"Then one summer things went strange." - Spalding Gray

07.2021

1 from Criterion

Mirror (Soviet Union, 1975)

Andrei Tarkovsky's sui generis masterwork, Mirror shuffles images and storylines like a deck of cards, playing with time and memory to paint an intimate and ultimately political portrait of life in Soviet Russia before, during and after the Second World War. Margarita Terekhova stars as the mother of the film's unseen adult narrator, Alexei, and grandmother of his adolescent son, Ignat, first seen in the film's opening scene. Jumping back and forth between the family's beginnings in pre-war rural Russia and its survivors' travails postwar, Mirror intercuts wartime newsreel footage as counterpoint to the protagonists' complex alliances and strained relations, tracking a nation's collective longing for a Mother Russia that exists mostly in the mind. For its new Blu-ray edition of this remarkable film – voted one of the top 10 in the world by Sight & Sound magazine – Criterion offers a 2K restoration of the film on one disc, accompanied by a 2019 feature-length documentary on Tarkovsky, and spreads the bulk of the extras onto a second disc. They include: two more documentaries, each lasting about an hour (one new one on Mirror, from 2021; the other on cinematographer Georgy Rerberg, from 2007; two new interviews of about half an hour each (one new one with composer Eduard Artemyev and one from 2004 with screenwriter Alexander Misharin); and two French TV news interviews Tarkovsky gave in 1978, lasting about 4 minutes each. Housed in a digipack inside a cardboard slipcase, the discs come with an 88-page booklet: there's an essay by critic Carmen Gray, the original film proposal that Tarkovsky and Misharin drafted in 1968 and – a substantial bonus – the duo's original 50-page treatment.

4 from Powerhouse

Invincible (U.K. / Germany / Ireland / U.S., 2001)

Werner Herzog directs Tim Roth as the owner of a cabaret in early 1930s Berlin, where a Polish Jew masquerading as a Teutonic strongman hoodwinks the Nazi clientele. Issued as an Indicator Blu-ray by British distributor Powerhouse (code-locked to region B), the film has been restored in 2K, comes with both English and German original soundtracks and a 2002 director's commentary, with newly translated English subtitles. For extras, there's a new half-hour interview with cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, who also features in a vintage location doc (13 mins.) shot by stills photographer Beat Presse and augmented by 3 extra minutes of footage. There are also three short films by Zeitlinger from 1978 and 1979 totaling 12 minutes, plus three trailers and an image gallery. The 36-page booklet includes a new essay by Jason Wood and a lot more.

The Day of the Dolphin (U.S., 1973)

In this Mike Nichols thriller, a kidnapped dolphin is sent to plant a mine under the U.S. president's yacht. Can its trainer (George C. Scott) stop the assassination from happening? The region-B Indicator disc has several new extras: an audio commentary on selected scenes by film historian Sheldon Hall (33 mins.), and interviews with actor Jon Korkes (44 mins.) and second assistant director Michael Haley (39 mins.). There are three interviews from 2003 with cast members Buck Henry, Leslie Charleson and Edward Herrmann totalling about half an hour, a 2016 introduction by screenwriter Larry Karaszewski (4 mins.), TV and radio spots, an image gallery and  a 36-page booklet with a new essay by critic Neil Sinyard, an extract from Robert Merle's source novel, various vintage interviews, and more.

The Big Fix (U.S., 1978)

Richard Dreyfuss stars as Moses Wine, a private eye hired to investigate some campaign smear tactics against a candidate for governor of California. Susan Anspach co-stars as the detective's girlfriend, F. Murray Abraham plays an ex-60s' radical hiding out from the law, and John Lithgow is the candidate's crooked campaign manager. The Indicator Blu-ray is code-locked to region B and has a new audio commentary by critic David Jenkins, two interviews (with director Jeremy Paul Kagan and screenwriter/novelist Roger L. Simon), two TV interviews from 1978 (with Dreyfuss and with Kagan, Simon and Carl Corack), a trailer, TV and radio spots, and two image galleries. The 32-page booklet includes a new essay by pulp-fiction scholar Andrew Nette, an introduction by Dreyfuss, and archival interviews with Kagan and costume designer Edith Head.

