Criterion Announces April 2016 Releases

Something old, something new...
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Next April, the Criterion Collection expands with four new entries.  They are Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings, four films about John F. Kennedy by Robert Drew & Associates, Christian Petzold's Phoenix, and Whit Stillman's Barcelona, which is part of A Whit Stillman Trilogy set. Also, David Lean's Brief Encounter gets a standalone release. Read on to learn more about them.

Only Angels Have Wings (#806) out Apr 12

cc Only Angels Have Wings.pngElectrified by the verbal wit and visual craftsmanship of the great Howard Hawks, Only Angels Have Wings stars Jean Arthur as a traveling entertainer who gets more than she bargained for during a stopover in a South American port town. There she meets a handsome yet aloof daredevil pilot, played by Cary Grant, who runs an airmail company, staring down death while servicing towns in treacherous mountain terrain. Both attracted to and repelled by his romantic sense of danger, she decides to stay on, despite his protestations. This masterful and mysterious adventure, featuring Oscar-nominated special effects, high-wire aerial photography, and Rita Hayworth in a small but breakout role, explores Hawks’s recurring themes of masculine codes and the strong-willed women who question them. The special edition features are:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio excerpts from a 1972 conversation between filmmakers Howard Hawks and Peter Bogdanovich
  • New interview with film critic David Thomson
  • Howard Hawks and His Aviation Movies, a new program featuring film scholars Craig Barron and Ben Burtt
  • Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1939, starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Richard Barthelmess, and Thomas Mitchell, and hosted by director Cecil B. DeMille
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Sragow

Barcelona (#807) standalone and a part of A Whit Stillman Trilogy: Metropolitan (#326) and The Last Days of Disco (#485) out Apr 12

cc Wilt Stillman trio.pngOver the course of the 1990s, writer-director Whit Stillman made a trilogy of films about the acid tongues and broken hearts of some haplessly erudite young Americans in New York and abroad. Set in the eighties, these films would trace the arc of that decade, led by Stillman’s Oscar-nominated debut, Metropolitan, which introduced moviegoers to a strange, endangered species of privileged New Yorker dubbed the “urban haute bourgeoisie.” Chronologically, the tale continues with The Last Days of Disco, in which, with an earnest wink, Stillman mourns the close of New York’s nightclub era via the story of two young party-going women juggling day jobs in book publishing. Finally, Barcelona plunks down a pair of love-starved upper-class men in a foreign city riddled with anti-American sentiment. At once effervescent and melancholy, these are comedies about the ends of eras, social change as seen through the eyes of reluctant, unflaggingly sardonic romantics. The director-approved special edition features are:

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer of Metropolitan, supervised by director Whit Stillman and cinematographer John Thomas, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; restored high-definition digital transfer of The Last Days of Disco, supervised by Stillman, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray; new, restored 2K digital transfer of Barcelona, supervised by Stillman and Thomas, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary on Metropolitan featuring Stillman, actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols, and editor Christopher Tellefsen; audio commentary on The Last Days of Disco featuring Stillman, Eigeman, and actor Chloë Sevigny; audio commentary on Barcelona featuring Stillman, Eigeman, and Nichols
  • Rare outtakes and alternate casting scenes from Metropolitan, with commentary by Stillman; deleted scenes from The Last Days of Disco, with commentary by Stillman, Eigeman, and Sevigny; deleted scenes and alternate ending from Barcelona, with commentary by Stillman, Eigeman, and Nichols
  • New video essay about the trilogy by film critic Farran Smith Nehme
  • Featurettes about the making of The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona
  • Today show interview with Stillman from 1994
  • Episode of The Dick Cavett Show from 1991 with Stillman
  • Audio recording of Stillman reading a chapter from his book The Last Days of Disco, with Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards
  • Stills gallery for The Last Days of Disco, with captions by Stillman
  • Trailers for all three films
  • PLUS: Essays by author Luc Sante, novelist David Schickler, and film scholar Haden Guest

