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Jean Cocteau and Jean Vigo are two of the great towers of French cinema. Pre-New Wave, the two inspired filmmakers like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard with their different approaches. Vigo was an upstart filmmaker who died young and left an indelible impression, while Cocteau was a poet, playwright, painter, and all around artiste. All of Vigo’s films are collected in the Criterion Collection’s release The Complete Jean Vigo, while Orpheus – arguably Cocteau’s masterwork – has been upgraded for Blu-ray. Our review of The Complete Jean Vigo and Orpheus on Blu-ray follow after the jump. Jean Cocteau’s film career is practically defined by two works: Beauty and the Beast and Orpheus. The latter was part of his Orphic trilogy – started with the short film Blood of a Poet and concluded with The Testament of Orpheus. Both are worth seeing, but Orpheus stands on its own, and works »
- Andre Dellamorte
Even today, for all the tools available to film makers, Beauty and The Beast by Jean Coctaeu ranks as one of the most beautiful renderings of a fairy tale ever put on screen. It's a quiet, sometimes outright slow film, utterly dependent on the indulgence of the viewer, but given that indulgence it has profoundly moved generation after generation of film lovers creating a fan base that extends from the arthouse to the Famous Monsters fan. Me? believe it or not I prefer the Disney version. This probably marks me as a cultural philistine. My saving grace is that I can't imagine my Bluray collection complete without this on the shelf. There are unforgettable images here and a devastating performance by Jean Marais as the beast »
With the success of The Lion King 3D across the pond, it comes as no surprise to hear that Disney are lining up a further 4 animated films for 3D conversions. Released this Friday in the UK, The Lion King 3D earned $29 million on its opening weekend and has evidently sparked a 3D trend at Disney Studios.
First up is the 1991 classic Beauty And The Beast, release at the start of 2012. Based on the fairy tale ‘La Belle et la Bête’, the feature was the first ever animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film has grossed almost $348 million worldwide and has since seen a musical adaptation on Broadway.
Close behind is Monsters Inc. 3D which also arrives January 2012 (just months before the release of upcoming prequel Monsters University). Originally entering cinemas in 2001, the Pixar film grossed $525 million worldwide and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. »
- Joe Taylor
Jena Cocteau and Jean-Pierre Melville are two of the most important French filmmakers of the 20th century, and worked together on the film Les Enfants Terrible, with a script from Cocteau and direction from Melville. And though Cocteau has been lauded as one of the great artists of the 20th century, Melville is has only recently been discovered. It was a repertory release of Le Samourai in the 1990’s that led to many of his works being championed and released by the Criterion Collection. Cocteau’s greatest film, Beauty and the Beast, and Melville’s kinky film about attraction to the unattainable Leon Morin, Priest are now on Blu-ray thanks to the Criterion Collection. Our reviews of both follow after the jump. When Jean Cocteau came to direct La Belle et La Bette (The Beauty and the Beast) in 1946, he was coming to it as the war was ending. He »
- Andre Dellamorte
This week on DVD and Blu-ray we've got smart pills, video games and uh... Topher Grace. Major releases hitting stores today include the Bradley Cooper thriller Limitless, '80s party comedy Take Me Home Tonight starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris, and the direct-to-dvd action flick Tekken, based on the popular fighting game. Digging a little deeper, some of the week's smaller releases include indie comedy Peep World starring Michael C. Hall and Sarah Silverman, a thriller called Cracks directed by Ridley Scott's daughter Jordan, and the 10th Anniversary Edition of Dark Days, Marc Singer's documentary about the homeless population living in New York City's subway system. Also, new to Blu-ray we have Amelie, Boyz N The Hood, and the Criterion release of Jean Cocteau's original 1946 Beauty and the Beast. What will you be buying or renting? Check out the full list of relevant releases after the jump. »
Criterion Collection: Beauty and the Beast [Blu-ray] Movie: Disc: Click here to read the dvd review! "Influenced by the avant garde artists of the early 20th Century, Cocteau developed an eerie surrealistic visual style; rich with symbolism, magical settings and photographic effects. But, thanks to his background as a writer, Cocteau would employ his signature stylistics in the telling of generally coherent narratives – regardless of their underpinnings in fantasy – and his films achieved worldwide recognition and critical success. It’s not a stretch to describe Jean Cocteau as the Julie Taymor of his era." »
Returning to tantalize you with thoughts of lasers dancing through the air with bits of celluloid attached to neurons (or however it is that Blu-ray works), we have the prospect of ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night to tempt your wallet. Most Notable New Releases A Chinese Ghost Story (Region A; Panorama) Wilson Yip's remake of the beloved original (by Ching Siu-Tung) "turns out to be a vacuous and tedious CGI-laden crapfest," according to James Marsh, our very own Man in Hong Kong. Louis Koo stars as a demon hunter.Beauty and the Beast (Region A; Criterion Collection)Jean Cocteau's classic fantasy stars Josette Day and Jean Marais. As to the Blu-ray transfer, DVD Beaver comments: "Some fans may have had higher »
The Harry Potter series came to an end this past Friday, and it (appropriately) went out with the biggest opening weekend of all time. After working on eight movies for about ten years, the cast and crew now have to find other projects to occupy their time with, and we’ve learned of two major players in the series getting involved with new films.
