June 2010 Criterion Collection New Releases Announced! [Criterion New Releases]

Ryan Gallagher is more than just my Criterion Cast co-host and friend in real life (yes, we have real lives).   He is also the unapologetic, take-no-prisoners editor of our site.   With Ryan at SXSW this week, confined to film screenings and informative panel discussions, I was just certain I was going to get a week off from writing for the site.

However, while my feet were up on my desk and my fingers interlocked behind my head in true lackadaisical fashion, I simultaneously received texts and email reading, “Travis, the June releases have been announced.   Let’s get a post up STAT.   Don’t make me take your Seagal films from you when I get back.   I’M WATCHING YOU.”

Okay okay — so maybe that was hyperbolic.   In truth, I’m more than happy to write about Criterion’s June 2010 releases, and Ryan didn’t have to threaten punishment to get me typing (Really, though — Heaven help the person who tries to lay his hands on my Seagal flicks.


CLOSE UP

by Abbas Kiarostami

release date | 8 June 2010

We briefly discussed this upcoming release on our recent podcast of TASTE OF CHERRY (with guest Colin Marshall).   Now, we have an official release date, delightful artwork, and even a short film by Kiarostami as a supplement.   We loved TASTE OF CHERRY, and we cannot wait for this one.

Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work. This fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event’”the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’”as the basis for a stunning, multilayered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up continues to resonate with viewers around the world.

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and Jonathan Rosenbaum, authors of Abbas Kiarostami
  • The Traveler, a notable early feature by director Abbas Kiarostami
  • ‘Close-up’ Long Shot, a forty-five-minute documentary on Close-up’s central figure, Hossein Sabzian, five years after Kiarostami’s film
  • New video interview with Kiarostami
  • A Walk with Kiarostami (2003), a thirty-two-minute documentary portrait of the director by Iranian film professor Jamsheed Akrami
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Godfrey Cheshire

MYSTERY TRAIN

by Jim Jarmusch

release date | 15 June 2010 also on blu-ray

Elvis has been everywhere in my life recently.   From watching Shout! Factory’s DVD release of John Carpenter’s ELVIS to the restarting of Portland’s Saturday Market (which always brings out this guy), The King has beaten his blue-suede shoes into my subconscious in recent weeks.   Jim Jarmusch’s MYSTERY TRAIN promises to keep him there at least a few months more.   I’m surely not complaining!

Aloof teenage Japanese tourists, a frazzled Italian widow, and a disgruntled British immigrant all converge in the city of dreams’”which, in Mystery Train, from Jim Jarmusch, is Memphis. Made with its director’s customary precision and wit, Mystery Train is a triptych of stories that pay playful tribute to the home of Stax Records, Sun Studio, Graceland, Carl Perkins, and, of course, the King himself, who presides over the film like a spirit. Mystery Train is one of Jarmusch’s very best movies, a boozy and beautiful pilgrimage to an iconic American ghost town and a paean to the music it gave the world.

Disc Features

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Q&A with Jarmusch in which he responds to questions sent in by fans
  • Original documentary on Mystery Train‘s locations and Memphis’s rich social and musical history
  • On-set photos by Masayoshi Sukita, and behind-the-scenes photos
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by writers Peter Guralnick and Dennis Lim, as well as a collectible poster


EVERLASTING MOMENTS

by Jan Troell

release date | 15 June 2010

Here’s a sepia-tinted Golden Globe nominee that was promised to us with the original announcement of the Criterion/IFC Films venture.   Criterion has been on a roll with the IFC pictures they’ve been releasing, each of them a masterpiece in its own right.   We’ve no reason not to expect that same greatness from this one.

Swedish master Jan Troell, director of the beloved classics The Emigrants and The New Land, returns triumphantly with Everlasting Moments, a vivid, heartrending story of a woman liberated through art at the beginning of the twentieth century. Though poor and abused by her alcoholic husband, Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen, in a beautifully nuanced portrayal) finds an outlet in photography, which opens up her world for the first time. With a burnished bronze tint that evokes faded photographs, and a broad empathetic palette, Everlasting Moments’”based on a true story’”is a miraculous tribute to the power of image making.

