Archive for the ‘answered prayers’ Category


Making Tea with Satyajit Ray

April 17, 2009

An ad for The Indian Tea Market Expansion Board designed and illustrated by non other than Satyajit Ray in his days as a commercial artist before he changed the world of Indian cinema with Pather Panchali in 1955. Back in October I griped about the disappearance of Ray from American screens, but I’m happy to report that a Ray-trospective is now in full effect at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I’ve been proselytizing to friends about Ray all week but really all I need do is direct people to this clip from Pather Panchali. The wind in the reeds!

Meanwhile, I write more about Ray’s work as a designer over at the Auteurs.


Shimizu Boxes

April 5, 2009

Criterion’s invaluable Eclipse label has just released a box set of four films by lesser known Japanese master Hiroshi Shimizu, which is cause for celebration. But there is a Japanese version of the set, produced by Shochiku and released last year, that has such gorgeous packaging that I’d almost be tempted to pay three times the price to buy this on import (it even has English subtitles). And on top of that there is a second box of four more films not yet available in the US.


I’ve seen a handful of Shimuzus over the years—including the wonderfully titled Mr. Thank You included in the Eclipse set—and all of them were terrific. Shimzu was a master of the tracking shot and preferred to shoot outdoors: a perfect combination for this viewer.


Answered prayers: Red Desert on Blu-ray

October 7, 2008

After being barely available on DVD (the murky Image release has been out of print for years) Antonioni’s Red Desert is coming out in the UK on October 20th not only in a brand new restoration, but on Blu-ray no less. One of my all-time favorite films, Red Desert is, for me, more like a place to visit than a narrative to follow. Like Playtime or Stalker it is a film of clearly defined spaces that you feel compelled to return to: the factory with its belching chimneys, the tiny red shack by the water’s edge, Monica Vitti’s modern condo, the idyllic beach in the bedtime story. I once told someone that if I had Warren Buffet’s bank account I would build a Red Desert theme park and that it would be the world’s greatest cinephile folly. For now I’ll make do with trying to figure out how to afford a region-free Blu-ray player.