Kino Lorber's Studio Classics line of Blu-ray releases is one of the most eclectic and heroic undertakings in all of home video land these days. While there's no denying the fact that independent and no budget films are being served very well by the likes of Arrow Video, Vinegar Syndrome, Mondo Macabro, and others, Kino Lorber has been scouring the vaults for underseen gems for several years now and hardly anyone can touch the sheer breadth of their releases.
Flip through the gallery below for our brief thoughts on the films and their home video releases.
8 Million Ways to Die is considered by some to be the film that killed directing legend Hal Ashby (Five Easy Pieces, Harold and Maude, Being There). Ripped from his control during the post-production process, the film that went out to theatres was not his edit and it was a very emotional experience that proved draining for the director who was already facing his own personal demons. The result is less than ideal, but in hindsight it's easy to see what the film could've been, and wonderful to marvel at the performances of leading men Jeff Bridges and Andy Garcia.
While the '70s was the decade of the dirty New Yrok crime film, the focus turned to the other coast in the '80s when the L.A. Noir became the thing to do. When alcoholic ex-cop Scudder (Bridges) is summoned by an escort (Alexandra Paul) to help her escape the life, he gets pulled into a world of violence, drugs, and death that he hadn't bargained for. Scudder, with his sidekick Sarah (Rosanna Arquette), find themselves pitted against gang boss Angel Maldonado (Andy Garcia) in a fight for survival. Garish, idiosyncratic, and violent, 8 Million Ways to Die is a great snapshot of actors at their peak.
Kino Lorber's Blu-ray is a solid release. There's no mention in the materials of a new scan for this release, but it is definitely pleasing to the eye, if perhaps not revelatory. The bonus materials really make up for it in this case, though, as Kino goes above and beyond their usual work. Not only to we get a scholarly audio commentary from Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger, there are also some great and often very emotional interviews with stars Rosanna Arquette, Andy Garcia, and Alexandra Paul, along with the writer of the source novel, Lawrence Block. Everyone has great things to say about the experience and working with Ashby, sadly, several of the interviews also include tears when the performers talk about the film's fate both in terms of authorial control from Ashby and with the critics.