Archive for the ‘Criterion Blu ray’ Tag

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.


Kubrick on Blu   Leave a comment

Hey everybody

One of my biggest deciders for me to start on a format change ( then-from VHS to DVD and now-from DVD to Blu-Ray) is how many Stanley Kubrick films are available on the format. He was the first person I ever recognized as a director and the more of his movies I saw and re-watched, the more I was drawn into his technical expertise, storytelling and amazing grasp of the film medium. There are few directors films that you can re-watch more than a hundred times and still see new things or get new insights from. Kubrick was the master director of all directors, with only 13 films he covered many genres and subjects all layered with so much visual information they are still studied today.

The level of detail in the Blu-Rays that are available is astounding. The fact that I look at movies shot in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and the visual quality is so superior to todays efforts shows you what a real perfectionist is capable of . That, and also most film makers today are pussies in comparison. It’s hard to top a guy  who would shoot on average 250-300 days with the quarter of the regular sized crew, 35-65 takes on average for every shot and still come in with a lower budget that 70 percent of  studio pictures. He was of God status at Warner Brothers and the film community as a whole. Never to see another picture of his is a sad notion each time I think of it.. I will surely miss looking forward to the next Stanley Kubrick picture.

Of Kubrick’s 13 films so far, 7 are available on Blu-Ray with one coming from Criterion soon and more rumored by Warner Brothers to be coming on next year. The first 5 Blu-Ray I brought two years ago were The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut and of course 2001:A Space Odyssey. All which are vast improvement on the previous DVD incarnations or “that visual crispness shit is sick on the Blu”.

Full Metal Jacket: special edition (1987)- This movie has never looked better, and in my living room to boot. The blacks are deep and the depth of the picture pulls you into the film like never before. The whole movie comes alive in a way not seen on DVD. The HD mastering was done with real care here. The documentaries and special features are a great treat for any Kubrick enthusiast.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)- We here in North America finally have the original version of Kubrick’s final film without any bad CGed characters blocking the intended action. I feel this is a under rated film, it’s pure and classic Stanley. The lighting is other worldly in a dreamy “film land” version of New York, where the traditional marriage relationship in dissected as well as the underground life of the elite in America. The compositions and scenes become magnificently twisted as the story progresses to the climax of the sex cult of the super rich descends upon Cruise character.  A great film experience from a master. The picture is stunning on the Blu-Ray and again the documentary is great.

Clockwork Orange (1971)- This was known as Stanley’s “low budget film”. He had previously done 2001 for what was a big budget at the time, and wanted to prove that he could make a film for little money and in a short period compared to Space Odyssey. I love the the language from the Burgess novel that is used in the script. Most people need at least a few viewings to get the flow but once you wrap your head around the dialog you might not get everything as a literal translation, but you understand the story all the same.  The picture quality on the Blu-Ray has been criticized for looking muddy and almost out of focus. I think that all shit talking, it looks amazing compared to the DVD. You can see make up around one of the droogs eyes in yellow and green that you could never see before as well as a whole lot more detail.  The documentaries on the disc are worth the price alone. A must own on Blu.

The Shining (1980)- When talking about The Shining I find it hard to say anything bad. I’m sort of in love with this one.  The film amazes me, even after over a hundred viewings. This was the second disc to go into my PS3, I figured on Blu-Ray  it would just look a bit better. To my surprises it felt like I was seeing the film for the first time properly. Frankly, it made my balls tingle. The colors are rich and vibrant popping of the screen. I’ve seen this one on 35 mm film over twenty times and I think the Blu is a better experience over all. The next level of detail you get only strengthens Kubrick’s visuals, giving you a flawless representation of the film. The doc series continues here and it is the same caliber as the other Warner’s discs. Brilliant. A must own Blu-Ray.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)- 2001 is one of my all time favorite films. I love the fact that there is hundreds of answers to what it all ultimately means depending on your build in beliefs. For 1968 the age barely shows, with the transfer used for the Blu-Ray you finally get a faith representation of the intended look of the film. The two DVD print were terribly transferred, making the colors looks too dark or too light in some place. All in all a shit disc. I’ve seen 2001 projected a number of times and it looked better on a 25 year old 35mm print than on the DVD versions. This was the first Blu disc to go into my PS3 and I was blown away instantly. I sat down and watched the whole thing.  The image is crisp with grain and perfect image saturation. I watch this disc once a month now. It is unbelievable that the movie is 42 years old. The concept and story still hit me harder than anything today, a truly adult sci fi film made to make you think after. The real key is to lay back and let it wash over you with out thinking about too much during the viewing. The true genius of Kubrick is his ability to have a true experience with the viewing of his films. Upon viewing  you might not think the same way about the subject again. A great film which we can finally see as it was intended, and at home.  Thank you Warner Brothers, you finally got it right, nice work.

Dr. Strangelove or :How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)- The Doctor never looked so good.  3 amazing character roles played by Peter Sellers , almost 4. (He originally was going to be the bomber planes captain as well, but on the first day playing the role he fell out of the cockpit set that was suspended something like 25 feet above the ground and broke his leg. So he finished the rest of the movie doing three parts with a broken leg). As far as the transfer on the Blu-Ray, the black and white of Strangelove is made for HD with phenomenal depth of tone in the picture, a vast improvement on the previous DVD. I love all the performances layered with satire rarely able to be pulled off and rarely seen from an American director. Kubrick shows his power and intellect at a young age, dealing with much old more seasoned power house actors in Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and coming out of retirement Sterling Hayden as the bat nuts crazy General Ripper. The disc is loaded with special features and docs on the production, another great treatment of the material.

