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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #240 on: November 04, 2003, 09:57:35 PM »
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SoNowThen:
Don't base Ozu off Good Morning. I agree it is weak. Thing is, most everyone else does too in comparison to his major works. Ozu is not perfect and Criterion released Good Morning more on the basis of what was first available to them to release. I haven't seen Tokyo Story, but in my gut feeling, you really do need to see this film so take the plunge, man. I got Tokyo Story and (because of your raving) Le Cercle Rouge on order right now.

SoNowThen

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #241 on: November 04, 2003, 10:21:56 PM »
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Haha, I haven't even seen Red Circle yet!! But it's Melville, and it's got Delon in it, which I think pretty much equals brilliance.

Well, you let me know on Ozu, GT. You steered me right with Umberto D.

Also, I think it's almost time for me to blind buy In The Mood For Love...


On another note, I hope everyone here has seen Coup De Torchon? It's just fucking awesome. I gotta locate that bad boy for a good price...

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Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

cine

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #242 on: November 04, 2003, 10:45:27 PM »
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Quote from: SoNowThen
I'd love to blind buy either Tokyo Story or Floating Weeds, but of course they are hella expensive. Now I could rent them from the library, but because of their age, the quality will be poo. Anyone wanna wax about why I should watch more Ozu, and why CC seems to love him so much?


I bought this sometime last year because I knew Ebert praised it a lot. I shelled out the money for it and let me tell you, it's well worth it. The quality is very good as well. Based on the other stuff I've seen of Yasujiro Ozu, I can conclude that he has a very distinctive style unlike any other director. (Ebert had called him the softest of directors.. something like that.) Anyway, if you like Japanese cinema, see Ozu.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #243 on: November 11, 2003, 09:39:10 PM »
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Major update here. Lots to cover so lets begin with the second Annual CCF (Criterion Collection Forum) interview with Criterion spokesman Jon Mulvaney. Great great interview:

Can you describe for us a typical day at the Criterion offices?

The only thing typical about a day at Criterion is its unpredictability. Like most New Yorkers, we're overflowing the limited space we occupy and don't have enough time in the day to do everything we need to. In the summer, we talk about softball; in the winter, we talk about our Christmas card. Any given day can find a consulting producer from Europe camped out in our conference room or one of the Criterion babies, spouses, or dogs roaming the halls. We're a close-knit company and we work hard and play hard, though the office mood is very casual. And while you're here, you're never more than seven feet from a TV screen.

How long, on average, does it take for a title to make if from the idea stage to the street date? What was the shortest window of time for a release (and which release was it) and what was the longest?

Once a master is made, it is usually about a four-month process for production, authoring, compression, and design. There is, however, quite a bit of variation. Naturally, production periods are shorter for those titles with less original content, or for studio releases where hard and fast release dates are imposed from the outside, such as with The Royal Tenenbaums. The releases that demand the most time are those that require extensive restoration and/or archival research, such as Grand Illusion or Rules of the Game. Or the Eisenstein silents, which we’ve been working on for quite a long time now.

Are there any plans to celebrate publicly the twentieth anniversary of Criterion? A special release, perhaps? Those hotly anticipated t-shirts? Might we suggest a DVD sampler similar to the old "Criterion Goes to the Movies" Voyager CD-ROM that would include trailers and clips from all of the available Criterion DVDs and perhaps a brief introduction by Peter Becker and video interviews with the staff? This could be made available as a mail-order item or as a premium with selected purchases.

Thanks for reminding us of the upcoming anniversary. You’re right—it would make a good occasion for something. However, nothing is currently in the works. Making Criterion merchandise (t-shirts, hats etc.) has been on our minds for some time, but we still haven’t committed to it. If and when we do make such merchandise available, you’ll be the first to know.

What kind of backgrounds, educational or otherwise, do your producers have? What kind of preparation makes for a good producer?

The producers at Criterion come from a variety of backgrounds. Most have a background in film, be it a degree in film production or studies and/or experience in film production or distribution. Certain producers joined the company in entry-level positions and worked their way up through the ranks.

