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Out Of The Blu: Time to stock up on these essential Criterion Collection films

 

Every July and November, Barnes and Noble does a public service in exchange for their decimation of the Mom and Pop bookstore and to stave off the abyss known in some circles as “the internet": They mark down the entire Criterion Collection by 50 percent (10 percent extra if you’re a member) and film nerds everywhere rejoice.

Criterion releases are among the most expensive DVDs/Blu-ray discs available for purchase on the market, with your average Blu running about $40, but they’re well worth the cost: The transfers are utterly incredible works of film restoration, and the context-providing extras are considerately selected and fascinating. Today, July Eleventh in the Year of Our Lord Twenty Seventeen, the sale begins, and it’ll last through August 7.

We’ve provided you with a handful of choice cuts (Blu-ray emphasized -- it’s 2017) for your shopping perusal (we wish we could have included more films from before 1960, but what can you do), and also highlighted some of the best ways you can spend during this sale to maximize the value of your dollar.

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Lone Wolf & Cub

Let’s get this out of the way: If you’re squeamish or don’t like Samurai epics, there are plenty of other great options in the mid-range box set area, such as the lovely Ingrid Bergman/Roberto Rossellini collection Criterion released back in 2013, the restored version of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 1988 masterful miniseries Dekalog, and Richard Linklater’s gorgeous and melancholy Before Trilogy. But if you’re a hip-hop head or if you enjoy your father and son dramas laced with the blood of evil men, the Lone Wolf & Cub series is right up your alley. Based on the popular manga, this tale of a rogue executioner wandering the countryside with his infant son is rightfully getting it’s place in the sun as one of the greatest film series in Japanese cinema (though Zatoichi may have something to say about that). And this box set has one of the greatest extras in Criterion history: The high-def restoration of Shogun Assassin, the American cut of the first two films in the series, which you may not have seen but you totally have listened to if you’ve ever heard the classic GZA joint Liquid Swords.

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