Posted Tue Jan 17, 2023 at 12:09 PM PST by Tom Landy
It's not an April Fool's joke - Criterion's April releases include three 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of titles. The titles include: The Fisher King (4K UHD Blu-ray), The Seventh Seal (4K UHD), Small Axe - Five Films by Steve McQueen (Blu-ray), and Triangle of Sadness (both 4K UHD and Blu-ray).
Up first on April 11 comes Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King starring Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams.
The Fisher King - The Criterion Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
A fairy tale grounded in poignant reality, Terry Gilliam’s magnificent, Manhattan-set The Fisher King features Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams in two of their most brilliant roles. Bridges plays a former radio shock jock reconstructing his life after a scandal, and Williams a homeless man on a quest for the Holy Grail—which he believes to be hidden somewhere on the Upper East Side. Unknowingly linked by their pasts, the two men aid each other on a fanciful journey toward their own humanity. This singular American odyssey features a witty script by Richard LaGravenese, evocative cinematography by Roger Pratt, and superb supporting performances by Amanda Plummer and an Oscar-winning Mercedes Ruehl, all harnessed by Gilliam into a compassionate, funny modern-day myth.
1991 • 138 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
DIRECTOR-APPROVED 4K UHD + BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Terry Gilliam, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
• Audio commentary featuring Gilliam
• Interviews with Gilliam, producer Lynda Obst, screenwriter Richard LaGravenese, and actors Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer, and Mercedes Ruehl
• Interviews with artists Keith Greco and Vincent Jefferds on the creation of the film’s Red Knight
• Interview from 2006 with actor Robin Williams
• Video essay featuring Bridges’s on-set photographs
• Footage from 1991 of Bridges training as a radio personality with acting coach Stephen W. Bridgewater
• Deleted scenes, with audio commentary by Gilliam
• Costume tests
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri
Next on April 18, Ingmar Bergman's classic tale The Seventh Seal starring Max von Sydow gets a 4K upgrade as well.
The Seventh Seal - The Criterion Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Returning exhausted from the Crusades to find medieval Sweden gripped by the Plague, a knight (Max von Sydow) suddenly comes face-to-face with the hooded figure of Death, and challenges him to a game of chess. As the fateful game progresses, and the knight and his squire encounter a gallery of outcasts from a society in despair, Ingmar Bergman mounts a profound inquiry into the nature of faith and the torment of mortality. One of the most influential films of its time, The Seventh Seal is a stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning and a work of stark visual poetry.
1957 • 97 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Swedish with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio
4K UHD + BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• One 4K UHD disc of the film and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
• Introduction from 2003 by director Ingmar Bergman
• Audio commentary and video afterword by Bergman expert Peter Cowie
• Bergman Island (2006), a feature-length documentary on Bergman by Marie Nyreröd
• Audio interview from 1998 with actor Max von Sydow
• Tribute to Bergman from 1989 by filmmaker Woody Allen
• Bergman 101, a selected video filmography tracing Bergman’s career, narrated by Cowie
• Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
• PLUS: An essay by critic Gary Giddins
Arriving on April 25 comes Small Axe - a collection of five films by Steve McQueen only on Blu-ray.
Small Axe - Five Films by Steve McQueen
With the five films that make up his Small Axe anthology, director Steve McQueen offers a richly evocative panorama of West Indian life in London from the 1960s through the ’80s—a time defined for the community by the terror of police violence, the empowering awakening of political consciousness, and the ecstatic escape of a vibrant reggae scene. Ranging in tone from the tenderly impressionistic to the devastatingly clear-eyed, these powerfully performed portraits of Black resistance, joy, creativity, and collective action—all sumptuously shot by Shabier Kirchner—form a revolutionary counterhistory of mid-twentieth-century Britain at a transformational moment.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED THREE-BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition masters of all five films, approved by director Steve McQueen, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks
• New conversation between McQueen and writer and professor Paul Gilroy
• Behind-the-scenes featurettes including interviews with McQueen, executive producer Tracey Scoffield, writing consultant Alex Wheatle, and members of the Small Axe cast
• Uprising (2021), a three-part documentary codirected by McQueen and James Rogan about the tragic 1981 New Cross house fire
• Audio conversation among McQueen, music producer Dennis Bovell, and Beastie Boys member Mike D
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by film programmer and critic Ashley Clark
Steve McQueen’s multistrand anthology of West Indian immigrant life in London opens in the late 1960s with this stirring ensemble film. In a Caribbean restaurant, a group of Black activists, intellectuals, and ordinary people converge and unite in struggle against incessant police harassment, leading to an explosive showdown on the streets and a courtroom drama that challenges the racist power structures of British society. Based on real events, this is a passionate vision of community as a form of resistance, performed by a dynamic cast (led by Shaun Parkes, Letitia Wright, and Malachi Kirby) and bolstered by McQueen’s eye for vivid sensory detail.
