Do You Like Movies About Goblins?

When I first saw Hiruko the Goblin, I was delighted by how wild and outrageous it was.  This was long before anime became a major cultural touchstone in the states.  I mean, we had Speed Racer and Voltron in our Saturday morning TV runs, and Akira was a thing.  But these were exceptions.  I first read about it in Fangoria or Gorezone: how the creator of Tetsuo: The Iron Man was back with a full color tale of ancient mythical creatures that ran around with your head on little crab legs, and I was sold.  It was super hard to find in the days of VHS - I had to settle for a traded dub through the mail.  I couldn't believe this movie wasn't blowing up the cult horror market.
So when my brand new Mondo Macabro blu-ray arrived in the mail this week, I was more than a little worried how it would hold up.  I'm now intimately familiar with manga and many of their disappointing live-action adaptations.  I've gone through the novelty phase of X-rated cartoons like Urotsukidoji and and whatever else might've struck me as mind-blowing and over the top before we were saturated with the stuff.  At the time, I had no idea Hiruko was even based on a manga (Yokai Hunter), it felt like this bizarre inspiration that struck out of nowhere.  Could this hold any of that same power, or would I be kicking myself for buying the equivalent of the Netflix Death Note?
Well, no, it couldn't quite bring back the surprise of my original 1991 viewing.  And to be honest, I had revisited once before already, through Shriek Show's 2005 DVD (surprisingly under the Fangoria banner), though even that was over fifteen years ago.  But I'm happy to report, unfair expectations aside, it actually does hold up as a thoroughly entertaining little flick.  The silly humor, the gore, the imaginative story and even the special effects stand the test of time even better than I was hoping.  Hiruko is a truly great movie monster, and Shinya Tsukamoto's storytelling is fast-paced and masterful, with lush steady photography only occasionally broken up by his trademark frantic shakey-cam.  The acting isn't naturalistic, but it isn't trying to be; and it's better than I remembered.  It doesn't feel as boldly original anymore, but it's still better than most of the films that followed in its footsteps.
2005 Shriek Show DVD top; 2022 Mondo Macabro BD bottom.
Another surprise for me now: Shriek Show's DVD looks pretty good.  I've done so many comparisons where their editions were heavily interlaced, I was starting to assume they all were (at least their DVDs).  But not this bad boy.  Mondo's blu gives us a brand new 2k restoration of the original negative, and it looks brilliant, but Shriek Show's DVD still impresses, especially for SD.  The framing is pretty similar, though a little off... the back of their case claimed 1.85:1, but it's really a very slightly pillar-boxed 1.76:1.  Mondo's actually is 1.85, which essentially just means they matted it a little tighter (though there is a smidgen more on the right).  It also has stronger black levels, richer colors and a more naturally, filmic look with its higher def capture of grain, which is mostly strong, if a little inconsistent.

Both releases provide the original Japanese track with optional English subtitles, but it's in LPCM on the blu.
Shriek Show also had some decent, if brief, extras.  There's an interview with Tsukamoto where he lays out the story of how he came to make this film and all the basic info behind it.  There's also an interview with the effects artist, where he shows us some of the mechanical goblins he made.  And there's an additional clip of footage of the effects, which is nice but really didn't need to be a separate thing. The trailers also on here, as well as a couple bonus trailers.

Happily, Mondo has retained all of that, apart from the bonus trailers (though they've added plenty of their own).  They've also put together some new stuff, including an introduction and all new interview with Tsukamoto, which covers a little more ground and looks nicer in HD.  But as you can imagine, they repeat a lot of the same facts and anecdotes.  There's also an expert audio commentary by Tom Mes, which is slow moving but contains some good info, including more about the original manga, and how surprisingly faithful the story is to authentic Japanese legend, taking a lot out of The Kojiki, written in 712 AD.  Maybe some of that authenticity bleeding through is what keeps this film hopping in 2022.
I should point out, too, that my copy is the limited, numbered edition (mine is #1320 of 1500), which was sold out long before it started shipping.  But don't despair, the regular, retail edition is coming out this February, and it's the exact same disc.  The only difference is that the limited edition includes a full color 20-page booklet and comes in a red case.  So yes, I recommend this one even if this sort of thing isn't usually your bag.

