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Criterion in September

Criterion have announced the following Region 1 titles for September 2004...

7th September 2004:

Great Adaptations - $99.95 - Just in time for the start of the school year, Criterion presents four classic literary adaptations together in a single set at a special price. Previous Criterion releases included in the set are: Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies, The Most Dangerous Game and Oliver Twist.

21st September 2004:

The Battle of Algiers - $49.95 - One of the most influential films in the history of political cinema, Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers focuses on the harrowing events of 1957, a key year in Algeria’s struggle for independence from France. Shot in the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film vividly recreates the tumultuous Algerian uprising against the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, the French torture prisoners for information and the Algerians resort to terrorism in their quest for independence. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range; women plant bombs in cafés. The French win the battle, but ultimately lose the war as the Algerian people demonstrate that they will no longer be suppressed. The Criterion Collection is proud present Gillo Pontecorvo’s tour de force—a film with astonishing relevance today.

Features on this three-disc set include:

    Disc 1: The Battle of Algiers
  • New high-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Marcello Gratti, with restored image and sound, and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Return to Algiers (1992, 55 minutes): three decades following its emergence as a nation, director Gillo Pontecorvo and his son return to Algeria to talk with its people about independence
  • Theatrical and re-release trailers
  • Poster gallery
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

    Disc 2: Pontecorvo and the film
  • The Making of The Battle of Algiers: an exclusive new documentary created for this release guided by Pontecorvo biographer Irene Bignardi and featuring interviews with the director himself, cinematographer Marcello Gatti, composer Ennio Morricone, editor Mario Morra, actors Jean Martin and Saadi Yacef, and film critic Tullio Kezich
  • The Dictatorship of Truth: a 37-minute documentary narrated by Edward Said about the relationship between Pontecorvo’s politics and filmmaking style
  • Directors on The Battle of Algiers: a discussion about the film’s influence, style, and importance featuring, Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone

    Disc 3: The Film and History
  • The Battle of Algiers and History: a new documentary featuring interviews with historians Alistair Horne, Hugh Roberts and Benjamin Stora, former FLN members Zohra Drif-Bitat, Mohammed Harbi and Saadi Yacef, and writer and torture victim, Henri Alleg (The Question)
  • “Etats d’Armies”—a 30-minute excerpt from Patrick Rotman’s 3-part documentary, L’Ennemi Intime, which focuses on the horror of the French-Algerian War. It features interviews with various members of the French military during the French-Algerian War, including General Jacques Massu, General Roger Trinquier, General Paul Aussaresses, and others
  • How to Win the Battle But Lose the War of Ideas: a conversation about the contemporary relevance of The Battle of Algiers between former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Richard A. Clarke, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Michael A. Sheehan, and Chief of Investigative Projects for ABC News, Christopher E. Isham
  • Plus: a booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Peter Matthews, a reprinted interview with writer Franco Solinas, brief biographies on the key figures in the French-Algerian War, and more

John Cassavetes: Five Films - $124.95 - John Cassavetes has been called a genius, a visionary, and the father of independent film. But all this rhetoric threatens to obscure the humanism and generosity of his art. The five films included here represent his self-financed works made outside the studio system of Hollywood, on which he was afforded complete control. While about beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, and children, all of them are beautiful, emotional testaments to compassion. Cassavetes has often been called an actor's director, but this body of work—-astoundingly, even greater than the sum of its extraordinarily significant parts—reveals him to be an audience’s director. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night in stunning new transfers.

Details on the films and and bonus documentary disc included in this set follow...

A Woman Under the Influence - John Cassavetes’ devastating drama details the emotional breakdown of a suburban housewife and her family’s struggle to save her from herself. Starring Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands (in one of the greatest and most harrowing screen performances of the 1970s) as a married couple, deeply in love, yet unable to express their love in terms that the other can understand. A Woman Under the Influence is an uncompromising examination of mental illness and an honest portrayal of domestic life. The Criterion Collection is proud to present one of the benchmark films of the American independent cinema—a heroic document from a true maverick director.

