Here we are, another 15th of the month, another group of amazing releases from the Criterion Collection announced on schedule. Being so obsessively attached to rumors and gossip on Twitter and forums and the like, many of these titles have been hinted at in one form or another.
Way back in March, we got a somewhat obvious clue in the monthly Criterion Collection e-mail newsletter, in the form of a thin, red lion, and after some back and forth as to which movie it was referring to, many came to the conclusion it was in fact Terrance Malick’s The Thin Red Line. Criterion’s recent Blu-ray release of Malick’s Days of Heaven was an incredible production, with a transfer that cannot be beaten. The Thin Red Line was also teased at in a twitter picture post that Criterion sent out back in March, giving further proof to the rumor that they were hard at work on a re-relase. One other piece of proof was when Amazon unveiled pre-order pages for several Criterion Blu-ray’s that were previously unannounced, like Videodrome, The Darjeeling Limited, The Seven Samurai, Antichrist, as well as The Thin Red Line. Well today we found out that on September 28th, we’ll be seeing an official, Criterion Collection edition of The Thin Red Line, complete with a new restored print, tons of extras including interviews, commentaries, documentaries, news reel footage, and more. An interesting note about today’s announcement, the cover artwork for the film has still not be unveiled on the website as of yet, and as one could expect, fans everywhere are salivating as to what their patience will yield.
We are hardly half way through the year, and already we have seen a fantastic series of remastered prints make there way around the country, filling theaters, showing the world that people still love to go out to the movies, no matter how old films may be. One universally acclaimed re-release is Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, which was re-released last month, and has seen a tremendous amount of buzz amongst film critics, as the new print is apparently stunning. I cannot wait until this makes it’s way to the Pacific Northwest. As with The Thin Red Line, a Breathless Blu-ray was hinted at in a recent e-mail newsletter that Criterion sent out, in the form of a giant blue cake, with 50 candles (this is the 50th Anniversary of Breathless), along with a wheezy caption. This past week also saw a less than usual piece of cross promotion, in the form of two rather costly t-shirts, sold in a boutique in Paris. From the disc features listed, it looks as if the Blu-ray will house all of the same supplements found on the original DVD which was released a few years back, presumably in HD. The Blu-ray will be available on September 14th.
Last month also saw the release of Nagisa Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties Eclipse Box set (you can read Josh’s review here), and many online speculated that the 1983 film, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, starring David Bowie (Criterion alum from the Man Who Fell to Earth, which is going out of print at the end of the month). There was a back and forth on Twitter, and Josh wrote up his speculation that the film would be in the Collection sometime this year, and it appears that it was sooner rather than later. Along with The Thin Red Line, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence will be available on DVD and Blu-ray, you can see the special features listed below.
Finally, on the Criterion front, we’re getting a Blu-ray release of Stanley Donen’s 1963 film Charade. It is interesting that with this re-release, Criterion isn’t issuing a new DVD as well. I don’t know if all of you completists out there should sharpen your pitchforks and ready your torches just yet, but it is certainly something we’ll pay attention to over the next few months. It is mostly because they now have two different covers for the film that I think people might have a slight, collective heart attack, knowing that they’ll either have to finally upgrade to Blu-ray, or go without. We all know how well that has worked in the past *cough Howards End cough*.
Criterion is also not slowing down on their Eclipse line, as they have announced a five film box set, featuring the works of Allan King. A Canadian avant garde filmmaker, King passed away a few years back, but left us an enormous body of work with which to know him by. Having not seen any of his films, I find it hard to write anything meaningful about him here, but what I have read in the hours after this was announced, I cannot wait. One piece of trivia that I picked up on while going through some of the IMDB pages, was that King would occasionally shoot his films with only a camera operator and a sound technician. His documentaries apparently caused quite a controversy during their respective releases, and I eagerly await this box set, due to arrive on September 21st. If you are enjoying the films of the Eclipse Series, I’d highly recommend you check out David Blakeslee’s (of the Criterion Reflections blog) new column for us, “A Journey Through the Eclipse Series.” We’re all excited to have David writing for us, and he is putting together some thought provoking work on titles that many of us just haven’t found time for.
Criterion # 408, September 14, 2010, Blu-ray
There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres that inspired him as a writer for Cahiers du cinéma. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Breathless helped launch the French New Wave and ensured that cinema would never be the same.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- Restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director of photography Raoul Coutard
- Archival interviews with director Jean-Luc Godard, and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, and Jean-Pierre Melville
- New video interviews with Coutard, assistant director Pierre Rissient, and filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker
- New video essays: filmmaker and critic Mark Rappaport’s ‘Jean Seberg’ and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s ‘Breathless as Film Criticism’
- Chambre 12, Hotel de suede, an eighty-minute French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew
- Charlotte et son Jules, a 1959 short film by Godard, starring Belmondo
- French theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, FranÃ§ois Truffaut’s original film treatment, and Godard’s scenario
Criterion # 57, September 21, 2010, Blu-ray
In this deliciously dark comedic thriller, a trio of crooks relentlessly pursue a young American, played by Audrey Hepburn, outfitted in gorgeous Givenchy, through Paris in an attempt to recover the fortune her dead husband stole from them. The only person she can trust is a suave, mysterious stranger, played by Cary Grant. Director Stanley Donen goes splendidly Hitchcockian for Charade, a glittering emblem of sixties style and macabre wit.
- New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced fro widescreen telelvisions
- Audio commentary: A conversation with Stanley Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone
- The Films of Stanley Donen: A selected filmography, with an introduction by Donen biographer Stephen M. Silverman
- Peter Stone’s career highlights
- Original theatrical trailer
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
Criterion # 535, on DVD and Blu-ray, September _, 2010
In this captivating, exhilaratingly skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies the character Celliers, a high-ranking British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Music star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, who becomes obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti is British lieutenant colonel Mr. Lawrence, who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between his captors and fellow prisoners. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash that was one of Oshima’s greatest successes.
- New, restored high-definition master (with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition)
- The Oshima Gang, an original making-of featurette
- New video interviews with producer Jeremy Thomas, screenwriter Paul Mayersberg, actor Tom Conti, and actor-composer Ryuichi Sakamoto
- Hasten Slowly, an hour-long documentary about author and adventurer Laurens van der Post, whose autobiographical novel is the basis for the film
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Chuck Stephens and a 1983 interview with director Nagisa Oshima by Japanese film writer Tadao Sato
The Thin Red Line
Criterion # 536, On DVD and Blu-ray, September 28, 2010
After directing two of the most extraordinary movies of the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, American artist Terrence Malick disappeared from the film world for twenty years, only to resurface in 1998 with this visionary adaptation of James Jones’s 1962 novel about the World War II battle for Guadalcanal. A big-budget, spectacularly mounted epic, The Thin Red Line is also one of the most deeply philosophical films ever released by a major Hollywood studio, a thought-provoking meditation on man, nature, and violence. Featuring a cast of contemporary cinema’s finest actors’”Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas, and Woody Harrelson among them’”The Thin Red Line is a kaleidoscopic evocation of the experience of combat that ranks as one of cinema’s greatest war films.
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Terrence Malick and cinematographer John Toll (with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition)
- New audio commentary featuring Toll, production designer Jack Fisk, and producer Grant Hill
- Outtakes from the film
- Video interviews with several of the film’s actors, including Kirk Acevedo, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, and Sean Penn
- New video interview with casting director Dianne Crittenden, featuring original audition footage
- New interview with composer Hans Zimmer
- New video piece featuring interviews with editors Billy Weber, Leslie Jones, and Saar Klein
- An interview with writer James Jones’s daughter Kaylie Jones
- World War II newsreels featuring footage from Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt and a 1963 essay by James Jones on war films
Canadian director Allan King is one of cinema’s best-kept secrets. Over the course of fifty years, King shuttled between features and shorts, big-screen cinema and episodic television, comedy and drama, fiction and nonfiction. Within this remarkably varied career, it was with his cinema-verité-style documentaries’”his ‘actuality dramas,’ as he called them’”that he left his greatest mark on film history. These startlingly intimate studies of lives in flux’”emotionally troubled children, warring spouses, and the terminally ill’”are riveting, at times emotionally overwhelming, and always depicted without narration or interviews. Humane, cathartic, and important, Allan King’s spontaneous portraits of the everyday demand to be seen.
For his enthralling first feature, Allan King brought his cameras to a home for psychologically disturbed young people. Situated inside the facility like flies on the wall, we get full access to the wide spectrum of emotions displayed by twelve fascinating children and the caregivers trying to nurture and guide them. The stunning Warrendale won the Prix d’art et d’essai at Cannes and a special docu mentary award from the National Society of Film Critics.
A Married Couple
Billy and Antoinette Edwards let it all hang out for Allan King and crew in this jaw-dropping documentary of a marriage gone haywire that ‘makes John Cassavetes’s Faces look like early Doris Day’ (_Time_). Intense and hectic, frightening and funny, A Married Couple is ultimately about the eternal power struggle in romantic relationships, as well as entrenched gender roles on the cusp of change.
Come On Children
In the early 1970s, ten teenagers (five boys and five girls) leave behind parents, school, and all other authority figures to live on a farm for ten weeks. What emerges in front of Allan King’s cameras is the fears, hopes, and alienation of a disillusioned generation. Come On Children is a swiftly paced, vivid rendering of one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable’”and ultimately directionless’”countercultures.
Dying At Grace
An extraordinary, transformative experience, Allan King’s Dying at Grace is quite simply unprecedented: five terminally ill cancer patients allowed the director access to their final months and days inside the Toronto Grace Health Care Center. The result is an unflinching, enormously empathetic contemplation of death, featuring a handful of the most memorable people ever captured on film.
Memory For Max, Claire, Ida, and Company
Allan King brings us close to the people who reside and work in a home for geriatric care in this beautifully conceived, powerful documentary. For four months, King follows the daily routines of eight patients suffering from dementia and memory loss; the result is searing, compassionate drama that can bring to the viewer a greater understanding of his or her loved ones.