Every Day (Gabe Spitzer, 2015)

Anyone who’s seen my Letterboxd account knows I’m a big fan of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries. I’ve also alluded here at MMC! to my wife’s love of running. With that in mind, I thought I’d get 2017 off on the right foot with Gabe Spitzer’s Every Day (2015), a portrait of elderly runner Joy Johnson that I saw for the first time this week and left both me and my wife teary-eyed by its end. Johnson didn’t begin running until age 59 but became an accomplished distance runner nonetheless, completing numerous races at various distances, running the New York City Marathon 25 consecutive times, posting a best time at NYC in 1999 at 3:55:30 while age 73, and even running the Twin Cities Marathon and New York City Marathon just 4 weeks apart at the age of 81. Watching Joy should offer some ambition in facing 2017.

Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy, 1942)

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

criterion logoFrom the best-selling novel by James Hilton, author of Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon, comes one of Hollywood’s most sentimental romances and one of 1942’s biggest hits. Ronald Colman stars as Charles Rainier, an amnesiac World War I veteran who falls in love with beautiful music hall performer Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) until a sudden accident restores the man’s true identity while erasing from his mind his relationship with Paula. Charles returns to his privileged life to become a successful industrialist but struggles with an unshakeable longing, all while Paula secretly suffers posing as the businessman’s executive assistant. A box-office triumph honored with seven Academy Awards nominations, Random Harvest is a first class melodrama featuring two of the era’s most distinguished performers.

Disc Features:

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Such a Pretty Little Beach (Yves Allegret, 1949)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Such a Pretty Little Beach.

criterion logoPierre, a young and disillusioned man, arrives at a small hotel in a seaside town in northern France.  In the cold, driving rain of the resort’s off-season, he wanders its deserted beach haunted by his past.  His gloomy demeanor raises the suspicions of the hotel’s staff and guests, including an unsavory and mysterious man who arrives shortly after him and who takes a peculiar interest in Pierre.  Yves Allégret’s Such a Pretty Little Beach is a gorgeously melancholic work of film noir aesthetics that evokes the fatalism of French poetic realism, shot by the great cinematographer Henri Alekan and exploring for the first time the dramatic potential of its star Gérard Philipe.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital film restoration, with DTS-HD Master dual-mono soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Gérard Philipe: The Beginnings of a Child Prodigy, a video retrospective featuring interviews with French writers and filmmakers including Gérard Bonal, Alain Ferrari, Olivier Barrot, and Francis Huster
  • A 1973 episode of Au cinéma ce soir with interviews of Yves Allégret, Jacques Sigurd, and Jean Servais
  • Short, music-only film from the Gaumont Pathé Archives on the children of the state orphanages
  • Alternate ending
  • Photo gallery
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by French film scholar Susan Hayward

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Of Mice and Men (Lewis Milestone, 1939)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Of Mice and Men.

criterion logoJohn Steinbeck’s acclaimed novel was just two years old when director Lewis Milestone adapted it for the screen, painting a bold, vivid picture of men searching for a safe haven from the cruelties of the Great Depression.  Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr. play George and Lennie, a pair of itinerant farm hands in California’s Salinas Valley who dream of someday having a modest ranch of their own, free from the poverty of alienation and loneliness.  Their plans are consistently complicated by the dangerous misunderstandings caused by the hulkling, childlike Lennie, and when his companion’s knack for trouble goes too far, the limits of George’s loyalty and kindness to his friend are tested.  A critical success at its release, admired by Steinbeck himself, and nominated for multiple Academy awards including Best Picture, Of Mice and Men is another classic from Hollywood’s greatest year – 1939.

Disc Features:

  • New sepia-toned, digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • The Forgotten Village (1941), Herbert Kline and Alexander Hamid’s ethnofiction documenting the clash of traditional living and modernization in a Mexican village, written by John Steinbeck and narrated by Burgess Meredith
  • John Steinbeck’s acceptance speech for his 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Of Mice and Men (1992, 115 minutes), a new digital transfer of Gary Sinise’s adaptation of Steinbeck’s novel with deleted scenes, audio commentaries, trailer, and screen and make-up tests
  • Plus: A booklet featuring new essays by Steinbeck scholar Jackson J. Benson, actor and filmmaker Gary Sinise, and filmmaker John Sayles

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[Safe] (Todd Haynes, 1995)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents [Safe].

criterion logoJulianne Moore is riveting in her first leading role as Carol White, a suburban housewife who begins exhibiting the symptoms of environmental illness.  Timid and uncertain, White finds her body rejecting the socially and chemically induced artificiality of her San Fernando Valley life.  When traditional medicine is unable to provide support and treatment to Carol’s diminishing health, she seeks assistance at Wrenwood, a new age facility devoted to treating immunity system deficiencies with its own set of rules and definitions.  Todd Haynes’ [Safe] presents with Kubrickian detachment a dark and fearsome critique of consumer society and contemporary gender roles, as well as allegorical insight on gay existence in straight culture, particularly in the post-AIDS era.  Mysterious, unforgiving, and devastating, [Safe] inverts the feel-good, “disease-of-the-week” TV movie format to become one of the great classics of 1990s cinema.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored digital transfer, supervised by director Todd Hanyes, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary with Haynes, star Julianne Moore, and producer Christine Vachon
  • White [Mater]ial, a new video piece by Amber Jacobs and Catherine Grant
  • Trailers
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring new essays by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and urban theorist Mike Davis and Alison Maclean’s 1995 interview with Todd Haynes.

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Great Freedom No. 7 (Helmut Kautner, 1944)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Great Freedom No. 7.

criterion logoSet in a dive bar in Hamburg, Helmut Käutner’s first color film focuses on the unhappy life of the “singing seaman” Hannes Kröeger (Hans Albers), an entertainer who performs for an audience of prostitutes and sailors on leave.  Hannes is obliged by his dying brother to care for his former mistress Gisa (Ilse Werner) and soon falls madly in love with the young woman.  Gisa is torn between the singer and a young dockworker who courts her, leaving Hannes to struggle between pursuing her and a new life together, remaining in his cabaret, or finally returning to sea as a true sailor once again.  Titled after the street where the cabaret is located in Hamburg’s red light district, Great Freedom No. 7 is emblematic of Käutner’s humane storytelling and his aesthetic resistance to the film culture of the Third Reich.

Disc Features:

  • New digital master, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by German film scholar Eric Rentschler
  • Terra in Agfacolor, a new video essay with German film historian R. Dixon Smith on Terra film studios and the Agfacolor film process
  • Collection of downloadable songs performed by Hans Albers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring new essays by German film scholar Rembert Hueser and Helmut Käutner historian Robert C. Reimer

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