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The Reeler Blog

What's in a Box?

By S.T. VanAirsdale

Just as it's never too early to dive headlong into Oscar hype, no reader of The New Yorker should be expected to get through mid-November without a list of the year's must-have DVD boxed sets. Hence "Top DVD Boxed Sets of 2007," a fabulously facile blend of reductionism ("Often misrepresented as a formalist, Yasujiro Ozu was a director of spontaneous emotional engagement, closer in spirit to Nicholas Ray than to Robert Bresson") and cliched abstraction ("[Killer of Sheep], from 1977, a tender yet uncompromising romance involving working people in Los Angeles, is a seminal independent film and a crucial work of African-American art").

Moreover, it raises the question: What is a "boxed set," anyway? Does the 15-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz -- denoted "the DVD event of the year" by the anonymous author -- fall into this classification simply by virtue of its being seven discs? Should one long film be classified with the more momentous collections Ford at Fox or The First Films of Samuel Fuller? The same goes for Killer of Sheep -- do the addition of celebrated shorts like The Horse make the Milestone package a "collection" -- or at least a more notable one than something like the Early Bergman set of revivals from the 1940s? And did I mention it's a slow news day?

Posted at November 19, 2007 10:16 AM

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