November will add three new spine numbers to the Criterion Collection – Desert Hearts (Donna Deitch, 1985), The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940), and Jabberwocky (Terry Gilliam, 1977) – and in a case of First World/film nerd problems, none of these upcoming versions port over all the special features of the existing editions I own! Ugh, how I must suffer. Thankfully, the trailer for Jabberywocky scores high marks for Pythonesque recklessness and a great series of gag warnings. Brilling!
What a month! Criterion knocks it outta the park with its October releases, trailers abound with the San Diego Comic Con in full swing, reviews from the ongoing Fantasia Film Festival keep rolling in, and I’m scheduled for 14 screenings at the Gimli Film Festival later this week! Wheeeee!
The stand out title in Criterion’s stacked October announcements is Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975). It’s taken me quite a while to become comfortable with the contrasting beauty of Kubrick’s compositions and the coldness of his direction, but this tension has always felt right in Barry Lyndon, where the great director dissects the shallowness of his subject with great insight and depth. Everything about the Criterion Collection’s edition of Barry Lyndon looks amazing and I suspect I may need to re-write my Top Ten as a result.
First, a shout out to Cole and Ericca at The Magic Lantern Podcast who shared some love for MMC! in their recent discussion of Little Murders. Cole and Ericca provide a great (and very funny) discussion on the relationship at the centre of Arkin’s film. For the record, I’m with Cole – the wedding sequence stands as the most enjoyable part of the movie and Elliott Gould’s unresponsiveness to the demands of social convention or personal interactions is all too recognizable.
My most recent Criterion connection came by seeing Brazilian singer Seu Jorge perform live his selection of David Bowie covers from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Jorge put on an amazing show, providing a variety of entertaining anecdotes on the making of the film, displaying some nimble guitar-work, and filling the theatre with his deep, impressive voice. The trailer for The Life Aquatic prominently features Jorge’s covers, serving as an effective promo of the singer’s currently touring show. Don’t miss it!
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Aboard the Calypso – Sea and Cinema with Jacques Cousteau.
Explorer. Inventor. Author. Conservationist. Filmmaker. Jacques Cousteau was an iconic figure in marine exploration, spending more than sixty years investigating undersea kingdoms and sharing his tales with the world. Over three award-winning feature films spanning twenty years, Cousteau reveals the beauty and dangers beneath the waves of the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the frozen Antarctic, finding seldom seen tropical wonders, describing the pressures of living in an underwater base for weeks at a time, and persevering through the life or death struggle to survive at the South Pole. Both the committed naturalist and the keen showman, Cousteau portrayed his oceanic marvels with the idealism and the spectacle of science fiction and inspired generations to care for alien worlds here at home and no longer hidden from view.
Special Edition Three-Blu Ray Set Features:
- New high definition digital transfers of The Silent World, World Without Sun, and Voyage to the Edge of the World, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
- French and English-language audio tracks
- Introductions by Wes Anderson, James Cameron, and Werner Herzog
- Of Silence and Men: The Pioneers of The Silent World, a 50-minute documentary featuring interviews with Jacques Cousteau, co-director Louis Malle, camera designer André Laban, Cousteau scholar Franck Machu, and Malle biographer Pierre Billard
- Two Men, A Masterpiece, an interview with Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle
- The Silent World’s Legacy, interviews with Jacques Cousteau, Luc Besson, and Jacques Perrin
- Early films of Jacques Cousteau: 18 Meters Deep, Shipwrecks, Landscapes of Silence, Seals in the Sahara, Around a Reef, Off Tunisian Coasts, One sortie du “Rubis,” SCUBA Diary, Danger Under the Sea, Rhythm on the Reef, and The Red Sea
- Station 307 and The Fountain of the Vaucluse, a pair of short films by Louis Malle made in collaboration with Jacques Cousteau
- Edmond Séchan’s Academy Award-winning short The Golden Fish, produced by Jacques Cousteau
- Restoration demonstration
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker Luc Jacquet and excerpts from Cousteau’s 1953 book The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure
IT’S A MEAN MACHINE – CUTS YOUR HEAD OFF CLEAN!
This classic martial arts death match pits two wuxia icons against each other – the famed One-Armed Boxer (Hong Kong superstar Jimmy Wang Yu) versus a blind assassin (veteran character actor Kam Kong) and his legendary Flying Guillotine. Set in 1730, during the early part of the Ching dynasty, ethnic Chinese Hans formed bands of rebels to fight their Manchurian oppressors. After the One-Armed Boxer, a stoic kung fu expert and Han revolutionary, disposes of two would-be assassins, their master, a formidable blind emissary of the Ching posing as a Buddhist monk, swears revenge, searching out every one-armed martial artist and snatching their heads with his tethered decapitation device called the Flying Guillotine.
Arguably the most famous Hong Kong martial arts film of the post-Bruce Lee, pre-Jackie Chan period, this independently-produced classic is more popular than ever, with a legacy extending to films like Kill Bill and video games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. With its wild, fantasy face-offs and its cosmic Krautrock soundtrack, Master of the Flying Guillotine is undoubtedly a film worthy of losing your head over!
- New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Mandarin version and English dub track (uncompressed on the Blu-ray Disc)
- New optional English subtitle translation
- Audio commentary with film critics Andy Klein, Wade Major, and Alex Luu
- Interviews with star/director Jimmy Wang Yu
- Spinning Vengeance – director Quentin Tarantino on Master of the Flying Guillotine
- Design for Decapitation – Grant Imahara on the mechanics of the Flying Guillotine
- Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Craig Lines
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.