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Radiance Films

Being prone to collector disease, I have bought some Blu-rays during the last few years of obsessive movie watching. I’ve been more restrained than I used to be — I focus on movies I’m pretty sure I’ll like. I got the Criterion Ingmar Bergman boxed set after watching a handful of his movies, and I’m working through it slowly but happily. I picked up both Arrow Shawscope sets and S. and I are watching our way through those. Restraint.

But I’m me.

As you may know, the last few years have seen an explosion in the number of boutique Blu-ray labels. It’s not just Criterion for the arthouse and Arrow for the exploitation any more. I’m not sure of the economics of this business, but it seems that releasing a couple of titles a month in limited editions of 1,000-3,000 is enough to sustain a business if you’re in it for the passion.

And a couple of them have subscription programs. Vinegar Syndrome is the most notable example. They land a bit further on the exploitation side than I do, so their subscription program wasn’t interesting to me. (I do recommend checking out their partner labels even if you aren’t into sleaze — I have a couple of Deaf Crocodile releases from the amazing Aleksandr Ptushko, and they distribute Music Box Films Blu-rays.)

On the other hand, Radiance Films, well. They hit this incredibly sweet spot for me that’s sort of in the place where genre film overlaps with arthouse cinema, plus they do a great job of finding movies I’ve never heard of. Their definition of “Radiance-core” matches my tastes so well: Wong Kar-wai, Aki Kaurismäki, old movies, new movies — and everything I hadn’t heard of was interesting.

So I picked up their World Noir and Piotr Szulkin sets while over in Dublin — at the Irish Film Institute store in Temple Bar, it’s great, check it out — and I liked those a bunch. Theory confirmed, 2024 subscription purchased. And the movies are panning out wonderfully so far.

If 2022 was the year I dove into film, and 2023 was the year I broadened my experience with great films, 2024 may be my year of diving into great pockets of genre. None of that is completely accurate; all of it is a bit glib; it’ll do as a thematic statement.

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