February 2012 Announcements

It’s the 15th which means Criterion released a new month of releases. This time for February of 2012. The shortest month of the year gets a pretty hefty amount of releases.

A blu-grade of La Jetée/Sans Soleil is the first of the bunch. An interesting choice for an upgrade but none the less pretty awesome. Not big on how they call it a box set even though it’s on one disc.

SYNOPSIS: 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 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.

GUILLAUME-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

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

Tiny Furniture which was known about forever finally hits in February. A rather ugly cover in my opinion. Not very modern or really very anything, just ugly.

SYNOPSIS: 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.

DISC 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. Another samurai flick and yet another month with a Criterion with absolutely no supplements.

SYNOPSIS: This first film by the legendary Hideo Gosha 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.

DISC 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

Another one that we knew was coming. World on a Wire. Can’t wait. 40 bucks for a 1-disc blu-ray and 30 for a 2-disc dvd. Come on Criterion.

SYNOPSIS: World on a Wire is a gloriously paranoid, boundlessly inventive take on the future from German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder. 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 (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.

DISC 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

Another one with two dvds that costs ten dollars less than blu-ray. Is Criterion making $30 their limit for DVD’s now? Would it hurt them to do it with some blu-rays as well? Anyway, Anatomy of a Murder is great and this has some really swell supplements on it. Plus, that cover is tight. Spine #600 worthy? I think so.

SYNOPSIS: A virtuoso James Stewart plays a small-town Michigan lawyer who takes on a difficult case: that of a young Army lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) accused of murdering the local tavern owner who he believes raped his wife (Lee Remick). This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur Otto Preminger, 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 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.

DISC 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

Then lastly is Vanya on 42nd Street. So it appears since Criterion had some covers this month that are really great they decided to just take a dump on the others. Did anyone approve this cover? It’s a mess.

SYNOPSIS: 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. 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.

DISC 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

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