First, Styd has learned that Guillermo del Toro is developing a new version of Beauty and the Beast, with Emma Watson in mind to star. Crazy, Stupid, Love producer Denise Di Novi confirmed the filmmaker’s involvement, and said that she would be co-producing the movie with him. He probably won’t be directing, however, as he’s set to begin filming on Pacific Rim this September, with At the Mountains of Madness planned for some point after Rim‘s release.
Watson is a great choice, »
- Nick Newman
Beauty and the Beast is one of the most-adapted stories out there, and as such already has two screen incarnations that are standouts in their respective realms: the Jean Cocteau version from 1946 and Disney's 1991 animated version. We might soon add one more new version to the pile, and indeed to the mountain of projects being developed by Guillermo del Toro. The writer/director/producer is working on a new Beauty and the Beast, and has Emma Watson set to star. (Not as the Beast, one would expect.) ComingSoon  talked to producer Denise Di Novi while she was promoting Crazy, Stupid, Love, and she said that the adaptation is coming together now. Such a lack of respect for the most recent screen version of the story, Beastly! Wait, that movie was garbage. No respect necessary. As she's been busy for the past decade on Harry Potter, Emma Watson has done little »
- Russ Fischer
Your Weekly Source for the Newest Releases to Blu-Ray Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Synopsis: Bursting with imagination and having seen her share of tragedy and fantasy, Amélie is not like the other girls. When she grows up she becomes a waitress in a Montmartre bar run by a former dancer. Amelie enjoys simple pleasures until she discovers that her goal in life is to help others. To that end, she invents all sorts of tricks that allow her to intervene incognito into other people’s lives, including an imbibing concierge and her hypochondriac neighbor. But Amélie’s most difficult case turns out to be Nino Quicampoix, a lonely sex shop employee who collects photos abandoned at coin-operated photobooths. (blu-ray.com)
Special Features: The Look of Amelie featurette; Fantasies of Audrey Tatou; Q&A with the director and cast; Auditions; Storyboard to screen comparisons; An Intimate Chat With Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet »
- Travis Keune
Only a few days after he’s been released from prison, Tony Le Stephanois (Jean Servais) is reunited with his former partners in crime Jo (Carl Möhner) and Mario (Robert Manuel). They want him to do one more job at a Parisian jeweler’s shop, which if successful means they can retire. Tony declines to get involved again in the business. Tony meets up with his old girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret) who has been seeing a gangster named Pierre Grutter (Marcel Lupovici). Enraged by this relationship, Tony savagely beats Mado for being involved with Grutter.
Tony then agrees to do the job, but not because he wants the money. He wants to hit he jeweler’s safe instead, not the outside window. We are then introduced to Cesar (Perlo Vita, better known as the director Jules Dassin), a master safe cracker from Milan and a colleague of Mario’s. They then plan the heist meticulously, »
- James McCormick
Orpheus, Jean Cocteau’s 1950 fantastical update of the renowned Greek myth, will receive what’s sure to be a sparkling release by Criterion on Blu-ray and DVD on Aug. 16. The Blu-ray and DVD will carry the list prices of $39.99 and $29.99, respectively.
Cocteau’s film focuses on a famous poet (Jean Marais, Beauty and the Beast) scorned by the Left Bank youth, and his love for both his wife Eurydice (Marie Déa) and a mysterious princess (Maria Casarès). In search of inspiration, the poet follows the princess to the land of the dead through a dazzling mirrored portrayal, where more dreamlike storytelling and visual poetry awaits…
The second movie in Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy, which also includes 1930’s The Blood of a Poet and Testament of Orpheus from 1959, Orpheus remains one of the surrealist artist’s most mesmerizing, sensual works.
Presented in French with English subtitles, »
It’s so strange, writing this so long after the announcement yesterday. In today’s internet world of instant information, and twenty four second news cycles, yesterday’s August 2011 Criterion Collection new releases may as well have happened last week, or last month. I’m sure that the page views for this post will be markedly smaller than the usual, as I have tried consistently to have the new release post up within minutes of the pages going live on Criterion’s website. I know this all sounds like inside baseball stuff, but it’s on my mind, and darn it, this is my website.
