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  #851  
Old 11th June 2021, 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Susan Foreman View Post
'Melvin Van Peebles: Four Films' - 5 disc Blu-Ray pre-order available from Criterion direct for $99.96

Release date: September 28

"Director, writer, composer, actor, and one-man creative revolutionary Melvin Van Peebles jolted American independent cinema to new life with his explosive stylistic energy and unfiltered expression of Black consciousness. Though he undeniably altered the course of film history with the anarchic Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, that pop-culture bombshell is just one piece of a remarkably varied career that has also encompassed forays into European art cinema (The Story of a Three Day Pass), mainstream Hollywood comedy (Watermelon Man), and Broadway musicals (Don’t Play Us Cheap). Each facet of Van Peebles’s renegade genius is on display in this collection of four films, a tribute to a transformative artist whose caustic social observation, radical formal innovation, and uncompromising vision established a new cinematic model for Black creative independence. Also included in the set is Baadasssss!, a chronicle of the production of Sweet Sweetback made by Van Peebles’s son Mario Van Peebles—and starring the younger Van Peebles as Melvin.

Films In This Set

The Story of a Three Day Pass (1967)

Melvin Van Peebles’s edgy, angsty, romantic first feature could never have been made in America. Unable to break into segregated Hollywood, Van Peebles decamped to France, taught himself the language, and wrote a number of books in French, one of which, La permission, would become the stylistically innovative The Story of a Three Day Pass. Turner (Harry Baird), an African American soldier stationed in France, is granted a promotion and a three-day leave from base by his casually racist commanding officer and heads to Paris, where he finds whirlwind romance with a white woman (Nicole Berger)—but what happens to their love when his furlough is over? Channeling the brash exuberance of the French New Wave, Van Peebles creates an exploration of the psychology of an interracial relationship as well as a commentary on France’s contradictory attitudes about race that is playful, sarcastic, and stingingly subversive by turns, and that laid the foundation for the scorched-earth cinematic revolution he would let loose just a few years later.

Watermelon Man (1970)

Melvin Van Peebles’s only foray into Hollywood filmmaking, Watermelon Man is one of the most audacious, radically conceived works to be financed by a major American studio in the 1970s. Comedian Godfrey Cambridge delivers a virtuoso performance (initially in whiteface) as Jeff Gerber, a loudmouthed, bigoted white insurance salesman whose sitcomlike suburban existence is jarringly upended when he wakes up to discover, in a wild spin on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, that he has become a Black man. What ensues is a ferocious satire of society’s racist double standards that gradually transforms into an empowering portrait of awakening Black consciousness, executed with a mix of acerbic irreverence and deadly serious political commentary by a relentlessly subversive Van Peebles.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)

A landmark of Black and American independent cinema that would send shock waves through the culture, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was Melvin Van Peebles’s second feature film, after he walked away from a contract with Columbia in order to make his next film on his own terms. Acting as producer, director, writer, composer, editor, and star, Van Peebles created the prototype for what Hollywood would eventually co-opt and make into the blaxploitation hero: a taciturn, perpetually blank-faced performer in a sex show, who, when he’s pushed too far by a pair of racist cops looking to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit, goes on the run through a lawless underground of bikers, revolutionaries, sex workers, and hippies in a kill-or-be-killed quest for liberation from white oppression. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’s incendiary politics are matched by Van Peebles’s revolutionary style, in which jagged jump cuts, kaleidoscopic superimpositions, and psychedelic sound design come together in a sustained howl of rage and defiance

Don’t Play Us Cheap (1972)

Melvin Van Peebles’s film version of his own Tony Award–nominated Broadway musical is a bold blend of theater and nervy, New Wave–inflected cinematic invention. A cast of Black stage and screen luminaries including Esther Rolle, Mabel King, and Avon Long stars in this charmingly offbeat, fablelike fantasy in which a pair of mischief-making devil-bats dispatched by Satan assume human form in order to wreak havoc on a Saturday-night house party in Harlem—only to find their diabolical plan thwarted by their hosts’ infectious generosity of spirit. Staged with ebullience, the original blues- and gospel-infused songs by Van Peebles burst forth in a life-affirming celebration of Black joy, tenderness, resilience, and strength."