Features include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound, enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Audio commentary by longtime Cassavetes collaborators Mike Ferris (camera operator) and Bo Harwood (sound recordist/composer)
  • New video interview with actors Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk
  • Original TV spots
  • Stills gallery featuring dozens of behind-the-scenes production photos
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
Faces - The disintegration of a bourgeois marriage is dissected in John Cassavetes’ searing Faces. Shot in high-contrast 16mm black and white, the film follows Richard (John Marley) and Maria (Lynn Carlin) as they futilely attempt to escape the anguish of their empty marriage in the arms of others. Featuring astonishingly powerful, nervy performances from Marley, Carlin, and Cassavetes regulars Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel, Faces confronts suburban alienation and the battle of the sexes with a brutal honesty and compassion rarely matched in cinema.

Features include:
    Disc One: The Film
  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

    Disc Two: The Supplements
  • Seventeen-minute alternate opening sequence, from the Library of Congress version of Faces
  • Cinéastes de notre temps (1968, 48 minutes): an episode from the French television series dedicated to Cassavetes, featuring rare interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • New video interviews with actors Gena Rowlands, Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, and director of photography Al Ruban
  • Lighting and shooting the film: Ruban explains how he and the crew achieved the distinct look of Faces, featuring specific sequences from the film
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie - John Cassavetes engages film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. In it, Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays gentlemen’s club owner Cosmo Vitelli, a man dedicated to pretenses of composure and self-possession. When he runs afoul of a small-time gangster, Cosmo is forced to commit a horrible crime in a last-ditch effort to save his beloved club and his way of life. Suspenseful, mesmerizing, and idiosyncratic, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a brilliant examination of desperation and masculine identity.

Feature include:
    Disc One: The 1976 Cut
  • New high-definition digital transfer of John Cassavetes’ original 135-minute edit of the film, unavailable since 1976, with restored image and sound, enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

    Disc Two: The 1978 Cut
  • New high-definition digital transfer of Cassavetes’ 108-minute edit, from the 1978 theatrical re-release, with restored image and sound, enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • New video interviews with star Ben Gazzara and producer Al Ruban
  • Stills gallery of dozens of behind-the-scenes photos
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
Opening Night - Broadway actress Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) rehearses for her latest play, which concerns a woman who is unable to admit that she is aging. When she witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, she begins to confront the personal and professional turmoil she faces in her own life. Featuring a moving performance by Rowlands and shot on stages with live audiences reacting freely to the writing and performing, John Cassavetes’ Opening Night exposes the drama of an actress who at great personal cost makes a part her own.

Features include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound, enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • New video interview with actors Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara
  • Stills gallery featuring dozens of behind-the-scenes production photos
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
Shadows - John Cassavetes’ directorial debut revolves around an interracial relationship between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light-skinned black woman living in New York City with her two brothers, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. Their relationship crumbles when Tony meets Lelia’s brother Hugh (Hugh Herd), a talented dark-skinned jazz singer who struggling to find work, and discovers that Lelia is actually black. Shot on location in Manhattan with an amateur cast and crew, Cassavetes’ Shadows is a visionary work and a landmark in the history of American independent film.

Features include:
  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • Video interviews with actress Lelia Goldoni and associate producer Seymour Cassel
  • Rare silent 16mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane’s acting workshop rehearsals
  • Restoration demonstration
  • Stills gallery featuring dozens of behind-the-scenes production photos
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
A Constant Forge - As intense and passionate as its subject, Charles Kiselyak’s A Constant Forge provides a detailed journey through the life and art of one of cinema’s greatest pioneers and iconoclasts: John Cassavetes. Assembled from candid interviews with Cassavete’s collaborators and friends, rare photographs, archival footage, and the words of Cassavetes himself, the film paints a revealing portrait of a man whose fierce love, courage, and dedication changed the face of cinema forever.
  • Biographical sketches of the actors Cassavetes used in many of his films, written by Tom Charity (John Cassavetes: Lifeworks)
  • Poster gallery for Cassavetes’ Faces, Shadows, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
And finally the set will also boast a Booklet featuring new essays on Cassavetes and the films by writers/critics Jonathan Lethem, Gary Giddins, Stuart Klawans, Kent Jones, Philip Lopate, Dennis Lim, and director Charles Kiselyak, as well as reprinted writings by and interviews with Cassavetes, a tribute to Cassavetes by director Martin Scorsese, and more!







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