The Original and Definitive Dogme '95: Celebration, The Idiots, Mifune and The King Is Alive

Lars von Trier
and Thomas Vinternerg's Dogme '95 was a film movement we may need even more now in the age of "superhero fatigue" than we did in 1995, but thankfully it's legacy can still live on; and even though the officiators are no longer judging and certifying Dogme films, there's no reason why anyone can't make a film adhering to the rules today.  The idea essentially was to strip away the artifice and the spectacle of modern filmmaking, and push filmmakers to again focus on the story and heart of a movie.  Shooting must be done on location, the sound must never be produced apart from the images, the film must contain no artificial action (such as murders and weapons), etc.  The suggestion was never that all films should become Dogme films; and the stripped down aesthetic perhaps lured too many amateur and aspiring filmmakers as opposed to the sort of industry veterans it was intended to inspire.  But the movement persisted for nearly a decade and saw the creation of several dozen films from all around the world.  And these are the first four, released individually (mostly in the US) and as a fancy boxed set called the Dogme Kollektion in Denmark.

Update 3/17/17 - 1/11/22: Well, here's an unexpected development: Criterion has issued as a 2-disc special edition blu-ray.  Is there any point to releasing a film, not just shot on DV, but on cheap, little personal camcorders in the 90s? Well, let's find out.
Dogme #1: Vinterberg's Celebration (originally Festen) is still my favorite of all the Dogme films (though admittedly I missed a lot of the later ones).  There's a massive family reunion for Helge, but no one can understand why his eldest son Christian is acting completely out of control... except his sister or who shares his dark secret.  It becomes a dark, brutal struggle between the rest of the extended family to stay together and Christian to reveal the truth.  It's based on an original screenplay, but has since been adapted to stage on Broadway and around the world, where it's fame, particularly in London, may have since eclipsed the original film.  But The Celebration is powerful, and still holds up as a fascinating, low-fi watch you can't tear your eyes away from.

Universal/ Focus Features released this Stateside in 2004, with a straight-forward barebones edition that I immediately replaced with 2005's Danish box set from Zentropa Films.  And now in 2022, I've triple-dipped to check out Criterion's 2-disc blu-ray set.
2004 Universal DVD top; 2005 Zentropa DVD mid; 2022 Criterion BD bottom.

So this was shot on standard definition, old DV tape camcorders, and shakily handheld at that.  So it's a bit absurd to fuss over image quality.  Still, the Zentropa disc does have a sliver or two of extra picture and slightly warmer colors.  For those curious, which certainly includes me, the 2018 Danish 2k restoration that Criterion's using an 35mm answer print (the film was shot on DigiBeta tapes, then blown up to film) doesn't really add any fresh detail, but it does sharpen up the noise of the transfer, and the color timing hints at a little extra depth with a little less bleeding.  But it sheds a few pixels of that additional picture in the process (still handily trumping Universal in that regard).  Overall, it is a slight upgrade, but perhaps not one you'd recognize as such without zooming into screenshots for a direct comparison like this, and on its own, hardly worth replacing discs over.