Spartacus (1960)-  This film was a real turning point for Kubrick. He was brought in as director after Kirk Douglas had a major falling out with the original director, Anthony Mann. According to Peter Ustinov one of the uncredited writers, the salt mines sequence was the only footage shot by Mann. Stanley was not given control of the script, which he felt was full of stupid moralizing. After Spartacus, Kubrick always kept full control over all aspects of his films. The Criterion SD-DVD (Standard Def DVD) release is the disc to beat so far. In 1991 it was restored  by Robert Harris, who has said that he considers the Criterion SD-DVD “color and density correct.” So let’s leave the previous Universal SD-DVD and certainly the troublesome HD-DVD aside and address how this new 1080p Blu-Ray looks beside the Criterion.  The film is undeniably cleaner in the Blu-ray presentation, with that digitally scrubbed look which argues to DNR. The color saturation has a slight, tilt toward the red-yellow side of the spectrum on the Universal 5oth Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray. I still hope Criterion is given back the rights to do a Blu-Ray at some point to get back the proper color tones.  I would wait on this one if I were thinking of buying it, to see if a better transfer pops up.

Paths of Glory (1957)- On October 26th Criterion is releasing Kubrick’s anti war epic starring Kirk Douglas. This is a marvelous film that moves very quickly for 1957. Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn regiment of the French army along the western front during World War I. Held in their trenches under the threat of German artillery, the regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture an enemy stronghold. When the mission inevitably fails, French generals order the selection of three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is appointed as defense attorney for the chosen scapegoats, and what follows is a travesty of justice that has remained relevant and powerful for decades. In the wake of some of the most authentic and devastating battle sequences ever filmed, Kubrick brilliantly explores the political machinations and selfish personal ambitions that result in battlefield slaughter and senseless executions. The film is unflinching in its condemnation of war and the self-indulgence of military leaders who orchestrate the deaths of thousands from the comfort of their luxurious headquarters. For many years, Paths of Glory was banned in France as a slanderous attack on French honor, but it’s clear that Kubrick’s intense drama is aimed at all nations and all men. Though it touches on themes of courage and loyalty in the context of warfare, the film is specifically about the historical realities of World War I, but its impact and artistic achievement remain timeless as Kubrick himself.

Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

The set includes:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins
  • Television interview from 1979 with star Kirk Douglas
  • New video interviews with Jan Harlan, James B. Harris and Christiane Kubrick
  • Excerpt from a French television program about real-life World War I executions
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by Kubrick scholar James Naremore

Waners has revealed that both Lolita (1962) and Kubricks period master piece Barry Lyndon (1975) are being preped for HD transfers now and are going to be released in 2011. Hopefully the same attention to detail goes into them as The Shining, FMJ, 2001. EWS and Clockwork transfers. I’m particularly interested to see Barry Lydon, with how it was filmed an HD transfer can only help see detail as it was meant to be seen. The candle light scenes will be perfection.

As far as the MIA titles…

Fear and Desire (1953) – The seldom seen film about a fictitious war, following  solders on a mission to kill a commanding officers. The movie was sold and played briefly in the theaters in the US. Kubrick took it out of circulation in  the late 50’s early 60’s. He wasn’t so happy with his first attempt at a dramatic story telling, so he buried the movie. DVD copies are next to impossible to film with any kind of good print. I figure it will never seen the light of day on Blu-Ray. I’m sure that is what Stanley wanted. you can find bootleg copies on ebay and online if you really want to check it out.

Killer’s Kiss (1955)- The first of two decisively film noir pictures of Kubrick’s. The down and out boxer verses the rich gangster for the girl, pure pulp story line. This is where Kubrick starts to show his flare with lighting and understanding of photography which only comes from a practiced hand, remember he was a staff photographer for look at the age of 17. Five years of talking picture professionally helps you develop a pretty good eye for lens choice and composition. Even though it didn’t make much money theatrically it got Kubrick noticed by the studios and major actors. My hope is that Criterion has already picked up this title for release in the future as MGM owns the right for  Killers Kiss, the Killing and Paths of Glory, will MGM’s financial woes as of late I’m sure the tile is up for grabs to Criterion. I hope they grab that shit fast.

The Killing (1956)- A great race track robbery story with a cast of all star character players. Well for the time, Sterling Hayden, Collen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen,Ted de Corsia, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr. and Joe Sawyer all had a hundred roles plus in their careers as character actors.  This is one of my favorite films of the 50’s. A great tone, brilliant photography, a strong voice over,  a great” bad ass” strong man in Hayden and a “fuck you” ending that really works, that I won’t ruin for anyone who hasn’t seen  the film. You can’t be a real film connoisseur without knowing this one inside and out. A classic must see noir. I hope I hope I hope Criterion is working on this one for Blu-Ray release. Something tells me they just might be keeping it up there sleeve, for now.

Warner Brothers continues to delivers the best treatments of their classic film library on HD. I can only hope it continues with the final few releases of Kubrick’s work, which I am looking forward to very much. If you couldn’t tell that already…

RIP Stanley Kubrick 1928-1999. Long live the spirit of a true master. LONG LIVE  THE NAME OF KUBRICK.

till next time.