Special Features:
  • New 4K digital restorations of all four films, approved by filmmaker Mario Van Peebles, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks for The Story of a Three Day Pass, Watermelon Man, and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for Don’t Play Us Cheap
  • Baadasssss!, a 2003 fictional feature film based on director Melvin Van Peebles’s diaries from the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, directed by and starring his son Mario Van Peebles, with commentary by father and son
  • New conversations between Mario Van Peebles and film critic Elvis Mitchell; producer Warrington Hudlin and critic and filmmaker Nelson George; and scholars Gerald R. Butters Jr., Novotny Lawrence, and Amy Abugo Ongiri
  • Audio commentary by Melvin Van Peebles from 1997 on Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
  • Three early short films directed by Melvin Van Peebles
  • How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It), a 2005 documentary on Van Peebles’s life and career
  • The Story Behind “Baadasssss!”: The Birth of Black Cinema, a 2004 featurette
  • Melvin Van Peebles: The Real Deal, a 2002 interview with the director on the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
  • Episodes of Black Journal from 1968, 1971, and 1972, on The Story of a Three Day Pass, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, and Don’t Play Us Cheap
  • Interview from 1971 with Van Peebles on Detroit Tubeworks
  • French television interview from 1968 with Van Peebles and actors Harry Baird and Nicole Berger on the set of The Story of a Three Day Pass
  • Excerpts from a 2004 interview with Van Peebles for the Directors Guild of America Visual History Program
  • Introductions to all four films by Van Peebles
  • Trailers
  • New English subtitle translation for The Story of a Three Day Pass
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: A 64-page book featuring writing on the films, including an introduction by film scholar Racquel J. Gates

If this gets a UK release Sweet Sweetback would probably still be cut.
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  #852  
Old 16th June 2021, 09:43 PM
Susan Foreman's Avatar
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'Mona Lisa' (1986) - Blu-Ray pre-order available from Criterion direct $31.96

Release date: September 14

"The brilliant breakthrough film by writer-director Neil Jordan journeys into the dark heart of the London underworld to weave a gripping, noir-infused love story. Bob Hoskins received a multitude of honors — including an Oscar nomination — for his touchingly vulnerable, not-so-tough-guy portrayal of George, recently released from prison and hired by a sinister mob boss (Michael Caine) to chauffeur call girl Simone (Cathy Tyson, in a celebrated performance) between high-paying clients. George’s fascination with the elegant, enigmatic Simone leads him on a dangerous quest through the city’s underbelly, where love is a weakness to be exploited and betrayed. Jordan’s colorful dialogue and eye for evocatively surreal details lend a dreamlike sheen to Mona Lisa, an unconventionally romantic tale of damaged people searching for tenderness in an unforgiving world."

Special Features:
  • 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Neil Jordan and director of photography Roger Pratt, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary from 1997 featuring Jordan and actor Bob Hoskins
  • New conversation with Jordan and actor Cathy Tyson, moderated by critic Ryan Gilbey
  • Interviews from 2015 with screenwriter David Leland and producer Stephen Woolley
  • Interview with Jordan and Hoskins from the 1986 Cannes Film Festival
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by Gilbey

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  #853  
Old 16th June 2021, 09:47 PM
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'Love & Basketball' (2000) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 or DVD $23.96

Release date: September 21

"Sparks fly both on and off the court in this groundbreaking feature debut by writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard), which elevated the coming-of-age romance by giving honest expression to the challenges female athletes face in a world that doesn’t see them as equal. Sanaa Lathan (Alien vs. Predator) and Omar Epps (Higher Learning) make for one of the most iconic screen couples of the 2000s as the basketball-obsessed next-door neighbors who find love over flirtatious pickup games, fall apart under the strain of high-pressure college hoops and families, and drift in and out of each other’s lives as they pursue their twin aspirations of playing professionally. Aided by stellar supporting performances and an eclectic R&B soundtrack, Love & Basketball captures the intoxicating passions, heartbreaking setbacks, and sky-high ambitions that mark a young woman’s journey to the top of her game and to lasting love."