More importantly, though, the English subtitles aren't just forced but burnt into the picture on Universal's DVD, whereas they are optional/ removable on the Criterion and Zentropa discs, the latter of which also offers the alternate language options of Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.  A point for Criterion, though: they present the original mono track in lossless PCM.  So Criterion's in the lead, but they're fairly neck & neck, and far ahead of the Universal, a distance that will only stretch further as we look at the special features.
The US DVD has the trailer on it.  The Zentropa has the trailer, several deleted scenes including an alternate ending, audio commentary by the director (and yes, all the extras are English friendly, by the way), an hour-long documentary on screenwriter Mogens Rukov, an on-camera interview with Vinterberg where he explains that this is all based on a supposedly true story told over the radio by a mental patient, a half-hour retrospective documentary with the cast and crew and the trailer.  And that's just on the main Celebration DVD.  The Zentropa bonus disc includes a 25-minute behind-the-scenes documentary made during the filming of The Celebration, and a whole bunch of additional deleted scenes (one of which is over 15 minutes long), with optional commentary by the director.  I mean, just the deleted scenes alone would have made this an essential upgrade for me, but this is a packed special edition.

And Criterion's release is a packed special edition, too, carrying over most of the Zentropa extras: the commentary, the behind-the-scenes doc, the retrospective, the Vinterberg interview, the trailer and the deleted scenes. When I read the specs for this release, I was a little worried they would just have one of the two sets of deleted scenes featured on the Zentropa disc, but no, they're all here, with the optional commentary.  They also have the ADP: DOP featurette from Zentropa's bonus disc.  They lose the documentary on Rukov, however, and the docs about Dogme '95 in general, that are also on the bonus disc, have been replaced with a 2003 documentary about Dogme '95 called The Purified.  As you can imagine, it covers much the same ground, but for those of us who already have the set, it's nice to get something different this time around.

And that's not all that's new.  They've also conducted their own, brand new interview with Vinterberg, and included two of his early short (and they're not so short) films: Last Round (this one stars the brother from The Celebration rather than Mads Mikkelsen) and The Boy Who Walked Backwards.  It also includes a 20-page booklet with notes by Michael Koresky.  All told, it's a very satisfying collection of extras to rival Zentropa's.
Dogme #2: Everyone associates Dogme '95 with Lars von Trier, naturally; but he's actually only made one Dogme film, The Idiots.  I wouldn't hold it up as one of his better films or one of the best Dogme films, but it's certainly worth seeing once, at least.  It certainly doesn't have the most likeable characters, as a collective of young adults perform a sort of communal social experiment where they pretend to be mentally handicapped to reap any benefit society will bestow upon them while reveling in the discomfort they 'cause the local community.  Still, one woman is taken in by the strangely therapeutic side of their "spassing" and "channeling their inner idiot" and decides to join them.  But how long can they really maintain the lifestyle?

The Idiots garnered a lot of controversy, not only for the many offensive things you can imagine would pop up reading the above description, but also for frank sex and lots of full frontal nudity.  As such, it's the only early Dogme film not to have been released in the US.  So us film fans naturally imported the 2000 UK disc by Tartan.  But again, I was all too happy to replace it in 2005.
2000 Tartan DVD on top; 2005 Zentropa DVD below.
The Tartan disc is frankly puzzling.  Not only are the colors quite different (possibly the result of the filters used on the film behind Trier's back and against Dogme rules that they later had stripped off) and the subtitles once again burnt onto the picture, but Tartan letterboxed it.  Another one of the Dogme rules is that the film be in traditional Academy ratio and film-stock (yes, most Dogme films were shot digitally, but they all had to be transferred to final 35mm prints... despite appearances, Dogme '95 was really not a game for aspiring, amateur filmmakers).  So this is clearly the wrong aspect ratio, and in this case, a particular violation.  And all it does is lose picture information, cropping it to a very unusual 1.63:1.  On top of that, the DVD's non-anamorphic.  So yeah, I can't imagine what the folks at Tartan were thinking, with the Zentropa disc being a serious upgrade in just about every way.
And of course, that includes extras.  The Tartan disc just had an interlaced trailer and a stills gallery.  Yeah, it claims an interview with Trier on the back of the case, but that's just a short text-only thing.  The Zentropa disc, of course, comes through for real.  We get the trailer, audio commentary by Trier and several deleted scenes including an alternate credits sequence.  And most compellingly, we get the feature-length documentary, The Humiliated, about the creation of The Idiots, which might actually be more a more important film than The Idiots itself.  And again, that's just the main Idiots DVD.  The bonus disc has a bunch more: a half-hour retrospective documentary, a featurette on the color filters controversy I mentioned earlier, a 20-minute interview with Trier, and an "Idiots All Stars" music video.
Dogme #3: Mifune.  Admittedly, when I first saw Mifune (a.k.a. Mifine's Last Song), I didn't like it.  It felt really pandering, like some Hollywood schmaltz, and it kind of is.  It's about two brothers, one of whom is mentally handicapped, who are left to run a farm when their father dies.  And the one brother keeps the other brother's spirits up by pretending to be a samurai named Mifune (named after Toshiro Mifune, from all the Kurosawa films), who he convinces lives on the farm with them.  But on later viewings, I have to say the story of the prostitute and her young brother, who move in with them, is actually fairly affecting.  If it's Hollywood-style schmaltz, it's at least good schmaltz.  The film is well acted and the director makes things work more than they should, which is especially impressive given the strict Dogme limitations.  He couldn't exactly lather on a sentimental soundtrack, for example.

