The Criterion Collection has unveiled its first release blitz for 2015 with the news this week of its DVD and Blu-ray selections for the month of January.
Kicking off the New Year on Jan. 6 will be a Blu-ray edition of Japanese filmmaker Kihachi Okamoto’s 1966 hunted/hated man samurai gem, The Sword of Doom.
In a stunning departure from the Bushido code, Tsukue (Tatsuya Nakadai — Seppuku, Kagemusha, etc.) is a samurai-turned-assassin, who is an out-and-out psychopath. He has no honor and lives by his own code of lies, violence and betrayal … which marks him as man with many enemies.
Bonus features here include commentary by author and film historian Stephen Prince (“The Warrior's Camera,” “Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies,” etc.).
German auteur filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 film adaptation of his own “envisioned” stage play, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, will be getting a push with a new digital restoration from Criterion on Jan. 13 as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings.
Bonus nuggets include newly-prepared interviews with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and actors Margit Carstensen, Eva Mattes, Katrin Schaake, and Hanna Schygulla, a second one with film scholar Jane Shattuc and the German TV documentary (circa 1992) titled “Role Play: Women on Fassbinder.”
Jan. 20 brings the domestic DVD and Blu-ray debut of director Guy Maddin’s mock-documentary My Winnipeg to market. The ARR works out to 2,412 days for this 2008 theatrical release … domestic ticket sales back then were $156,629.
The Criterion Collection has included three of Maddin’s short films with this release — Spanky: To the Pier and Back, Sinclair and Only Dream Things — a deleted scene and a one-on-one with Maddin and art critic Robert Enright.
Also streeting on Jan. 20 are DVD and Blu-ray SKUs for director Preston Sturges’ 1942 screwball comedy, The Palm Beach Story, which teamed Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert … and Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea (if you have to ask, then you haven’t seen the film).
Bonus goodies here include separate video interviews with film historian James Harvey and voice actor and producer Bill Hader, a 1943 radio presentation of the story and filmmaker Preston Sturges’ 1942 short film, Safeguarding Military Information.
Lastly, Jan. 27 marks the arrival on Blu-ray of the Criterion Collection restoration of Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel’s 2001 film, La Ciénaga. Previously released on DVD by Home Vision (long since out of print), Criterion will also be releasing on Jan. 27 a newly prepared DVD edition as well.