Author Topic: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases  (Read 3606 times)

Chedney Honks

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Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« on: January 18, 2021, 09:23:05 PM »
It's a fairly wanky term but also the commonly used nomenclature for the frankly fucking excellent HD transfers released by the likes of Criterion, Eureka, Arrow, 88 Films and more. There's been some discussion and enthusiasm for a thread to discuss these releases so I've decided to get the ball rolling.

Since the late summer when gaming somewhat dropped off my radar for the most part, I've been spending a lot of time watching and rebuilding my collection of movies. Ten to fifteen years ago, I used to love going to the various black market DVD stores in China and emerging with an armful of European and Asian arthouse, exploitation and curio movies and documentaries and assorted series and I loved little more during the bitter winters and scorching summers than settling in with a choice selection of Kurosawa or Kieślowski or Wong Kar Wai or Miyazaki or Kusturica or Kon or whoever it may be and I have incredibly fond memories of those times. I had thousands of DVDs in various wallets and drawers and stuff but I abandoned them them all when I left, giving various mates binbags full of my cherished pirate collection.

For the best part of the last decade, while I've enjoyed a lot of films with my wife, we've gradually settled into a 'common denominator' mentality whereby we don't stay too far out of our comfort zone, not least because my attention span has been utterly cunted by gaming and because she can be a bit dismissive of anything wanky, even though she tends to enjoy stuff when we get into it and she's much more intelligent, knowledgeable and appreciative of art than I am. I think it's fairly normal, but we've been trying to get back into taking turns with ourselves picks and being more open-minded and I've really fucking enjoyed it. In largely part, this has also been prompted by my current interest/obsession with picking up high-quality BD transfers of stuff I once loved or which I've started to explore. It's been absolutely brilliant.

To kick-start the thread, I'd really like to recommend the Lone Wolf and Cub boxset by Criterion. It's a collection of six really fun chanbara exploitation movies based on the manga. I started a thread about them recently but as an actual physical release, it's also such a fucking threat. There's sometimes an inherent softness to the picture but the detail and colour is still so rich overall. It doesn't look like modern film making at all, it retains the feel and atmosphere of early 70s cinema, but it's never looked better or more vibrant. The packaging is also brilliant with a great little book about the films and a really cool Easter egg which I won't spoil.



It's not the best looking set of films in my collection from a technical point of view but I'd say that it's one of my favourites that I've picked up over the last six months, and a series I expect to watch again and again.

Over to you!

wasp_f15ting

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2021, 10:12:24 PM »
Thanks for starting this.

It is funny how we all seem to converge on similar experiences together. The past year or so I have become really disillusioned over the state of movie consumption in general. I have been watching the odd film here and there on netflix and other streaming services. After randomly discovering some YouTube channels I have been pushed into finding great films. However it is only after visiting CAB my new hobby took hold.

For some reason I have been letting mediocre entertainment take hold, but my wife only really enjoys B&W and older films. So she is very accepting of older films, and my daughter is really getting into the older Japanese Ozu films. So between them both I have Noir and Golden Age Japanese films covered. Just need someone to watch slasher horror and other films with me now :)

As much I have enjoyed my newly started collecting from Powerhouse, and Criterion the stand-out film out of the lot has been Body Double I can't even explain why I like it so much. There is something about the sound track, the tunnel scene the colour palette that all just stir up something in me. Paris Texas would also get a mention but it isn't truly Boutique I don't think??

I have a fair few movies still to go through, as I ended up buying a fair bit. Slowing down a bit now - but looking forward to building up the collection.

I had a great DVD collection back in the day, and went through a minimalist phase and gave them all away. To my horror some of the OOP titles are crazy expensive now, and have never made their way to BD.

Blind buying  Blu-Ray and finding out a brilliant film is one of the last few joys in life... I am so chuffed for Powerhouse, 88films, Arrow and Criterion. Powerhouse are releasing the rather crazy Irreversible.

