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D.A Pennebaker’s ‘The War Room,’ David Lean’s Noel Coward Films & More Head To Criterion In March; ‘Last Temptation Of Christ’ Goes Blu

D.A Pennebaker's 'The War Room,' David Lean's Noel Coward Films & More Head To Criterion In March; 'Last Temptation Of Christ' Goes Blu

It’s the middle of the month, which means Criterion has unveiled their latest batch of titles and once again, it will test the strength of your wallet. But this March, the boutique label is also showing some savvier then usual marketing muscle as well.

With an election season now in full swing, Criterion will be issuing D.A. Pennebaker‘s long out of print “The War Room.” The intriguing film tracks the 1992 presidential election of Bill Clinton and goes behind-the-scenes, bringing into focus one of his many smart and slick advisers, namely the ragin’ Cajun himself James Carville as well as George Stephanopoulos. The set will be padded with extras, the most intriguing of which will be the 2008 follow-up documentary “Return Of The War Room” which revisits Carville and company to get their thoughts on the political landscape and the Clinton years. Sounds great.

Since we’re talking about smart marketing, James Cameron will drop his 3D-ified “Titanic” in theaters in April, but if you want the old fashioned movie about the ill fated voyage, Criterion has dusted off “A Night To Remember.” Now reissued in pristine high definition on BluRay, you can relive the tragic tale through filmmaker Roy Ward Baker‘s movie, and best of all, it doesn’t have that shitty, shitty Celine Dion song.

Also going Blu is Martin Scorsese‘s controversial “The Last Temptation Of Christ.” Needless to say we could write a whole article about the film, the casting, the amazing score by Peter Gabriel and more, but if you haven’t seen it, now’s the time. The newly crisp version will be loaded with the same extras the DVD had before including a commentary by Scorsese, Willem Dafoe, Paul Schrader and Jay Cocks. That alone is worth the purchase.

Back to the new movies hitting the collection, Criterion will bring forth “Letter Never Sent” by Mikhail Kalatozov. Basically like “The Grey” but without a wolf-punching Liam Neeson, the film centers on four dudes on a geological expedition who wind up stranded in the Siberian wilderness while searching for diamonds. Bummer. This one will be bare bones, but the movie itself should be more than worth the purchase.

Finally, boasting a plethora of extras, a box set of David Lean movies is a must have any day of the week. Criterion will drop a 4-movie strong box set focused on the director’s work with Noel Coward, including the stone cold classic “Brief Encounter,” the WWII pic “In Which We Serve,” the domestic drama “This Happy Breed” and the comic “Blithe Spirit.”

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Carville had hair???

Nik Grape

The David Lean set and Kalatozov will be extremely tempting. I hope the Kalatozov one will be on Blu.


Extras for the Lean/Coward box set:

New high-definition digital transfers of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restorations, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions
Audio commentary on Brief Encounter by film historian Bruce Eder
New interviews with Noël Coward scholar Barry Day on all of the films
Interview with cinematographer-screenwriter-producer Ronald Neame from 2010
Short documentaries from 2000 on the making of In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter
David Lean: A Self Portrait, a 1971 television documentary on Lean’s career
Episode of the British television series The Southbank Show from 1992 on the life and career of Coward
Audio recording of a 1969 conversation between Richard Attenborough and Coward at London’s National Film Theatre
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Ian Christie, Terrence Rafferty, Farran Smith Nehme, Geoffrey O’Brien, and Kevin Brownlow

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