To be a good producer, one must capable of doing and being many things at once. One need not necessarily be an expert on a particular film or filmmaker, yet one must know how to surround oneself with the right resources and how to best exploit those resources. The producer must be canny, patient, and discerning when sifting through vast amounts of archival materials. They must simultaneously act as sleuth, diplomat, and wrangler in an effort to generate a coherent overall presentation of a particular film, one that is accessible and interesting to both the casual viewer and the expert. It is a difficult balancing act between purist idealism on the one hand and commercial realities on the other. A good producer is able to find the right spot between these two poles.

How does Criterion decide whom to approach for recording commentary tracks? Is it based on reputation, availability, interest, past working relationships, or what?

Often the choice of a commentarist is self-evident. A Terry Gilliam film needs a Terry Gilliam commentary. Similarly, certain scholars have such dominant reputations in their fields —Peter Cowie on Bergman, say, or Donald Richie on Ozu and Kurosawa, that we would be remiss not to turn to them on occasion. Other films seem to require experts from outside the film industry (e.g., serial-killer profiling pioneer John Douglas on Silence of the Lambs, former DEA intelligence chief Craig Chretien and Pulitzer-winning reporter Tim Golden on Traffic) to address the real-life underpinnings of the story. But for the most part, the choice of commentarist emerges from an internal discussion that takes into account many of the criteria you mention in your question. Suffice it to say that the process of developing a commentary itself, whether scripted or drawn from a number of interviews, is quite grueling, and sheer familiarity with the subject is never enough. It takes energy, clarity, and an ability to organize thoughts not based on their own linear logic, but based on the rhythm and structure of the film being annotated. Those who do it well are a rare breed and we consider ourselves lucky when we find them.

What are Criterion's plans for revisiting the earlier titles in the collection, specifically the non-anamorphic titles, titles that have been restored since their initial release, and titles lacking in special features that are still priced at $39.95 MSRP?

We do hope to re-release certain non-anamorphic titles in the future, but it will be a very gradual process. Because we have access to so many great films that have not received our attention at all, we are more inclined to work on new films than re-release existing titles. However, there is a strong likelihood that we’ll be re-releasing a disc or two in 2004, though none of the titles we’re considering are widescreen films (i.e. they are 1.33:1).

Thanks for asking about the early, 39.95 straight titles (Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and High and Low). The 39.95 price tag for these titles was an anomaly, and one that should be corrected. I’ve been discussing this issue with the senior staff and, if I have my way, you will see a price adjustment is in our future.

The November release of David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch gives credence to the rumor that Criterion is now able to license titles from Fox. Can you shed any light on this and possibly give us an idea of the kinds of Criterion titles we might expect to see as a result of this new relationship?

It is true—we plan to release a handful of Fox titles in 2004/5. But you guys know that I am not at liberty to divulge specifics! Suffice it to say that, if everything goes according to plan, you will be pleased. Several highly regarded directors and films from all periods of Fox studio history.

Celestial Pictures, a Hong Kong-based company, has been releasing beautifully restored and remastered titles from the classic Shaw Brothers film library. Miramax has licensed a few of these titles for US release, but many excellent films have not been picked up. Has Criterion considered licensing a couple of these titles as a way of expanding their coverage of Asian cinema?

We are very aware of the remarkable Celestial Pictures collection of Chinese Cinema. I am not a Hong Kong cinema expert, but it is my understanding that the Celestial/Shaw Brothers library consists of some 700 films. This is far too large a library for Criterion to handle. However, if there are certain Celestial titles that you think would be especially suited to a Criterion releases, please write in and inform us of them. We’re eager to hear what you think.

TV on DVD has become a cash cow for the big studios. Criterion, as usual, was there first with "Fishing With John", but has Criterion considered revisiting TV as a source for titles? Errol Morris' "First Person" seems like it would be a great fit in the Collection.

We are currently exploring certain projects, but there are no television programs in our current schedule. That’s about all I can say on this one. As always, we welcome any suggestions you might have.

