In January, Criterion Sits on a Throne of Blood, Goes Mad, Mad, Mad, Lives La Vie de Boheme and More

cc_madmad_banner

It's time to ring in the new year with some classic and contemporary cinema lovingly preserved by the folks over at The Criterion Collection. As The Criterion Collection continues their mission of cataloging culturally important films from across the ages, they also make it possible to get some of the best world cinema has to offer on Blu-ray and DVD. In January, The Criterion Collection releases new Blu-ray and DVD combo editions of: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the classic comedy by Stanley Kramer; Jules Dassin's classic caper Rififi; Michael Mann's first feature-length (non-TV-movie) neonoir film Thief; celebrated British director Terence Davies's masterpiece The Long Day Closes; Aki Kaurismaki's 1992 comedy La Vie de Boheme; and finally some more Akira Kurosawa (who likely has more films in the Criterion Collection than any other director) as he takes on Macbeth in Throne of Blood. Additionally, Criterion is releasing a set celebrating the later films of Indian director Satyajit Ray.

For details on all of these releases, read on.

thronebloodThrone of Blood

A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai), sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan. As a tough warrior who rises savagely to power, Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo) gives a remarkable, animalistic performance, as does Isuzu Yamada (Black River) as his ruthless wife. Throne of Blood fuses classical Western tragedy with formal elements taken from Noh theater to create an unforgettable cinematic experience.


1957 • 109 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio

DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored 2K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
• Documentary on the making of Throne of Blood, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
• Two alternate subtitle translations, by Japanese-film translator Linda Hoaglund and Kurosawa expert Donald Richie
• Trailer
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince and notes on the subtitling by Hoaglund and Richie
• Behind-the-scenes footage
• Demos of Carradine singing his songs from the film
• Trailer
• One Blu-ray and two DVDs, with all format available in both editions

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell

SRP - $39.95

rififiRififi

After making such American noir classics as Brute Force and The Naked City, the blacklisted director Jules Dassin went to Paris and embarked on his masterpiece: a twisting, turning tale of four ex-cons who hatch one last glorious robbery in the City of Light. Rififi is the ultimate heist movie, a melange of suspense, brutality, and dark humor that was an international hit, earned Dassin the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and has proven wildly influential on decades of heist thrillers in its wake.

1955 • 118 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Interview with director Jules Dassin
• Set design drawings by Alexandre Trauner
• Production stills
• Trailer
• Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman

SRP - $39.95

thiefThief

The adored American auteur Michael Mann burst out of the gate with his bold artistic sensibility fully formed with Thief, his first theatrical feature. James Caan (The Godfather) stars, in one of his most riveting performances, as a no-nonsense ex-con safecracker planning to leave the criminal world behind after one final diamond heist, but discovering that escape is not as simple as he hoped. Finding hypnotic beauty in neon and rain-slick streets, sparks and steel, Thief effortlessly established the moody stylishness and tactile approach to action that would define such later iconic entertainments from Mann as Miami Vice, Manhunter, and Heat.

1981 • 124 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
DIRECTOR-APPROVED DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New digital restoration from a 4K film transfer, approved by director Michael Mann, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring Mann and actor James Caan
• New interviews with Mann, Caan, and Johannes Schmoelling of the band Tangerine Dream, which contributed the film’s soundtrack
• Trailer
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick James

SRP - $39.95

madmadworldIt's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Stanley Kramer followed his Oscar-winning Judgment at Nuremberg with this sobering investigation of American greed. Ah, who are we kidding? It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, about a group of strangers fighting tooth and nail over buried treasure, is the most grandly harebrained movie ever made, a pileup of slapstick and borscht-belt-y one-liners performed by a nonpareil cast, including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, and a boatload of other playing-to-the-rafters comedy legends. For sheer scale of silliness, Kramer’s wildly uncharacteristic film is unlike any other, an exhilarating epic of tomfoolery.

1963 • 159 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 2.76:1 aspect ratio
DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New, restored 4K digital film transfer of the general release version of the film, with 5.1 surround Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New high-definition digital transfer of a 197-minute extended version of the film, reconstructed and restored by Robert A. Harris using visual and audio material from the longer original road-show version—including some scenes that have been returned to the film here for the first time—with 5.1 surround Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New audio commentary featuring It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World aficionados Mark Evanier, Michael Schlesinger, and Paul Scrabo
• New documentary on the film’s visual and sound effects, featuring rare behind-the-scenes footage of the crew at work and interviews with visual-effects specialist Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt
• Talk show from 1974 hosted by director Stanley Kramer and featuring Mad World actors Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, and Jonathan Winters
• Press interview from 1963 featuring Kramer and members of the film’s cast
• Interviews recorded for the 2000 AFI program 100 Years . . . 100 Laughs, featuring comedians and actors discussing the influence of the film
• Two-part 1963 episode of the CBC television program Telescope that follows the film’s press junket and premiere
The Last 70mm Film Festival, a program from 2012 featuring cast and crew members from Mad World at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, hosted by Billy Crystal
• Selection of humorist and voice-over artist Stan Freberg’s original TV and radio advertisements for the film, with a new introduction by Freberg
• Original and rerelease trailers, and rerelease radio spots
• Two Blu-rays and three DVDs, with all content available in both formats