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2021, 03:19:41 PM »
I think you could argue the market as a whole has shifted towards this kind of release, even the big studios are paying more attention to it these days as many of the UHD releases you see play to the preferences of these kinds of buyers, better scans, less removing film grain via noise reduction and over sharpening that was the case with a lot of films when they were released on Bluray.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2021, 03:44:11 PM »
I've been a "boutique buyer" since the early 90s (Criterion laserdiscs) so it's not a very new thing for me, but regardless of that, and as I've said in other threads on the topic, we are in something of a golden age for home video at the moment (despite UHD probably being the last of the physical formats - I understand green laser [which was being developed concurrently with blu-ray and HD DVD and announced as blu's eventual replacement the same day HD DVD was sacked off] has now been given the kibosh, at least as far as home video goes]).  Even though Criterion goes back to the 80s, and the advent of DVD in the mid 90s saw more boutique labels appearing, I think it's only within the last 10 years or so that there's been a massive push to get films that the big studios and distributors aren't particularly bothered with released, and genre films getting the same care and attention (these days often better than) the A-list releases get.  It's also great that prices for these releases are now sensible - I still remember the days of spending £50 or more on a single Criterion laserdisc, and that was before shipping and import fees were added, and how much of a bloody effort it was and how long it took to do it.  These days just pop on to the website for your seller of choice or wander into HMV (it pretty much only is HMV here in the UK now isn't it) to have a browse.

Most of my friends mock me for my collection and continuing to buy physical media whilst they're all streaming everything, but once Disney owns everything, decides what people can and can't have, and figures out a way to put a permanent end to illegal downloads, I know I'll be among the very very few laughing and actually being able to OWN the films I like.  Unless I've lost my entire collection to disc rot by then.

I've got so many releases past and present that I can recommend, but for now I'll just mention this year's biggie for me - Kino Lorber are releasing the legit original US theatrical cut of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on 4K UHD, with the original mono soundtrack and correct colour grading (they're getting shot of the awful previous regrade which looked like it was developed in a vat of piss) - the first time this version of the film has been available on home video since the very early 90s American MGM laserdisc.

Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2021, 09:57:29 PM »
Enjoying the thread, and I've picked up Body Double today. Seems like outside of my usual tastes but I like the look of it!

QDRPHNC

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2021, 10:11:22 PM »
Movies on physical media are going the way of vinyl, with streaming being good enough for most consumers, and more focus put into high quality physical releases for the purists.

wasp_f15ting

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2021, 11:39:58 PM »
Enjoying the thread, and I've picked up Body Double today. Seems like outside of my usual tastes but I like the look of it!

I've just purchased the Lone Wolf Cub Box Set

£37.00 after using some vouchers can't beat that!

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2021, 09:18:33 AM »
Arrow have some great sets. I have picked up Robocop, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing and American Werewolf in London recently. I am trying to get my favourite films on Blu-Ray so they will be available to me despite the foibles of streaming services and companies like Arrow and co. help a lot with that

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2021, 11:09:47 AM »
I do think a clear benefit of the "Boutique" system is that the lables themselbes have a following, if Criterion, Arrow, Indicator, Masters of Cinema, etc put something out it will have an audience beyond what it might otherwise have had.

That's I think broken down the previous situation were the studios had quite a narrow focus, a handful of really well known films would be released again and again. Now there does seem to be more money in giving films like Body Double a high quality restoration, I think it was Sony that actually did the restoration in that case same as The Last Detail and Fat City on Indicator(and Twilight Time in the US before them) but with the knowledge they could licence them out and make good money.

Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2021, 07:10:21 PM »
Two copies of Body Double turned up. It's like a shit joke but real.

wasp_f15ting

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2021, 10:33:07 PM »
Two copies of Body Double turned up. It's like a shit joke but real.

Haha brilliant!


Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2021, 09:07:24 PM »
The Arrow release of American Werewolf is fucking great. Never looked better. Extras are also superb. Loving it.

Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2021, 09:21:51 PM »
Just watching my first ever Shaw Brothers movie, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter on 88 Films. Damn. Might have to start a SB thread. This is bonkers. I've never actually seen much of this classic kung fu stuff beyond JC/BL. It's very strange but really energetic. Looks gorgeous, as well. Great release.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2021, 10:40:55 PM »
Just watching my first ever Shaw Brothers movie, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter on 88 Films. Damn. Might have to start a SB thread. This is bonkers. I've never actually seen much of this classic kung fu stuff beyond JC/BL. It's very strange but really energetic. Looks gorgeous, as well. Great release.

I'm more of a Golden Harvest and Golden Princess man myself (I'm not so keen on the more traditional martial arts forms films - which SB tended to showcase - and once you've seen one Chang Cheh film you've pretty much seen them all), but EDPF is one of my all-time favourite HK martial arts films.  That end sequence is absolutely insane.  I see from the JC thread you've got Drunken Master 2 on the way, so I can also highly recommend Tiger On The Beat by the same director of that and EDPF.  All three have jaw-dropping final fight sequences.

Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2021, 08:47:34 AM »
Nice one, I'd never heard of Tiger On The Beat, so I'll put that on my wishlist. I love the Golden Harvest films I've seen, the opening credits and that surging synth are like a trigger that I'm going to be having a damn good time.

Also, totally agree with what greenman said up thread about these labels earning a following. I've picked up plenty of stuff simply because it's on Arrow or Eureka because I know that it will be a quality release. Same with the JC and Sammo stuff on 88. Guaranteed excellence.

I'm really back in love with cinema after a good decade of mostly gaming in my sitting down time and a part of it is simply the quality of these releases (and definitely the C9 telly which I still find thrilling nine months on).

joaquin closet

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2021, 11:55:36 AM »
I went down an Indicator hole this Christmas - picked up the Sam Fuller, Columbia Noir 1 and Dietrich/von Sternberg boxsets. Hadn't seen any of the films included... just bloody went for it didn't I.

Aesthetically they are just beautiful, especially the Noir and Dietrich sets. They seem to have changed the way they package the films since the Fuller set (the earliest release of the three) - that one contains multiple standard-size plastic Blu-Ray cases, with some discs containing multiple films, whereas the Noir and Dietrich sets package each film in its own thin cardboard case. Lovely stuff.

The only one I've charged through completely is Columbia Noir 1. For me it has 1 stinker (Escape the Fog), 2 not very good (5 Against the House, The Undercover Man) and 3 really enjoyable (Drive a Crooked Road, The Garment Jungle, The Lineup). For me, the standout was The Garment Jungle - the lead is rubbish, but Robert Loggia is extraordinary and Gia Scala drop dead. Extraordinarily pro-labour for a Hollywood film - if only Harry Cohn hadn't lost his nerve and fired Robert Aldrich a week before the shoot ended...

Outside of that, really enjoyed the Fuller-written 30's B pictures - probably more than his own directorial effort, Underworld U.S.A. - and the ending of Morocco is one I'll never forget.

Now very much a loyal customer... Looking forward to picking up Columbia Noir 2 when it's released.

Also, Body Double is the tits.

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2021, 02:53:34 PM »
I am trying to work my way through De Palma after dismissing him as the poor relative of the 70s directors despite liking some of his films I had seen. Body Double is on my list. I mentioned Phantom of the Paradise earlier and I also watched Sisters (which was stylish and bonkers) and Carrie (which is stylish and amazing). I had dismissed Carrie when I watched it years ago and never felt the need to revisit it but some Edgar Wright thing on iPlayer made me revisit it and I am glad I did. It is the perfect example of slow-burn storytelling and the build-up to the finale is almost excruciating

joaquin closet

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2021, 10:34:51 PM »
I would advise watching Dressed to Kill before Body Double, if you haven’t already

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2021, 10:40:33 PM »
I am trying to work my way through De Palma after dismissing him as the poor relative of the 70s directors despite liking some of his films I had seen. Body Double is on my list. I mentioned Phantom of the Paradise earlier and I also watched Sisters (which was stylish and bonkers) and Carrie (which is stylish and amazing). I had dismissed Carrie when I watched it years ago and never felt the need to revisit it but some Edgar Wright thing on iPlayer made me revisit it and I am glad I did. It is the perfect example of slow-burn storytelling and the build-up to the finale is almost excruciating

I did always tend to avoid really following his career beyond watching films like Carrie, Scarface and the Untouchables which didn't take much effort to seek out, the first two of those I did rate quite highly but I spose it was easier to put Scarface down to the cast's work. I'v still not seen Blow-Up(hopefully remedied soon) but watching Body Double was a bit of an eye opener in that it was more obviously a directors film, really style given lease.

What really came to mind as well was the potential influence it had on Lynch. it does seem to bring up a lot of the style/themes of his work from Blue Velvet onwards, especially Mulholland Drive.

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2021, 09:45:14 AM »
I think I will watch Dressed to Kill first. I am not sure why I have neglected De Palma as I loved Blow Out and The Untouchables and Scarface and Carlito's Way are also great but for some reason it took rewatching Carrie to realise what a great director he is and how much he puts his stamp on his films (certainly his 70s and 80s ones), possibly more than his contemporaries.