2020 • 133 minutes • Color/B&W • 5.1 surround • 2.39:1 aspect ratio
Suffused with the intoxicating sounds of reggae, dub, and lovers rock, the second installment in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series unfolds over the course of one rapturous night into dawn in early-1980s West London, as a young woman (the luminous Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) sneaks out to attend a house party. As the alternately languorous and ecstatic rhythms pulse from a homemade sound system, romance sparks on the dance floor, small human dramas play out, and, for a moment, this gathering is a safe haven from the outside world. Aided by the sensuous cinematography of Shabier Kirchner, McQueen captures an exhilarating expression of Black joy in a society often intent on stifling it.
2020 • 73 minutes • Color/B&W • 5.1 surround • 1.78:1 aspect ratio
RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Both a hard-hitting indictment of structural injustice and a penetrating portrait of a complex man, Red, White and Blueboasts a passionate, multilayered performance from John Boyega as Leroy Logan, a Black research scientist whose decision to join the notoriously racist London police force, in hopes of reforming it from the inside, brings him into conflict with his family, community, and very sense of self. Based on a true story, this nuanced exploration of Margaret Thatcher–era racial tensions powerfully portrays the psychic struggle of a lone man going up against a system designed to crush him.
2020 • 84 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
An intimate account of a decisive moment in British history unfolds via the true story of one man’s awakening Black consciousness. Raised in cold, oppressive children’s homes that have left him estranged from his West Indian roots, the eponymous orphan Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole) gradually finds his voice as an artist, activist, and writer on the streets of Brixton—a transformation that intersects with the 1981 uprising in which the neighborhood’s mainly Black youth erupt in protest against police violence. Interwoven with the vibrant reggae that inspired its subject’s journey, Alex Wheatlecrackles with the heady political and cultural energy of a singular time and place.
2020 • 69 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 2.00:1 aspect ratio
A Black boy’s journey through an ineffectual public school system reveals the racial inequities built into everyday British life. Young Kingsley Smith (Kenyah Sandy) is a spirited aspiring astronaut with a love of drawing whose life is turned upside down when he is thrust into a new school for the “educationally subnormal”—a harrowing experience that gradually awakens his mother (Sharlene Whyte) to the institutional mistreatment of the children of West Indian immigrants. Shot on Super 16 mm to evoke BBC television dramas from the 1970s, the final Small Axe film concludes the pentalogy with a hopeful vision of the power of Black-led collective action.
2020 • 66 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
And finally, also due on April 25 comes Ruben Östlund's Palme d’Or–winner Triangle of Sadness on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Triangle of Sadness - The Criterion Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Master of social discomfort Ruben Östlund trains his unsparing lens on the world of wealth, beauty, and privilege in this audacious, Palme d’Or–winning satire of our status-obsessed culture. A model-influencer couple (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean) get a ticket to the luxe life when they’re invited aboard an all-expenses-paid cruise alongside a coterie of the rich and ghoulish—but an act of fate turns their Insta-perfect world upside down. Pushing each provocative set piece to its outré extreme, Östlund maps the shifting social hierarchies with the irreverence of a modern-day Luis Buñuel and the incisiveness of a cinematic anthropologist.
2022 • 147 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 2.35:1 aspect ratio
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital master, approved by director Ruben Östlund, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• In the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
• New interview with Östlund and filmmaker and actor Johan Jonason
• Two new programs: one about the film’s special effects and one about a challenging day on set
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
As usual with The Criterion Collection, preorders should be available within the next few days - Happy Collecting!
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