Columbia Tri-Star released this one in the US, but again, this Zentropa set crushes it.
2000 Columbia Tri-Star DVD top; 2005 Zentropa DVD below.
We gain some ground and we lose some.  The subtitles are happily not burnt onto the Columbia Tri-Star DVD, but the colors are as off as ever (overly green this time) and now we've got a serious interlacing problem.  Admittedly, the digital nature of these Dogme film gives a little interlacing to each of them; but the US DVD clearly has a problem, which the Zentropa disc fixes. It also reveals a little more picture along the sides.  And the Zentropa image has more detail, which is awkwardly smoothed away from the Columbia effort.

On the other hand, this is the first Dogme DVD that had some solid special features the first time around.  Or at least one big one: audio commentary by the director.  It also has the trailer and some bonus trailers.  Well, the Zentropa disc carries the commentary and trailer over, but also adds a lot more.  There's also a bunch of deleted scenes, with optional commentary, a 45-minute documentary called On the Road With Mifune, about promoting the film, taking it to film festivals, etc, a half-hour 'making of' doc and a 20-minute retrospective.
Dogme #4: The first three Dogme films got bigger commercial receptions, but you can feel that The King Is Alive is in some ways a bigger movie, with higher picture quality and American stars including David Bradley, Brion James and Jennifer Jason Leigh near the peak of her fame.  It's the story of a busload of international tourists who break down in the heart of an African dessert, and with little hope of rescue or escape, keep their sanity by putting on a performance of King Lear while they await the inevitable.  This is the darkest, most nihilistic Dogme yet, which is saying something considering Lars von Trier had already made one.

MGM released this DVD in 2002, but does it stand up to the Zentropa re-release?  Guess.
2002 MGM DVD top; 2005 Zentropa DVD below.
Picture quality-wise, it may be the closest approximation yet, but MGM's DVD has an interlacing problem that Zentropa fixes.  Zentropa also finds a sliver more picture along all four sides.  They also might have a smidgen more detail, but it's very close.  Really, the interlacing is the only significant distinction.  ...Until you get to the extras, of course.  The MGM DVD only has the trailer, but Zentropa has the trailer, commentary by the director and a 23-minute retrospective.

So the Dogme box-set blows all other international releases of the first four films away.  But wait, that's not even all!  Discs #4 and 5 also have a wealth of documentaries and shorts about the Dogme movement itself.  The King Is Alive's disc also includes three featurettes called The Birth of Dogma 95, Marketing Dogma and The Inheritance After Dogma (yes, all spelled with a's instead of e's), which range from 15-35 minutes each.  They consist of on-camera interviews with all the directors and producers looking back on their experiences.  Then the bonus disc has more documentaries on Dogme, this time collected from other countries.  There's a silly one called Wag the Dogma, where the director chases after Trier and other Dogme heads for interviews and turns the rules into a country song.  There's a more serious, hour-long doc called Freedogme, the aforementioned featurette about Trier's DoP, Anthony Dod Mantle, and a short featurette about Dogme films playing at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals.