The Brakhage release seems to have been phenomenally popular. Has this encouraged Criterion to look into releasing more avant-garde and experimental works, or was the experience so trying that once is more than enough?

The by Brakhage release was certainly a challenge, but we’ve been very heartened by the public response. We are very proud of this DVD and its reception. We are very hopeful that more avant-garde/non-narrative cinema (including more Brakhage, perhaps) will find its way into the collection. I wouldn’t expect anything in the very near future, but the experience with Brakhage was nothing if not encouraging.

Are there any plans to release more silent films? An animated film? More genre films?

In addition to an exciting slate of classics, we are planning more silents and more genre fare in 2004. No animated films are on the schedule, but we encourage suggestions for high-quality animated films outside of major studio releases.

2003 was a very strong year for Criterion and fans expect 2004 to bring just as many great titles, including ones by Criterion stalwarts Bergman, Bu˝uel, Godard, Kurosawa, Ozu, Renoir, Truffaut, and Varda, new favorites Bresson and Melville, as well as rumored debut entries in the Collection from Franju, Russ Meyer, Rohmer, and Visconti. That's already quite a slate of big names, but can you give us any hints about some other exciting upcoming titles?

Hmmm... well, at the moment, 2004 looks terrific. Very eclectic. A number of tried-and-true favorites and quite a few new names. Some monstrous classics of world cinema and some more obscure gems. I would say a number of surprises, but the folks at the Criterion Forum are so resourceful that we can rarely catch you unawares.

What’s in the works? One dog, one cat, one bird, two Sicilians, three women, four cops, five films never before on home video (at least), and six hours of suffering. Not to mention a couple of masks, a mamma, and a messiah. And The Lower Depths.

All the best to all of you at The Criterion Forum from all of us at The Criterion Collection!

Respectfully,

Jon Mulvaney
------------------------------------

also, a nice article appeared in the Chicago Tribune about Criterion AND its upcoming projects. The article is below, but here is the exciting news of who Criterion plans to cover this year:

we'll be doing some Robert Altman this year
Fritz Lang's `The Testament of Dr. Mobuse'
and some work on [John] Cassavetes
and John Ford
plus more Godard
Kurosawa
Renoir
and a long-awaited Italian masterpiece.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

article:

Criterion set the criteria for special features

By Joshua Klein
Special to the Tribune
Published November 11, 2003

Back in the laserdisc era, Criterion was one of the first companies to recognize the demand for films shown in their proper aspect ratios, so you can thank them for the black bars that preserve a film's original theatrical image. Criterion also pioneered the use of supplementary material, so you can thank them for audio commentaries and still galleries as well. But all of this came at a price for the independent company, inevitably passed on to the tiny laserdisc consumer base.

"It used to be that we had to scale our work very, very carefully, since there were barely enough laserdisc players to break even after just making a decent master," says Criterion president Peter Becker. "We were certainly early, aggressive pioneers in the development of the special features that have become the standard bells and whistles on a lot of DVDs, but in those days, we could afford to do, say, an elaborate edition of `Silence of the Lambs,' but our edition of `La Strada' really had nothing on it. In fact, if you go back and look at our laserdiscs of the great international classics, many of them have little on them at all in terms of special features."

"I also go back and look at what we sold of certain releases," he added. "`Andrei Rublyov' is a very important film, arguably Tarkovsky's masterpiece, and I think we sold maybe 660 copies of that on laserdisc. When you have to break even on 660 copies, let alone make a profit, it tells you why the list price on something like that had to be $99."

Restoring classic films

Given the massive success of the DVD format, Criterion has had an easier time restoring and distributing classic films from their catalog. "At the height of the laserdisc market, there were maybe a couple of million active players," says Becker. "DVD outstripped that number in its first year. On DVD, the cost barriers aren't nearly as high as they were on laserdisc, so there's the possibility of introducing a lot of new customers to these films and for us to do a level of work that we could never have afforded to do on laserdisc. We didn't have the tools to do nearly as much restoration work then as we do now. Now we're doing most of our digital restoration on a high-definition level and contributing to actual film restoration, so that films can be brought back out in theaters. All of that was [previously] beyond our reach."

