HIGHFALUTIN FILM FANS – CRITERION ANNOUNCES MARCH TITLES!

 

HEY BASTARDS.

 

Okay you highfalutin film fans; time to don the monocle and point your pinky finger in the air with a mildly amused look on your face. It’s time once again to jump into the world of Criterion. The classy crew just unleashed the March titles and I like what I see. Along with some well needed Blu-ray upgrades, we have some selections that I am pleased as punch to see get the finest treatment around. Crack open your favorite top shelf spirit and let’s see what’s doin’ under those fancy pants.
 
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the blob
 

FORMAT:
Blu-ray (upgrade)
 

SPECS:
United States
1958
82 minutes
Color
1.66:1
English
 
Spine #91
 

THE SKINNY FROM CRITERION:
A cult classic of gooey greatness, The Blob follows the havoc wreaked on a small town by an outer-space monster with neither soul nor vertebrae, with Steve McQueen playing the rebel teen who tries to warn the residents about the jellylike invader. Strong performances and ingenious special effects help The Blob transcend the schlock sci-fi and youth delinquency genres from which it originates. Made outside of Hollywood by a maverick film distributor and a crew whose credits mostly comprised religious and educational shorts, The Blob helped launch the careers of McQueen and composer Burt Bacharach, whose bouncy title song is just one of this film’s many unexpected pleasures.
 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Two audio commentaries: one by producer Jack H. Harris and film historian Bruce Eder and the other by director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. and actor Robert Fields
Trailer
Blobabilia!, a gallery of collector Wes Shank’s rare trove of stills, posters, props (including the blob itself!), and other ephemera
PLUS: An essay by critic Kim Newman
 

MY TWO CENTS:
If we’re being honest here, and often to our detriment we always are, I prefer Chuck russell’s 1988 remake to the original. It just moves at a quicker clip and is more fun. That being said, I would never even hesitate to pick up this upgrade. The red dye and silicone mass still packs a helluva matinee punch. The impact this film made on the genre and pop culture is still quivering like love pudding to this day.
 

MINISTRY OF FEAR
 

FORMAT:
Blu-ray/DVD
 

SPECS:
United States
1944
87 minutes
Black and White
1.37:1
English
 
Spine #649
 

THE SKINNY FROM CRITERION:
Suffused with dread and paranoia, this Fritz Lang adaptation of a novel by Graham Greene is a plunge into the eerie shadows of a world turned upside down by war. En route to London after being released from a mental institution, Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) stops at a seemingly innocent village fair, after which he finds himself caught in the web of a sinister underworld with possible Nazi connections. Lang was among the most illustrious of the European émigré filmmakers working in Hollywood during World War II, and Ministry of Fear is one of his finest American productions, an unpredictable thriller with style to spare.
 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
New interview with Fritz Lang scholar Joe McElhaney
Trailer
PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny
 

MY TWO CENTS:
I haven’t seen this film but apparently this Fritz Lang is a big deal despite a name that sounds like he is going to take you for some greenbacks at the pool hall. Look, this is a classic from one of the masters where he revels in the world of noir. Dig it!
 

the life and death of colonel blimp
 

FORMAT:
BLU-RAY/DVD (updgrade)
 

SPECS:
United Kingdom
1943
163 minutes
Color
1.33:1
English
 
Spine #173
 
THE SKINNY FROM CRITERION:
Considered by many to be the finest British film ever made, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a stirring masterpiece like no other. Roger Livesey dynamically embodies outmoded English militarism as the indelible General Clive Candy, who barely survives four decades of tumultuous British history (1902 to 1942) only to see the world change irrevocably before his eyes. Anton Walbrook and Deborah Kerr provide unforgettable support, he as a German enemy turned lifelong friend of Candy’s and she as young women of three consecutive generations—a socially committed governess, a sweet-souled war nurse, and a modern-thinking army driver—who inspire him. Colonel Blimp is both moving and slyly satirical, an incomparable film about war, love, aging, and obsolescence shot in gorgeous Technicolor.
 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
New 4K digital master from the 2012 Film Foundation restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary featuring director Michael Powell and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
Video introduction by Scorsese
A Profile of “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp,” a twenty-four-minute documentary
Restoration demonstration, hosted by Scorsese
Interview with editor Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, Michael Powell’s widow
Gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes production stills
Gallery tracing the history of David Low’s original Colonel Blimp cartoons
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell
 

MY TWO CENTS:
Finally, we get to see in 1080p the source material for THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN. We also get to see an incredible film about war, relationships, and growing old. A powerful film that still remains just as relevant now as it was when it premiered in 1943.
 

badlands
 

FORMAT:
Blu-ray/DVD
 

SPECS:
United States
1973
94 minutes
Color
1.78:1
English
 
Spine #651
 

THE SKINNY FROM CRITERION:
Badlands announced the arrival of a major talent: Terrence Malick. His impressionistic take on the notorious Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate killing spree of the late 1950s uses a serial-killer narrative as a springboard for an oblique teenage romance, lovingly and idiosyncratically enacted by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. The film also introduced many of the elements that would earn Malick his passionate following: the enigmatic approach to narrative and character, the unusual use of voice-over, the juxtaposition of human violence with natural beauty, the poetic investigation of American dreams and nightmares. This debut has spawned countless imitations, but none have equaled its strange sublimity.
 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Making “Badlands,” a new documentary featuring actors Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek and production designer Jack Fisk
New interview with editor Billy Weber about director Terrence Malick’s unique approach to editing
New interview with producer Edward Pressman
“Charles Starkweather,” a 1993 episode of the television series Great Crimes and Trials, about the real-life story on which the film was loosely based
Trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
 

MY TWO CENTS:
The first masterpiece in what has become a brilliant career for Terrence Malick. This is both tough and poetic, violent and sensitive, dark and light. This is a masterpiece. What I love more than anything about this is knowing what his films would become after this picture.
 

monsieur verdoux
 

FORMAT:
Blu-ray/DVD
 

SPECS:
United States
1947
124 minutes
Black and White
1.33:1
English
 
Spine #652
 

THE SKINNY FROM CRITERION:
Charlie Chaplin plays shockingly against type in his most controversial film, a brilliant and bleak black comedy about money, marriage, and murder. Chaplin is a twentieth-century Bluebeard, an enigmatic family man who goes to extreme lengths to support his wife and child, attempting to bump off a series of wealthy widows (including one played by the indefatigable Martha Raye, in a hilarious performance). This deeply philosophical and wildly entertaining film is a work of true sophistication, both for the moral questions it dares to ask and the way it deconstructs its megastar’s loveable on-screen persona.
 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Chaplin Today: “Monsieur Verdoux,” a 2003 program on the film’s production and release, featuring filmmaker Claude Chabrol and actor Norman Lloyd
Charlie Chaplin and the American Press, a new documentary featuring Chaplin specialist Kate Guyonvarch and author Charles Maland
New video essay featuring an audio interview with actress Marilyn Nash
Radio advertisements and trailers
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and reprinted pieces by Chaplin and critic André Bazin
 

MY TWO CENTS:
A Chaplin cult classic. His first film minus the Tramp was skewered by critics and audiences alike. It did okay in Europe, but those nutty Bastards like everything (see: Jerry Lewis). This is an odd film, I can’t say I dig it, not sure if I’m going to pick it up, but I am anxious to give it a watch. One of Chaplin’s darker outings to be sure.
 
A MAN ESCAPED
 

FORMAT:
Blu-ray/DVD
 

SPECS:
France
1956
101 minutes
Black and White
1.33:1
French
 
Spine #650
 

THE SKINNY FROM CRITERION:
With the simplest of concepts and sparest of techniques, Robert Bresson made one of the most suspenseful jailbreak films of all time in A Man Escaped. Based on the memoirs of an imprisoned French resistance leader, this unbelievably taut and methodical marvel follows the fictional Fontaine’s single-minded pursuit of freedom, detailing the planning and carrying out of his escape with gripping precision. But Bresson’s film is not merely process-minded—it’s a work of intense spirituality and humanity.
 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Bresson: Without a Trace, a 1965 episode of the television program Cinéastes de notre temps in which the director gives his first on-camera interview
The Essence of Forms, a forty-five-minute documentary from 2010 in which some of Bresson’s collaborators and admirers, including actor François Leterrier and director Bruno Dumont, share their thoughts about the director and his work
New visual essay with text by film scholars David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson
Trailer
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Tony Pipolo
 

MY TWO CENTS:
How have I not seen this before? My sins will soon be forgiven.
 

That’s it for this month, Bastards. We’ll talk more Criterion titles soon.

 

SEE YOU ON FORTY DEUCE,

 
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One Comment

  • Reply
    December 18, 2012

    I submit to you that the Criterion Collection are the true bastards here because everyone of these is a MUST HAVE!!! I hear my checkbook sobbing in a corner…

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