It’s easy to look at the Criterion Collection’s July announcements as being rather slim, but the announcement of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) is a long awaited dream finally come true for cineastes. And if the thinness of new edition’s supplements have muted your enthusiasm, one look at the trailer for the 2017 restoration may be the answer to all your anxieties. I would daresay that this trailer nearly shows an entirely new film to me. This could be a revelation.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
On the Santa Monica Pier, in the shabby La Monica Ballroom, a bizarre Depression-era fad unfolds – the dance marathon. A worn out collection of hopefuls (Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Bonnie Bedelia, Red Buttons, and Bruce Dern) compete in hopes that a Hollywood casting agent spots them or that they at least win the contest’s $1,500 cash prize. But the competition is a grueling public spectacle, lasting thousands of hours and taking weeks to proceed, leaving dignity and salvation farther and farther away. Based on Horace McCoy’s brutally poetic novel and featuring stand-out performances including Gig Young’s award-winning role as the marathon’s huckstering emcee, Sydney Pollack’s seminal film puts a cap on 1960s idealism and paints a bleak portrait of the American Dream that still resonates today.
- New 2K digital transfer, presented with uncompressed stereo on the Blu-ray edition
- Audio commentary by director and producer Sydney Pollack
- Audio commentary with Jane Fonda, producer Irwin Winkler, former president of ABC Pictures and talent agent Martin Baum, Bonnie Bedelia, Michael Sarrazin, Red Buttons, and legendary hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff
- New interviews with actors Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Bonnie Bedelia
- New interview with film critic Kim Morgan
- New interview with filmmaker Sarah Gertrude Shapiro discussing They Shoot Horses and introducing her 2013 short film Sequin Raze
- Original featurette on the making of the film
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Scott MacDonald, composer John Green’s musical continuity notes, Pollack’s forward to the screenplay, and notes, pictures, and diagrams taken from Pollack’s shooting script; a new paperback edition of McCoy’s original novel
Here are “Three Reasons” for our next Criterion Collection proposal:
- Reality Entertainment
- Dancing on the Edge
- Selling Out the American Dream
Got it? Either way, MMC! will meet you on the Santa Monica Pier in a day or two.
Big thanks to Aaron West for inviting me on Criterion Now, his recurring podcast on the ongoing developments of all things Criterion! You can listen to us now on “Episode 11 – Blow-Up, Tiny Furniture, Gimme Shelter.”
Lucky listeners can hear me shrug off ’60s London, defend the aspect ratio of comic books, mistake Zelig as ’70s Woody Allen, declare myself the spokesman of a nation, and defend Lena Dunham, Michael Bay, and Point Break. It was a lot of fun, but MMC! followers should enjoy it now because a track record like that doesn’t encourage repeat visits!
(And for the record: I don’t dislike Blow-Up (I just have other Antonioni films I much prefer), I probably should have stumped for Take the Money and Run (1969) which I also enjoy, and I do have great tolerance when the Collection tries to represent cinema outside its typical fare, even when it results in titles like Armageddon and Jellyfish Eyes.)
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Our Little Sister.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary) is a scenic and gently sensitive domestic drama that confirms its maker’s reputation as a great director in the tradition of Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse. Adapted from a popular Japanese comic book, the film concerns three twentysomething sisters – Sachi, Yoshino, and Chika – who live together in an old, large house in the seaside city of Kamakura. When their long absent father dies, they travel to a small countryside town for his funeral and meet their shy, teenage half-sister for the first time. Bonding quickly with the orphaned Suzu, they invite her to live with them and the four sisters commence a new life of tentatively joyful discovery. With documentary precision and picturesque elegance, Our Little Sister is a touching survey of love, generosity, and the weight of family histories.
- New high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Hirokazu Kore-eda and cinematographer Mikiya Takimoto, with DTS-HD Master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Documentaries on the making of Our Little Sister including revisiting locations with the cast and cooking dishes featured in the film
- Interview with Kore-eda for French television
- Footage and interviews from the red carpet at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival
- 2015 Cannes Film Festival press conference
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by Japanese film scholar Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano
Official and unofficial Criterion announcements having been rolling in since our last “Trailer Tuesday” and fans of the Collection are naturally excited for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979). They’re certainly great movies by celebrated directors, but MMC! will take a moment to praise the teased addition of Albert Brooks’ Lost in America (1985), a film that I saw for the first time a few years ago, introduced by Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald, and that has been fixture on my own proposal list for some time. There are plenty of other great films by Brooks that could bear a wacky “C” and so hopefully we’ll find an opportunity to stump for one of those other titles soon.