The Criterion Collection Announces November 2021 Releases
Last week The Criterion Collection made one of the biggest announcements in a long time: they’re going 4K UHD! Part of their initial slate? Citizen Kane. This is huge news on so many levels! And today they announced what they’ll be releasing in November 2021, and, as we may have assumed, Citizen Kane is there, coming November 23. They’re also releasing a big box set on November 16 (see below). Oh, I’m excited!
The 4K releases will come in a combo pack that includes both the UHD and Blu-ray discs, and these look like they will cost around $50 for your usual release (though the Citizen Kane will be $60, likely because it is a big set). They are also releasing each as a Blu-ray only for the usual price of just under $40 (though, again, Citizen Kane is bigger and will cost $50 for the Blu-ray only edition). Not all new releases will be available in 4K, so I’ve noted the 4K ones below — the others are coming in Blu-ray (that’s right, none of the new ones got a DVD only release, though La strada and Mulholland Dr. were already out on Criterion DVD).
The blurbs are from The Criterion Collection’s website (so are the links) — go there to see the details on the supplements.
With this breakthrough film, Federico Fellini launched both himself and his wife and collaborator Giulietta Masina to international stardom, breaking with the neorealism of his early career in favor of a personal, poetic vision of life as a bittersweet carnival. The infinitely expressive Masina registers both childlike wonder and heartbreaking despair as Gelsomina, loyal companion to the traveling strongman Zampanò (Anthony Quinn, in a toweringly physical performance), whose callousness and brutality gradually wear down her gentle spirit. Winner of the very first Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film, La strada possesses the purity and timeless resonance of a fable and remains one of cinema’s most exquisitely moving visions of humanity struggling to survive in the face of life’s cruelties.
A love story in the city of dreams . . . Blonde Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) has only just arrived in Hollywood to become a movie star when she meets an enigmatic brunette with amnesia (Laura Harring). Meanwhile, as the two set off to solve the second woman’s identity, filmmaker Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) runs into ominous trouble while casting his latest project. David Lynch’s seductive and scary vision of Los Angeles’s dream factory is one of the true masterpieces of the new millennium, a tale of love, jealousy, and revenge like no other.
November 16, 2021
Once Upon a Time in China: The Complete Films (1991 – 1994) d. Tsui Hark, Yuen Bun
One of the pinnacles of Hong Kong cinema’s 1990s golden age, the Once Upon a Time in China series set a new standard for martial-arts spectacle and launched action star Jet Li to international fame. It brings to vivid life the colorful world of China in the late nineteenth century, an era of immense cultural and technological change, as Western imperialism clashed with tradition and public order was upended by the threats of foreign espionage and rising nationalism. Against this turbulent backdrop, one man—the real-life martial-arts master, physician, and folk hero Wong Fei-hung—emerges as a noble protector of Chinese values as the country hurtles toward modernity. Conceived by Hong Kong New Wave leader Tsui Hark, this epic cycle is not only a dazzling showcase for some of the most astonishing action set pieces ever committed to film but also a rousing celebration of Chinese identity, history, and culture.
November 23, 2021
Menace II Society (1993) — 4K d. Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
Directors Albert and Allen Hughes and screenwriter Tyger Williams were barely into their twenties when they sent shock waves through American cinema and hip-hop culture with this fatalistic, unflinching vision of life and death on the streets of Watts, Los Angeles, in the 1990s. There, in the shadow of the riots of 1965 and 1992, young Caine (Tyrin Turner) is growing up under the influence of his ruthless, drug-dealing father (Samuel L. Jackson, in a chilling cameo) and his loose-cannon best friend, O-Dog (Larenz Tate), leading him into a spiral of violent crime from which he is not sure he wants to escape, despite the best efforts of his grandparents and the steadfast Ronnie (Jada Pinkett). Fusing grim realism with a propulsively stylish aesthetic honed through the Hughes brothers’ work on rap videos, Menace II Society is a searing cautionary tale about the devastating human toll of hopelessness.
In the most dazzling debut feature in cinema history, twenty-five-year-old writer-producer-director-star Orson Welles synthesized the possibilities of sound-era filmmaking into what could be called the first truly modern movie. In telling the story of the meteoric rise and precipitous fall of a William Randolph Hearst–like newspaper magnate named Charles Foster Kane, Welles not only created the definitive portrait of American megalomania, he also unleashed a torrent of stylistic innovations—from the jigsaw-puzzle narrative structure to the stunning deep-focus camera work of Gregg Toland—that have ensured that Citizen Kane remains fresh and galvanizing for every new generation of moviegoers to encounter it.