It looks like Criterion's February 2011 slate is primed to bankrupt us so we'll definitely be socking away the money Grandma sent with her Christmas card this year so we can snag some of these. Split between two classics and two celebrated contemporary films, the February slate is a strong one.
Kicking off the classics, Alexander Mackendrick's wickedly acidic "Sweet Smell Of Success" will finally get the full treatment on DVD and BluRay it deserves. The film stars Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis (in one of his best roles ever) and is a deliciously vile look at the ugly side of the PR machine. The set will boast a wealth of extras including two documentaries "Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away," and "James Wong Howe: Cinematographer" but most intriguingly a new video interview with filmmaker James Mangold about Mackendrick, his instructor and mentor (huh, who knew?). A commentary, essays and more will round out the set. And oh, yeah, A+ on that artwork Criterion.
Luschino Visconti returns to The Criterion Collection with his Technicolor romance, "Senso." Starring Farley Granger and Alida Valli the film chronicles the affair between a nineteenth-century Italian countess and a Austrian lieutenant. Scandal! The DVD and BluRay set will also feature the rare English language version of the film, "The Wanton Countess" as well as three documentaries: "The Making of “Senso,” "Viva VERDI" and "Man of Three Worlds: Luchino Visconti." The edition is rounded out by essays and an excerpt from Granger's autiobiography, "Include Me Out."
On the contemporary side of things, The Criterion Collection's relationship with IFC continues to bear fruit as Andrea Arnold's breakout "Fish Tank" will get some special attention. The film, a breakout for director Arnold and for the film's star Katie Jarvis, follows the coming-of-age of a teenage girl in the housing projects of Essex. The film will feature all three of Arnold's shorts to date "Milk," "Dog," and "Wasp" in addition to an interview with Michael Fassbender, audition footage and more. This one will arrive both on DVD and BluRay.
Finally, Hirokazu Koreeda's tender and heart-breaking "Still Walking" hits DVD and BluRay in a more-or-less barebones edition that includes a couple of interviews, a "Making “Still Walking” featurette and a trailer. But no matter, this one set on a single summer day as the children of elderly couple return home to visit, is definitely one worth tracking down.
And getting an upgrade to BluRay are a couple of titles including Frederico Fellini's delightfully wondrous "Amarcord" which will destroy your eyeballs in 1080p and Krzysztof Kieślowski’s equally dazzling "The Double Life Of Veronique." Both will feature the same extras as their current DVD incarnations.