with some stills and a trailer.

Shout! Factory / 1981 / Color / 1.78:1 / 105 min / $29.93

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