There’s no greater satisfaction than receiving exactly what is expected. When Netflix sends me an email with the subject line “For Tue: Beastmaster,” I can rest assured that my mailman has a red envelope for me Tuesday at 11am. When I order the four-piece Chicken Supreme Dinner from Bojangles and I open the box…why, there are four pieces of said chicken supremacy!
So when I awoke this morning at 8am and threw myself half-dead into my computer chair, I was delighted to discover that, exactly as expected, Criterion had announced their April 2010 releases (Actually, I didn’t fully appreciate it for about fifteen minutes — but then again, there is nothing in this world that I appreciate in the first fifteen minutes of consciousness).
(Note from the Editor: You can find our post, in which we discuss the recent cryptic drawing, hinting at various new releases for 2010, here, which contains hints at 3 of these 4 April releases.)
Criterion # 512 (Available on DVD and Blu-ray)
Finally! If we count the poster in the Criterion store and the Janus tour of this film as our first indications of a Criterion release of Vivre Sa Vie, then we’ve been anticipating this release for over two years. I watched this film shortly after I watched Pierrot Le Fou for the first time, and have always thought of the two as sister films of sorts. The despair that Anna Karina exhibits in this role is haunting and harrowing. The inclusion of Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc and the Michael Mann-esque final scene of the film make this a stand-out feature, and a must-have in any cinephile’s catalog.
On a more editorial note, I loathe the cover art. It just looks lazy to me. Criterion, take the poster from your store and slap your C on the upper left-hand corner, pretty please.
“Vivre sa vie was a turning point for Jean-Luc Godard and remains one of his most dynamic films, combining brilliant visual design with a tragic character study. The lovely Anna Karina, Godard’s greatest muse, plays Nana, a young Parisian who aspires to be an actress but instead ends up a prostitute; her downward spiral is depicted in a series of discrete tableaux of daydreams and dances. Featuring some of Karina and Godard’s most iconic moments’”from her movie theater vigil with The Passion of Joan of Arc to her seductive pool-hall strut’”Vivre sa vie is a landmark of the French New Wave that still surprises at every turn.”
Here is the trailer for Vivre sa vie, be warned, I’m told the trailer may contain spoilers.
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Audio commentary featuring film scholar Adrian Martin
- Video interview with film scholar Jean Narboni, conducted by historian NoÃ«l Simsolo
- Television interview from 1962 with actress Anna Karina
- Excerpts from a 1961 French television exposé on prostitution
- Illustrated essay on La prostitution, the book that served as inspiration for the film
- Stills gallery
- Director Jean-Luc Godard’s original theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson, interviews with Godard, a reprint by critic Jean Collet on the film’s soundtrack, and Godard’s original scenario
Criterion # 513 (Available on DVD and Blu-ray)
“Widely hailed by critics as 2009′s best film, Summer Hours is the great contemporary French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’s most personal film to date. Three siblings, played by Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, and Jérémie Renier, must decide what to do with the country estate and objects they’ve inherited from their mother. From this simple story, Assayas creates a nuanced, exquisitely made drama about the material of globalized modern living. Naturalistic and unsentimental yet suffused with genuine warmth, this is that rare film that pays respect to family by treating it with honesty.”
