Barring we all make it past December 21st, we’ll have a pretty stacked start to the new year, via The Criterion Collection. Another new Hitchcock release, more Tarkovsky, and my personal favorite of the batch, Two Lane Blacktop. That film served as an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse flick Death Proof! So there’s no reason to not pick that hunk of burnin’ rubber up.
Monte Hellman’s Two Lane Blacktop
Drag racing east from L.A. in a souped-up ’55 Chevy are the wayward Driver and Mechanic (singer/songwriter James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, in their only acting roles), accompanied by a tagalong Girl (Laurie Bird). Along the way, they meet Warren Oates’s Pontiac GTO–driving wanderer and challenge him to a cross-country race—the prize: their cars’ pink slips. But no summary can do justice to the existential punch of Two-Lane Blacktop. With its gorgeous widescreen compositions and sophisticated look at American male obsession, this stripped-down narrative from maverick director Monte Hellman is one of the artistic high points of 1970s cinema, and possibly the greatest road movie ever made.
- Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Monte Hellman, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, supervised by Hellman, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
- Two audio commentaries: one by Hellman and filmmaker Allison Anders and one by screenwriter Rudolph Wurlitzer and author David N. Meyer
- Interviews with Hellman, actor James Taylor, musician Kris Kristofferson, producer Michael Laughlin, and production manager Walter Coblenz
- Screen test outtakes
- Performance and Image, a look at the restoration of a ’55 Chevy used in the movie and the film’s locations today
- Color Me Gone, photos and publicity from Two-Lane Blacktop
- PLUS: Rudy Wurlitzer’s screenplay, reprinted specially for this release; new essay by Kent Jones, appreciations by Richard Linklater and Tom Waits; and a reprint of the 1970 Rolling Stone article “On Route 66, Filming Two-Lane Blacktop”
Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum
Oskar is born in Germany in 1924 with an advanced intellect. Repulsed by the hypocrisy of adults and the irresponsibility of society, he refuses to grow older after his third birthday. While the chaotic world around him careers toward the madness and folly of World War II, Oskar pounds incessantly on his beloved tin drum and perfects his uncannily piercing shrieks. The Tin Drum, which earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, is a visionary adaptation from Volker Schlöndorff of Nobel laureate Günter Grass’s acclaimed novel, characterized by surreal imagery, arresting eroticism, and clear-eyed satire.
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the complete version, approved by director Volker Schlöndorff
- Newly remastered 5.1 surround soundtrack, approved by Schlöndorff and presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
- New interview with Schlöndorff about the making of The Tin Drum and the creation of the 2010 restored, complete version
- New interview with film scholar Timothy Corrigan
- German audio recording from 1987 of author Günter Grass reading an excerpt from his novel The Tin Drum with musical accompaniment, illustrated with the corresponding scene from the film
- Television interview excerpts featuring Schlöndorff, Grass, actors David Bennent and Mario Adorf, and cowriter Jean-Claude Carrière reflecting on their experiences making the film
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson and 1978 statements by Grass about the adaptation of his novel
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much
An ordinary British couple vacationing in Switzerland suddenly find themselves embroiled in a case of international intrigue when their daughter is kidnapped by spies plotting a political assassination. This fleet and gripping early thriller from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was the first film the director made after signing to the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. Besides affirming Hitchcock’s brilliance, it gave the brilliant Peter Lorre his first English-speaking role, as a slithery villain. With its tension and gallows humor, it’s pure Hitchcock, and it set the tone for films like The 39 Steps andThe Lady Vanishes.
- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- New audio commentary featuring film historian Philip Kemp
- New interview with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro
- The Illustrated Hitchcock, an extensive interview with director Alfred Hitchcock from 1972, conducted by journalist Pia Lindstrom and film historian William Everson
- Audio excerpts from filmmaker François Truffaut’s legendary 1962 interviews with Hitchcock
- Restoration demonstration
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme
Wim Wender’s Pina
The boundless imagination and physical marvels of the work of the German modern-dance pioneer Pina Bausch leap off the screen in this exuberant tribute by Wim Wenders. A long-planned film collaboration between the director and the choreographer was in preproduction when Bausch died in 2009. Two years later, Wenders decided to go ahead with the project, reconceiving it as an homage to his late friend. The result, shot in stunning 3D, is a remarkable visual experience and a vivid representation of Bausch’s art, enacted by a group of staggeringly talented dancers from her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Pina is an adventurous work of cinema that highlights the bold legacy of one of the world’s true creative visionaries.
- High-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Wim Wenders, presented in two editions: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray combo, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, andDVD
- Audio commentary featuring Wenders
- The Making of “Pina” (available in 3D)
- Deleted scenes with commentary by Wenders (available in 3D)
- Behind-the-scenes footage
- Interview with Wenders
- English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a piece by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt; reprinted pieces by Wenders and choreographer Pina Bausch; information on the dances featured in the film; and portraits of the dancers
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood
The debut feature by the great Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood is a poetic journey through the shards and shadows of one boy’s war-ravaged youth. Moving back and forth between the traumatic realities of World War II and serene moments of family life before the conflict began, Tarkovsky’s film remains one of the most jarring and unforgettable depictions of the impact of war on children.
- High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Appreciation of filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and Ivan’s Childhood featuring Vida T. Johnson, coauthor of The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue
- Interviews with cinematographer Vadim Yusov and actor Nikolai Burlyaev
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Dina Iordanova; “Between Two Films,” Tarkovsky’s essay on Ivan’s Childhood; and “Ivan’s Willow,” a poem by the director’s father, Arseny Tarkovsky
By Richard Pepper
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