Even Sisters, which is quite early in his career, has a lot of the ideas and techniques he uses later. It has some fantastic split-screen in it, that is used for a reason and not just to be flash

Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2021, 11:49:40 PM »
I really enjoyed Body Double, quite unlike what I was expecting, in fact, and the lead actor was excellent. Tremendous presence but in an almost anti-charisma way, a real pitiful chap.

Nothing too boutique about this recommendation but the Studio Canal Mulholland Drive is pretty fantastic, as good as it's ever looked. Likewise, the CultFilms edition of Suspiria is frankly jaw-dropping. I've hardly ever seen colours like it.

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2021, 11:51:09 PM »
This is a very useful guide to all the boutique labels - https://www.boutiquebluray.com/wiki/Main_Page

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2021, 12:04:44 AM »
Announcement on the way from Severin tomorrow. Speculation is rife that it may be the release of the long-awaited (by the more discerning punters) Andy Milligan box set. Seems from various comments that it definitely isn't their in-preparation Black Emanuelle set. Whatever it is will only be available directly from the label themselves, no third-party sellers. No details yet on whether it will ship to Sunlit Uplands UK.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2021, 07:58:21 PM »
This is a very useful guide to all the boutique labels - https://www.boutiquebluray.com/wiki/Main_Page

It's a good primer, but it is missing a few US ones and doesn't have any of the "rest of Europe" ones on there like Koch Media and Carlotta Films.


Announcement on the way from Severin tomorrow. Speculation is rife that it may be the release of the long-awaited (by the more discerning punters) Andy Milligan box set. Seems from various comments that it definitely isn't their in-preparation Black Emanuelle set. Whatever it is will only be available directly from the label themselves, no third-party sellers. No details yet on whether it will ship to Sunlit Uplands UK.

I've, personally, absolutely no interest in Andy Milligan or Black Emanuelle, but I am waiting for their 4K UHD of Santa Sangre (just the "standard" 4 disc pack - not going in for the one with the t-shirt and extra gubbins) to pop up on Amazon UK as an import.

Chedney Honks

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2021, 08:24:49 PM »
Watching Weird Science on Arrow. Not an all-timer transfer but very good. I don't think they've let me down yet. Not seen the film in years and years, I love this John Hughes shit.

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2021, 09:23:05 PM »
Announcement on the way from Severin tomorrow. Speculation is rife that it may be the release of the long-awaited (by the more discerning punters) Andy Milligan box set. Seems from various comments that it definitely isn't their in-preparation Black Emanuelle set. Whatever it is will only be available directly from the label themselves, no third-party sellers. No details yet on whether it will ship to Sunlit Uplands UK.

The Andy Milligan box has been confirmed.  Even though I already own and love Seeds and Fleshpot On 42nd Street, I just had to snag the box (this box doesn't have the Vinegar Syndrome extras) - and they ship to the UK.

As for Vinegar Syndrome, they're probably my fave boutique label out there - amazingly, I haven't been disappointed by the titles I've bought from them (apart from Sweet Sweetback and Spookies, but the documentaries on the latter disc make up for it).  Indicator, Severin and BFI are right behind them.

Probably the most surprising thing about the rise of blu-ray boutique labels is Eureka/MOC.  It's amazing to think that a company that started off with shitty grey market releases have radically turned themselves around and are doing some amazing stuff.  When I was buying their horrid VHS editions of Nosferatu and Metropolis, it would've been unthinkable that the same company would still be around in 20 years' time putting out near-flawless, crystal clear editions of this stuff in beautiful packages, let alone putting out definitive editions of House and Ganja & Hess

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2021, 01:40:57 PM »
Arrow were a fairly low rent VHS company in the 90's as well weren't they?

wasp_f15ting

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Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2021, 02:38:58 PM »
Got around to watching the Arrow 4K release of Crash

An excellent transfer, and the film could never have looked better than this. Though the film itself was probably more exciting to me when I first watched it as a teen.


new 4K BDs announced by Arrow:-

1. Battle Royale
2. Donnie Darko

I have pre-ordered both.

I am going to pick-up Nightingale from second sight. The Netflix version had so many digital artefacts it was kind of awful. The film was gorgeous too, so hoping to get more out of the BD 

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2021, 08:04:54 AM »
Not sure I'll bother with either of those, big expensive Battle Royal release that includes the sequels and longer cut, probably wait for a standard release.

Re: Boutique Blu-Ray Releases
« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2021, 01:46:29 PM »
Arrow were a fairly low rent VHS company in the 90's as well weren't they?
Yeah.  It took a slow and steady climb for them to get where they are.

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