This review of Criterion’s new Blu-ray releases of “Diabolique” and “Pale Flower” appears on KTKA-49.
Criterion is releasing some pretty great new Blu-ray transfers of movie classics right now, and two recent releases showcase what a great format Blu-ray is for making old movies seem modern.
Of course, it helps when the films are way ahead of their time like Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Diabolique.”
Clouzot was a rival and contemporary of Alfred Hitchcock and “Diabolique” is as good as some of Hitch’s best.
An abused wife and mistress conspire to kill the husband in this perfectly realized thriller. With barely any music, Clouzot unfolds the action with precision timing and suspense, culminating in one of the cinema’s first and most memorable twist endings ever. This film is a must-see.
The other Blu-ray release, “Pale Flower,” is a nihilistic film noir from the Japanese New Wave that is as surprising as it is stark. An ex-con and a mysterious young woman strike up a friendship based on their alienation from society, and the entire thing is set in the seamy underworld of the Yakuza.
Director Masahiro Shinoda takes lots of chances, using close-ups and off-kilter edits to deepen his characters. A jazzy, avant-garde score throws things even more off balance.
Kudos to Criterion for restoring both of these genre gems and adding some well-researched extra features to the package.