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The Criterion Collection: February Releases

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Each month, the Criterion Collection releases a selected number of titles onto DVD and Blu-ray. For the most part, these are films that have seen sort of home video release previously, but would never reach the shelves of your local Best Buy or Barnes and Noble without the extra push that the Criterion Collection gives it. Aside from cleaning up the picture and sound (frequently working from the original negative), providing some nifty packaging and artwork, and making your DVD collection look that much more cultured and refined, Criterion provides the valuable service of rescuing films that otherwise would never see the light of day, so not only can you proudly show off your sets, you can tell people that you’re performing a public service. Here’s what’s coming out this month:

anatomy_of_a_murder_bluAnatomy of a Murder- $39.95 -

A virtuoso James Stewart (Vertigo) plays a small-town Michigan lawyer who takes on a difficult case: that of a young Army lieutenant (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’s Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering the local tavern owner who he believes raped his wife (Days of Wine and Roses’ Lee Remick). This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur Otto Preminger (Laura), was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sex—more than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words. With its outstanding supporting cast—including a young George C. Scott (Patton) as a fiery prosecuting attorney and legendary real-life attorney Joseph N. Welch as the judge—and influential jazz score by Duke Ellington, Anatomy of a Murder is a Hollywood landmark; it was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture.

1959 • 161 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.85:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES 
• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New alternate 5.1 soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
• New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch
• Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington’s score in a new interview
• A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger with Bass biographer Pat Kirkham 
• Newsreel footage from the set
• Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger in discussion with William F. Buckley Jr.
• Excerpts from the work in progress Anatomy of “Anatomy”: The Making of a Movie
• Behind-the-scenes photographs by Life magazine’s Gjon Mili
• Trailer, featuring on-set footage
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton and a 1959 Life magazine article on real-life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, who plays the judge in the film

tiny_furniture_bluTiny Furniture- $39.95 -

Lena Dunham got her start making YouTube videos, but she emerged as a major talent thanks to the breakthrough success of this exceptionally sharp comedy, which garnered the twenty-four-year-old writer-director-actor comparisons to the likes of Woody Allen. The filmmaker herself plays Aura, a recent college graduate who returns to New York and moves back in with her mother and sister (played by their real-life counterparts). Though Aura is gripped by stasis and confusion about her future, Dunham locates endless sources of refreshing humor in her plight. As painfully confessional as it is endlessly amusing, Tiny Furniture is an authentic, incisive portrait of a young woman at a crossroads.

2010 • 99 minutes • Color • 5.1 Surround • 2.35:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES 
• New digital transfer, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Director Lena Dunham talks about filmmaking and autobiography in a new interview with writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron
• New interview with writer-director Paul Schrader
• Creative Nonfiction, Dunham’s first feature film
• Four short films by Dunham
• Trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate

three_outlaw_Samurai_bluThree Outlaw Samurai- $29.95 -

This first film by the legendary Hideo Gosha (Sword of the Beast) is among the most canonized chambara (sword-fighting) films. An origin-story offshoot of a Japanese television series phenomenon of the same name, Three Outlaw Samurai is a classic in its own right. In it, a wandering, seen-it-all ronin (Tetsuro Tamba) becomes entangled in the dangerous business of two other samurai (Isamu Nagato and Mikijiro Hira), hired to execute a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of a corrupt magistrate. With remarkable storytelling economy and thrilling action scenes, this is an expertly mounted tale of revenge and loyalty.

1964 • 93 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 2.35:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES 
• High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri

jetee_sans_soleil_bluLa Jetee and Sans Soleil- $39.95 -

One of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made and a mind-bending free-form travelogue: La Jetée and Sans Soleil couldn’t seem more different—but they’re the twin pillars of an unparalleled and uncompromising career in cinema. A filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, and now videographer and digital multimedia artist, Chris Marker (A Grin Without a Cat) has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his investigations of time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. These two films—a tale of time travel told in still images and a journey to Africa and Japan—remain his best-loved and most widely seen.

La Jetée 
1963 • 27 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • Presented both in English and in French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
Sans Soleil 
1983 • 103 minutes • Color • Monaural • Presented both in English and in French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
 
GUILLAUME-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• Restored high-definition digital transfers, approved by director Chris Marker, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks 
• Two interviews with filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin
• Chris on Chris, a video piece on Marker by filmmaker and critic Chris Darke
• Two excerpts from the French television series Court-circuit (le magazine): a look at David Bowie’s music video for the song “Jump They Say,” inspired by La Jetée, and an analysis of Hitchcock’s Vertigo and its influence on Marker
• Junkopia, a six-minute film by Marker about the Emeryville Mudflats
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by Marker scholar Catherine Lupton, an interview with Marker, notes on the films and filmmaking by Marker, and more

world_on_wire_bluWorld on a Wire- $39.95 -

World on a Wire is a gloriously paranoid, boundlessly inventive take on the future from German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Marriage of Maria Braun). With dashes of Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Philip K. Dick, as well as a flavor entirely his own, Fassbinder tells the noir-spiked tale of a reluctant action hero, Fred Stiller (The Odessa File’s Klaus Lowitsch), a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate conspiracy. At risk? (Virtual) reality as we know it. Originally made for German television, this recently rediscovered, three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is a satiric and surreal look at the weird world of tomorrow from one of cinema’s kinkiest geniuses.

1973 • 212 minutes • Color • Monaural • In German with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES 
• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Fassbinder’s “World on a Wire”: Looking Ahead to Today, a fifty-minute documentary about the making of the film by Juliane Lorenz
• New interview with German-film scholar Gerd Gemünden
• New English subtitles
• Trailer for the 2010 theatrical release
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Ed Halter

vanya_42nd_St_bluVanya on 42nd Street- $39.95 -

In the nineties, André Gregory mounted a series of spare, private performances of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in a crumbling Manhattan playhouse. These treasures of pure theater would have been lost to time had they not been captured on film, with subtle cinematic brilliance, by Louis Malle (My Dinner with André). In Vanya on 42nd Street, a stellar cast of actors—including Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore, Brooke Smith, and George Gaynes—embark on a full read-through of Uncle Vanya (adapted into English by David Mamet); the result is as memorable and emotional a screen version of Chekhov’s masterpiece as one could ever hope to see. This film, which turned out to be Malle’s last, is a tribute to the playwright’s devastating work as well as to the creative process itself.    

1994 • 120 minutes • Color • 2.0 Surround • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES 
• New high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New documentary featuring interviews with André Gregory, the play’s director; actors Lynn Cohen, George Gaynes, Julianne Moore, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, and Brooke Smith; and producer Fred Berner
• Trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Steven Vineberg and a 1994 on-set report by film critic Amy Taubin

Feb
13
2012
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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