By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 17, 2011 at 1:26AM
Plus The Complete Jean Vigo, Lee Chang-Dong's 'Secret Sunshine,' And 'The Battle of Algiers,' 'If...' & 'Orpheus' On Blu-Ray
Put the kids to bed. Turn off your cellphones. Feed the cat whiskey until it goes to sleep. Yep, it's our favorite time of the month again: Criterion announcement time! Our favorite home entertainment label has unveiled their August line-up, and once again, it's something of a doozy.
The big-money number is Stanley Kubrick's early crime classic "The Killing" making its debut in the Collection. The third of the director's back catalog to make it, after "Spartacus" and "Paths of Glory," it's hitting DVD and Blu-Ray with the usual hi-definition restoration, plus archive interviews with Sterling Hayden, producer James B. Harris and expert Robert Polito. Even more excitingly, it'll come bundled with a copy of Kubrick's 1955 boxing noir "Killer's Kiss," in a new restoration, as well as an "appreciation" by critic Geoffrey O'Brien. August 16th is your street date.
The same day also brings another film by a legendary helmer: Roman Polanski's "Cul-de-Sac." Following "Knife in the Water" and "Repulsion," the underrated thriller, starring Donald Pleasance, comes in a new restoration, approved by Polanski himself, along with a documentary about the making of the film, "Two Gangsters and an Island," a vintage interview with Polanski, and a booklet with an essay by legendary film historian David Thomson. Again, August 16th.
Equally exciting is Jean Cocteau's "Orpheus," the French helmer's mind-bending retelling of the story of Orpheus & Eurydice. It's not the first time the film's been available on Criterion -- it was part of a near bare-bones three-disc "Orphic Trilogy" boxset a decade ago -- but it's now landing with a new restoration, and a ton of extras, including a commentary, the feature-length documentary "Jean Cocteau: Autobiography of an Unknown," a 40-minute interview with Cocteau, and the 16mm short "La villa Santo-Sospir," among others. Basically this month's must-buy, it lands on August 30th on Blu-Ray and DVD.
The end of the month brings also brings the Criterion debut of legendary French helmer Jean Vigo, in a set including 1930's silent "À propos de Nice," 1933's boarding-school tale "Zéro de conduite" and 1934's extraordinary "L’Atalante," the director's only feature film (he died of tuberculosis that same year). The set has a kick ass selection of extras, including commentaries, alternate takes from "À propos de Nice," an animated tribute to Vigo by Michel Gondry (!), a 90 minute episode of French TV series "Cinéastes de notre temps" a 2001 documentary about "L’Atalante" and a 1968 conversation between Truffaut and Rohmer about the same film, plus more. It's a mere $31.96 on Blu-Ray, it's also kind of essential when it hits on August 30th.
There's also another box-set, "Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara," collecting five films by the cult Japanese director, "Intimidation," "The Warped Ones," "I Hate But Love," "Black Sun" and "Thirst For Love," unfortunately extras-free, which lands August 23rd, as well as the premiere of South Korean helmer Lee Chang-Dong's 2007 film "Secret Sunshine," which hits the same day, again approved by the director, featuring an interview and a short documentary.
Finally, two stone-cold classics already firmly established within the collection -- Gillo Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers" (a top ten film for this writer) and Lindsay Anderson's "If," get Blu-Ray releases for the first time, with all the same extras as their DVD counterparts -- the former is even a two-discer. 'Algiers' lands August 9th, "If..." lands August 30th. It's going to be an expensive month... [Criterion Collection]