Criterion in October 2018: SISTERS, SHAMPOO, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, Fassbinder and More
The Criterion Collection certainly walks its own path in making films available on Blu-ray. In October 2018, for example, traditionally a month when distributors focus on horror titles, Criterion will be issuing only one thriller that might fall into that category.
But what a thriller! Just 32 years of age at the time of its release, Brian DePalma's Sisters started a delirious run of thrillers for him during the 70s -- my personal favorite remains Obsession -- that firmly established him in New Hollywood. The late Margot Kidder is great as a mysterious model, with Jennifer Salt as a reporter who witnesses a murder in the model's apartment.
The cast includes William Finley, Charles Durning and Barnard Hughes. But writer/director DePalma is really the star attraction in a tightly-constructed shocker that flies by in barely 93 minutes. Criterion will release it in a new 4K restoration, featuring a new interview with Salt, and other extras carried over from previous editions.
I haven't watched Shampoo for several years, so I wonder how it will hold up in the current era of closely-watched misbehaving men? Produced by Warren Beatty, written by Robert Towne, and directed by Hal Ashby -- with considerable interference from Beatty and Towne, according to Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls -- the film follows a promiscuous hairdresser as he dashes around Los Angeles, struggling to keep his various relationships afloat as the 1968 Presidential Election unfolds. When it was released in 1975, I recall that the supposed political content drew a lot of attention -- U.S. President Richard M. Nixon had resigned the previous year -- as did the salacious sexual content.
Years later, I found the supposed dramatic and comic conflicts forced, pushy, and self-righteous. Beatty himself seems to be trying too hard, something that I also noticed in the same year's The Fortune. Yet the performances by Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn and Lee Grant all remain strong, and Carrie Fisher still stands out for her brief (and profane) appearance. The new Criterion edition includes a 4K restoration and a new conversation between critics Mark Harris and Frank Rich.
For children of the 1980s, I have buried the lede. The witty and quite wonderful The Princess Bride, exquisitely written by William Goldman and beautifully directed by Rob Reiner, will arrive in a new 4K digital transfer. New features include new programs about Goldman's screenplay as well as the writer's "tapestry based on the film" -- (?!) -- along with various extras from the 1996 home video edition.
Fans of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, do not despair! A new 2K digital restoration of the late filmmaker's Eight Hours Don't Make a Day will be available, dating from German public television in 1972-73. It's evidently a massive social drama; naturally Hanna Schygulla is included in the show and in an interview that's part of a 2017 documentary that accompanies the main title. So that sounds essential for Fassbinder die-hards.
Finally we have Cornel Wilde's The Naked Prey, which lodged itself into my brain when I saw it on television many years ago. Released in 1965, the film is now described as "both a propulsive, stripped-to-the-bone narrative and a meditation on the concept of civilization." The new edition features a restored high-definition digital transfer and other goodies.
Visit the official Criterion Collection site to read about all the extras on all their upcoming releases, and make financial plans accordingly.