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Lou Lumenick

SRP - $49.95

viebohemeLa Vie de Boheme

This deadpan tragicomedy about a group of impoverished, outcast artists living the bohemian life in Paris is among the most beguiling films by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki (Le Havre). Based on stories from Henri Murger’s influential mid nineteenth-century book Scènes de la vie de bohème (the basis for the opera La bohème), the film features a marvelous trio of Kaurismäki regulars, André Wilms, Matti Pellonpää, and Karl Väänänen, as a poet, painter, and composer who scrape by together, sharing in life’s daily absurdities. Gorgeously shot in black and white, La vie de bohème is a vibrantly scrappy rendition of a beloved tale.


1992 • 103 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Where Is Musette?, an hour-long documentary on the making of the film
• New interview with actor André Wilms
• Trailer
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Luc Sante

SRP - $39.95

longdayThe Long Day Closes

The Long Day Closes is the most gloriously cinematic expression of the unique sensibility of Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives; The Deep Blue Sea), widely celebrated as Britain’s greatest living filmmaker. Bursting with both enchantment and melancholy, this autobiographical film takes on the perspective of a quiet boy growing up lonely in Liverpool in the 1950s. But rather than employ a straightforward narrative, Davies jumps in and out of time, swoops into fantasies and fears, summons memories and dreams. A singular filmic tapestry, The Long Day Closes is an evocative, movie- and music–besotted portrait of the artist as a young man.

1992 • 85 minutes • Color • Stereo • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary by director Terence Davies and director of photography Michael Coulter
• Episode from 1992 of the British television series The South Bank Show with Davies, featuring on-set footage from The Long Day Closes and interviews with cast and crew
• New interviews with executive producer Colin MacCabe and production designer Christopher Hobbs
• Trailer
• One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats

• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Koresky

SRP - $39.95

laterayEclipse Series 40: Late Ray

The films directed by the great Satyajit Ray (Charulata) in the last ten years of his life have a unique dignity and drama. Three of them are collected here: the fervent Rabindranath Tagore adaptation The Home and the World; the vital Henrik Ibsen–inspired An Enemy of the People; and the filmmaker’s final film, the poignant and philosophical family story The Stranger. Each is a complex, political, and humane portrait of a world both corrupt and indescribably beautiful, constructed with Ray’s characteristic elegance and imbued with autumnal profundity. These late-career features are the meditative works of a master.

THE HOME AND THE WORLD


Both a romantic triangle tale and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution, The Home and the World, set in early twentieth-century Bengal, concerns an aristocratic but progressive man who, in insisting on broadening his more traditional wife’s political horizons, drives her into the arms of his more radical school chum. Satyajit Ray had wanted to adapt Rabindranath Tagore’s classic novel to the screen for decades. When he finally did, in 1984, he fashioned a personal, exquisite film that stands as a testament to his lifelong love for the great writer.

1984 · 138 minutes · Color · Monaural · In Bengali with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

In Satyajit Ray’s absorbing contemporary adaptation of a play by Henrik Ibsen, a good-hearted doctor discovers that the serious illness befalling the citizens of his small Bengali town may be due to a contamination of the water at the local temple. His findings are met not with public gratitude but with rancor, along with opposition from local authorities, who are afraid the news will keep visitors away. Stately in style but with a fiery debate at its heart, An Enemy of the People gets at the tension between religion and science in everyday Indian life.

1989 · 99 minutes · Color · Monaural · In Bengali with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

THE STRANGER

Satyajit Ray’s valedictory film is a multifaceted character study that contains both light humor and melancholy rumination. Written by the filmmaker, The Stranger involves a bourgeois couple who are bemused by the news that a man claiming to be the wife’s long-lost uncle will be coming to stay with them after years of travel. Though they fear he’s an impostor, they tentatively let the man into their home, commencing an eye-opening emotional journey for the family. A humanist exploration of class, faith, and tradition versus progress, The Stranger is a bittersweet goodbye from one of the world’s most important filmmakers.

1991 · 120 minutes · Color · Monaural · In Bengali with English subtitles · 1.37:1 aspect ratio

SRP - $44.95

Jan
02
2014
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.

Popular

New Reviews