Summer Hours is an exceptional film about family, loss and memories. The story is of three siblings, played by Jeremie Renier, Juliette Binoche and Charles Berling, coming to terms with the loss of their mother and what exactly to do with her house in the French Countryside. This film tells its story through the objects in thais house. Through their connections to these objects, their memories and a sense of nostalgia over powers them. Olivier Assayas plays this film so delicately, in lesser hands it would be too melodramatic but rather it comes off has heartfelt and realistic. This is a special sort of film that plays with the subtleties of life. I can easily see this film joining The Criterion Collection.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Olivier Assayas and cinematographer Eric Gautier (with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- New video interview with Assayas
- A short documentary featuring interviews with Assayas and actors Charles Berling and Juliette Binoche, and showing the cast and crew on set
- Inventory, an hour-long documentary by Olivier Gonard, shot partly in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, that examines the film’s approach to art
- Theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones
Criterion # 514 (Available on DVD and Blu-ray)
After watching The Ice Storm, Ryan went on a small Ang Lee marathon, watching the Hulk, and then Ride with the Devil, which had just recently been hinted at in the Criterion New Years Drawing. It is safe to say that he did not enjoy his visit to the old west, as told by Lee. We shall see if this “thirteen minute” longer directors cut makes all the difference in the world, and reminds Ryan why Ang Lee is considered a modern master of cinema.
“With this new director’s cut, Ang Lee reconstructs his original vision for his Civil War epic, Ride with the Devil, an intimate, harrowing look at a country torn in half, told from a daringly unorthodox perspective. Set in 1862, during the Kansas-Missouri border war, the film stars Tobey Maguire as Jake and Skeet Ulrich as his friend Jack Bull; they join the Confederate-sympathizing Bushwhackers after Jack’s father is killed by marauding members of the abolitionist Jayhawkers. But Ride with the Devil is also the story of their unusual ally Holt (an astonishing Jeffrey Wright), who’s fighting for the South despite being a former slave. A rumination on identity and loyalty, both political and personal, Ride with the Devil is a provocative challenge to preconceptions about America’s bloodiest conflict.”
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:
- New director’s cut of Ride with the Devil, featuring thirteen minutes of added footage
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Ang Lee and director of photography Frederick Elmes (with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Two audio commentaries, one featuring Lee and producer-screenwriter James Schamus and one featuring Elmes, sound designer Drew Kunin, and production designer Mark Friedberg
- New video interview with star Jeffrey Wright
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Godfrey Cheshire
Criterion # 515 (Available on DVD)
Well, here’s another nail in the coffin of my original prediction of just what Sidney Lumet was up to in Criterion’s office last autumn. Though it is presumably still possible that, one day, we’ll receive that shining new transfer of Rashomon complete with Lumet supplements, it will no longer be his first piece of work in the Collection. Instead, we have his 1959 film The Fugitive Kind. Marlon Brando in a role written by Tennessee Williams? Sounds like total crap to me. </sarcasm>
But seriously, folks — It’s wonderful to see such an iconic actor finally find his place in the Collection (well, excluding laserdisc representation), especially in the work of such an iconic playwright, and as envisioned by such an iconic director. We also have a second disc with three Lumet-directed Tennessee Williams plays from the year before the film’s release to make this release all the more palatable.
“Four Academy Award’“winning actors’”Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, and Maureen Stapleton’”sink their teeth into this enthralling drama, which brings together the legendary talents of director Sidney Lumet and writer Tennessee Williams. A smoldering, snakeskin-jacketed Brando is Val Xavier, a guitar-strumming drifter trying to go straight. He finds work and solace in a southern small-town variety store run by Lady Torrance (Magnani), who’s lonely, sexually frustrated, and abused by her vile, deathly ill husband, and who proves as much a temptation for Val as local wild child Carol (Woodward). Lumet captures the intense, fearless performances and Williams’s hot-blooded storytelling and social critique with his customary restraint, resulting in a drama of uncommon sophistication and craft.”
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DVD SET
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Sidney Lumet
- New video interview with Lumet
- New documentary featuring Tennessee Williams scholar Robert Bray and film historian R. Barton Palmer discussing Williams’s work in Hollywood and The Fugitive Kind
- Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, an hour-long television presentation of three one-act plays by Williams, directed by Lumet in 1958
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thomson
So in April, Criterion will exact on three of its New Years hints, as well as a fourth hint from months before. They’ll also exact on their mission statement with two films classic and two films contemporary. We here at the CriterionCast revel in their punctuality and their steadfastness. Until next mid-month!