News: The Criterion Collection’s November Titles Include Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons and David Byrne’s True Stories
The Criterion Collection announced their November titles earlier today, and it proved to be an even more exciting batch of announcements than usual. Three of the four films are making their blu-ray debuts, and the fourth film, though already available on blu-ray, is a classic well deserving of the upgrade.
The one film in the bunch that will constitute a blu-ray double-dip is Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, but considering that the Marilyn Monroe/Tony Curtis/Jack Lemmon classic is one of the most beloved cinema comedies in all of history, no one can dispute that it is well-deserving of a place in the collection. Meanwhile, one of the films is making not just its North American blu-ray debut, but its North American home video debut, period. That film is Kenji Mizoguchi’s early-1950s Japanese drama A Story from Chikamatsu, aka The Crucified Lovers.
But easily the two most exciting titles for November are both neglected titles from the Warner Bros catalog: frequently requested films that have been kept off blu-ray by the company’s previous policy against licensing movies to other distributors, and by their apparent apathy towards the titles in-house. The first of those films is Orson Welles’ flawed, troubled, but nonetheless beautiful classic The Magnificent Ambersons, which was previously, shockingly relegated to a featureless DVD that for a long time was only available as a bonus disc in the limited edition of Citizen Kane. The second neglected Warner title now being rescued by Criterion is David Byrne and Talking Heads’ bizarre rock musical True Stories, which is one of many indie or cult favorites that the studio has never bothered to properly release on home video. That film has previously only been available on a very early DVD release which is sourced from a pan-n-scanned laserdisc or VHS master.
All four films will boast new 4k restorations, and will have the usual impressive array of extras. Most pleasantly surprising in the special features department is that David Byrne is heavily involved in the True Stories disc. Not usually one to engage in nostalgia for his Talking Heads-era music, I had been curious how much Byrne, currently very busy with his new music, would participate in the disc at all. As it turns out, quite a lot: he is supervising both the 4k remaster of the film and the corresponding remaster of the soundtrack, and he is participating in the extras for the disc, most notably a new documentary about the film. True Stories and The Magnificent Ambersons in particular will surely be among the fall’s biggest must-own classic/cult titles.