And finally, the short documentary Lars From 1-10, which Warner Bros had released on a few short film compilations previously, is included here as well.  I was happy to be able to sell my Shorts 07: Utopia DVD when I got this set.  🙂  Oh, and there's a 16-page booklet with notes by Peter Schepelern, which yes, is in English, too.
So the set is easily the definitive release for at least three of these four films, and it's still a fair rival for Criterion's new Celebration blu.  It's a must-have box for fans of Trier and co. or anyone interested in the Dogme '95 movement in general.  Of course, back in 2005, I was able to order this set new from a number of sources.  Now, in 2017, I was googling around and the Dogme Kollektion seems pretty scarce.  But I only spent a minute or two on it; if you put in a little more effort you might find a better deal.  For my part, I can tell you that it'll be worth it.  After that, if you still feel you want more, Criterion's Celebration will give you an extra boost.

Ringing In the New Year with Columbia Classics... Volume 2

Welcome to 2022, guys!  I've got so much stuff I want to cover this year, including finishing up on this massive 14-disc UHD/ BD boxed set, Columbia Classics Volume 2.  First post of the new year is appropriate for this one, though, as it may well take the prize for Best Release of 2021.  Anyway, I've now covered four of the main features on their individual movie pages:
...which leaves two more: 1959's Anatomy Of a Murder and 1968's Oliver!  See, it's one film for each decade from the '50s to the 2010s.  Well, almost.  But the gap is happily filled with a bonus disc of 20 short films, ranging from the early 1930s to the late 2010s.
Here's my review of Otto Preminger's Anatomy Of a Murder in eight words: important film, still engaging but hasn't aged well.  When people like Paul Schrader talk about The Searchers, they tend not to mention the "aw shucks" homestead scenes, the goofy comic relief, sappy romance or the cornball musical number.  But it's all there, right alongside everything great about the film.  And it's kind of the same here, except where in The Searchers it feels almost like two different movies cutting back and forth to each other, here it feels more inseparably stirred into a single stew.  You've got some of the most authentic court room scenes on film for its time, an envelope pushing jazz score by the one and only Duke Ellington (which sometimes works great, and sometimes sounds like it's intended for a completely different movie), and a solid story at its core, based on the John D. Voelker novel, which in turn was based on an actual 1952 murder trial.  But for all its touted authenticity, they certainly took some big, Hollywood liberties, including adding a very old Hollywood femme fatale plot twister.  You can read about the real story here; it's much more down to Earth.
Ain't no rule that says the dog can't practice law!
But that old Hollywood sensibility really feels out of place when we meet Arthur O'Connell as the comically drunken stumble-bum sidekick.  It's so hokey.  George C. Scott probably comes off the best, though non-actor Joseph N. Welch, who in real life was the chief counsel in the historical Army-McCarthy hearings, is memorably affable as the judge.  Jimmy Stewart is Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazzara gives more of a presence than a performance and Lee Remick, well, feels like she's still performing in Days of Wine and Roses rather than a true crime story.  At the end of the day, Anatomy's still eminently watchable, but I don't think it packs nearly the same punch it would've in the 50s.
Anatomy's been released multiple times before, first in 2000 as a fullscreen Columbia Classics DVD, which was later included in their 2007 Best Of 50's Collection and 2008 James Stewart: Columbia Screen Legends 3-disc boxed sets.  It was the same disc in all those cases.  In 2012, Criterion released it on DVD and Blu in 2012 with a new widescreen transfer.  And in 2013, Sony released that version as a widescreen MOD DVR in their Choice Collection line.  And of course, most recently, it's here in this set, on both BD and UHD.
1) 2000 DVD; 2) 2012 DVD; 3) 2013 DVR; 4) 2021 BD; 5) 2021 UHD.
The original 2000 DVD is somewhat open matte at 1.32:1, with more on the top and bottom, but cropping off a little on the sides.  All the rest are 1.85:1... well, except for the 2013 Choice Collection disc, which is ever so slightly horizontally stretched to 1.84:1.  But basically, they all seem to be based on the same scan, which was restored in 4k from the original 35mm negative and the duplicate 35mm negative.  So yes, it's the same master on all of these, even the newest release.  But it looks great in HD - grain is very finely captured even on the BD - and new grading was of course performed for the UHD's HDR.

