In April, Criterion Has a Naked Lunch with Richard III, Repo Man & Pierre Etaix at the Gate of Hell

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Every month the folks at Criterion Collection select a number of classic and contemporary films deemed culturally and/or artistically significant and then take great pains to remaster them for a Blu-ray transfer to help preserve them for another generation of cinephiles. If you love film, then you can appreciate the public service Criterion Collection does for the medium when it offers us HD remasters of cinematic classics like 1984's Repo Man (starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez), the Teinosuke Kinugasa's samurai tale Gate of Hell, Laurence Olivier's take on Shakespeare's Richard III, and David Cronenberg's adaptation of William S. Burrough's drugged out head trip novel Naked Lunch led by Peter Weller. Additionally, this April, Criterion Collection has assembled a collection of 5 films by French filmmaker Pierre Etaix. For details on all of this month's releases, just keep reading.

gate_hell_bluGate of Hell

A winner of Academy Awards for best foreign-language film and best costume design, Gate of Hell is a visually sumptuous, psychologically penetrating work from Teinosuke Kinugasa (A Page of Madness). In the midst of epic, violent intrigue in twelfth-century Japan, an imperial warrior falls for a lady-in-waiting; even after he discovers she is married, he goes to extreme lengths to win her love. Kinugasa’s film is an unforgettable, tragic story of obsession and unrequited passion that was an early triumph of color cinematography in Japan.

1953 • 89 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince

SRP - $29.95

naked_lunch_bluNaked Lunch

In this adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s hallucinatory, once-thought unfilmable novel Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg (Videodrome), a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict named Bill Lee (Robocop’s Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish Interzone, a netherworld of sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. Alternately humorous and grotesque—and always surreal—the film mingles aspects of Burroughs’s novel with incidents from the writer’s own life, resulting in an evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process.

1991 • 115 minutes • Color • 2.0 surround • 1.78:1 aspect ratio

DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• High-definition digital transfer, approved by director David Cronenberg, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• Audio commentary featuring Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller
Naked Making Lunch, a 1992 television documentary by Chris Rodley about the making of the film
• Special effects gallery, featuring artwork and photos alongside an essay by Cinefex magazine editor Jody Duncan
• Collection of original marketing materials
• Audio recording of William S. Burroughs reading from his novel Naked Lunch
• Gallery of photos taken by poet Allen Ginsberg of Burroughs
• PLUS: A booklet featuring reprinted pieces by film critic Janet Maslin, director Chris Rodley, critic and novelist Gary Indiana, and Burroughs

SRP - $39.95

repo_man_bluRepo Man

A quintessential cult film of the 1980s, Alex Cox’s singular sci-fi comedy stars the always captivating Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas) as a weathered repo man in desolate downtown Los Angeles, and Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club) as the nihilistic middle-class punk he takes under his wing. The job becomes more than either of them bargained for when they get involved in reclaiming a mysterious—and otherworldly—Chevy Malibu with a hefty reward attached to it. Featuring the ultimate early-eighties L.A. punk soundtrack, this grungily hilarious odyssey is a politically trenchant take on President Reagan’s domestic and foreign policy.

1984 • 92 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.78:1 aspect ratio

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Alex Cox, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentary featuring Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora
• Interviews with Cox, Richardson, and Zamora; producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks; actors Olivia Barash, Dick Rude, Miguel Sandoval, and Harry Dean Stanton; musicians Keith Morris and Iggy Pop; and Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb
• Deleted scenes
• The complete “cleaned-up” television version of the film, prepared by Cox
• Trailers
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Sam McPheeters; an illustrated production history by Cox, with his original comic and film proposal; and a 1987 interview with real-life repo man Mark Lewis

SRP - $39.95

pierre_Etaix_bluThe Pierre Etaix Collection

A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director-actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered and taken up with relish. His work can be placed in the spectrum of classic physical comedy with that of Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis, but it also stands alone. These films, influenced by Etaix’s experiences as a circus acrobat and clown and by the silent film comedies he adored, are elegantly deadpan, but as an on-screen presence, Etaix radiates warmth. This collection includes all of his films, including five features, The Suitor (1962), Yoyo (1965), As Long as You’ve Got Your Health (1966), Le grand amour (1969), and Land of Milk and Honey (1971)—most of them collaborations with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie)—and three shorts, Rupture (1961), the Oscar-winning Happy Anniversary (1962), and Feeling Good(1966). Not one of these is anything less than a bracing and witty delight.

