The Criterion Collection has announced nine titles for Blu-ray release in December: On December 3rd, the studio will release Elio Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) and Robert Altman's Nashville (1975). On December 10, the studio will release Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project, a collection of six films, and Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer's Grey Gardens (1976).
The provocative Italian filmmaker Elio Petri's most internationally acclaimed work is this remarkable, visceral, Oscar-winning thriller. Petri maintains a tricky balance between absurdity and realism in telling the Kafkaesque tale of a Roman police inspector (Gian Maria Volonté, in a commanding performance) investigating a heinous crime—which he committed himself. Both a penetrating character study and a disturbing commentary on the draconian crackdowns by the Italian government in the late 1960s and early '70s, Petri's kinetic portrait of surreal bureaucracy is a perversely pleasurable rendering of controlled chaos.
New 4K digital restoration by the Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Archival interview with director Elio Petri, conducted by critic and filmmaker Alexandre Astruc
Elio Petri: Notes About a Filmmaker (2005), a ninety-minute documentary on the director's career, featuring interviews with friends, collaborators, and filmmakers
New interview with film scholar Camilla Zamboni
Investigation of a Citizen Named Volonté (2008), a fifty-minute documentary about actor Gian Maria Volonté
Music in His Blood, an interview with composer Ennio Morricone from 2010, conducted by film critic Fabio Ferzetti
New English subtitle translation
One Blu-ray and two DVDs, with all content available in both formats
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Evan Calder Williams and excerpts from a 2001 book by author and screenwriter Ugo Pirro
This cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman is a panoramic view of the country's political and entertainment landscapes, set in the nation's music capital. Nashville weaves the stories of twenty-four characters—from country star to wannabe to reporter to waitress—into a cinematic tapestry that is equal parts comedy, tragedy, and musical. Many members of the astonishing cast wrote and performed their own songs live on location, which lends another layer to the film's quirky authenticity. Altman's ability to get to the heart of American life via its eccentric byways was never put to better use than in this grand, rollicking triumph, which barrels forward to an unforgettable conclusion.
New 2K digital film restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary featuring director Robert Altman
New documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with actors Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Allan Nicholls, and Lily Tomlin; assistant director Alan Rudolph; and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury
Archival interviews with Altman
Demos of Carradine singing his songs from the film
One Blu-ray and two DVDs, with all content available in both editions
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell
Established by Martin Scorsese in 2007, the World Cinema Project expands the horizons of moviegoers everywhere. The mission of the WCP is to preserve and present marginalized and infrequently screened films from regions of the world ill equipped to provide funding for major restorations. This collector's set brings together six superb films from various countries, including Bangladesh/India (A River Called Titas), Mexico (Redes), Morocco (Trances), Senegal (Touki bouki), South Korea (The Housemaid), and Turkey (Dry Summer); each is a cinematic revelation, depicting a culture not often seen by outsiders.
With a stunning mix of the surreal and the naturalistic, Djibril Diop Mambéty paints a vivid, fractured portrait of Senegal in the early 1970s. In this French New Wave–influenced fantasy-drama, two young lovers long to leave Dakar for the glamour and comforts of Europe, but their escape plan is beset by complications both concrete and mystical. Marked by dazzling imagery and music, the alternately manic and meditative Touki Bouki is widely admired as one of the most important African films ever made.
Early in his career, the Austrian-born, future Oscar winner Fred Zinnemann codirected with Emilio Gómez Muriel the politically and emotionally searing Redes. In this vivid, documentary-like dramatization of the daily grind of men struggling to make a living by fishing on the Gulf of Mexico (mostly played by real-life fishermen), one worker's terrible loss instigates a political awakening among him and his fellow laborers. A singular coming together of stunning talents, Redes, commissioned by a progressive Mexican government, was gorgeously shot and cowritten by the legendary photographer Paul Strand.
The Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak's stunningly beautiful, elegiac saga concerns the tumultuous lives of people in fishing villages along the banks of the Titas River in pre-Partition East Bengal. Focusing on the tragic intertwining fates of a series of fascinating characters, in particular the indomitable widow Basanti, Ghatak tells the poignant story of an entire community's vanishing way of life. Made soon after Bangladesh became an independent nation, the elliptical, stylized, painterly A River Called Titas is a grand epic from a director who has had a devoted following for decades.
Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear at the 1964 Berlin International Film Festival, Metin Erksan's wallop of a melodrama concerns the machinations of an unrepentantly selfish tobacco farmer who builds a dam to prevent water from flowing downhill to nourish his neighbors' crops. Alongside this tale of soul-devouring competition is one of overheated desire, as a love triangle develops between the farmer, his more decent brother, and the beautiful villager the latter takes as his bride, resulting in a Cain and Abel–like struggle. A benchmark of Turkish cinema, this is a visceral, innovatively shot and vibrantly acted depiction of the horrors of greed.
The beloved Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane is the dynamic subject of this captivating musical documentary. Storytellers through song, some with a background in political theater, the band's members became an international sensation (Western rock critics have often referred to them as "the Rolling Stones of North Africa"), thanks to their political lyrics and sublime, fully acoustic sound, which draws on the Moroccan trance music tradition. Both a concert movie and a free-form audiovisual experiment, Ahmed El Maânouni's Trances is cinematic poetry.
A torrent of sexual obsession, revenge, and betrayal is unleashed under one roof in this venomous melodrama from South Korean master Kim Ki-young. Immensely popular in its home country when it was released, The Housemaid is the thrilling, at times jaw-dropping story of the devastating effect an unstable housemaid has on the domestic cocoon of a bourgeois, morally dubious music teacher, his devoted wife, and their precocious young children. Grim and taut yet perched on the border of the absurd, Kim's film is an engrossing tale of class warfare and familial disintegration that has been hugely influential on the new generation of South Korean directors.
New high-definition digital restorations of all six films, undertaken by the World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
New introductions to the films by World Cinema Project founder Martin Scorsese
New interview programs featuring filmmakers Abderrahmane Sissako (on Touki bouki), Kumar Shahani (on A River Called Titas), Metin Erksan and Fatih Akın (on Dry Summer), and Bong Joon-ho (on The Housemaid)
New visual essay on Redes by filmmaker and critic Kent Jones
New interview program on Trances featuring filmmaker Ahmed El Maânouni, producer Izza Génini, and musician Omar Sayed
New English subtitle translations
Three Blu-rays and six DVDs, with all content available in both formats
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays on the films by Charles Ramirez Berg, Bilge Ebiri, Kyung Hyun Kim, Adrian Martin, Richard Porton, and Sally Shafto
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, codirected by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen. The Blu-ray edition features the 2006 follow-up to the film, The Beales of Grey Gardens, constructed from hours of extra footage in the filmmakers' vaults.
New 2K digital film restoration, approved by codirector Albert Maysles, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack (Blu-ray)
New digital transfer (DVD)
The Beales of Grey Gardens, the 2006 sequel to the film (Blu-ray)
Audio commentary for Grey Gardens, featuring Maysles and codirectors Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, along with associate producer Susan Froemke
Introduction to The Beales of Grey Gardens by Maysles (Blu-ray)
Audio excerpts from a 1976 interview with Little Edie Beale, conducted by Kathryn G. Graham
Interviews with fashion designers Todd Oldham and John Bartlett on the continuing influence of Grey Gardens
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Hilton Als
"Nashville" and "Citizen" (Academy Award Winner Best Foreign Language Film 1970) are a "must" for my collection... Not necessary comments on those... "Grey Gardens" I was recommended to watch (never did). Now "the World Collection" might have to wait until I get more familiar with the films in it. I watched on hulu only "the Housemaid" (from Korea) - and I liked very much - but not the other ones. I trust Scorcese has a very peculiar taste on his selctions and he knows very well World Cinema. But I have to wait to get a little more familiar with the other films.
Nice group of films, with only one "mainstream" title this time! NASHVILLE is the definite must-own, as it's easily Robert Altman's best film (with the possible exception of THE PLAYER). INVESTIGATION... and GREY GARDENS are certainly worth seeing, but lower purchase priorities. The Scorsese set of international films looks fascinating and a welcome set of rarities to explore, but I do wish that either of both of the two Egyptian film WCF restorations had been included in this first set. Hopefully in volume 2, which hopefully will come soon. Also still hoping for more silent and early sound-era titles to get Criterion's careful restoration and supplementary treatment.
When I saw the title, "Nashville," I practically had tears...!!! I've been hoping for so long that it would get the Criterion white-glove treatment.... This will be the best Christmas gift EVER...!!! YAY!!! ("Short Cuts" next, please....)
Was hoping for Scanners.... was hoping for Mulholland Drive..... was hoping for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World... Perhaps next month. However, I am pleased with the announcement of Nashville. I will grab it during the next B&N sale.
The World Cinema Project set should be considered a Public Service Announcement. Brilliant work ready for mainstream discovery is hiding in there. (Look at Trances as a template for The Last Waltz.) The only thing that hurts is my wallet after two must-own Criterion box sets in two concurrent announcements.
Totally agree with you. Eraserhead and especially The Tenant are just some of the titles I'd like to see released on Criterion. Sorry to be a nag, but still no word on Mulholland Drive, Thief and... NO LE SAMOURAI! Only pre-ordered one Criterion title this year and that was The Spy Who Came From The Cold. Having said that I will take the plunge and pre-order Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. I really would like to see this film, especially since everyone who has seen it has praised it.
While I'm also dying for Eraserhead to come out (I just sold my dvd copy of it a couple months ago in anticipation of Criterions' release) I really don't get where people got The Tenant from in that drawing, the building was clearly the same one from Safety Last!
I'm sure they would've picked it up with their Paramount deal, but still no solid confirmation from it.
In regards to Le Samourai though apparently they didn't want to use the HD master that Pathe had wanted to provide them with (thank god) and are looking for a better option. Hopefully they can secure the camera negatives and do their own scan!
Anyways, totally down for Nashville and Grey Gardens. I don't mind this being a lighter month for me cause theres a million other things I wanna buy too.
This is great news because Nashville has one of the ugliest DVD transfers I've ever seen, and such a great film deserves a much better treatment in high def. Look forward to finally seeing a decent transfer of the film!
@MediaMalable - Don't get your hopes up TOO high for this new restoration, though.
Altman's choice in the overall look of his films in this era were pretty soft and grimy (see MASH and McCabe & Mrs. Miller for other examples), so even with a flawless Criterion transfer, the intended look may never be the most showcase-worthy.
Given that I've been waiting for years to upgrade my technically-humble DVD of the title, Criterion's edition of Nashville, one of Robert Altman's very best, will be mine Day One.
@ ckyrico: Even with Altman's softer cinematography from his seventies films, with a good restoration and transfer, it will be much better than its old DVD from Paramount. 3 Women is a fine example of how good such a film can look when done well. A solid hi-def picture quality doesn't necessarily mean it must razor-sharp.
What concerns perhaps me even more re: Nashville is the audio quality. The soundscape throughout the film is subtly sophisticated, often with two or more conversations appearing simultaneously, plus music. A major problem with the old DVD was the sound was muddled such that many scenes became not much more than soupy noise. I hope this release restores clarity to this film's brilliant soundtrack.
For me, the World Cinema Project box is also a must-have and I'm truly glad to see Criterion starting to expand its library (at least a little) to represent these areas of the world and bring them to its (primarily) North American viewers. Now that this larger of the WCP is coming, I'll cancel my Masters of Cinema edition.
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is a strong candidate for me too.
Having seen Grey Gardens, I may consider buying it at a substantial discount.
Awesome wave. Hugely Unexpected titles. I for one thought I'd never see a proper release of A River Named Titas in my lifetime, it's one of the de facto greatest films ever made. And Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion with a 4k Remaster is a dream come true so is even is a release at all of Redes. Though Grey Gardens is a stupid addition the other awesome titles more than make up for it. Really waiting to see how the transfers for the WCF Boxset turn out, the other 4 films are also pretty good too, don't remember anything great from watching them but they were ratger good as far as I recall, did think Dry Summer was over rated though.
But now Criterion, it's time for more Kurosawa, a lot of the recent titles are awesome but we do very badly need Ikiru, Drunken Angel, Red Beard and I live in Fear. Also other Japanese masterworks like Woman in the Dunes need a release. And more Satyajit is a must. This awesome wave has left high expectations for the next one. Hope I am not disappointed.
BTW: I saw a few films on iTunes download on their Criterion link that are not yet out, and "Scanners" and "The Brood" were among those titles. ("Eraserhead," too!) All these films beared the Criterion insignia and artwork. Maybe they'll be out in Blu real soon, as well...?!?!
Grat news! seems like criterion is doing Carlotta and MoC one up with the World Cinema Foundation box set... Nashville is one of Altman's best, if not *the* best, i expect it to look good within the limitations of that soft-focus, desaturated 70's look that is so much a part of Altman's style as, let's say, garish Technicolor in Vincente Minelli's musicals.
OK, maybe it's just me, but has Criterion not set the MSRP a bit high on Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project? @3 BDs for $125, that's in excess of Criterion's typically high $40 MSRP/BD. And this is for a set which does not appear to be extra-feature rich == no commentaries, no alternate/earlier films == perhaps less context than I need to fully appreciate the films it contains.
Mind you I am a huge fan of Criterion. Hopefully their decision to create combined BD/DVD offererings was to cut production and distribution costs. It seems as if they forgot to pass the savings along.
(and, FWIW, I'm fully aware of the sales and discounts which ultimately reduce the costs of Criterion releases. They typically remain higher priced that many/most other releases, and they typically outclass everything that's out there.)
I'm hoping we can exert some consumer pressure and get Criterion to rethink their price for this set. An MSRP of $80 seems fair.
Uh, WTF are these "negative" and "positive" votes for, in the first place? Are people not suppose to disagree with the self-aggrandized Criterion "cognescenti"...??? It's just one person's opinion. Nothing conspiratorial about disagreeing. I mean, it's not like the comment gets deleted off the forum...! You can still read 'em.... I'd hate to meet these single-minded folks.... Kinda like Fox News Network.... Or Republicans.... :P Adios...!!!
O god just saw the two dvds bullshit. Seriously, why are their DVDs in my facking Criterion Blurays. Good god let the format die out. The Scorcese package with 6 dvds. No thanks. I will send a clear message to Criterion that this is not acceptable. Why the hell would I want 6 extra discs in my package? Unreal how companies feel they can save a few extra bucks and shove all this crap on people. Criterion just isn't what it used to be. It went from having two discs to one disc and now they are stuffing each package with useless DVDs for people who simply don't want them.
My favorite month of releases from Criterion this year! I'll be purchasing all of these titles eventually.
If I'm not mistaken, the 1973 Senegalese film TOUKI BOUKI, included as part of the World Cinema Project box set, marks Criterion's first release of a title by an African director; either way, it's a must-see psychedelic masterpiece. Hope to see more African films in the collection soon, hopefully including some Ousmane Sembene (Xala and Black Girl being my top choices).
I only now hope that should they ever get around to releasing The Hidden Fortress on BD, they'll have abandoned the wrong-headed notion that the majority BD consumer wants combo packs or anything other than family films. I already have the dvd. I don't want another. I won't even want the one I have after getting the title on BD. And I'm not paying anymore for a redundant outdated copy of the same thing I can't or don't want to use. But, I will sell it to help offset my investment in the BD, and that's one less person who'll be tempted to buy the full retail dvd at retail. See how that works Criterion? Combo packs just encourage the used market that you don't get a penny of. Same goes for people who only want the dvd: most resent having to pay for a BD even more, but will at least be happy that they can recover even more of their investment by reselling the more valuable disc in the package.
I don't understand the need to continuously complain about the Criterion combo packs. The prices aren't changing, you aren't paying MORE for the extra DVD. Are you worried about the case being half of an ounce heavier?
I am more than blown away by the Martin Scorcese World Cinema Project box set! Holy s*#$! I'm even more ecstatic that it is "Volume 1", knowing there will be more Scorcese box sets coming out in the future from Criterion too. And Nashville by Altman is a bonafide classic and will definitely be added to my Criterion collection. I also look forward to upgrading my DVD of Grey Gardens. That Petri film also looks really cool. Keep rocking, Criterion!
I still remember the days when criterion announcements left me excited. I haven't bought a single new release by the label this year, only a couple of upgrades. Even in that category, their priorities leave something to be desired. Where's Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Tenant, Y Tu Mamá También?, etc.
@arthur214: That the price isn't increasing is beside the point. The DVD costs Criterion money. If a combo pack is the same price why not then *reduce* the price of the BD? By not doing this they are in fact artificially maintaining their premium pricing, offering something no one wants in an effort to keep the price high.
At the risk of sounding like I'm repeating myself, I think Criterion has just made a mistake in their published pricing of the Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project set. The MSRP of $125 should really be no more than $80 JUST TO BE CONSISTENT with every other BD set, DVD set and the other recently announced combined BD/DVD releases. Here's my evidence...
1) 3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman
4 BDs OR
MSRP $100 ==
$25 / BD OR
$20 / DVD
2) Zatôichi: The Blind Swordsman
9 BDs AND 18 DVDs
$25 / BD AND $12.50 / DVD
3) Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
1 BD AND 2 DVDs
$40 / BD AND $20 / DVD
Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project
3 BDs AND 6 DVDs
MSRP $125 is just overpriced compared to everything else Criterion has ever released or announced
$41.67 / BD AND $20.83 / DVD
If enough of us let them know Criterion will change the price to what I'm sure they intended it to be == no more than $80.
Apparently people dont seem to understand how the pricing works. They charge for the movies that you get, not the discs that come with them.
Know how much the discs cost them? Next to nothing. The films themselves however, they have to pay for licensing fee's, then restoration costs (which wouldn't be much if anything in this case), then the creation of all the video supplements for each one.
Add all those costs for 6 movies and its very easy to see why they would charge that much for a box set with twice the amount of films than any of the other 3 disc sets.
Its really not unreasonable.
Hey Criterion, remember the good old days when you had amazing releases like "King Kong", "High Noon", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Dr. Strangelove", "Zulu", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Taxi Driver", "The Long Good Friday", "Raging Bull", "Ghostbusters", "Silverado", "RoboCop", "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen", "The Killer", "The Fisher King", "The Player", "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "Menace II Society", "Pulp Fiction", "Boogie Nights"...just to name a handful.
Maybe the Scorsese sets should be smaller. I'm not sure about going all in on 6 movies, just to get one or two that I like. The British World Cinema box is only 3 films! I mean I like Touki Bouki, but for $125?