LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Hitchcock/Truffaut, The Quiet Earth, The People vs. Fritz Bauer | Fast Scans: Top Foreign & Indie Picks, February 15, 2017

Hitchcock/Truffaut. color & b/w. 81+ min. Universal. 2015. DVD UPC 025192387296. $29.99; Blu-ray UPC 025192389542. $34.99. Rated: PG-13.
hitchcock
 Initiated by François Truffaut (1932–84) in the early Sixties, a friendship developed between the film critic–turned–director and Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) that encouraged a newfound measure of respect for Holly­wood’s reigning “master of suspense” as more than a mere entertainer. A welcome follow-up to the 1966 book of the same name, Kent Jones’s documentary plays audio excerpts of the pair’s weeklong interviews over film clips showing Hitch’s innovative use of the camera. Ten directors (Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Olivier Assayas, et al.) pay homage in a not overly academic tribute.

One of Our Aircraft Is Missing. b/w. 103 min. Olive Films. 1942. DVD UPC 887090129213. $14.99; Blu-ray UPC 887090129312. $29.99.
A British bomber crew are forced to bail out over Holland and are taken under the wing of sympathetic Dutch resistance members to avoid capture by the Nazis. Although not on par with later masterworks by filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death; Black Narcissus; The Red Shoes), the dynamic duo’s early outing is a suspenseful, patriotic war drama that eschews jingoism with its morale-building story of a concerted effort to get the RAF team back home. Disc picture quality is not flawless but it “flies” just fine. [See Trailers, LJ 10/1/16.]

The People vs. Fritz Bauer. color. 105+ min. In German w/English subtitles. Cohen Media Group. 2015. DVD UPC 741952834793. $25.99; Blu-ray UPC 741952834892. $30.99. Rated: R.
More than a decade after the end of World War II, Frankfurt-based District Attorney Fritz Bauer (Burghart Klaussner) determinedly pursues former Nazis on the lam in spite of an unenthusiastic German court system interested in burying the past. Setting his sights on a top Hitler henchman, Bauer risks charges of treason by teaming up with Israel’s Mossad to snatch Adolf Eichmann out of Argentina and bring him to trial. Based on real events, cowriter/director Lars Kraume’s historical drama mounts a thrilling account beset by backstabbing, extortion, and other roadblocks to justice.

The Quiet Earth. color. 91+ min. Film Movement. 1985. DVD UPC 857692005932. $29.99; Blu-ray UPC 857692005949. $39.99. Rated: R.
the quiet earthNew Zealand scientist Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence), who has been working on a global energy-sharing project, awakens to find himself alone in a deserted city—at least until he meets two other survivors of an apparently failed experiment. Geoff Murphy’s postapocalyptic sf thriller doesn’t let low-budget special effects deter the director’s exploration of the primal conflict between two males over the sole surviving woman, or Zac’s self-sacrificing mission to set cataclysmic matters right. Fanboy Neil deGrasse Tyson provides welcome commentary for this enigmatic cult classic.

The Squid and the Whale. 2 discs. color. 81+ min. Criterion Collection. 2005. DVD ISBN 9781681432298. $29.95; 1-disc Blu-ray ISBN 9781681432281. $39.95. Rated: R.
The fallout from a Brooklyn couple’s (Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney) failed marriage on their two children (Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline) manifests itself in some odd and off-putting ways—from plagiarism to sexual high jinks—but there is some hope amid the pain. The semi­autobiographical third film of Noah ­Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming; Frances Ha) benefits from a hi-def digital makeover, plus extras including reflections by cast members more than a decade after its making. Oscar-nominated for its darkly comic but affecting screenplay, it’s worth reexperiencing. [See Trailers, LJ 10/1/16.]

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