Criterion’s Upcoming August HD Releases Fulfill A Big Hole In My Blu-Ray Collection’s Heart.   Leave a comment

Hey Everybody,

Close to the inception of LaserDisc in the early 80’s Criterion released a number of brilliantly mastered discs of classic and contemporary films alike that continued till 1994 and translated into the Company doing DVD releases with the highest quality of mastering and print recreation from the original negative elements and if possible director’s approval on coloring and picture transfers. A few years ago they released their first releases on Blu-Ray and the results are a mind blowing viewing experience for the classic film geek. The HD transfer of “The Third Man” from 1949 is incredible, I never thought it was possible to beat some of the transfers  from the DVDs of these older titles but the depth of the picture on Blu-Ray from the older slower black and white film of the 30’s and 40’s in nothing short of incredible. It pops off the screen with beautiful grain, perfectly balanced tones and ultra deep blacks. Fritz Lang’s “M” from 1931 is another incredible achievement considering the age of the original film elements at this point, it looks as close to perfection as is possible at this point in time. Just all around Beautiful work Criterion. As the growth of the Blu-Ray format continues so does the Criterion Catalogue of  HD releases.  The August 2011 Blu-Ray titles include Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers”, Roman Polanski’s “Cul-de-Sac”, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing”, Lee Chang-dong’s “Secret Sunshine”, Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus”, Lindsay Anderson’s “If….“, and The Complete Jean Vigo collection, which features Vigo’s entire oeuvre—”À propos de Nice”, ” Taris, Zéro de conduite”, and “L’Atalante”.

The Battle of Algiers, If…., and Orpheus are Criterion DVDs receiving the Blu-ray upgrade; the rest are new to the Collection. Of particular interest to me are the special features for The Killing; Criterion has packed a restored edition of Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss in the set, his 1955 film noir previously unavailable on Blu-ray; if the transfer of Murder à la Mod released a few weeks ago on Criterion’s “Blow Out” disc is any indication, the A/V for Killer’s Kiss should prove to be of kick ass quality.

The Battle of Algiers(9 August 2011)

  • High-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Marcello Gatti (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship of Truth, a documentary narrated by literary critic Edward Said
  • Marxist Poetry: The Making of “The Battle of Algiers,” a documentary featuring interviews with Pontecorvo, Gatti, composer Ennio Morricone, and others
  • Interviews with Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film’s influence, style, and importance
  • Remembering History, a documentary reconstructing the Algerian experience of the battle for independence
  • “États d’armes,” a documentary excerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the Algerian rebellion
  • “The Battle of Algiers”: A Case Study, a video piece featuring U.S. counterterrorism experts
  • Gillo Pontecorvo’s Return to Algiers, a documentary in which the filmmaker revisits the country after three decades of independence
  • Production gallery
  • Theatrical and rerelease trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, excerpts from Algeria’s National Liberation Front leader Saadi Yacef’s original account of his arrest, excerpts from the film’s screenplay, a reprinted interview with cowriter Franco Solinas, and biographical sketches of key figures in the French-Algerian War

Cul-de-sac(16 August 2011)

  • New digital restoration, approved by director Roman Polanski (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Two Gangsters and an Island, a 2003 short documentary about the making of Cul-de-sac, featuring interviews with Polanski, producer Gene Gutowski, and cinematographer Gil Taylor
  • Interview with Polanski from 1967
  • Theatrical trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thompson


The Killing(16 August 2011)

  • New high-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • New video interview with producer James B. Harris
  • Excerpts of interviews with actor Sterling Hayden from the French television series Cinéma cinemas
  • New video interview with film scholar Robert Polito about writer Jim Thompson and his work on The Killing
  • Restored transfer of Stanley Kubrick’s 1955 noir feature Killer’s Kiss
  • New video appreciation of Killer’s Kiss with film critic Geoffrey O’Brien
  • Theatrical trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Haden Guest and a reprinted interview with Marie Windsor on The Killing

Secret Sunshine(23 August 2011)

  • New digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Lee Chang-dong and cinematographer Cho Yong-kyu (with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition)
  • New interview with Lee
  • On the Set of “Secret Sunshine,” a video piece featuring interviews with actors Jeon Do-yeon and Song Kang-ho, as well as behind-the-scenes footage
  • U.S. theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dennis Lim


Orpheus(30 August 2011)

  • New high-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary by French film scholar James Williams
  • Jean Cocteau: Autobiography of an Unknown, a 1984 feature-length documentary
  • Video piece from 2008 featuring assistant director Claude Pinoteau on the special effects in the film
  • 40 Minutes with Jean Cocteau, an interview with the director from 1957
  • In Search of Jazz, a 1956 interview with Cocteau on the use of jazz in the film
  • La villa Santo-Sospir, a 16 mm color Cocteau film from 1951
  • Gallery of images by French film portrait photographer Roger Corbeau
  • Raw newsreel footage
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by author Mark Polizzotti, selected Cocteau writings on the film, and an essay on La villa Santo-Sospir by Williams

If….(30 August 2011)

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček and assistant editor Ian Rakoff (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring film critic and historian David Robinson and actor Malcolm McDowell
  • Episode of the Scottish TV series Cast and Crew from 2003, featuring interviews with McDowell, Ondříček, Rakoff, director’s assistant Stephen Frears, producer Michael Medwin, and screenwriter David Sherwin
  • Video interview with actor Graham Crowden
  • Thursday’s Children (1954), an Academy Award–winning documentary about a school for deaf children, by director Lindsay Anderson and Guy Brenton and narrated by actor Richard Burton
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic David Ehrenstein as well as reprinted pieces by Sherwin and Anderson


The Complete Jean Vigo (30 August 2011)

  • New, high-definition digital restorations of all of Jean Vigo’s films: À propos de Nice, Taris, Zéro de conduite, and L’Atalante (with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentaries featuring Michael Temple, author of Jean Vigo
  • Alternate shots from À propos de Nice, featuring footage Vigo cut from the film
  • Animated tribute to Vigo by filmmaker Michel Gondry
  • Ninety-minute 1964 episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps on Vigo, directed by Jacques Rozier
  • Conversation from 1968 between filmmakers François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer on L’Atalante
  • Les voyages de “L’Atalante,” Bernard Eisenschitz’s 2001 documentary tracking the history of the film
  • Video interview from 2007 with director Otar Iosseliani on Vigo
  • New and improved English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film writers Michael Almereyda, Robert Polito, B. Kite, and Luc Sante

So that’s August for Criterion and I know there’s a few in there I’ll be picking up for the collection. I’m excited for “The Killing” 1956 ,  it’s finally time to retire my second DVD of the film. Love me some Kubrick.

Till Next Time. Stay Tuned.

J.

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