Eye of the Cat, aka Wylie (U.S., 1969)

Canadian actor Michael Sarrazin plays Wylie, the ne'er-do-well nephew of a rich matron (Eleanor Parker) who plans to leave her fortune to her beloved cats. Wylie has a phobia of cats, however, which makes killing her for her money all the harder. You have a choice of two versions of the film on Indicator's region-B disc: the original widescreen theatrical cut, in high-definition, and the full-frame TV cut, in standard definition. The extras are mostly new: an audio commentary on the theatrical cut by the British Film Institute's Kevin Lyons, a video comparison of the two versions (38 mins.) and a 21-minute appreciation by critic Kim Newman. A trailer, radio spot and gallery of 69 images completes the package, along with a a 36-page booklet that includes extracts from the film's original pressbook.

1 from Second Run

Adoption (Hungary, 1975)

In communist Hungary in the mid-1970s, 40-something factory worker Kata (Katalin Berek) yearns for a child, but her lover Joska, who's married, opposes the idea. Then Kata meets Anna (Gyöngyvér Vigh), a teenage orphan living in a group home, who asks to come live with her. Together, the two women find a solution to each other's loneliness. Prolific writer-director Márta Mészáros won top prize at the 1975 Berlin Film Festival for this moody, slow-paced, black-and-white film, regarded as a courageously feminist work of art that still resonates today. Second Run's all-region Blu-ray includes a short new introduction by the director, who's now almost 90 years old, and a 20-minute interview she gave in 2009. The 14-page booklet has a new essay by critic Carmen Gray.

1 from MVD

Mr. Jealousy (U.S., 1997)

In this, his second feature film, writer-director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Marriage Story) does some early exploration of his favourite themes of love, infidelity and sex among New York City's young professional set. Eric Stoltz plays  the titular jealous lover, Lester, a grade-school teacher and failed writer who infilitrates a weekly group therapy session led by psychiatrist Howard Poke (Peter Bogdanovich). Lester's goal is to spy on one of the group's more obnoxious patients, his new girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, the hot young short-story writer Dashiell Frank (played by Chris Eigeman, between gigs with director Whit Stillman). Will the girlfriend, Ramona (Annabella Sciorra), get wise to the scheme, and will it ultimately break the couple up? Besides a trailer, the Blu-ray from MVD comes with a new, 41-minute look-back on the making of Mr. Jealousy featuring new interviews with Bogdanovich and cast member Brian Kerwin along with producer Joel Castelberg, as well as vintage interviews with Baumbach (there's nothing new from any of the lead actors, unfortunately).

1 from Network

Honeymoon (U.K. / Spain, 1959)

British director Michael Powell made this musical romp through sunny Spain as a solo effort, sans his usual collaborator Emeric Pressburger, and it shows. Poorly scripted, woefully acted (by the leaden Anthony Steel and Russian emigré prima ballerina Ludmilla Tchérina), suffering from underfunding and, ultimately, substantially cut  for British TV, Honeymoon was restored in the early 2000s and yet remains one of Powell's less-known works, a flawed but nevertheless interesting curio for fans of his best-known pictures like Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death. The Blu-ray from UK distributor Network is code-locked to region B and comes with a trailer, image gallery and new interview with Judith Coxhead, Powell's production associate on this movie as well as his next, the near-career-ending slasher film Peeping Tom. The booklet has an essay by University of Hull film lecturer Laura Mayne. 

1 from Paramount

Almost Famous (U.S., 2000)

In his follow-up to 1996's Jerry Maguire, writer-director Cameron Crowe fictionalized his early days as a reporter with Rolling Stone magazine, tagging along on tour with an early 1970s rock band. Patrick Fugit stars as the teenage scribe, alongside Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kate Hudson; Crowe's then-wife, Nancy Wilson, of the Canadian rock duo Heart, wrote the movie's theme song and original music, augmenting a Grammy-winning compilation soundtrack of '70s rock by everyone from Simon & Garfunkel and The Who to David Bowie and Thunderclap Newman. For its UHD Blu-ray edition, Paramount offers two versions of the film in 4K on separate discs in steelbook packaging: there's the  theatrical release (123 minutes) and the "bootleg cut" (161 mins.). The first disc has some new content: you get three featurettes (an interview with Crowe, a look at the casting and costumes, and 11 mins. of 'rock-school sessions'), 9 mins. of extended scenes and 9 mins. of outtakes. The disc also has a whack of previously available extras, many of them prefaced with a short audio intro from Crowe: there's a behind-the-scenes featurette, an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs, deleted scenes, music videos and demo tracks, Crowe's original Rolling Stone articles from the 1970s on such artists as Neil Young and The Allman Brothers, the complete script of the movie, and more. The "bootleg cut" on disc 2 has an audio commentary by Crowe, his mother, and various production personnel. Oh, and the all-important soundtrack is offered in both English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and, for Canadian audiences, French Dolby Digital 5.1.