Thursday, April 15, 2010

Criterion July Blu's News


Criterion has announced its Blu-ray releases for July, and boy should you be excited! Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes are slated for a July 20th release, with The Secret of the Grain following a week later on the 27th.

First up is Black Narcissus, a 1947 classic about the struggles of Nuns in a secluded Himalayan valley directed by the British team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It comes complete with a slew of special features:

  • Video introduction by French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier
  • Audio commentary featuring the late director Michael Powell and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
  • The Audacious Adventurer, a 2006 video piece in which Tavernier discusses Black Narcissus and Powell
  • Profile of "Black Narcissus" (2000), a 25-minute documentary
  • Painting with Light, a twenty-seven-minute documentary about Jack Cardiff's Oscar-winning cinematography on Black Narcissus
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones

Next is another film by Powell and Pressburger released a year later in 1948, The Red Shoes is a tale of love and the ballet. The special features on this one should be enough for you to add this one to you collection, one name: Scorsese.

  • Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie, featuring interviews with stars Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
  • Introductory restoration demonstration with Scorsese
  • Profile of "The Red Shoes" (2000), a 25-minute documentary
  • Video interview with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, Michael Powell's widow
  • Gallery from Scorsese's collection of The Red Shoes memorabilia
  • The "Red Shoes" Sketches, an animated film made from Hein Heckroth's painted storyboards
  • Readings by actor Jeremy Irons of excerpts from Powell and Pressburger's novelization of The Red Shoes and the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale
  • Theatrical trailer
  • A booklet featuring an essay by Ian Christie

The final film announced for a July release is the multiple award winning 2007 film The Secret of the Grain. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche the French film tells the story of an immigrant battling all odds to create a successful restaurant. And like with any Criterion release it comes with special features to spare:

  • New video interview with Kechiche
  • Sueur, Kechiche's captivating extended version of the film's climactic belly dancing sequence, featuring a new introduction by the director
  • New video interview with film scholar Ludovic Cortade
  • Excerpt from a 20 heures télévision interview with Kechiche and actress Hafsia Herzi
  • Video interviews with Herzi, actress Bouraouïa Marzouk, and the film's musicians
  • Theatrical trailer
  • A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Wesley Morris

Blu-ray Sales


Even in the current economic climate it should be no surprise that the Blu-ray train is rolling and gathering steam, as the premiere home video format it has grown astronomical amounts since the first early adapters took a risk in late 2006. DEG (The Digital Entertainment Group) has first quarter results for 2010 in, let’s break down the U.S. and Canada figures:

  • 34 million Blu-rays have been purchased, with rentals up 34% since the same time last year.
  • Blu-ray players are up 125%, all Blu-ray capable devices such as players, PS3’s and computer drives have now reached 18 million.
  • About 75 million HDTVs have been sold, with about 50 million households containing at least one. (34% of HDTV owners have more than one set.)
  • DVD Player sales are still flourishing, with 94 million sold in the first quarter alone.

The figures don’t lie. People want to be entertained and, consequently, the home video market continues to grow with no signs of slowing down. The newest addition, Blu-ray, has come along way in a short time span and I, for one, am curious to see how far it will go.

Plasma Windows to the World


Got a couple of plasma TVs lounging around the house you want to put to work? You want a view of the Golden Gate Bridge? You want to make your home look like the lair of Dr. No? You want to be in space?! Well you are in luck!

The fine people over at Winscape have got you covered! They are planning on having kits available by July to turn those bare walls into the envy of your friends and family. The kit itself will be somewhere in the $2,000-3,000 area but if you have the cash to burn (unlike me) then this may be the aesthetic home décor you have been waiting for.

I could go into further detail, but man that would be boring compared to seeing it in action: