The Criterion Collection announces their June slate; includes Chaplin, Hitchcock and some samurai battles

Joshua Brunsting

March 16th, 2012

Middle of the month means new Criterion announcements, so no witty one liner leads here.  Especially when the lineup is as exciting their pending June releases.

First things first, HAROLD AND MAUDE, originally slated for an April release, will be hitting shelves on June 12th. Now, no real reason has been given as to why the move was made, but all signs point to them attempting to finalize the supplements on the release, as there are currently a set of supplements missing from the list of specs on their site.  I’m sure that this is just an error, but it could, and hopefully, point to the supplements being the main issue.

As far as newly announced releases come, the big star here is Chaplin’s THE GOLD RUSH.  Rumored for months now, the film will finally be heading to Criterion Blu-ray and DVD, making it the third Chaplin feature in the Criterion Collection.  Both the 1942 sound version and the 1925 silent versions are restored here, the latter in 2K digital, with a newly recorded version of Chaplin’s original score.  A commentary adorns that version of the film, and the release itself includes three video programs looking at the film’s history, score and effects, four trailers and a short documentary with filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo. Not my favorite Chaplin film, and an odd choice when a film like CITY LIGHTS is just hanging out out there, this is still an all-time classic comedy, and will look gorgeous on Blu-ray.

Next is Danny Boyle’s masterwork thriller, SHALLOW GRAVE.  Also hitting on the 12th with both previously mentioned films, the film stars Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor, and is one of the greatest thrillers of the ‘90s.  Finally hitting Blu-ray, the film will come with two, count them two, commentaries (one with Boyle and the other with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald), interviews with the lead trio, a documentary by Kevin Macdonald, home video diary footage, and teasers for GRAVE and TRAINSPOTTING. My favorite Boyle film, it will be quite interesting to revisit the film on Blu-ray, particularly after Boyle’s recent rise to massive stardom.

And finishing off the new films, both Steven Soderbergh’s GRAY’S ANATOMY and his documentary on ANATOMY’s star, Spaulding Gray, AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE, will hit.  Both releases are relatively bare bones, but they are two brilliant pieces, with ANATOMY also coming with yet another monologue from Gray, and FINE featuring Gray’s very first monologue.  Each film has their merits, and will look gorgeous in HD.

However, the re-releases may have stolen this month’s show.

First, Hiroshi Inagaki’s “The Samurai Trilogy” will be hitting Blu-ray at the end of the month. Relatively bare bones releases overall, the trio of SAMURAI I: MUSASHI MIYAMOTO, SAMURAI II: DUEL AT ICHIJOJI TEMPLE and SAMURAI III: DUEL AND GANRYU ISLAND will be hitting Blu-ray and for only $70, the price point is just about right on the money.  However, it’s Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS that will be getting the most interest from the public, this writer thinks.

The new Blu-ray, joining THE BIRDS as pending Hitchcock Blu-rays hitting relatively soon, comes with a commentary, a documentary, original interview footage, a broadcast of a radio adaptation of the source play from 1937, a visual essay and an interview between Francois Truffaut and Hitchcock from 1962.  This release is one of the most anticipated of this still young year, and is arguably its biggest, and it looks like the hype will be lived up to.  Overall, this is a mind-blowing month, so I’ll leave you with this question.  What are you looking forward to most?

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