Even the old 2000 disc includes not only the original English mono track with optional subtitles (both standard and HoH), but a Spanish dub and Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subs.  Criterion stripped away all the foreign options but kept the English mono and subtitles, and adding a new 5.1upmix to boot.  The Choice Collection took it all away apart from the original mono, but what do you expect from a DVR?  But the boxed set really went all out, giving us the original mono, newly restored for this release, and that 5.1 track, both in DTS-HD on the BD and UHD, with an all new Atmos mix on the latter to boot.  It's also got multiple foreign dubs and well over 20 foreign subs, with both standard and HoH English subtitle tracks.  In other words: all you could ask for and more.
The initial DVD of this film was barebones apart from the trailer, but Criterion cooked up a nice collection of new and vintage features.  They conducted a series of on-camera interviews with experts, each of which is rather smart and devoted to a particular topic (i.e. one on Saul Bass, another on Duke Ellington).  As to the vintage, they have an old television interview with Preminger and a newsreel about the film with some behind-the-scenes footage.  But best of all are the "excerpts" from the Anatomy of Anatomy documentary, which visits the town where the film was shot and interviews the locals who witnessed or even participated in the filming.  I put excerpts in quotes because the feature on the disc is over 30 minutes long, and the complete doc itself is less than 45, so we're really getting the bulk of the documentary.  There's also a photo gallery and a 28-page booklet with notes by Nick Pinkerton.

The Columbia set keeps many of the Criterion extras, but sadly loses Anatomy of Anatomy, the newsreel and the gallery.  Sony does come up with something in their stead though, an audio commentary by one of the experts interviewed on the Criterion (which, again, has been ported over).  It's quite good and informative, and  a refreshing alternative to the current trend of self-indulgent expert tracks on many cult films these days.  But serious fans would still do well to hang onto their Criterion discs for those excised supplements.

Watching the lavish musical Oliver! for the first time, I was surprised to realize it's the source of "Food, Glorious Food," that song from all the silly commercials in the 80s.  It's also the home of "Consider Yourself," that song theater kids have been singing to themselves for decades.  The first - and unfortunately, last - thing that struck me, however, were the immense production values, where even the city exteriors are constructed sets, including London streets with a working training running through it.  And when the time comes, they're able to fill it all with massive crowds of singers and dancers.  You can't help but be impressed.  It also sports an expert cast, including Ron Moody from the original stage show and the inimitable Oliver Reed.  But while all the songs are first rate, musically, lyrically, they often feel like the first words that popped into the writer's head.  Like, the one verse in "I'd Do Anything," when Faigin sings to his kids is on point, but everything else is simple and unimaginative like "would you lace my shoe?  Would you paint your face blue?"  Mrs. Johnson's Fourth Grade Class could've come up with more amusing suggestions.  A little touch of Porter or Berlin would've gone a long way.  As soon as Twist sings "I could see it at my leisure," in the "Who Will Buy" song, you just know the rhyme is going to be "treasure," and sure enough, there are no surprises.  And even when Faigan sings his perfectly crafted "Reviewing the Situation" song, you just can't escape that this is a children's movie, and it doesn't hold enough dramatic weight for adult viewers.  And this is Dickens.  Very heavy issues here are turned into light forth, and having a grown woman lip sync the title character has an unfortunate distancing effect for viewers old enough to take a critical view.
Oliver! was first released on DVD by Sony in 1998, and again in 2005, this time packaged with a soundtrack CD.  In 2008, they included it in their mammoth Columbia Pictures: The Best Pictures box.  Twilight Time gave the musical its HD debut on blu in 2013, limited as always to 3000 copies, and Sony later released their own BD edition in 2018.  I haven't got any of those editions, because frankly, I wouldn't even own this one if it wasn't part of the set.  But it is, so I do, and it's a new 2-disc BD/ UHD set giving us the film in true 4k for the first time with all new special features. 
1) 2021 BD; 2) 2021 UHD.
The book tells us this restoration was done in 2020-21, so it's not the same master used on any of the previous blu-rays.  It's been freshly scanned in 4k from the OCN, apart from two missing reels that had to be taken from a 35mm interpositive.  I can't speak to how the older editions stack up, but this one's framed in 2.35:1 and looks stellar.  As always, the UHD is darker because HDR is displayed brighter, but the BD might actually be a pinch too bright here, with some of the whitest highlights losing tiny bits of detail that the UHD recovers.  The increased resolution also restores natural curves and rounded edges to small detail that is blocky and pixelated on the BD.  So it's a very fine BD, but the UHD is an improvement on top of that in every natural way that you'd expect.

