Combustible Celluloid

Focus Features: 10-Movie Spotlight Collection (2020)

Deep 'Focus'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Focus Features has been a reliable distributor of fine motion pictures since 2002; they come close to what Miramax used to be back in the 1990s. This ten-movie collection, comprised of ten high-quality Blu-rays, is missing some key titles (Far from Heaven, Brick, etc.), although I'm certain these omissions are largely due to distribution rights. And at the bottom of the heap, we have James Marsh Oscar-baity The Theory of Everything (2014), which does contain some strong performances, but is a pretty typical, soft biopic. Joe Wright's feature debut Pride & Prejudice (2005) is a fairly minor adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, passable, but pretty uneven. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005) also has its share of flaws, but its forbidden romance between two cowboys was deeply touching and connected with a surprisingly wide audience. Wright's Atonement (2007) is a little too overly important, but does contain the dazzling evacuation of Dunkirk sequence, and introduced the world to Saoirse Ronan.

Moving towards the top, just in time for 2020, there is the very good RGB biopic, Mimi Leder's On the Basis of Sex (2018), with Felicity Jones and Army Hammer, telling the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's first important case. Then tthere is one of Joel and Ethan Coen's most underrated and lightweight movies, the speedball farce Burn After Reading (2008), with Brad Pitt arguably stealing the most laughs out of the enviable cast. After that comes Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), deeply inventive and heartfelt, and based on a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Then we have Wes Anderson's delightful, bittersweet Moonrise Kingdom (2012), a sentimental favorite of mine, since it marked my first trip to Cannes. Next there's Kasi Lemmons's beautiful, underrated Harriet (2019), which received only two Oscar nominations and deserved to win both of them. And, at the very pinnacle, we have Sofia Coppola's great Lost in Translation (2003), one of my all-time favorite films. This set also includes digital copies for all ten films, and is strongly recommended.

Movies Unlimtied