Criterion Announces December 2014 Releases

Some Christmas present options for the cinephile in the family.
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In December, Criterion offers new 2K digital restorations of Liliana Cavani's bizarre love story, The Night Porter, and Terry Gilliam’s time-travel fantasy, The Time Bandits. It also welcomes to the collection Todd Haynes' acclaimed second feature, SafeThe latest addition to the Eclipse Series is Kinoshita and World War II, a five-film set of Japanese director Keisuke Kinoshita's early work, which includes collects Port of Flowers, The Living Magoroku, Jubilation Street, Army, and Morning for the Osone Family  

The Night Porter (#59) out Dec 9 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions

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In this unsettling drama from Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani (Ripley’s Game), a concentration camp survivor (Swimming Pool’s Charlotte Rampling) discovers her former torturer and lover (Death in Venice’s Dirk Bogarde) working as a porter at a hotel in postwar Vienna. When the couple attempt to re-create their sadomasochistic relationship, his former SS comrades begin to stalk them. Operatic and disturbing, The Night Porter deftly examines the lasting social and psychological effects of the Nazi regime. The special edition features are:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray 
  • New interviews with director Liliana Cavani and screenwriters Barbara Alberti and Amedeo Pagani
  • Women of the Resistance, a fifty-minute 1965 documentary by Cavani, composed of interviews with female partisans who survived the German invasion of Italy, with an intro by the filmmaker
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by scholar Gaetana Marrone-Puglia, author of The Gaze and the Labyrinth: The Cinema of Liliana Cavani 


Safe (#739) out Dec 9 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions 

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Julianne Moore (Short Cuts) gives a breakthrough performance as Carol White, a Los Angeles housewife in the late 1980s who comes down with a debilitating illness. After the doctors she sees can give her no clear diagnosis, she comes to believe that she has frighteningly extreme environmental allergies. A profoundly unsettling work from the great American director Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven), Safe functions on multiple levels: as a prescient commentary on self-help culture, as a metaphor for the AIDS crisis, as a drama about class and social estrangement, and as a horror film about what you cannot see. This revelatory drama was named the best film of the 1990s in a Village Voice poll of more than fifty critics. The director-approved special edition features are:

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director Todd Haynes, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary featuring Haynes, actor Julianne Moore, and producer Christine Vachon
  • New conversation between Haynes and Moore
  • The Suicide, a 1978 short film by Haynes
  • New interview with Vachon
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Dennis Lim

Time Bandits (#37) out Dec 9 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions 

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In this fantastic voyage through time and space from Terry Gilliam (Brazil), a boy named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarves. Armed with a map stolen from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), they plunder treasure from Napoleon (Ian Holm) and Agamemnon (Sean Connery)—but Evil (David Warner) is watching their every move. Featuring a darkly playful script by Gilliam and Monty Python’s Michael Palin (who also appears in the film), Time Bandits is at once a giddy fairy tale, a revisionist history lesson, and a satire on technology gone awry. The director-approved special edition features are:

  • New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Terry Gilliam, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray 
  • Audio commentary featuring Gilliam, cowriter/actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock
  • New piece narrated by film writer David Morgan and featuring production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson on the creation of the film’s various historical periods and fantasy worlds
  • Conversation between Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh at Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival in 1998
  • Excerpt from a 1981 appearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic David Sterritt

 Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II (#) out Dec 11 in DVD Edition


Hugely popular in his home country of Japan, Keisuke Kinoshita (Twenty-Four Eyes) worked tirelessly as a director for nearly half a century, making lyrical, sentimental films that often center on the inherent goodness of people, especially in times of distress. He began his directing career during a most challenging time for Japanese cinema: World War II, when the industry’s output was closely monitored by the state and often had to be purely propagandistic. This collection of Kinoshita’s first films—four made while the war was going on and one shortly after Japan’s surrender—demonstrates the way the filmmaker’s humanity and exquisite cinematic technique shone through, even in the darkest of times.

The sweet but naive denizens of a charming port town are hoodwinked by a couple of con men who prey on them at the outset of the war. But the hustlers’ plan backfires when they come down with severe cases of conscience. Kinoshita’s directorial debut is a breezy, warmhearted, and often very funny crowd-pleaser that’s a testament to the filmmaker’s faith in people.
1943 · 82 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio
A superstitious farming family is hesitant to use their prized fallow fields to grow crops to help feed the nation’s troops. Kinoshita’s rural drama was made to promote the war effort, but his story branches off in many directions, including one subplot about the family’s heirloom samurai sword and another about a blossoming young romance.
1943 · 89 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio
As World War II escalates, the tight-knit habitants of a street in Tokyo must relocate from their homes so that the government can use the space. Kinoshita’s sensitive film—beautifully and resourcefully shot on a single set—traces the fears and desires of the evacuees.

1944 · 73 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio
Kinoshita’s ambitious and intensely moving film begins as a multigenerational epic about the military legacy of one Japanese family, before settling into an emotionally complex portrayal of parental love during wartime. As the parents of a boy shipped off to battle, Kinuyo Tanaka and Chishu Ryu locate profound depths of feeling that transcend ideology.

1944 · 87 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect ratio
Kinoshita’s first film after the end of World War II is a wrenching, superbly wrought tale about a liberal-minded Japanese family torn apart by war and imperialist politics. Morning for the Osone Family is both palpably bitter about the nation’s fresh wartime wounds and inspiringly hopeful about a democratic tomorrow.

1946 · 81 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · In Japanese with English subtitles · 1.33:1 aspect 

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