In fact, a restored print of Gillo Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers" hits theaters this January before an eventual DVD release. In the meantime, Criterion's most recent DVD releases are as impressive and eclectic as ever. David Cronenberg's mind-bending "Naked Lunch" arrives as a two-disc edition, while Steven Soderbergh's strange "Schizopolis" comes as a single disc packed with special features as surreal as the film itself, such as a commentary track with the director interviewing himself. Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Cercle Rouge" and Yasujiro Ozu's masterpiece "Tokyo Story" get the double-disc treatment. "A Film Trilogy" and "The BRD Trilogy" are extensively packaged boxed sets dedicated to Ingmar Bergman and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, respectively. Each justifies the long-standing Criterion nickname "film school in a box."

Everyone benefits

Of course, nowadays Criterion is just one of many companies releasing special editions on DVD, but Becker thinks the high standards Criterion set and continues to maintain benefits everyone. "Important preservation work, which was once done by the Academy or under not-for-profit circumstances, is now being carried out by for-profit institutions," he says. "It's really a quite extraordinary moment in that way. Because people are now putting on supplements and seeking out archival elements, and it's really re-invigorated the archives. Everybody's improving their catalog systems and in turn taking in a fair amount of licensing capital that wasn't there before, just because people are taking an interest. It's going to be hugely important for film history."

Given the constant search for the best possible materials -- a pristine print of Carl Dryer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" was famously found in a Norwegian asylum, and a DVD edition of Jean Renoir's "The Rules of the Game" was postponed until early next year after an original negative was discovered at the last minute -- Becker isn't always at liberty to say just what will and will not show up on DVD from year to year.

"[Laurence Olivier's] `Richard III' has been a monumental effort, and we'll be doing some Robert Altman this year, Samuel Fuller's `Pickup on South Street,' Fritz Lang's `The Testament of Dr. Mobuse' and a dual edition of Ozu's `Floating Weeds' and `A Story of Floating Weeds.' Then we'll be doing some work on [John] Cassavetes and John Ford, plus more Godard, Kurosawa, Renoir . . . and a long-awaited Italian masterpiece. But I don't want to jinx myself, because we haven't got all the stuff we need to finish it."

Finally, word has it that Floating Weeds will appear in March.

Finn

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #244 on: November 11, 2003, 10:16:24 PM »
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Did anyone pick up Naked Lunch on Criterion?
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modage

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #245 on: November 12, 2003, 12:13:36 AM »
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Quote from: The Gold Trumpet

and a long-awaited Italian masterpiece.


La Dolce Vita?
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #246 on: November 12, 2003, 08:09:27 AM »
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Quote from: themodernage02
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet

and a long-awaited Italian masterpiece.


La Dolce Vita?


Likely not. There's already a 2 disc dvd of La Dolce Vita planned for June of next year, but that does keep on getting pushed back. It is likely The Leopard, which is long awaited in its own right.

Ernie

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #247 on: November 12, 2003, 04:46:59 PM »
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The Altman one is probably 3 Women, right? Hopefully?

I'm looking forward to Ford and Cassavetes too, didn't expect them to be priorities, that's cool.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #248 on: November 12, 2003, 07:50:42 PM »
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The Altman one will definitely be 3 Women, but also, they're could be more. The quote was "some Altman". That entitles more than just one so who knows, but 3 Women is a near lock.

Ford........I'm guessing Young Mr. Lincoln or The Informer. More known classics of his are locked up and these two stand as major works still even if general public doesn't know them well. I'd guess The Informer edging out Young Mr. Lincoln solely because it is more on greatest lists.

Cassavetes, though, has the guess mainly of "Husbands" right now because it really has no dvd release here at all.

But, since the flood gates of Fox and Criterion doing deals has emerged, other major names are being thrown around as potential films, mainly Paris, Texas and even Bottle Rocket.

godardian

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #249 on: November 12, 2003, 08:35:56 PM »
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Quote from: SoNowThen
okay, so, what's the deal with Ozu? I saw Good Morning and thought it was fine, but nothing to rave about and sorely lacking in style (which is cool, but doesn't have much re-watch value for me). I'd love to blind buy either Tokyo Story or Floating Weeds, but of course they are hella expensive. Now I could rent them from the library, but because of their age, the quality will be poo. Anyone wanna wax about why I should watch more Ozu, and why CC seems to love him so much?


