The Criterion Collection has announced five titles for Blu-ray release in April. On April 9th, the studio will release Richard III (Laurence Olivier, 1955), Gate of Hell (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1953), and Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, 1991). A week later, it will release Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984). On April 23rd, it will release a collection of films by director-actor Pierre Etaix.
Technical specs and special features include:
With Richard III, director, producer, and star Laurence Olivier brings Shakespeare's masterpiece of Machiavellian villainy to mesmerizing cinematic life. Olivier is diabolically captivating as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who, through a set of murderous machinations, steals the crown from his brother Edward. The supporting cast—including Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, and Claire Bloom—is just as impressive. Filmed in VistaVision and Technicolor, Richard III is one of the most visually inspired of all big-screen Bard adaptations.
New high-definition digital master of the Film Foundation's 2012 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary by playwright and stage director Russell Lees and John Wilders, former governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company
Interview with actor Laurence Olivier from a 1966 episode of the BBC series Great Acting, hosted by theater critic Kenneth Tynan
Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production stills and posters, accompanied by excerpts from Olivier's autobiography, On Acting
Twelve-minute television trailer featuring footage of Olivier, producer Alexander Korda, and other cast and crew from the film
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin in the Blu-ray edition
Gate of Hell
A winner of Academy Awards for best foreign-language film and best costume design, Gate of Hell is a visually sumptuous, psychologically penetrating work from Teinosuke Kinugasa. In the midst of epic, violent intrigue in twelfth-century Japan, an imperial warrior falls for a lady-in-waiting; even after he discovers she is married, he goes to extreme lengths to win her love. Kinugasa's film is an unforgettable, tragic story of obsession and unrequited passion that was an early triumph of color cinematography in Japan.
New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince
In this adaptation of William S. Burroughs's hallucinatory, once-thought unfilmable novel Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg, a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict named Bill Lee (Robocop's Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish Interzone, a netherworld of sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. Alternately humorous and grotesque—and always surreal—the film mingles aspects of Burroughs's novel with incidents from the writer's own life, resulting in an evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process.
High-definition digital transfer, approved by director David Cronenberg, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
Audio commentary featuring Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller
Naked Making Lunch, a 1992 television documentary by Chris Rodley about the making of the film
Special effects gallery, featuring artwork and photos alongside an essay by Cinefex magazine editor Jody Duncan
Collection of original marketing materials
Audio recording of William S. Burroughs reading from his novel Naked Lunch
Gallery of photos taken by poet Allen Ginsberg of Burroughs
PLUS: A booklet featuring reprinted pieces by film critic Janet Maslin, director Chris Rodley, critic and novelist Gary Indiana, and Burroughs
A quintessential cult film of the 1980s, Alex Cox's singular sci-fi comedy stars the always captivating Harry Dean Stanton as a weathered repo man in desolate downtown Los Angeles, and Emilio Estevez as the nihilistic middle-class punk he takes under his wing. The job becomes more than either of them bargained for when they get involved in reclaiming a mysterious—and otherworldly—Chevy Malibu with a hefty reward attached to it. Featuring the ultimate early-eighties L.A. punk soundtrack, this grungily hilarious odyssey is a politically trenchant take on President Reagan's domestic and foreign policy.
New high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Alex Cox, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary featuring Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora
Interviews with Cox, Richardson, and Zamora; producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks; actors Olivia Barash, Dick Rude, Miguel Sandoval, and Harry Dean Stanton; musicians Keith Morris and Iggy Pop; and Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb
The complete "cleaned-up" television version of the film, prepared by Cox
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Sam McPheeters; an illustrated production history by Cox, with his original comic and film proposal; and a 1987 interview with real-life repo man Mark Lewis
A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director-actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered and taken up with relish. His work can be placed in the spectrum of classic physical comedy with that of Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis, but it also stands alone. These films, influenced by Etaix's experiences as a circus acrobat and clown and by the silent film comedies he adored, are elegantly deadpan, but as an on-screen presence, Etaix radiates warmth. This collection includes all of his films, including five features, The Suitor (1962), Yoyo (1965), As Long as You've Got Your Health (1966), Le grand amour (1969), and Land of Milk and Honey (1971)—most of them collaborations with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière—and three shorts, Rupture (1961), the Oscar-winning Happy Anniversary (1962), and Feeling Good (1966). Not one of these is anything less than a bracing and witty delight.
The Suitor - Pierre Etaix's first feature introduces the droll humor and oddball charm of its unique writer-director-star. As a tribute to Buster Keaton, Etaix fashioned this lovable story of a privileged yet sheltered young man (played by Etaix himself, in a nearly silent performance) who, under pressure from his parents, sets out to find a young woman to marry—though he has a hard time tearing his mind away from the famous singer whose face decorates the walls of his bedroom.
Yoyo - This elaborately conceived and brilliantly mounted comedy is Pierre Etaix's most beloved movie, as well as his personal favorite. Beginning as a clever homage to silent film, complete with intertitles, Yoyo blossoms into a poignant family saga (in which Etaix plays both a father and his grown son) and a celebration of the circus Etaix adored. Chock-full of nimble sight gags and ingenious sound effects, Yoyo is very sweet, a little bit melancholy, and wholly imaginative.
As Long as You've Got Your Health - In this endlessly diverting compendium of four short films, Pierre Etaix regards the 1960s from his askew but astute perspective. Each part is as technically impressive as it is riotous: a man attempts to read a novel about vampires beside his sleeping wife but cannot seem to separate reality from fiction; a simple afternoon at the movies becomes a consumer-culture assault; a jarringly noisy urban landscape keeps a city's population on edge; and a day in the country means something different to a picnicking city couple, a hunter, and a farmer.
Le grand amour - Despite having a loving and patient wife at home, a good-natured suit-and-tie man, played by writer-director Pierre Etaix, finds himself hopelessly attracted to his gorgeous new secretary in this gently satirical tale of temptation. From this simple, standard premise, Etaix weaves a constantly surprising web of complexly conceived jokes. Le grand amour is a cutting, nearly Buñuelian takedown of the bourgeoisie that somehow doesn't have a mean bone in its body.
Land of Milk and Honey - Pierre Etaix's most radical film, and perhaps unsurprisingly the one that effectively ended his career in cinema, Land of Milk and Honey is a fascinating investigative documentary about post–May '68 French society. In it, Etaix trains his discerning eye on idle summer vacationers, but the film has bigger fish to fry, asking pertinent questions about the sexualization of culture, class and gender inequality, media and advertising, and even architecture.
New digital restorations of all five features and three short films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
New interview with director Pierre Etaix
New video introductions by Etaix to seven of the films
Pierre Etaix, un destin animé (2010), a portrait of the life and work of the director by his wife, Odile Etaix
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic David Cairns
Richard III and Naked lunch look like straight DVD upgrades - no new extras. Probably get Naked Lunch as I already have Richard III so not sure if is worth upgrade.
Never seen Repo Man - it doesn't jump out at me though so I might wait for reviews of the disc as a whole although it does sound comprehensive.
Pierre Etaix sounds interesting - someone I've never heard anythign about. Would have been nice for a commentary or two to put these in perspective. Hopefully the intros for each film are comprehensive instead.
randomguitarist and tonylopez: I heartily agree with both of you.
As for this latest crop of titles, the ones that stand out to me the most are Naked Lunch (since I'm intrigued by Cronenberg film); Richard III (always open to see a top-notch Shakespearean story; could Olivier's Hamlet (1948) be far behind?); and the Pierre Etaix box set (I tend to like my comedy edgy and offbeat). Repo Man and Gate of Hell are also likely to be added to my collection down the line.
REPO MAN!!! I was so close to buying multi-region bluray player to get the masters of cinema import, Thank you Criterion! Now how about Criterion picking up Silent Running from MOC import. Excuse me i need to go get some sushi...and NOT PAY!
It does seem like Criterion is going a pinch more mainstream these days, with at least one title a month (Repo Man, Rosemary's Baby, The [Original] Blob, etc), which harkens back to their laserdisc and early DVD days. Promising, if you ask me! Gives me a pinch more hope that they'll reclaim the rights to The Killer and Hard Boiled, which seem to still be two of the most collectible Criterion laserdisc and DVD releases.
Another great line up from Criterion! Residing on the region B side of the pond I alreay own Repo Man and Gate of Hell, but I'm definitely in for Richard III. I really like the cover art for Repo Man, very stylish.
REPO MAN is great, I have the Eureka / MoC SteelBook (UK) & the remaster is really nice...the funny bonus is the TV version...which has the classic lines of replacing 'Mother F*cker' to 'Melon Farmer' ;p
"Repo Man", Thank you God & Criterion! On top of that it includes the TV version? Couldn't ask for more. Well, I could, but I'm not a greedy a**hole. Commentary too! Could end up being my favorite release this year just based on how much I love the film alone.
Here it is: the obligatory complaining, moaning entry about where Criterion has gone wrong! These are okay and all, but there are so many films that sorely need a blu ray upgrade before NAKED LUNCH!!!! ok so richard iii is a good choice, no doubt, but what kills me is all the obvious titles that are missing in the HD world:
the human condition (absolutely BEGGING for a blu ray release IMO)
the hidden fortress (c'mon already)
f is for fake
cassavetes box set
ace in the hole
all the sirk films
the bad sleep well
adventures of antoine doinel
jules and jim
i know where i'm going
knife in the water
...and that's just the tip of the iceberg
i know a number of these are available internationally (non-US), as i do own them, but the titles i've listed are merely a sampling of the absolutely vital films that should, by all means, be out by now on blu ray. and i'm not even getting into more obscure personal favorites, because i know there's little to no chance of an upgrade for those titles, but those aforementioned ones are simply essential to most i guess this is a freaking GOLDEN AGE if you're a charlie chaplin fan. i, for one, am not.
"Gate of Hell" makes me very happy, although the cover art is a little hincty for my taste. And "Repo Man" has the "melonfarmer" cut of the movie as well?! WOW.
@blu beaver, I suspect Criterion would love to bring out HD versions of all of the above, but they may not automatically have the rights to distribute in that format, and may be renegotiating as we speak to get what they can. (Or working on new remasters that are specifically for BD.) I'd love to see a BD of "Kwaidan" myself, for the record.
Why not Cassavetes on Blu-ray? If the entire collection of David Lynch or Wes Anderson seem to be making it's way to Blu-ray why not Cassavetes? I would rather have his movies over the other two anytime of the week
Thumbs up if you, like me, click on any title that says criterion hoping to see "the criterion collection announces Spartacus (1960)", shame on you universal for a bluray release inferior to the criterion DVD.
I never expected to see Naked Lunch coming out at any time. Even though the DVD still holds up pretty well, the Blu-Ray will be mine! Me and my giant talking bug friends will sit around the morphing typewriter, inhaling some bug powder watching this picture in gorgeous high-def!
Hmm...only really interested in Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi against the system. Hopefully, someday, we will see "The Human Condition" on blu-ray. Not sure why that was not released when the DVD set was.
Oops, forgot I am also interested in Gate of Hell (1953) by Teinosuke Kinugasa.
That Gate of Hell cover is, in particular, garbage. I don't mind the art itself, but do as a cover for this film. Naked Lunch is really the only great one. Thankfully movies spend most of their time on my bookshelf and not being displayed solo.
Would kill for Apu Trilogy and Ikiru.
Excited for each of these releases, except for Pierre Etaix, which I am unaware of, but will likely find entertaining once I am acquainted.
I'd personally like to see Jigoku on Blu, Kwaidan as well! The Ruling Class!!! The Hit and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, maybe some Phantom of Liberty and the Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie? "I'd buy that for a dollar!"