Kehr ignores “Days of Heaven”

The Criterion Collection’s DVD of Terrence Malick‘s Days of Heaven, one of the most visually breathtaking and exquisitely transferred films of the 21st Century, was released seven days ago. But you’d never know this landmark DVD even exists to go by Dave Kehr‘s N.Y. Times DVD column, which ignored its release last week and again today.

In today’s column Kehr writes about Anchor Bay’s Mario Bava collection and Warner Home Video’s Barbara Stanwyck Signature Collection; last week he wrote about a DVD of Sergei Eisenstein‘s Battleship Potemkin, a Criterion DVD of Jean Luc Godard‘s Breathless and Warner Home Video’s Stanley Kubrick collection. Let no one ever say Kehr doesn’t have good taste, but to ignore the Days of Heaven DVD is a very strange call considering that in his original review for the Chicago Reader Kehr described it as “a film that hovers just beyond our grasp — mysterious, beautiful, and, very possibly, a masterpiece.”

  • JD

    I’m as big a fan of Days of Heaven as anyone, but Kehr could certianly have picked worse films to give preferential treatment to than Battleship Potemkin, Breathless, and 2001, etc.. As great as Days of Heaven is, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that those other films are greater (or at least more historically significant).

  • Sam Adams

    Kehr comments on the omission on his site, saying there’s just too much 4th-quarter product to write about. But given that he uses the Potemkin review to take a swip at Malick’s editing (presumably in The New World), maybe his ardor has cooled in a bit in the intervening 3 decades. Also, there’s way too much to write about.

  • Kehr aside, I would’ve expected more hubbub about the Kubrick DVDs, yet I’m not seeing much. What gives? Have not enough people given themselves over to HiDef DVD and the rest don’t feel the need to triple dip?

  • RoyBatty

    Perhaps its because while its gorgeous to look at, sometimes its a bit of a chore to sit through DAYS OF HEAVEN waiting for something significant to happen. Or for the film to rise to a level higher than very pretty tone poem.

  • Mgmax

    Oh my God, he passed up Richard Gere to talk about Barbara Stanwyck! What a scandal!

  • actionman

    From Kehr’s dvd column last week:
    “…(There is an interesting contrast here to the digitally driven neomontage that directors like Michael Mann of “Miami Vice” or Terrence Malick of “The New World” favor. For these and others montage seems to mean a jumble of impressionistic images bearing no relation to one another.”

    How could a “critic” possibly write something so stupid and baseless and still get to keep his day job? I know Kehr is like 5th bananna over there, but jeez…this is such a silly statement that I chuckled out loud at my desk and then had to make an excuse to an annoying co-worker as to what I was laughing at

  • Kehr is one of the sharpest, most insightful critics around…but he’s no particular fan of Malick, as his slugfest over The New World with The House Next Door site last winter will attest. No big deal, that; we all have our particular tastes, quirks, blind spots, etc. As it is the barebones DVD I have of Heaven is enough for me.

  • AJW

    Did you see the montage Mann cobbled together at the Oscars? Not to boil his entire resume down to a 4 minute t.v. spot, but, Christ, what the hell was that? He quite literally created a jumble of images that bore no relation to each other besides falling under the broad banner of “America Portrayed on Film”. Nora Ephron(!) put together a far superior one.

  • Geoff

    Roy, but something IS happening, to ones self, that is. I like the feeling of being transported…it’s actually a different kind of vibe than going to the Museum of Modern Art and standing around for hours adoring the masterful still photographs.

  • Ian Sinclair

    I can’t stand Malick either. I find all of his films emotionally shallow and intellectually dull. He has little to say, takes forever to say it and I don’t go to movies to watch two hours of nice cinematography. DAYS OF HEAVEN is his best picture, but I have absolutely no desire to ever see it again.

  • Pinko Punko


    You think Badlands is shallow? Really? Really??

  • Ian Sinclair

    My bad, Pinko: I was confusing Days of Heaven with Badlands. Martin Sheen was very good in that picture.

  • Geoff

    I can understand the distaste for Days of Heaven. Fine. But Badlands is truly special. The impact of that film is phenomenal.

    And yes Ian, Martin Sheen is amazing in that film.

  • MickTravis

    Jeez, “Days of Heaven” is just a bit over 90 minutes. Not a long film by any stretch. And I’m sorry there’s not more action to keep everybody entertained, but then again I’m not.

    And it’s more than just cinematography — it’s amazing music by Ennio Morricone, uniformly great performances and a rich story told with economy so that when the bigger things do happen, it really means something.

    What bugs me about the Criterion release is: $35 for a single disk? I realize they’re a boutique label, but I’m waiting till I can get a better deal.

    Instead of buying “Days” last Tuesday, I walked down to Target and got “2001” and “A Clockwork Orange” for $14.99 each — that’s four disks compared to one and I had enough left over to buy a quart of malt liquor on the way home.

  • Geoff

    Yeah Mick, Criterion prices are painful. The best I could do was Amazon with free shipping for 27.99. It usually arrives fairly quickly, but I want it now!

  • Don Murphy

    none of this matters Wells- just ask Mick- O LUCKY MAN came out and the world is good

  • As someone who’s found post-Badlands-Malick pretentious and dull, I caught The New World on HBO (after almost skipping it) and went out immediately after and bought the DVD.

    I understand the criticism of the film, but it worked on me like a dream, and I thought the death of Pocahontas was beautifully handled — not her deathbed scene, but the child looking for her.

  • MickTravis

    Don, if you have a friend on whom you think you can rely, you are a lucky man.


  • mizoguchi

    Seeing actionman and Don Murphy on the same page makes me wonder — how did that job offer work out?

  • GeorgePrager

    YEs, Kehr is a silly fop. Yes, you can write about Stanwyck and Potemkin, Breathless, Kubrick, etc., but Mario Bava?

    And please, someone please tell Ian Sinclair/Hunter Tremayne a story. He likes his stories.