I don't agree that there is no style in Good Morning, or that it's really that weak. It's probably a minor work for Ozu, but I think it comes off rather well. At the very least, it has color and charm to spare.

The thing with Ozu (and Bresson... and Dreyer... yes, I'm revving up to read Schrader's Transcendental Style in Film) is the plainness of the style, which is probably your real complaint. We usually think of a "style" as something that wows us, impresses us, dances all around us and dazzles us, but that's only one kind of style: Style is the word we use to indicate specific choices of technique and presentation we associate with certain directors, the way the choices are made, why they're made, etc. Clearly, these "transcendental" filmmakers have a different style than that, but every frame and composition and edit seem all the more clear and determined a choice for being so ascetic and restrained.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

modage

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #250 on: November 12, 2003, 08:38:09 PM »
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Quote from: The Gold Trumpet
Likely not. There's already a 2 disc dvd of La Dolce Vita planned for June of next year, but that does keep on getting pushed back. It is likely The Leopard, which is long awaited in its own right.


really?  where was this discussed? criterion is putting this out? or somebody else?  the last time i asked there was no work on a region one. http://www.xixax.com/viewtopic.php?t=1663
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #251 on: November 12, 2003, 10:14:29 PM »
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I found this from another forum. The guy who posted it knows his shit on the subject. I trust him.

"Koch Lorber owns the US rights to La Dolce vita. They are preparing a 2-disc special edition, that was to be released in September, but has since been postponed until July 2004."

SoNowThen

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #252 on: November 13, 2003, 10:13:06 AM »
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Quote from: godardian
Quote from: SoNowThen
okay, so, what's the deal with Ozu? I saw Good Morning and thought it was fine, but nothing to rave about and sorely lacking in style (which is cool, but doesn't have much re-watch value for me). I'd love to blind buy either Tokyo Story or Floating Weeds, but of course they are hella expensive. Now I could rent them from the library, but because of their age, the quality will be poo. Anyone wanna wax about why I should watch more Ozu, and why CC seems to love him so much?


I don't agree that there is no style in Good Morning, or that it's really that weak. It's probably a minor work for Ozu, but I think it comes off rather well. At the very least, it has color and charm to spare.

The thing with Ozu (and Bresson... and Dreyer... yes, I'm revving up to read Schrader's Transcendental Style in Film) is the plainness of the style, which is probably your real complaint. We usually think of a "style" as something that wows us, impresses us, dances all around us and dazzles us, but that's only one kind of style: Style is the word we use to indicate specific choices of technique and presentation we associate with certain directors, the way the choices are made, why they're made, etc. Clearly, these "transcendental" filmmakers have a different style than that, but every frame and composition and edit seem all the more clear and determined a choice for being so ascetic and restrained.


Ah, but I can see clear style at work in every frame of a Bresson film. Whereas Good Morning just played like a tv sitcom. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was cute, but it didn't blow me away. I'm hoping Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds will. But they're expensive, and I dunno if I wanna blind buy...

Oh, and GT, Bottle Rocket will never come out Criterion. They said that awhile ago.
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

godardian

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #253 on: November 13, 2003, 05:07:26 PM »
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I'm especially looking forward to 3 Women. Probably not the most original Altman, but certainly my favorite.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Criterion News and Discussion
« Reply #254 on: November 13, 2003, 09:02:19 PM »
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Quote from: SoNowThen
Oh, and GT, Bottle Rocket will never come out Criterion. They said that awhile ago.


A while ago....things have changed significantly in what Criterion is able to release and what not to release. And Criterion knows this is their most requested dvd title of any, so they'll pursue it if they can.

And rumors continue: Word has it that Secret Honor is owned by Altman himself. This is very much Criterion worthy and is already being tossed around as possible future release.

 

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