November is upon us and it may be time to mention at least one film on one of the new DVD formats. Monty Python’s Life of Brian Blu-Ray (Sony ••••) is a good place to start your high definition collection. The difference in quality is noticeable but not really worthy of the price (about three times more than the normal version), but this so-called ‘Immaculate Edition’ does contain an excellent documentary on the Pythons.
The great German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder has not one, but three box sets out this fortnight: The RW Fassbinder Collection (1969-1972) and (1973-1982) (Arrow •••••) covers the very best work of this fast living genius filmmaker who dabbled in everything from melodramas to westerns. These two collections trace his trajectory from his pretentious but urgently promising debut, Love is Colder than Death, all the way to his most successful film The Marriage of Maria Braun (pictured). These sets are, however, prohibitively expensive so it may be worth putting them on your Christmas list. In response to these collections Artificial Eye have re-released Rainer Werner Fassbinder Vol 1 (••••), which contains rare oddities from the director’s canon including 1981’s Lola and his vicious portrait of middle class mores, Why Does Herr K Run Amok? from 1970.
There’s a couple of good cheapies out for those who don’t have them in their collections already – Polanski’s Chinatown (Paramount ••••) – a private dick thriller that can still hold its own dirty water and Brian De Palma’s joyfully clichéd gangster flick Carlito’s Way (Universal •••).
There’s also a ton of direct-to-DVD horror left over from Hallowe’en. Despite being Norwegian, Cold Prey (Metrodome •••) follows the conventions of every teen slasher flick ever made; Kaw (Starz •) is a godawful Birds rip-off; crap but extravagantly bloody vampire movie Thirst (Starz •); spoof documentary Behind the Mask (Starz •••) – think Scream meets Man Bites Dog. Finally, Michael Madsen’s career continues its slide into obscurity with Ultimate Killing Machine (Momentum •).