As I mentioned previously I think with a lot of their new releases, CRITERION is basically just repackaging older material and adding very little new to their ‘new’ releases. No new commentaries, etc.
Examples abound, such as MENACE II SOCIETY, a film I am happy is getting a new release though I personally have no interest in paying more for UHD, I would have been happy with a well mastered, feature rich Bluray. Unfortunately besides the new transfer, they are mostly releasing it with 28 year old commentaries and special features from the DVD release, and very little new material.
Even the box art for MENACE II SOCIETY, seems a bit underwhelming when you compare it to past releases like KISS ME DEADLY or THE NEW WORLD or SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS or NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, where the care CRITERION put into those releases, including the packaging, is clearly apparent.
Other upcoming titles such as CITIZEN KANE and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA are interesting but also have issues.
With THE ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, it looks like you will get a quality boxset, with new features, however much like the BRUCE LEE and MELVIN PEEBLES releases, I feel these sets are WAY too expensive for what you get.
Particularly when you look at companies like INDICATOR, SECOND SIGHT, ARROW, that produce boxsets of a FAR Higher quality than CRITERION for less money. The CITIZEN KANE release looks promising, with new commentaries and special features, however that box art does not inspire confidence.
I do look forward to the release of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, a very good film. I enjoyed the actual play more, the play is a masterwork, but the film is very good. And there are new features here, but a film commentary for me, is always the highlight of special features. And that is not here.
I am looking forward to the release of Gordon Parks ‘ THE LEARNING TREE. No commentaries but interesting sounding features.
Also on the list to pickup is DEEP COVER, though the lack of quality new features concerns me . Though the cover art and the interview with Bill Duke is likely enough for me to pick it up during the upcoming November 2021 50% sale.
Another I will be picking up during the November sale is MEMORIES OF MURDER, which for me is BONG JOON HO’s best film by a large margin. I thought PARASITE was 3/4ths of a great film, but for me completely dropped the ball in the last act. I did not think it deserved the Academy award, but I seldom agree with the Academy. I did think 1917 deserved to be the best picture of that year, over PARASITE. However Ho’s earlier film MEMORIES OF MURDER is the release that really deserves acclaim. And Criterion offers a release with older features, but also adds a new commentary and some new interviews, so i will be picking this up during the sale.
MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS IS AN OL
GHOST DOG is one I will be picking up. No commentary but interesting other features.
Another one I will be picking up during the sale is THE IRISHMAN. Not top on my list, but has some interesting features.
An example of one I will not be picking up is NIGHTMARE ALLEY, which is a simply fantastic film that has been dying for a quality Bluray release. However Criterion does not give us a quality release. Instead offering the worst artwork I have seen on a release in a long time, and no new features of note. I will be holding onto the DVD release till a better Blu-ray release is offered.
So in contrast, it is good to see in THE SHRINKING MAN, a new release, that they actually put some effort into stacking it with special features. it doesn’t hurt that the artwork (very Saul Bass like) is legions better than the abominable art that British competitor ARROW VIDEO (which typically crushes Criterion with their wealth of special features) used for their release of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. Criterion’s THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN is the release I was most excited to purchase from CRITERION, not just for October but arguably for all of 2021.
I also purchased Criterion’s THE DAMNED, and it was strictly a cover buy (this is an example of CRITERION knocking it out the park with the cover art) , I purchased it for 50% off its retail price. Its Director, Luchino Visconti, is very much hit and miss for me. I loved one of his earlier features, ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, however his THE LEAPORD left me unmoved, to bored throughout its runtime. And halfway through THE DAMNED, and while ravishingly shot, it likewise fails to engage me or interest me. And the special features are all but non-existent.