The latest round of new releases from Criterion have been announced for January, giving cinephiles five new DVDs to spend their Christmas money on. Among the additions is “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which will be the first Coen Brothers film available from Criterion. All the films will be available on DVD and Blu-ray. Check out the films below, synopses courtesy of Criterion Collection.
A young woman (Meiko Kaji), trained from childhood as an assassin and hell-bent on revenge for her father’s murder and her mother’s rape, hacks and slashes her way to gory satisfaction. Rampant with inventive violence and spectacularly choreographed swordplay, Toshiya Fujita’s pair of influential cult classics “Lady Snowblood” and “Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance“ set in late 19th and early 20th century Japan, respectively, are bloody, beautiful extravaganzas composed of one elegant widescreen composition after another. The first “Lady Snowblood” was a major inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” saga, and both of Fujita’s films remain cornerstones of Asian action cinema. Special features include new interviews with screenwriter Norio Osada and Kazuo Koike, who wrote the manga on which the films are based.
“The American Friend” (1977)
Wim Wenders pays loving homage to rough-and-tumble Hollywood film noir with “The American Friend,” a loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel “Ripley’s Game.” Dennis Hopper oozes quirky menace as an amoral American art dealer who entangles a terminally ill German everyman, played by Bruno Ganz, in a seedy criminal underworld as revenge for a personal slight—but when the two become embroiled in an ever-deepening murder plot, they form an unlikely bond. Filmed on location in Hamburg and Paris, with some scenes shot in grimy, late-70s New York City, Wenders’s international breakout is a stripped-down crime story that mixes West German and American film flavors, and it features cameos by filmmakers Jean Eustache, Samuel Fuller and Nicholas Ray. Special features include interviews with Bruno Ganz and Wim Wenders and deleted scenes with audio commentary.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)
The visionary chroniclers of eccentric Americana, Joel and Ethan Coen present one of their greatest creations in Llewyn Davis, a singer barely eking out a living on the peripheries of the flourishing Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties. As embodied by Oscar Isaac, in a revelatory performance, Llewyn is extraordinarily talented but also irascible, rude and self-defeating. Our man’s circular odyssey through an unforgiving wintry cityscape, evocatively captured by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, is realized with poignant humor and the occasional surreal touch. Featuring a folk soundtrack curated by T Bone Burnett, “Inside Llewyn Davis” reminds us that in the Coens’ world, history isn’t necessarily written by the winners. Special features include a conversation between the Coen brothers and Guillermo del Toro, as well as documentaries about the making of the film and a tribute concert held for the film.
“Bitter Rice” (1949)
During planting season in Northern Italy’s Po Valley, an earthy rice-field worker falls in with a small-time criminal who is planning a daring heist of the crop, as well as his femme-fatale-ish girlfriend. Both a socially conscious look at the hardships endured by underpaid field workers and a melodrama tinged with sex and violence, this early smash for producer extraordinaire Dino De Laurentiis and director Giuseppe De Santis is neorealism with a heaping dose of pulp. Special features include a 2007 documentary about the director and an interview from screenwriter Carlo Lizzani.
“Gilda, are you decent?” Rita Hayworth tosses her hair back and slyly responds, “Me?” in one of the great star entrances in movie history. “Gilda,” directed by Charles Vidor, features a sultry Hayworth in her most iconic role, as the much-lusted-after wife of a criminal kingpin, as well as the former flame of his bitter henchman, and she drives them both mad with desire and jealousy. An ever-shifting battle of the sexes set on a Buenos Aires casino’s glittering floor and in its shadowy back rooms, Gilda is among the most sensual of all Hollywood noirs. Special features include an interview with film historian Eddie Muller and a 2010 appreciation of the film featuring Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann.