Friday, June 19, 2009

Criterion Watch, September 2009

But first, some news: over the next few weeks I’ll be moving into a new place with Angela, about whom you’ve heard so much. Because of this, I don’t anticipate that I’ll post much here until we’re all settled in, which should be around the first of July. In other words, don’t expect much content here for the next couple of weeks. I realize that doesn’t exactly sound like news, but this time I have an actual reason for it.

Also, once I’ve returned I hope to re-start Reviews by Request posts, beginning with a DVD that was graciously bought to me by one of my regular readers (take that as a hint- if you really want me to review a movie, send me the damn thing yourself). In addition, I’m going to begin a long-term project of transferring the bulk of my old Screengrab reviews over here, in particular the ones from the first incarnation of the ‘Grab, which are a pain to access nowadays. I’ll try to get these done within the next few months after my return, but I make no promises.

Anyway, this month’s Criterion Watch begins with an update from last month’s. Criterion settled on cover art for their much-anticipated release of Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Here ya go:

It’s not inspired, but it works for this movie. A stylized collage or snazzy animation would feel all wrong, I think you’d agree. Moving on to the September stuff, which contains a good amount of stuff I’ve never seen. That’s good news for you Criterion Watching fans, and of course for me as well.

The first title I’ve never seen is this, a WW2-era British production which I mainly know as being Churchill’s favorite movie. I’m actually not a huge fan of either Leigh or Olivier, but its inclusion in the collection says a lot in its favor. Right? Right?

I have a somewhat better idea of what to expect from this, being a Mamet film and all, but it’s one of those movies I just never got around to watching. Now I won’t have any excuse to ignore it, and that’s fine by me.

Speaking of stuff I’ve never seen, the September Blu-Ray release is going to be this box set, which compiles several Pennebaker docs about Monterey. Should be fun.

And this was allegedly a replacement for the shelved Contempt Blu-Ray they had scheduled, but this should be pretty gorgeous too.

And it looks like the folks at Janus and HVE will be rolling out Essential Art House box sets at an increased pace in the future. This set is somewhat more impressive than the last one they announced, featuring three stone-cold classics from the Criterion vaults along with three that have yet to see a Criterion release. I’m especially looking forward to finally getting to see Carne’s Le Jour Se Leve, which has featured prominently on my list of as-yet-unseen films and was previously only available in the mammoth 100-DVD set they put out three years ago.

Finally, this month’s e-Mail clue:

That’s gotta be Che, which is awesome news. I know that some of you out there weren’t fans of it, but I was (I think it’s Soderbergh’s best since sex, lies and videotape). If nothing else, this is just the kind of recent release that Criterion should be championing- sure, Benjamin Button might bring in more money, but this will nonetheless sell more copies than, say, That Hamilton Woman, especially if it gets a Blu-Ray release. Likewise, it’s the kind of quixotic project that Criterion has always done well by, and Soderbergh usually gives good commentary. Mark me down for a copy this fall- that is, unless I’m wrong and this is The Motorcycle Diaries or the Omar Sharif version of Che’s life. In which case never mind.

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