Disc Features

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DVD SET

  • New high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Jan Troell
  • Jan Troell’s Magic Mirror, an hour-long documentary about Troell’s life and career
  • Short documentary on the making of Everlasting Moments, featuring interviews with Troell, cast,
    and crew
  • Documentary featuring photographs by the real Maria Larsson, accompanied by narration telling her story
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Armond White


RED DESERT

by Michelangelo Antonioni

release date | 22 June 2010 also on blu-ray

Criterion’s two other Michelangelo Antonioni selections, L’aaventura and L’eclisse, share a common theme:   beautiful people cuckolding one another and otherwise drowning in esoteric and existential introversion.   RED DESERT promises more of the same…but in color!   Criterion makes good on perhaps its biggest clue from New Years.

Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960s panoramas of contemporary alienation were decade-defining artistic events, and Red Desert, his first color film, remains one of his greatest. This provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age’”about a disaffected woman, brilliantly portrayed by Antonioni muse Monica Vitti, wandering through a bleak industrial landscape beset by power plants and environmental toxins, and tentatively flirting with her husband’s coworker, played by Richard Harris’”continues to exert force over viewers. With one startling, painterly composition after another’”of abandoned fishing cottages, electrical towers, overwhelming docked ships’”Red Desert creates a nearly apocalyptic image of its time, and confirms Antonioni as cinema’s preeminent poet of the modern age.

Disc Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary by Italian film scholar David Forgacs
  • Archival video interviews with director Michelangelo Antonioni and actress Monica Vitti
  • Outtakes from the film’s production
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Mark Le Fanu, an interview with Antonioni by Jean-Luc Godard, and a reprinted essay by Antonioni on his use of color
  • More!


by Carol Reed

release date | 22 June 2010

In the past few months, we at Criterion Cast have been saddened to see both Carol Reed films in the Collection going OOP (first The Third Man, then Fallen Idol with a slew of others).   It seems the folks at Criterion share in our sadness, and wanted us to be Reed-less for as little time as possible.   Though a little light on supplements, the film promises to be a 90-minute thrill ride, and at a $23 pre-order, the price is certainly right.   Carol Reed does not disappoint.

A twisting, turning, cloak-and-dagger delight, Night Train to Munich is a gripping, occasionally comic confection from writers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat and director Carol Reed. Paced like an out-of-control locomotive, Night Train takes viewers on a World War II’“era journey from Prague to England to the Swiss Alps, as Nazis pursue a Czech scientist and his daughter (Margaret Lockwood), who are being aided by a debonair British undercover agent, played by Rex Harrison. This captivating, long-overlooked adventure’”which also features Paul Henreid’”mixes comedy, romance, and thrills with enough skill and cleverness to give the master of suspense himself pause.

Disc Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video conversation between film scholars Peter Evans and Bruce Babington about director Carol Reed, screenwriters Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and the social and political climate
    in which Night Train to Munich was made
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Philip Kemp


THE LEOPARD

by Luchino Visconti

release date | 29 June 2010 BLU-RAY

In one of the first scenes of The Leopard, Don Corbera’s study is depicted as housing, among other lavish knickknacks, three telescopes.   Three.   I mean, even assuming telescopes could be used in tandem (one on each eye, pointing to different celestial destinations), it just wouldn’t be humanly possible to utilize all three.   I thought that such an amusingly effective symbol of superfluous wealth that it worked its way into my lexicon (“I am a very rich man!   I have THREE TELESCOPES, damn it! THREE!!!”)   If the tweak of the original cover art is any indication of how crisp and spectacular this is going to look on Blu-Ray, the release will be that metaphorical third telescope on my Criterion shelf.

Making its long-awaited U.S. home video debut, Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) is an epic on the grandest possible scale. The film recreates, with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento‘”when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, The Leopard translates Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the film in two distinct versions: Visconti’s original Italian version, and the alternate English-language version released in America in a newly restored special edition.

Disc Features

SPECIAL EDITION THREE’“DISC SET:

  • High-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Giuseppe Rotunno, with restored image and sound and presented in the original Super Technirama aspect ratio of 2.21:1 (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • The 161-minute American release, with English-language dialogue, including Burt Lancaster’s own voice
  • Audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • A Dying Breed: The Making of The Leopard, an hour-long documentary featuring interviews with Claudia Cardinale, screenwriter Suso Ceccho D’Amico, Rotunno, filmmaker Sydney Pollack, and many others
  • Video interview with producer Goffredo Lombardo
  • Video interview with professor Millicent Marcus on the history behind The Leopard
  • Original theatrical trailers and newsreels
  • Stills gallery of rare behind-the-scenes production photos
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Michael Wood