Both discs share the same, lossless choices of stereo and 5.1 mixes, as well as nine foreign language dubs, some of which are lossless on the UHD (but are all lossy on the blu).  The pair also include both English and English HoH subtitles, as well as a slew of foreign subs.
Oliver all grown up.
Oliver! comes with a hefty collection of sing-alongs, dance-alongs and sing- & dance-alongs that's mostly just repeated footage of the film with lyrics and dance steps on the screen.  But there's also a healthy dose of quality content, including another excellent expert commentary track.  There are excellent on-camera interviews with stars Mark Lester and Ron Moody, a brief featurette comparing the elaborate sets with the original locations they're modeled after, a promotional behind-the-scenes featurette, the original screen test footage of Jack Wild (The Artful Dodger) and several trailers.  Even if you're not interested in the musical itself, you might well find the story behind such a massive undertaking intriguing.
Finally, we come to the bonus disc, itself a collection of twenty beautifully restores short films, mostly ranging from 1933-1956, with three more from 2002, 2016 and 2017.  There's a Three Stooges short, two Charley Chases and a 1950's travelogue with a big music number.  The animated entries include a lot of childrens' stuff, naturally, including several I remember being shown in grade school.  There's an adaptation of the children's book Madeline that mirrors its distinctive illustrations, a dark and eclectic illustration of Edgar Allen Poe's Tell-Tale Heart, an early Tom & Jerry/ Sylvester & Tweety-style backyard adventure, a couple Mr. Magoos, and even modern CGI features that've popularly played before Columbia blockbusters, including a Hotel Transylvania short.  But the jewel in the crown is 1933's Um-Pa, an utterly insane musical short starring vaudeville star Jack Osterman that's been touted on the internet for years, and exceeds the hype with every unpredictable new twist.  It's one you've really got to see for yourself.  And now, for the first time ever, it can be seen in the level of quality it deserves.
What? You didn't think Jar Jar Binks would be in at least one of these films?
So this is a pretty damn essential set.  Six irrefutably classic films, all making their debut on UHD, many with all new special features to boot.  Stripes also includes never before-seen deleted scenes and The Social Network is being released for the first time ever with its original, unrated audio.  And the bonus disc is a treasure trove, even if not all of them are apt to be to your interests.  It's all housed in a very sturdy box with an impressively sized, full-color, 80 page hardcover book with essays on all six films and write-ups on each of their restorations.  It's 14 discs in total, with each film given its own case and slipcover and a sleeve in the back of the book for the bonus disc.  A download card is also included.  So yeah, if you ask me what was the best home video release of 2021, this was probably it.