There’s never been any question in my mind that Straw Dogs is Sam Peckinpah‘s second-best film, The Wild Bunch being first and Ride The High Country being third. It’s a dark, creepy, ugly film, and yet wholly, primally fascinating. It certainly contains one of Dustin Hoffman‘s strongest-ever performances. The editing by Paul Davies, Tony Lawson and Roger Spottiswoode, especially during the violent finale, is flat-out brilliant. And yet John Coquillon‘s muted, grayish cinematography looks pretty good on the 2011 MGM Bluray — actually the best-looking version I’ve ever seen. The forthcoming Criterion Bluray (out on 6.27) is from a 4K scan and contains a lot of intriguing extras, and I’m presuming it’ll looks slightly better than the 2011 disc but you have to draw lines somewhere. Right now I’m disinclined.
From “Home Is No Place,” a Criterion essay by Joshua Clover: “Straw Dogs turns on a woman’s rape, and one can’t blame pictures for depicting. But the film shows the woman, after some tart resistance, seeming to enjoy it, and this approaches the apex of what a delicate soul might call “problematic representation.” It’s fucked up. What’s more, the film offers this sequence, if not for our crooked pleasure, then as a means to meditate on male violence as something like an absolute truth, beyond good and evil.”