With some distance, it seems crazy that people were expecting Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog (now out from Criterion) to cruise easily to Oscar victory, in spite of it being, you know, a Jane Campion movie. It’s maybe not as hostile to its audience as Campion had a habit of being after The Piano, but it’s still one of her bruising studies of people who cannot express their desires except as needless cruelty towards themselves and everyone around them. The most misguided, lazy criticisms frame it as a straightforward “toxic masculinity is bad, mmkay” story (god help those people if they try to apply that lens to Holy Smoke), but it’s about destructive tendencies that manifest behind all kinds of disguises, whether the stern cowboy or the foppish intellectual. It’s a terrific, lacerating movie, but I must admit my selfish desire for Criterion to release Campion’s superior, even crueler, and much harder-to-find The Portrait of a Lady instead. Criterion shouldn’t just canonize what everybody’s already seen, they should get people to expand their horizons and watch two-and-a-half hours of Nicole Kidman in an emotional tailspin.
Elsewhere, you have the movie that most would agree represents the artistic peak of the studio system (Earth Girls Are Easy), and easily the best movie to feature both a U.S. president and a monkey (I’m pretty sure that’s also Earth Girls Are Easy).
8 Mile 4K (Universal)
Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm 4K (Warner)
Audrey Rose (Arrow)
Bedtime for Bonzo (Kino)
Casablanca 4K (Warner)
Earth Girls Are Easy (Lionsgate)
Escape from Alcatraz 4K (Kino)
Frasier: The Complete Series (Paramount)
I Love My Dad (Magnolia)
Incredible But True (Arrow)
The Power of the Dog 4K (Criterion)
Saturday Night Fever 4K (Paramount)