Special Features:
  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director Gina Prince-Bythewood, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2000 featuring Prince-Bythewood and actor Sanaa Lathan
  • Playing for Your Heart, a new making-of documentary featuring Prince-Bythewood, Lathan, actors Omar Epps and Alfre Woodard, Reggie Rock Bythewood, and basketball adviser Colleen Matsuhara
  • Editing “Love & Basketball,” a new program featuring Prince-Bythewood and editor Terilyn A. Shropshire
  • New conversation on the film’s impact among Prince-Bythewood, WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes, and writer-producer-actor Lena Waithe
  • Audition tape excerpts and six deleted scenes
  • Three short films by Prince-Bythewood: Stitches (1991), Progress (1997), and Bowl of Pork (1997), with a new introduction by Prince-Bythewood
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by author Roxane Gay

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  #854  
Old 16th June 2021, 09:57 PM
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'Throw Down' (2004) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 or DVD $23.96

Release date: September 21

"One of the most personal films by the prolific Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To is a thrilling love letter to both the cinema of Akira Kurosawa and the art and philosophy of judo. Amid the neon-drenched nightclubs and gambling dens of Hong Kong’s nocturnal underworld, the fates of three wandering souls—a former judo champion now barely scraping by as an alcoholic bar owner (Louis Koo), a young fighter (Aaron Kwok) intent on challenging him, and a singer (Cherrie Ying) chasing dreams of stardom—collide in an operatic explosion of human pain, ambition, perseverance, and redemption. Paying offbeat homage to Kurosawa’s debut feature, Sanshiro Sugata, To scrambles wild comedy, flights of lyrical surrealism, and rousing martial-arts action into what is ultimately a disarmingly touching ode to the healing power of friendship."

Special Features:
  • New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interview from 2004 with director Johnnie To
  • New interviews with coscreenwriter Yau Nai-hoi, composer Peter Kam, and film scholars David Bordwell and Caroline Guo
  • Short making-of documentary from 2004 featuring To and actors Louis Koo, Aaron Kwok, Cherrie Ying, and Tony Leung Ka-fai
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Sean Gilman

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  #855  
Old 16th June 2021, 09:59 PM
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'The Damned' (1969) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 or DVD $23.96

Release date: September 28

"The most savagely subversive film by the iconoclastic auteur Luchino Visconti employs the mechanics of deliriously stylized melodrama to portray Nazism’s total corruption of the soul. In the wake of Hitler’s ascent to power, the wealthy industrialist von Essenbeck family and their associates—including the scheming social climber Friedrich (Dirk Bogarde), the incestuous matriarch Sophie (Ingrid Thulin), and the perversely cruel heir Martin (Helmut Berger, memorably donning Dietrich-like drag in his breakthrough role)—descend into a self-destructive spiral of decadence, greed, perversion, and all-consuming hatred as they vie for power, over the family business and over one another. The heightened performances and Visconti’s luridly expressionistic use of Technicolor conjure a garish world of decaying opulence in which one family’s downfall comes to stand for the moral rot of a nation."

Special Features:
  • New 2K digital restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna and Institut Lumière, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate Italian-language soundtrack
  • Interview from 1970 with director Luchino Visconti about the film
  • Archival interviews with actors Helmut Berger, Ingrid Thulin, and Charlotte Rampling
  • Visconti: Man of Two Worlds, a 1969 behind-the-scenes documentary
  • New interview with scholar Stefano Albertini about the sexual politics of the film
  • New English subtitle translation and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by scholar D. A. Miller

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  #856  
Old 22nd June 2021, 09:36 PM
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Picked up NIGHT OF THE HUNTER in Fopp today!

A week early!
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  #857  
Old 15th July 2021, 09:25 PM
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'Onibaba' (1962) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 - DVD currently unavailable

Release date: October 5

"Deep in the windswept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished older woman and her daughter-in-law murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for the most meager of sustenance. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from battle, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio’s tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals their horrifying fate. Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi, and stunning images both lyrical and macabre, the chilling folktale Onibaba by Kaneto Shindo conjures a nightmarish vision of humankind’s deepest desires and impulses."

Special Features:
  • On the Blu-ray: Restored high-definition transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • On the DVD: High-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Audio commentary from 2001 featuring director Kaneto Shindo and actors Kei Sato and Jitsuko Yoshimura (Blu-ray only)
  • Interview from 2003 with Shindo
  • On-location footage shot by Sato
  • Trailer
  • Stills gallery featuring production sketches and promotional art (DVD only)
  • Filmmaker’s statement from writer/director Kaneto Shindo
  • English subtitle translation
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition (DVD only)
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Elena Lazic (Blu-ray only), a 2001 director’s statement by Shindo, and a version of the Buddhist fable that inspired the film

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  #858  
Old 15th July 2021, 09:29 PM
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'High Sierra' (1941) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 or 2 Disc DVD $23.96

Release date: October 12

"Marking the moment when the gritty gangster sagas of the 1930s began giving way to the romantic fatalism of 1940s film noir, High Sierra also contains the star-making performance of Humphrey Bogart, who, alongside top-billed Ida Lupino, proved his leading-man mettle with his tough yet tender turn as Roy Earle. A career criminal plagued by his checkered past, Earle longs for a simpler life, but after getting sprung on parole, he falls in with a band of thieves for one last heist in the Sierra Nevada. Directed with characteristic punch by Raoul Walsh—who makes the most of the vertiginous mountain location—Roy and Lupino’s Marie, a fellow outcast also desperate to escape her past, hurtle inexorably toward an unforgettable cliffside climax and a rendezvous with destiny."

Special Features:
  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Colorado Territory, director Raoul Walsh’s 1949 western remake of High Sierra
  • New conversation on Walsh between film programmer Dave Kehr and critic Farran Smith Nehme
  • The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh, a 2019 documentary by Marilyn Ann Moss
  • Curtains for Roy Earle, a 2003 featurette on the making of High Sierra
  • Bogart: Here’s Looking at You, Kid, a 1997 documentary aired on The South Bank Show
  • New interview with film and media historian Miriam J. Petty about actor Willie Best
  • New video essay featuring excerpts from a 1976 American Film Institute interview with High Sierra novelist and coscreenwriter W. R. Burnett
  • Radio adaptation of High Sierra from 1944
  • Trailers
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith

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  #859  
Old 15th July 2021, 09:32 PM
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'The Incredible Shrinking Man' (1957) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 or 2 Disc DVD $23.96

Release date: October 19

"Existentialism goes pop in this benchmark of atomic-age science fiction, a superlative adaptation of a novel by the legendary Richard Matheson that has awed and unnerved generations of viewers with the question, What is humanity’s place amid the infinity of the universe? Six months after being exposed to a mysterious radiation cloud, suburban everyman Scott Carey (Grant Williams) finds himself becoming smaller . . . and smaller . . . and smaller—until he’s left to fend for himself in a world in which ordinary cats, mousetraps, and spiders pose a mortal threat, all while grappling with a diminishing sense of himself. Directed by the prolific creature-feature impresario Jack Arnold with ingenious optical effects and a transcendent metaphysical ending, The Incredible Shrinking Man gazes with wonder and trepidation into the unknowable vastness of the cosmic void."

Special Features:
  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New audio commentary featuring genre-film historian Tom Weaver and horror-music expert David Schecter
  • New program on the film’s special effects by effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt
  • New conversation between filmmaker Joe Dante and comedian and writer Dana Gould
  • Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal (Director’s Cut) (2021)
  • Interview from 2016 with Richard Christian Matheson, novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson’s son
  • Interview with director Jack Arnold from 1983
  • 8 mm home-cinema version from 1957
  • Trailer and teaser narrated by filmmaker Orson Welles
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

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  #860  
Old 15th July 2021, 09:35 PM
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'Ratcatcher' (1999) - Pre-order available from Criterion direct for Blu-Ray $31.96 - DVD currently unavailable

Release date: October 19

"In her breathtaking and assured debut feature, Lynne Ramsay creates a haunting evocation of a troubled Glasgow childhood. Set during Scotland’s national garbage strike of the mid-1970s, Ratcatcher explores the experiences of a poor adolescent boy as he struggles to reconcile his dreams and his guilt with the abjection that surrounds him. Utilizing beautiful, elusive imagery, candid performances, and unexpected humor, Ramsay deftly contrasts urban decay with a rich interior landscape of hope and perseverance, resulting in a work at once raw and deeply poetic."

Special Features:
  • On the Blu-ray: New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director Lynne Ramsay and cinematographer Alwin Küchler, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • On the DVD: Digital transfer, enhanced for 16x9 televisions
  • New interview with Ramsay (Blu-ray only)
  • Audio interview from 2020 with Küchler (Blu-ray only)
  • Three award-winning short films by Ramsay: Small Deaths (1995), Kill the Day (1996), and Gasman (1997)
  • Interview with Ramsay from 2002
  • Stills gallery (DVD only)
  • Trailer (Blu-ray only)
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: Essays by film critic Girish Shambu and filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Blu-ray only)

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