James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Clay// Film Critic
Over the past two years, this critic has been covering Kino Lorber Home Video releases that have ranged from forgotten studio gems (THE BEGUILED), to cult hits (THE RAVEN, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH), to outright classics (LILLIES OF THE FIELD). The indie film distributor has brought culture and context to films that aren’t provided the same lauded “prestige” as the usual cinephile suspects. The point being Kino Lorber wants these films to be accessible and inexpensive for their viewers. Side note: We have a laundry list of blu ray reviews you can search through on our site over the years. Very rarely does Kino Lorber miss in terms of film quality and transfers.
Their services Kino Now and Kino Cult bring the films to your living room with a no-fuss platform that essentially works as the “arthouse version iTunes.” The most crucial thing Kino Now is offering a curated and pointedly not an overwhelming library that ranges from $4.99 rentals and $9.99 purchase price points that bring these films directly to your library. I love the rental option because I can either dip my toe into a director I am curious about, like Bruno Dumont with his film SLACK BACK, or Jia Zhangke’s ASH IS THE PUREST WHITE (which is only $4.99 for purchase). There’s just something about a place that has your back and genuinely brings a love for film right to your streaming device. (Kino Now is supported by every major streaming device.)
Kino Now is for the eternally curious. Now for the fun part, a few recommendations that have thematic connective tissue from film programmer Michael Robinson.
These films represent some of the most important cultural and political responses in cinema – from the boroughs of New York to the LA Rebellion to anticolonial movements in Brazil.
Bacurau: Kleber Filho Mendoza shifts from his usual meditations on the history of spaces to give a completely different take on the revenge westerns – part arthouse part bloody thriller, Bacurau is one of the most incisive films of anticolonialism to come out this century.
Daughters of the Dust: Julie Dash creates such a lyrical and formally perceptive narrative that its echoes can be seen in so many works since it debuted, its impact can’t be denied but the sheer brilliance of the work must be seen to be believed.
Test Pattern: One of 2021’s biggest surprises, Britany S. Hall gives one of the year’s absolute best performances in a stunning debut by Shatara Michelle Ford.
Downtown 81: Almost forgotten and abandoned, the acting debut of Basquiat isn’t just, it’s a time capsule of an era that truly captures the New York that will never quite be again.
Identifying Features: Another stunning debut, this time from Fernanda Valadez whose harrowing and deeply empathetic portrait of a mother searching for her son who tried to cross the border between Mexico and the US is a moving experience, unlike most others.
Now, onto KINO CULT….
Sign into Kino Lorber’s genre-focused platform Kino Cult and you may never know what cinematic roads you will travel. Like Kino Now the platform is easily accessible and FREE (with ads), and there are forgotten favorites and deep cuts from stars you know and love. I can tell you that covering Kino Lorber films; there are several spit-take moments where you will see a young Jack Nicolson or an older Peter Lorre chewing the scenery.
The pathways are boundless; here are a few words from Kino Lorber about the service “ the channel dives deep into unapologetically weird genre cinema, blending recent art house discoveries fresh from cinemas with high-quality restorations of notorious grindhouse gems.” The Kino Cult platform is available via Roky, Amazon Fire, Apple Tv, Google TV, IOS, and Android. Plus, you can visit the site at kinocult.com.
What I love doing is browsing and watching trailers, just trying to scratch that itch for discovery or something I haven’t seen in years. Next month we will start with even more recommendations after we get to streaming!
DOGTOOTH– Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ second feature plays with the control that comes from the family unit. This profoundly fascinating film has a sense of humor and an itch to disturb.
BLACK SUNDAY- Mario Bava’s undeniable classic uses shadow and light better than most filmmakers working today. This eerie film is filled with analysis and incredible cinematography. This is the perfect blend of cult and arthouse.
A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT- This was a huge moment in the 2010s indie scene. The film took a calm and cool look at the post-modern vampire. Plus it was a great introduction to the director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Check back in with us the middle of February for more Kino Now and Kino Cult recommendations.