Well here we are, another mid-month Criterion Collection New Release announcement extravaganza. A few titles that we suspected, due to rumors and various clues, and new addition to Maurice Pilat’s section of the Criterion Collection.

First off, we’re getting a re-release of a Criterion classic, Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus. This is Criterion #48, so they are keeping in line with their re-releasing older titles, with new features, transfers, and absolutely gorgeous cover art. This Black Orpheus painting is one that I would certainly buy a print of, to hang on my wall. Black Orpheus will be released on August 17th on DVD and Blu-ray

A few weeks back, we told you about how the New York Times, in their Summer DVD column, let loose the idea that Criterion was working on a collection of Josef Von Sternberg titles, and we now have a complete list of the films, along with supplemental materials and artwork. I had originally thought this might be an Eclipse release, but it is getting branded with the C, and each film with the set, along with the box itself, has a spine number (528, 529, 530, 531). This Von Sternberg set will hit stores on August 24th, on DVD only.

Next up are two titles that were teased at back in February, with Criterion’s Monthly E-mail newsletter, in the form of a Fritz The Cat drawing. Terry Zwigoff’s films Louie Bluie and Crumb will both be receiving the Criterion DVD treatment on August 10th, with Crumb getting a Blu-ray release as well. You can hear Travis’ theories on this release way back on this February episode of the podcast. If you aren’t signed up for Criterion’s newsletter, you won’t be privy to cryptic images like this:

Finally, for the Criterion titles, we are getting a new release from Maurice Pilat, L’enfance nue. Yet another coming of age French film, that I’m sure Travis will love. L’enfance nue will be released on DVD, August 17th with spine number 534.

As usual, Criterion is unveiling another fantastic Eclipse Box Set, for all of those completists who were unable to purchase the recent Akira Kurosawa Box Set (AK25). The First Films of Akira Kurosawa set will feature Sashiro Sugata, The Most Beautiful, Sanshiro Sugata Part 2, and The Men Who Tread On The Tiger’s Tail, and will be available for purchase on August 3rd. As one of those not quite well off enough to afford the $300 mega-set, I will definitely be picking up this Eclipse set to round off my Kurosawa collection.

Which of these August titles are you most excited about? Were there titles that you were expecting but didn’t get? Leave your comments below.


Black Orpheus

Criterion #48 on DVD and Blu-ray, August 17th

Winner of both the Academy Award for best foreign-language film and the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus (Orfeu negro) brings the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to the twentieth-century madness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. With its eye-popping photography and ravishing, epochal soundtrack, Black Orpheus was a cultural event, kicking off the bossa nova craze that set hi-fis across America spinning.

Disc Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
  • Archival interviews with director Marcel Camus and actress Marpessa Dawn
  • New video interviews with Brazilian cinema scholar Robert Stam, jazz historian Gary Giddins, and Brazilian author Ruy Castro
  • À la recherche d”Orfeu negro,’ a feature-length documentary about Black Orpheus‘s cultural and musical roots and its resonance in Brazil today
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson


Three Silent Classics By Josef Von Sternberg

Criterion # 528, 529, 530, 531 on DVD, August 24th

Vienna-born, New York’“raised Josef von Sternberg (Shanghai Express, Morocco) directed some of the most influential, extraordinarily stylish dramas ever to come out of Hollywood. Though best known for his star-making collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, Sternberg began his movie career during the final years of the silent era, dazzling audiences and critics with his films’ dark visions and innovative cinematography. The titles in this collection, made on the cusp of the sound age, are three of Sternberg’s greatest works, gritty evocations of gangster life (Underworld), the Russian Revolution (The Last Command), and working-class desperation (The Docks of New York) made into shadowy movie spectacle. Criterion is proud to present these long unavailable classics of American cinema, each with two musical scores.

Underworld

Josef von Sternberg’s riveting breakthrough is widely considered the film that launched the American gangster genre.

The Last Command

Emil Jannings won the first best actor Academy Award for his passionate, heartbreaking performance as a sympathetic tyrant, an exiled Russian military officer turned Hollywood actor whose latest part’”a czarist general’”brings about his emotional downfall.

The Docks of New York

Fog-enshrouded cinematography by Harold Rosson (The Wizard of Oz), expressionist set design by Hans Dreier (Sunset Boulevard), and sensual performances make this one of the legendary director’s finest works, and one of the most exquisitely crafted films of its era.

Docks of New-York (piano) from Musashi on Vimeo.

