Aboard the Calypso – Sea and Cinema with Jacques Cousteau

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 DeepShipwrecksLandscapes of Silence, Seals in the Sahara, Around a Reef, Off Tunisian CoastsOne sortie du “Rubis,” SCUBA DiaryDanger Under the SeaRhythm 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
  • Trailers
  • 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

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Romance of Transportation in Canada (Colin Low, 1952) and City of Gold (Colin Low and Wolf Koenig, 1957)

NFBIf anything has made my immersion in the NFB worthwhile, it is my newfound appreciation for Colin Low, Wolf Koenig, and Roman Kroitor. These men were prolific contributors to the NFB, working together and apart on seemingly countless productions as directors, animators, producers, and writers and acting as pioneers working in the art of Direct Cinema, developing the IMAX format, and directly influencing the work George Lucas, Stanley Kubrick, and Ken Burns. Presented here is Colin Low’s humourous The Romance of Transportation in Canada (1952), animated by Wolf Koenig and Robert Verrall. Romance won the Short Film Palme d’Or and a special BAFTA Award, and holds the distinction of being the NFB’s first Oscar-nominated animated film and the first international nominee in the Animated Short category. Also offered here is Low and Koenig’s City of Gold (1957), winner of the Palme d’Or, recipient of an Oscar nomination as a documentary short, and boasting narration by beloved Canadian historian, journalist, and television personality Pierre Berton. American documentarian Ken Burns has acknowledged City of Gold as a foundational film to his own work, and the debt owed to Low and Koenig’s use of archival photographs is obvious. Low, Koenig, and Kroitor should be widely know in film circles given their contributions to cinema and we’ll have more on them tomorrow and as our tribute to the NFB continues!

As per the NFB:

A light-hearted animated short about how Canada’s vast distances and great obstacles were overcome by settlers. The story is told with a tongue-in-cheek seriousness and takes us from the intrepid trailblazers of long ago to the aircraft of today and tomorrow. A 1953 Cartoon Short Subject Oscar®-nominee.

As per the NFB:

This classic short film Pierre Berton depicts the Klondike gold rush at its peak, when would-be prospectors struggled through harsh conditions to reach the fabled gold fields over 3000 km north of civilization. Using a collection of still photographs, the film juxtaposes the Dawson City at the height of the gold rush with its bustling taverns and dance halls with the more tranquil Dawson City of the present.

Norman McLaren!

NFBIf the Criterion Collection were to devote a spine number to a single NFB filmmaker, the consensus pick would likely be experimental animator Norman McLaren. The Scottish-born filmmaker received various honours over his career, including an Oscar (and 4 more nominations), a Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement in animation, 3 BAFTA awards, a Silver Bear and Silver Plaque at Berlin, and a short film Palme d’Or at Cannes. The NFB headquarters in Montreal is named after McLaren, as is the electoral district it is located within, and the Film Board commemorated its 70th anniversary with a comprehensive DVD collection of McLaren’s work, Norman McLaren: The Master’s Edition. That set, despite being somewhat confusing in its organization, is just waiting for a blugrade by Criterion. Until such time as that happens, a Criterion Collection set devoted to the NFB would necessarily need to include at least a sampling McLaren’s work. Provided here are three of McLaren’s finest films – Begone Dull Care (1949), winner of a Silver Plaque at the Berlin International Film Festival; Neighbours (1952), Oscar-nominated in the Short Subject category and Oscar-winning as a Documentary Short; and Blinkity Blank (1955), winner of the Short Film Palme d’Or and a BAFTA award.

As per the NFB:

In this extraordinary short animation, Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren painted colours, shapes, and transformations directly onto their filmstrip. The result is a vivid interpretation, in fluid lines and colour, of jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio.

As per the NFB:

In this Oscar®-winning short film, Norman McLaren employs the principles normally used to put drawing or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower.

As per the NFB:

This experimental short film by Norman McLaren is a playful exercise in intermittent animation and spasmodic imagery. Playing with the laws relating to persistence of vision and after-image on the retina of the eye, McLaren engraves pictures on blank film, creating vivid, percussive effects.

