by HELEN GEIB
An occasional series profiling companies putting out high-quality DVD/Blu-ray releases of classic, independent, and foreign films.
Kino International’s tagline is “The Best in World Cinema.” The company’s more than 500 title strong catalog redeems that pledge with an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary films. Kino.com’s “About” page proudly lists “films and filmmakers…introduced to North American film audiences since 1980” that includes many important directors such as Shoehei Imamura (Japan), Aki Kaurismaki (Finland), Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong), Amos Gitai (Israel), Bertrand Tavernier (France), and Im Kwon-taek (Korea).
Kino started in 1977 as a film distributor for the repertory cinema circuit and still sends some titles out to theaters prior to their home theater release. A noteworthy recent Kino-distributed title is the Korean drama Poetry. Himalaya, The Return, and Metropolis are three Kino releases I’ve been fortunate enough to see on the big screen.
Speaking of silents, Kino is well known among silent film enthusiasts. Counting VHS releases, Kino has issued more than 130 silents, always from good (or at least as good as is available) quality material and with appropriate custom scores. The silent catalog boasts several exceptional box sets such as “The Movies Begin,” 122 films made between 1894 and 1914; a three disc set of Gaumont films from 1897 to 1913; and the cinephile’s essential 10 disc “The Art of Buster Keaton.”
New releases this week: Carlos, Transformers: Dark of the Moon