Criterion Announces January 2015 Releases

Something to pick up with that money you get from returning unwanted Xmas gifts.
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Criterion starts 2015 with four new releases. Three are by directors who see an increase of their work added to the Collection.  Those titles are Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, and Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story. Expanding the number of female directors, Lucrecia Martel makes her Criterion debut with her feature-film debut, La ciénaga. Also scheduled is the high-definition digital restoration of Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom.   

The Sword of Doom (#59) out Jan 6 in Blu-ray Editions

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Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman plying his craft during the turbulent final days of shogunate rule in Japan, Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse or mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. Kihachi Okamoto’s swordplay classic is the thrilling tale of a man who chooses to devote his life to evil. The special edition features are:

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Stephen Prince
  • Trailer 
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien 

 The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (#740) out Jan 13 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions 

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In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder discovered the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register. One of the earliest and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater. This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla)—based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director’s own desperate obsession with a young actor—is a fully Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast. The special edition features are:

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director of photography Michael Ballhaus, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interviews with Ballhaus and actors Margit Carstensen, Eva Mattes, Katrin Schaake, and Hanna Schygulla
  • New interview with film scholar Jane Shattuc about director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the film
  • Role Play: Women on Fassbinder, a 1992 German television documentary by Thomas Honickel featuring interviews with Carstensen, Schygulla, and actors Irm Hermann and Rosel Zech
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Peter Matthews

My Winnipeg (#741) out Jan 20 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions 

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The geographical dead center of North America and the beloved birthplace of Guy Maddin, Winnipeg is the frosty and mysterious star of Maddin’s “docu-fantasia.” A work of memory and imagination, Maddin’s film burrows into what the filmmaker calls “the heart of the heart” of the continent, conjuring a city as delightful as it is fearsome, populated by sleepwalkers and hockey aficionados. Take part in Winnipeg’s annual epic scavenger hunt! Pay your respects to the racehorses forever frozen in the river! Help judge the yearly homoerotic Golden Boy pageant! What is real and what is fantasy is left up to the viewer to sort out in Maddin’s hypnotic, expertly conceived paean to that wonderful and terrifying place known as My Hometown.. The director-approved special edition features are:

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Conversation between director Guy Maddin and art critic Robert Enright
  • “My Winnipeg” Live in Toronto, a 2008 featurette
  • Various cine-essays by Maddin on Winnipegiana
  • Three Maddin shorts, with introductions by the director: Spanky: To the Pier and Back (2008), Sinclair(2010), and Only Dream Things (2012)
  • Deleted scene
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Wayne Koestenbaum

The Palm Beach Story (#742) out Jan 20 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions 

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This wild tale of wacky wedlock from Preston Sturges takes off like a rocket and never lets up. Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert play Tom and Gerry, a married New York couple on the skids, financially and romantically. With Tom hot on her trail, Gerry takes off for Florida on a mission to solve the pair’s money troubles, which she accomplishes in a highly unorthodox manner. A mix of the witty and the utterly absurd, The Palm Beach Story is a high watermark of Sturges’s brand of physical comedy and verbal repartee, featuring sparkling performances from its leads as well as hilarious supporting turns from Rudy Vallee and Mary Astor as a brother and a sister ensnared in Tom and Gerry’s high jinks. The special edition features are:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with writer and film historian James Harvey about director Preston Sturges
  • New interview with actor and comedian Bill Hader about Sturges
  • Safeguarding Military Information, a 1942 World War II propaganda short written by Sturges
  • Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of the film from March 1943
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek

La ciénaga (#743) out Jan 27 in Blu-ray & DVD Editions 

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The release of Lucrecia Martel’s La ciénaga heralded the arrival of an astonishingly vital and original voice in Argentine cinema. With a radical take on narrative, disturbing yet beautiful cinematography, and a highly sophisticated use of on- and offscreen sound, Martel turns her tale of a decaying bourgeois family, whiling away the hours of one sweaty, sticky summer, into a cinematic marvel. This visceral take on class, nature, sexuality, and the ways political turmoil and social stagnation can manifest in human relationships is a drama of amazing tactility and one of the great contemporary film debuts. The director-approved special edition features are:

  • New 4K digital film transfer, approved by director Lucrecia Martel, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with filmmaker Andrés di Tella about Martel and the film
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • More!
  • PLUS: An essay by critic David Oubiña

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