Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paris, Death, Spirits, Marilyn

This is always an exciting time for film lovers.

First there's the 50% off sale of all Criterion DVDs and Blu-Ray at Barnes and Noble. I already ordered several DVDs including a box set of five Cassavetes films which I'm really excited about. 

Then there's the announcement of new releases from Criterion. Here are the covers, screenshots and synopsis of new and upcoming releases from the Criterion Collection that I'll probably pick up during the next 50% off sale in November:

Four unnamed people who look and sound a lot like Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Joseph McCarthy converge in one New York City hotel room in this compelling, visually inventive adaptation of Terry Johnson’s play, from director Nicolas Roeg.

Ralph Meeker stars as snarling private dick Mike Hammer, whose decision one dark, lonely night to pick up a hitchhiking woman sends him down some terrifying byways. Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema.

 A brash and precocious ten-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for, however, in this anarchic comedy from Louis Malle, which rides roughshod over the City of Light.

With The Music Room (Jalsaghar), Satyajit Ray brilliantly evokes the crumbling opulence of the world of a fallen aristocrat (the beloved actor Chhabi Biswas) desperately clinging to a fading way of life. His greatest joy is the music room in which he has hosted lavish concerts over the years—now a shadow of its former vivid self.

The last person to die on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes twelve is doomed to take the reins of Death’s chariot and work tirelessly collecting fresh souls for the next year. So says the legend that drives The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen), directed by the father of Swedish cinema, Victor Sjöström. 

This spectacular Technicolor epic, directed by Zoltán Korda, is considered the finest of the many adaptations of A.E.W. Mason’s classic 1902 adventure novel about the British Empire’s exploits in Africa, and a crowning achievement of Alexander Korda’s legendary production company, London Films.

 In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. 

This spellbinding anti-romance was a late-career coup for the legendary Italian filmmaker, and is renowned for its sexual explicitness and an extended scene on a fog- enshrouded highway that stands with the director’s greatest set pieces.

 A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday,Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. Erle C. Kenton’s touchstone of movie terror is elegantly shot by Karl Struss, features groundbreaking makeup effects that inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and costars Bela Lugosi in one his most gruesome roles.

I'm going to be completely honest. Apart from Kuroneko, I've never heard of the other films. But these covers got me excited. Reading the synopsis left me feeling even more intrigued. I bought Hausu from Criterion and it should accompany Kuroneko really well (I sense a double feature coming up!). I've never seen an Indian or Bollywood film before, it's one of my many filmic blind spots, so I really want to see Satyajit Ray's The Music Room. Zazie Dans Le Metro looks really fun and I love anything set in Paris.

Covers and Synopsis from

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