I had a whole, several paragraph long, write up of the August titles, but since I’m finding myself writing this at 10pm on Tuesday evening, I think it’s better if I just scrap that whole thing and start over. I was going on »
- Ryan Gallagher
• Pirates of the Caribbean fervour briefly – and bafflingly, given the poor reviews for the fourth instalment – swept through Cannes at the weekend, with security guards in the Palais des Festivals flinging themselves at crowds rendered hysterical at the presence of Johnny Depp (below) – "Johnny! Johnny!" they screamed, with the desperation of drowning men.
If some had wished this fine actor to announce his and fellow seadogs' retirement from the high seas, they were disappointed. The possibilities, he said, for Pirates were "endless", while the producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, claimed that there "is much more fun to be to be had. As long as the scripts are good and we're working with film-makers such as Rob Marshall, we're all good".
- Charlotte Higgins
Well we all knew this would happen. Back in February, when Criterion announced their epic digital streaming partnership with Hulu, they also quietly revealed that their streaming options on Netflix would be coming to an end over the course of the next year. While I haven’t been paying close attention to the Criterion Collection films that have been expiring since that announcement was made, I thought it would be helpful to all of you loyal Netflix subscribers to know that in about twelve days, 26 titles will be expiring on the 26th of May, 2011.
I’ve gone and linked to all of the titles below, so you can click on the cover art or the text, and be taken to their corresponding Netflix pages. While this isn’t everything that Criterion has to offer on Netflix, it is a nice chunk of really important films. If you don’t currently have a Netflix subscription, »
- Ryan Gallagher
I’m sure you’re all thinking to yourself “isn’t Ryan away on paternity leave?” Well yes, technically. However, my pregnant wife (our daughter hasn’t debuted quite yet) is currently snoozing soundly in bed (finally), so I have some time to catch up on some Criterion news posts that I’ve been working on in my spare time. While it’s been relatively slow as of late, in regards to hard Criterion news and rumors, the New York Times managed to drop a nice little gift in our laps today.
Last year, you’ll all remember when they were nice enough to tease at the August release of the Josef Von Sternberg box set, in an offhanded comment in their Summer preview post. It seems as though the folks at Criterion have been kind enough to let them into their legendary offices, and show off some titles that we’re expecting this August. »
- Ryan Gallagher
Cocteau’s landmark movie fantasy, in which the true love of a beautiful girl melts the heart of a feral but gentle beast, features unforgettably romantic performances by Jean Marais (Orpheus) and Josette Day (Les parents terribles). The spectacular visions of enchantment, desire and death in Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) remain timeless.
Criterion released a DVD edition of Beauty and the Beast in 2003, which is still available for the suggested retail price of $39.95. But we’re hoping this Blu-ray will be an upgrade.
Presented in French with English subtitles, the Blu-ray edition will contain the following features:
• High-definition digital transfer from restored film elements, »
Note: I’ll be updating this page as Criterion makes the release dates and final art available. – Ryan 4/15/2011
Well here we are, another mid-month Criterion new release announcement. This time last year, we were treated to the incredible one-two punch announcement of Black Narcissus and the Red Shoes as upgraded DVD/Blu-ray editions. This time around we have even more to be excited about.
First up, a couple of films that we’ve actually already covered on the podcast will finally be getting Blu-ray upgrades. One of our very first episodes was on Mike Leigh’s Naked (a film that I wasn’t too hot on, but I loved Leigh’s Topsy Turvy). Now you’ll finally be able to see this incredibly daring and raw look at England in the early 90s, with David Thewlis as the immortal Johnny. I found the dialogue to be a little too rapid and not very naturalistic, »
- Ryan Gallagher
The Russian film-maker's eerie sci-fi vision of a forsaken world uncannily echoes Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant today
The test of a great film is not its relevance to world events. La Belle et la Bête doesn't suffer for its lack of insight into Libyan mission creep; The Shining needs no message about the Portuguese bailout. But now and then one of cinema's true moments of genius is brought to mind by the nightly news – and so it's been recently with Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky's unshakable science-fiction masterwork, a film that ever since the crippling of the Fukushima nuclear power plant has, for me, been a mournful companion to the crisis.
Because if the exact nature of this most beautifully cryptic of films will always be open to debate, it will also be forever linked with Chernobyl – Tarkovsky's 1979 vision of the eerie, depopulated "Zone" on at least one level an uncannily prophetic »
- Danny Leigh
From the pioneers of the silver screen to today's new realism, French directors have shaped film-making around the world
France can, with some justification, claim to have invented the whole concept of cinema. Film historians call The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, the 50-second film by the Lumière brothers first screened in 1895, the birth of the medium.
But the best-known early pioneer, who made films with some kind of cherishable narrative value, was Georges Méliès, whose 1902 short A Trip to the Moon is generally heralded as the first science-fiction film, and a landmark in cinematic special effects. Meanwhile, Alice Guy-Blaché, Léon Gaumont's one-time secretary, is largely forgotten now, but with films such as L'enfant de la barricade trails the status of being the first female film-maker.
- Andrew Pulver
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