I think the fact that I watched all four of the different versions of Army Of Darkness contained in the amazing Scream Factory Army Of Darkness Collector’s Edition blu-ray package over the course of three days may give some indication of just how much I love this film. Over the years I have owned numerous versions of this film across pretty much every format and can now safely say that there is finally a definitive version and I can get rid of all of the other versions… Well, I can get rid of all of them except “The Necronomicon” blu-ray edition because that has some pretty cool packaging.
The Criterion Collection’s stated aim is that they are “dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film”. Their success in this endeavour is reflected not only in oft-used phrases like “Criterion worthy” and “Criterion like” as a description of the quality of films and home video releases, but also by the very presence of the Criterion Blogathon of which this is part.
Back around the year 2000, Beastie Boys Video Anthology was the first Criterion Collection title that I bought. New to the DVD format at the time, I remember spending a night transfixed watching seemingly endless permutations of “Intergalactic” and “Shake Your Rump”, the first two songs on the first disc. When selecting a title for the Criterion Blogathon, Beastie Boys Video Anthology seemed the obvious choice. Not only does it shows the great variety of the “contemporary” side of The Criterion Collection, but it’s also an excellent example of their history of pushing the envelope of what could be achieved both technically and artistically in home video releasing.
I’ve been looking for a book like Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl for years. Sleater-Kinney have been my favourite band since somewhere around the release of One Beat and have been crying out for a decent book on their history, if for no other reason than to provide some kind of explanation of what happened in 2006 to led to those dreaded two words “indefinite hiatus”. However, it was unexpected that this book would be written by a member of the band.
Released in 1967 Dont Look Back is a fly on the wall documentary following Bob Dylan during his ten day tour of the UK in April/May 1965. Falling just over a month after the release of Bringing It All Back Home, the film captures Dylan at a fascinating turning point of his career. Dont Look Back is also particularly notable with D. A. Pennebaker being given a level of access to the enigmatic Dylan that has not been seen since. That said, Eat The Document, Dylan and Pennebaker’s rather unsuccessful attempt to film his 1966 UK tour may have played a role in this change of heart.
I have undoubtedly read more books by Robert Rankin than by any other author. In the early 1990s, I stumbled across Rankin’s books in a rather circuitous manner… As a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, I read the (excellent) novel Good Omens that Gaiman had co-written with Terry Pratchett. This in turn prompted me to read a number of novels in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and at the back of several of these was a page advertising the Robert Rankin novel The Antipope, always accompanied by the quote from Terry Pratchett “One of the rare guys who can always make me laugh”. Both the title of the book and the quote from Pratchett was enough to get my attention and I subsequently tracked down the book, read it, loved it.
Bringing It All Back Home is Bob Dylan’s first masterpiece, notably it’s also his first album to make it into the Billboard Top 10 Albums chart. The first notes from the electric guitar in the introduction to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” are an immediate declaration of intent, separating Bringing It All Back Home from the folk music that had comprised Dylan’s career up to that point. Structurally, the album is divided into two halves with side one featuring Bob Dylan backed by a rock band and an acoustic side two. Lyrically, the album continues on from Another Side Of Bob Dylan in eschewing the protest and socially conscious songs of his early albums and moving towards the more personal and sometimes surreal.