Disc Features

SPECIAL EDITION THREE-DVD SET

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfers
  • Six scores: one by Robert Israel for each film; two by the Alloy Orchestra, for Underworld and The Last Command; and a piano and voice piece by Donald Sosin for The Docks of New York
  • Two new visual essays: one by UCLA film professor Janet Bergstrom and the other by film scholar Tag Gallagher
  • 1968 Swedish television interview with director Josef von Sternberg, covering his entire career
  • PLUS: A ninety-six-page booklet featuring essays by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien, film scholar Anton Kaes, and author Luc Sante; the original film treatment for Underworld by Ben Hecht; and an excerpt from Sternberg’s autobiography, Fun in a Chinese Laundry, on Emil Jannings


Louie Bluie

Criterion # 532 on DVD, August 10th

Crumb director Terry Zwigoff’s first film is a true treat: a documentary about the obscure country blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard ‘Louie Bluie’ Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America. As beguiling a raconteur as he is a performer, Louie makes for a wildly entertaining movie subject, and Zwigoff honors him with an unsentimental but endlessly affectionate tribute. Full of infectious music and comedy, Louie Bluie is a humane evocation of the kind of pop-cultural marginalia that Zwigoff would continue to excavate in the coming years.

Disc Features

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Terry Zwigoff
  • Audio commentary featuring Zwigoff
  • Outtakes and deleted scenes
  • Illustrations by Howard Armstrong
  • Stills gallery
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Sragow



Crumb

Criterion # 533, August 10th, on DVD and Blu-ray

Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art. Zwigoff candidly and colorfully delves into the details of Crumb’s incredible career, as well as his past, including his family of reclusive eccentrics, some of the most remarkable people you’ll ever see on-screen. At once a profound biographical portrait, a riotous examination of a man’s controversial art, and a devastating look at a troubled family, Crumb is a genuine American original.

Disc Features

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Terry Zwigoff, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Two audio commentaries, one from 2010 with Zwigoff, and one from 2006, featuring Zwigoff and critic Roger Ebert
  • Outtakes and deleted scenes
  • Stills gallery
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum


L’enfance nue

Criterion # 534 on DVD, August 17th

The singular French director Maurice Pialat (Loulou, À nos amours) puts his distinct stamp on the lost-youth film with this devastating portrait of a damaged foster child. We see François (Michel Terrazon), on the cusp of his teens, shuttled from one home to another, his behavior growing increasingly erratic, his bonds with his surrogate parents perennially fraught. In this, his feature debut, Pialat treats this potentially sentimental scenario with astonishing sobriety and stark realism. With its full-throttle mixture of emotionality and clear-eyed skepticism, L’enfance nue (Naked Childhood) was advance notice of one of the most masterful careers in French cinema, and remains one of Pialat’s finest works.

Disc Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • L’amour existe, director Maurice Pialat’s 1960 short film about life on the outskirts of Paris
  • Choses vues, autour de ‘L’enfance nue,’ a fifty-minute documentary shot just after the film’s release
  • Excerpts from a 1973 French television interview with Pialat
  • New visual essay by critic Kent Jones on the film and Pialat’s cinematic style
  • Video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate


The First Films of Akira Kurosawa

Years before Akira Kurosawa changed the face of cinema with such iconic works as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, he made his start in the Japanese film industry with four popular and exceptional works, created while World War II was raging. All gripping dramas, those rare early films’”Sanshiro Sugata; The Most Beautiful; Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two; and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail‘”are collected here, including a two-part martial arts saga, a portrait of female volunteers helping the war effort, and a kabuki-derived tale of deception. These captivating films are a glorious introduction to a peerless career.


Sanshiro Sugata

Akira Kurosawa’s debut, made when the director was only thirty-two years old, is based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu. Sanshiro Sugata is a dazzling martial-arts action tale, but it’s also a moving story of moral education and enlightenment that’s quintessential Kurosawa.


The Most Beautiful

Akira Kurosawa’s portrait of the all-female volunteer workers at an optics factory during World War II, shot on location at the Nippon Kogaku factory in Hiratsuka, was created with a definite patriotic agenda. Yet thanks to the director’s groundbreaking semidocumentary approach to the material, The Most Beautiful is not merely nationalist propaganda, but a revealing look at Japanese women of the era that anticipates the aesthetics of Japanese cinema’s postwar social realism.


Sanshiro Sugata Part Two

Akira Kurosawa’s debut film, Sanshiro Sugata, was such a big success that the studio pressured the director into making a sequel. The film may have been forced upon the young Kurosawa, but the result is hugely entertaining, reuniting most of the major players from the original and featuring a bifurcated narrative in which, first, Sanshiro confronts two Americans, a sailor and a boxer, and, second, Sanshiro finds himself the target of a revenge mission enacted by the brothers of the original film’s villain, Gennosuke.


The Men Who Tread On The Tigers Tail

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, the fourth film from Akira Kurosawa, is based on a legendary twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune, with the help of a group of samurai, crosses enemy territory disguised as a monk. The story was dramatized for centuries in Noh and Kabuki theater, and here it becomes one of the director’s lightest, most farcical films.