Criterion releases a new wave of films

Several new titles are in the pipeline from Criterion Collection. The dramatic narrative George Washington, the Chinese drama In the Mood for Love, Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits, and the beautifully complex Kurosawa classic Rashomon are all coming in the first quarter of 2002.

Bearing a somewhat misleading title, “George Washington” tells the story not of the father of the U.SA., but of the nation’s children. Set in a small town in North Carolina, George Washington is the story of a tight-knit multi-racial group of working-class kids caught in a tragic lie. After a twelve-year-old girl breaks up with her boyfriend for a sensitive, deeply introspective thirteen-year-old boy named George, a bizarre series of events and an innocent cover-up launches their insular group on individual quests for redemption.

Presented with an anamorphic widescreen transfer and its original Dolby Surround 2.0 audio, “George Washington” comes complete with an audio commentary by director David Gordon Green, cinematographer Tim Orr and star Paul Schneider. Other features include deleted scenes, David Green shorts, segments from The Charlie Rose Show, video interviews with the cast, the short film “A Day with the Boys” and an original theatrical trailer.

“Hua yang nian hua”, released in America as “In the Mood for Love”, begins in Hong Kong, 1962. Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) move into neighboring apartments on the same day. Their polite encounters are tempered by formality, until a discovery about their respective spouses sparks an intimate bond between them.

An anamorphic widescreen transfer accompanies the stereo mix of the films original Cantonese/Shanghainese soundtrack. Optional English subtitles are available. An alternate ending and deleted footage are both available and are presented with a director’s commentary. Also available on the DVD is an electronic press kit, promotional artwork, production stills, cast and crew biographies, an interactive essay on the music of “In the Mood for Love”, an interview with director Wong Kar-wai, the director’s Q&A session rom the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival’s press conference, a historical essay by critic/historian Gina Marchetti, a theatrical trailer, and TV Spots.
Rich with symbolism and imagery, Fellini delivers one of his most surrealistic, yet touching films in “Juliet of the Spirits” (originally “Giulietta degli spiriti”). Juliet is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her husband’ infidelity and coldness, gradually she grows into a world of fantasy where her dreams and visions help her through the difficulties of life.

Presented in anamorphic widescreen with its original mono sound, Criterion has commissioned an improved translation for the optional English subtitles. Unfortunately, like many Fellini films, very little promotional material is available from the films release, and the DVD will contain no supplementary features for the film.

Finally, the complex predecessor to recent rediscovery of non-linear storytelling, Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” explores the harsh discontinuity between truth and memory. In the aftermath of a brutal rape and murder, four witnesses to the event recount their experience, but each from their own point of view. Somewhere in their stories lies the truth – but where? As each recounting becomes more peppered to the memory of the storyteller, the truth becomes more and more elusive.
A fully restored fullscreen transfer of the 1950 film present the audio in both Japanese and English-dubbed mono with optional English subtitles. An audio commentary by film historian Donal Richie guides fans of Kurosawa and newcomers alike through the complexities of the film. An introduction by Robert Altman, excerpts from the television program “The World of Kazuo Miyagawa”, a documentary, reprints of source stories which inspired the film, excepts from the book “Something Like an Autobiography by Kurosawa, and a theatrical trailer round out the disc.

”In The Mood for Love“ is coming on February 19th, along with the previously announced Ingmar Bergman drama ”Wild Strawberries”. The remaining titles will all be available on March 12th. All three titles will carry the typical Criterion price of $39.95 each.

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