The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates (#808) out Apr 26

cc Kennedy Films.pngSeeking to invigorate the American documentary format, which he felt was rote and uninspired, Robert Drew brought the style and vibrancy he had fostered as a Life magazine correspondent to filmmaking in the late fifties. He did this by assembling an amazing team—including such eventual nonfiction luminaries as Richard Leacock, D. A. Pennebaker, and Albert Maysles—that would transform documentary cinema. In 1960, the group was granted direct access to John F. Kennedy, filming him on the campaign trail and eventually in the Oval Office. This resulted in three films of remarkable, behind-closed-doors intimacy—Primary, Adventures on the New Frontier, and Crisis—and, following the president’s assassination, the poetic short Faces of November. Collected here are all four of these titles, early exemplars of the movement known as Direct Cinema and featuring the greatest close-up footage we have of this American icon. The special edition features are:

  • New 2K digital restorations of all four films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray:
    1960 • 53 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
    1961 • 52 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
    1963 • 53 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
    1964 • 12 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
  • Alternate, twenty-six-minute cut of Primary, edited by filmmaker Richard Leacock
  • Audio commentary on the Leacock edit of Primary, featuring Leacock and filmmakers Robert Drew and D. A. Pennebaker, recorded in conversation with film critic Gideon Bachmann in 1961
  • Robert Drew in His Own Words, a new documentary featuring archival interview footage
  • New conversation between Pennebaker and Jill Drew, Robert Drew’s daughter-in-law and the general manager of Drew Associates
  • Outtakes from Crisis, along with a discussion by historian Andrew Cohen, author of Two Days in June
  • New conversation about Crisis featuring former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and Sharon Malone, Holder’s wife and the sister of Vivian Malone, one of the students featured in Crisis
  • New interview with Richard Reeves, author of President Kennedy: Profile of Power
  • Footage from a 1998 event at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, featuring Drew, Pennebaker, Leacock, and filmmaker Albert Maysles
  • PLUS: An essay by documentary film curator and writer Thomas Powers

Phoenix (#809) out Apr 26

cc Phoenix.pngThis evocative and haunting drama, set in a rubble-strewn Berlin in 1945, is like no other film about post-World War II Jewish identity. After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer (Nina Hoss, in a dazzling, multilayered performance), her face disfigured and reconstructed, returns to her war-ravaged hometown to seek out the gentile husband who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Without recognizing her, he enlists her to play his wife in a bizarre hall-of-shattered-mirrors story that’s as richly metaphorical as it is preposterously engrossing. Revenge film or tale of romantic reconciliation? One doesn’t know until the superb closing scene of this marvel from Christian Petzold, perhaps the most important figure in contemporary German cinema. The special edition features are:

  • New 4K digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New conversation between director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss
  • New interview with cinematographer Hans Fromm
  • New documentary featuring on-set interviews from 2013 with Petzold, Hoss, actors Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld, and production designer Kade Gruber
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Koresky

Brief Encounter (#76) out Apr 26

cc Brief Encounter.pngAfter a chance meeting on a train platform, a married doctor (Trevor Howard) and a suburban housewife (Celia Johnson) enter into a muted but passionate, and ultimately doomed, love affair. With its evocatively fog-enshrouded setting, swooning Rachmaninoff score, and pair of remarkable performances (Johnson was nominated for an Oscar for her role), this film, directed by David Lean and based on Noël Coward’s play Still Life deftly explores the thrill, pain, and tenderness of an illicit romance, and has influenced many a cinematic brief encounter since its release. The special edition features are:

  • New high-definition digital transfer of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2000 by film historian Bruce Eder
  • Interview from 2012 with Noël Coward scholar Barry Day
  • A Profile of “Brief Encounter,” a short documentary from 2000 on the making of the film
  • David Lean: A Self Portrait, a 1971 television documentary on Lean’s career
  • Trailer

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