Underground (Emir Kusturica, 1995)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Underground.

criterion logoEmir Kusturica’s epic masterpiece recounts the demise of his native Yugoslavia through the metaphorical relationship of Blacky and Marko over fifty years.  The pair booze and brawl their way through World War II, enhancing their reputations as communist guerrilla fighters and black marketeers until Marko tricks Blacky and others into hiding in his cellar where they manufacture weapons for twenty years under the false understanding that the war continues.  This raucous and tragicomic parable won Kusturica the Palme d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and inspired a flurry of controversy that resulted in the filmmaker’s temporary retirement from the cinema.  Included here is Kusturica’s stunning, savage, and hilarious theatrical release and his five-hour television version, Once Upon a Time There Was a Country.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration of the theatrical version, approved by director Emir Kusturica, with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Once Upon a Time There Was a Country, the 5-hour mini-series cut of Underground for Serbian television
  • New interview with Kusturica on his influences, the film, its reception, and its legacy
  • Journalist Tommaso Di Francesco on Underground
  • Shooting Days: Emir Kusturica Directs Underground, Aleksandar Manic’s 73-minute documentary on the making of Underground
  • Underground at Cannes, footage from the post-screening party at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival
  • Guernica, Kusturica’s 1978 short film
  • Interviews with cast and crew
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Sean Homer and production photos

Continue reading

The Knack … and How to Get It (Richard Lester, 1965)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Knack … and How to Get It.

criterion logoEither you have it or you don’t.  Cool and sophisticated Tolen (Ray Brooks) has it with a monopoly on womanizing proven by a long line of conquests, while his naïve and awkward landlord Colin (Michael Crawford) desperately wants a piece of it, but when Colin falls for an innocent country girl (Rita Tushingham), self-assured Tolen quickly makes a play for her.  Fresh from the success of A Hard Day’s Night, Richard Lester applies his frenetic style to the early days of Swinging London and creates this mod masterpiece.  The Knack … and How to Get It breaks through the formulaic conventions of romantic love and the sex comedy and stands as a handsome portrayal of the generation gap and the oncoming sexual revolution, wowing audiences at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival and making it a surprise winner of the Palme d’Or.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Richard Lester, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring Steven Soderbergh interviewing Lester
  • New interviews with Ray Brooks, Michael Crawford, and Rita Tushingham
  • Downloadable soundtrack by John Barry
  • Birdwatching, interviews with Charlotte Rampling, Jacqueline Bisset, and Jane Birkin, who all made their onscreen debuts in The Knack … and How to Get It
  • Richard Lester’s 1965 documentary on Formula One racing made for Esso
  • New interview with Richard Lester on his advertising work during the mid-1960s, including a collection of his television commercials
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by British film scholar Janet Moat

Continue reading

The Mattei Affair (Francesco Rosi, 1972)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Mattei Affair.

criterion logoIn the 1950s, during Italy’s postwar industrial boom, the head of its state-owned oil company, Enrico Mattei, leveraged a small reserve of methane gas in the Po Valley and challenged the established order for international energy policy until he mysteriously died in a plane crash in 1962.  Francesco Rosi, along with his frequent collaborator and actor of choice, Gian Maria Volonté, presents a portrait of Mattei as a dogged industrialist and an unrelenting force for political action, material security, and self-determination.  The Mattei Affair, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, is an obliquely non-linear interrogation of the life and death of one of Italy’s most controversial figures and a rumination on the causes and complicities that led the nation into a period of social and political turmoil.

Disc Features:

  • New digital master from the Film Foundation’s 4K restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New video introduction with Martin Scorsese
  • New video interviews with Francesco Rosi and film critics Tullio Kezich and Michel Ciment
  • Unique – Francesco Rosi on Gian Maria Volonté, Marco Spagnoli’s 30-minute documentary with Rosi on the 20th anniversary of Volonté’s death
  • Video appreciation with filmmaker Alex Cox
  • Restoration demonstration with Scorsese
  • Power & Oil: Enrico Mattei, an hour-long documentary by Fabio Pellarin in 2008
  • Gallery of production art
  • New and improved subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film critics Stuart Klawans and Gary Crowdus

Continue reading