The Suitor 1962 • 84 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
Yoyo 1965 • 98 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
As Long as You’ve Got Your Health 1966 • 68 minutes • Black & White/Color • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
Le grand amour 1969 • 87 minutes • Color • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 a spect ratio
Land of Milk and Honey 1971 • 76 minutes • Color • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New digital restorations of all five features and three short films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
• New interview with director Pierre Etaix
• New video introductions by Etaix to seven of the films
Pierre Etaix, un destin animé (2010), a portrait of the life and work of the director by his wife, Odile Etaix
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic David Cairns

SRP - $59.95

richardIII_BluRichard III

With Richard III, director, producer, and star Laurence Olivier (Hamlet) brings Shakespeare’s masterpiece of Machiavellian villainy to mesmerizing cinematic life. Olivier is diabolically captivating as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who, through a set of murderous machinations, steals the crown from his brother Edward. The supporting cast—including Ralph Richardson (Fallen Idol), John Gielgud (Arthur), and Claire Bloom (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold)—is just as impressive. Filmed in VistaVision and Technicolor, Richard III is one of the most visually inspired of all big-screen Bard adaptations.

1955 • 158 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition digital master of the Film Foundation’s 2012 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentary by playwright and stage director Russell Lees and John Wilders, former governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company
• Interview with actor Laurence Olivier from a 1966 episode of the BBC series Great Acting,hosted by theater critic Kenneth Tynan
• Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production stills and posters, accompanied by excerpts from Olivier’s autobiography, On Acting
• Twelve-minute television trailer featuring footage of Olivier, producer Alexander Korda, and other cast and crew from the film
• Trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin

SRP - $39.95

eclipse38_dvdEclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

One of the most important filmmakers to emerge from Japan’s cinematic golden age, Masaki Kobayashi is best remembered today for his 1959 epic The Human Condition, but that is just one of the blistering films he made in a career dedicated to criticizing his country’s rigid social and political orders. He first found his voice—rebellious, angry, engaged—in the fifties, following his life-altering experiences as a soldier in World War II; the four films collected here, made in the same period as The Human Condition, reflect Kobayashi’s coming into his own as an artist. He fought to get these powerful dramas made at a studio more oriented at the time toward quiet family melodramas; they are unforgettable pictures of a postwar Japan troubled by identity crises and moral corruption on scales both intimate and institutional.

FOUR-DVD BOX SET INCLUDES:

The Thick-Walled Room
Even early on in his directing career, Kobayashi didn’t shy away from controversy. Among the first Japanese films to deal directly with the scars of World War II, this drama about a group of rank-and-file Japanese soldiers jailed for crimes against humanity was adapted from the diaries of real prisoners. Because of its potentially inflammatory content, the film was shelved for three years before being released.

1953 • 110 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

I Will Buy You
Kobayashi’s pitiless take on Japan’s professional baseball industry is unlike any other sports film ever made. An excoriation of the inhumanity bred by a mercenary, bribery-fueled business, it follows the sharklike maneuvers of a scout dead set on signing a promising athlete to the team the Toyo Flowers.

1956 • 112 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

Black River
Perhaps Kobayashi’s most sordid film, Black River is an exposé of the rampant corruption on and around U.S. military bases following World War II. Kobayashi spirals out from the story of a love triangle that develops between a good-natured student, his innocent girlfriend, and a coldhearted petty criminal (The Human Condition’s Tatsuya Nakadai, in his first major role) to diagnose a social disease that had Japan slowly succumbing to lawlessness, devolving into gangsterism, violence, and prostitution.

1957 • 110 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

The Inheritance
On his deathbed, a wealthy businessman announces that his fortune is to be split equally among his three illegitimate children, whose whereabouts are unknown to his family and colleagues. A bevy of lawyers and associates then begin machinations to procure the money for themselves, enlisting the aid of impostors and blackmail. Yet all are outwitted by the cunning of the man’s secretary (The Makioka Sisters’ Keiko Kishi), in this entertaining condemnation of unchecked greed.

1962 • 108 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 2.40:1 aspect ratio

SRP- $59.95

Apr
09
2013
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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