Posted Mon May 15, 2023 at 10:48 AM PDT by Tom Landy
August's Criterion Collection titles include Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray), as well as Blu-ray editions of Wayne Wang's Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, Bo Widerberg's New Swedish Cinema - a boxed set of four poetic and political films, and finally Cauleen Smith's Drylongso.
Starting off the month on August 8 is a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams.
Unfolding in a series of eight mythic vignettes, this late work by Akira Kurosawa was inspired by the beloved director’s own nighttime visions, along with stories from Japanese folklore. In a visually sumptuous journey through the master’s imagination, tales of childlike wonder give way to apocalyptic apparitions: a young boy stumbles on a fox wedding in a forest; a soldier confronts the ghosts of the war dead; a power-plant meltdown smothers a seaside landscape in radioactive fumes. Interspersed with reflections on the redemptive power of creation, including a richly textured tribute to Vincent van Gogh (who is played by Martin Scorsese), Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams is both a showcase for its maker’s artistry at its most unbridled and a deeply personal lament for a world at the mercy of human ignorance.
1990 • 120 minutes • Color • 2.0 surround • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
4K UHD + BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• 4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Shoji Ueda, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
• One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
• Audio commentary featuring film scholar Stephen Prince
• Feature-length documentary from 1990 shot on set and directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
• Interviews with production manager Teruyo Nogami and assistant director Takashi Koizumi
• Documentary from 2011 by director Akira Kurosawa’s longtime translator Catherine Cadou, featuring interviews with filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Martin Scorsese, Hayao Miyazaki, and others
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri and Kurosawa’s script for a never-filmed ninth dream, introduced by Nogami
Up next on August 15 is Wayne Wang's Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart.
Wayne Wang’s follow-up to his watershed indie Chan Is Missing is a family portrait that gracefully combines the director’s signature gentle humanism and eye for poignant detail. Offering another fresh perspective on San Francisco’s Chinese American community, Wang takes a bittersweet look at the generational pas de deux between an aging immigrant widow and her devoted daughter, torn between filial duty and her own desires. Soulfully performed by an ensemble including real-life mother and daughter Kim and Laureen Chew and Victor Wong, the Yasujiro Ozu–inspired Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart is as lovingly made as the home-cooked cuisine it celebrates.
1985 • 84 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and Cantonese with English subtitles • 1.78:1 aspect ratio
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• High-definition digital master of a new director’s cut, supervised by director Wayne Wang, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• New conversation between Wang and filmmaker and film scholar Arthur Dong
• Interview from 2004 with actor Laureen Chew
• English subtitle translation and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by scholar Brian Hu
Bo Widerberg’s New Swedish Cinema - a collection of four films from the Swedish auteur arrives on August 22.
Driven by a desire to forge a socially conscious Swedish cinema—one that broke with the inward-looking psychodrama of Ingmar Bergman to give dynamic expression to the everyday experiences of working-class Swedes—writer Bo Widerberg turned to filmmaking in the early 1960s, realizing his ambition in politically committed yet poetic works that merge social-realist themes with a refined, often breathtakingly beautiful visual sensibility. Dramatizing the struggles of ordinary people fighting to chart their own destiny, these four acclaimed, popular, and pivotal films from Widerberg’s most prolific period live and breathe with a rare vitality—and helped launch a new Swedish cinema.
FOUR-BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New restorations, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
• New introduction to director Bo Widerberg by filmmaker Ruben Östlund
• New interviews with actor Tommy Berggren and cinematographer Jörgen Persson
• The Boy and the Kite (1962), a short film by Widerberg and Jan Troell, with an introduction by Troell
• Swedish television interviews with Widerberg from the 1960s
• Behind-the-scenes footage from the making of Elvira Madigan
• PLUS: An essay by film historian Peter Cowie and excerpts by Widerberg from his 1962 book Vision in Swedish Film
THE BABY CARRIAGE
1963 • 95 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Swedish with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
Infused with a jazzy, nouvelle vague–inspired energy, Bo Widerberg’s feature debut has the freshness of youth. Building on his manifesto’s call for a socially relevant Swedish cinema, the writer turned director offers a vivid portrait of a young factory worker (Inger Taube) finding her way toward independence as she weathers unexpected pregnancy, learns hard lessons from relationships with two very different men, and leaves behind the only home she has ever known. Abetted by fellow filmmaker Jan Troell’s coolly beautiful monochrome cinematography, Widerberg takes a bold first step in his mission to create a cinema that is both engaged and engaging.
1963 • 100 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Swedish with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio
A period piece that forgoes nostalgia in favor of a stark examination of working-class struggle, Bo Widerberg’s second feature unfolds in 1936 in the director’s hometown of Malmö. It’s there, in the poor district of Raven’s End, that young Anders (Widerberg’s regular collaborator Tommy Berggren) chases his dream of becoming a writer while growing increasingly disillusioned with the dead-end world that surrounds him: an alcoholic father, a toiling mother, and the ominous specter of Nazism. Delivering a bracing jolt of kitchen-sink realism to Swedish cinema, Widerberg paints an unsparing portrait of youthful idealism bumping up against economic despair.
1967 • 90 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Swedish with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
Bo Widerberg reached new heights of visual lyricism with this sublime retelling of a real-life nineteenth-century romantic tragedy. Bound by their all-consuming desire, a young circus tightrope walker (Pia Degermark, winner of the Cannes Best Actress prize) and a lieutenant (Tommy Berggren) with a wife and children forsake everything to be together and escape to the countryside—only to see their lovers’ idyll gradually give way to poverty and desperation. With its painterly, sun-dappled images and indelible use of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 21, this 1960s art-house sensation is the most ravishing expression of Widerberg’s recurring theme of the tension between individual freedom and social responsibility.
1969 • 114 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Swedish with English subtitles • 2.39:1 aspect ratio
One of Bo Widerberg’s most explicitly political works imbues the true story of a 1931 labor strike with a powerful contemporary resonance. In the industrial district of Ådalen, in the north of Sweden, a peaceful demonstration takes a tragic turn, leading to a historic general strike. Amid these events, the teenage Kjell (Peter Schildt) experiences sacrifice and strife, love and loss, and the consequences of this shocking violence. Working once again with Elvira Madigan cinematographer Jörgen Persson—who captures shimmering, light-filled images in graceful widescreen—Widerberg entwines a stirring portrait of resistance with an intimate coming-of-age journey for a vision of history that feels vibrantly, urgently alive.
And finally on August 29 is the Blu-ray debut of Cauleen Smith's Drylongso.
A rediscovered treasure of 1990s DIY filmmaking, Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso embeds an incisive look at racial injustice within a lovingly handmade buddy movie/murder mystery/romance. Alarmed by the rate at which the young Black men around her are dying, brash Oakland art student Pica (Toby Smith) attempts to preserve their existence in Polaroid snapshots, along the way forging a friendship with a woman in an abusive relationship (April Barnett) and experiencing love, heartbreak, and the everyday threat of violence. Capturing the vibrant community spirit of Oakland in the nineties, Smith crafts both a rare cinematic celebration of Black female creativity and a moving elegy for a generation of lost African American men.
1998 • 81 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Cauleen Smith, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• New conversation between Smith and film scholar Michael B. Gillespie
• Short films by Smith, including Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron, Songs for Earth & Folk, Lessons in Semaphore, Egungun (Ancestor Can’t Find Me), Remote Viewing, and Suffolk, with a new introduction by Smith
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Yasmina Price
Pre-Orders should be available soon!
The latest news on all things 4K Ultra HD, blu-ray and Gear.