Monday, December 31, 2018

December 2018: Best Disc Supplements

Every month I highlight some of the best Blu-ray and DVD supplements (along with Criterion Channel features upon its return in Spring 2019). Too often these pieces are overlooked or given the most cursory mention in reviews (or on sites like DVDBeaver where they take a back seat to "A/V" assessment and are usually copy-and-pasted from the Special Features text from the relevant label's website). Pieces cited don't necessarily hail from new releases; rather come from whatever I've been watching that particular month. They represent the very best in supplementary material — critical, historical, personal — above and beyond the status quo.


• Soundtrack to the Climax of the Sixth Part of Strike / 2011 recording by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, adapted from various Russian compositions, accompanying the Kino Lorber edition of the Cinémathèque de Toulouse's restoration of Strike — more and more powerful over the years since undergrad, though I prefer to watch in silence or with my own playlist up until this great moment maybe ten minutes from the end.

• Conversation Between Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris on Heaven Can Wait / 2005 piece on the film and late-Lubitsch shot by Criterion originally for the DVD edition of the film, carried over to Criterion's Blu-ray of the 20th Century Fox, Academy Film Archive, and Film Foundation restoration of Heaven Can Wait — I wish Haskell and Sarris could have done more talks like this together. When I see the movie now I agree with almost the bulk of what they offer. Back in 2005 I think I was so taken aback by the picture in the context of the Lubitsches I'd seen up to then. For me now it's not a film I've grown into with regard to understanding new familial relations; it's just a film, and the relationships contribute to the structure. It's precisely that distance-relation that makes me admire it, and Lubitsch, more now than before.

• "Murder by Moog: Scoring the Chill" by Brian De Palma / 1973 Village Voice essay on working with Bernard Herrmann on Sisters, reprinted in the booklet for Criterion's Sisters. Why don't more directors write essays? It used to be done more frequently. A terrific glance at Herrmann's demeanor near the end of life.

• Outtakes from My Man Godfrey / One minute and four seconds of short outtakes on the Criterion disc from the 1936 shooting of the feature (scanned and restored at 4K by Universal Pictures), with the actors botching and swearing throughout each clip. Carole Lombard pronounces a beautiful shit.


Cover and Package Design:

• Susan Seidelman's Smithereens
Criterion - by Jay Shaw, 2018

• Don Siegel's Riot in Cell Block 11
Criterion - by Eric Skillman, 2014

• Peter Fonda's The Hired Hand
Arrow - artwork by Sean Phillips, 2018

• Gregory La Cava's My Man Godfrey
Criterion - by Seth, 2018


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