‘One Night in Miami’ Leads Criterion’s December Slate

Oscar nominee One Night in Miami … tops the slate of new Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases from the Criterion Collection in December, a list that also includes 1969’s The Learning Tree and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of The Red Shoes.

Arriving on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 7, One Night in Miami … adapts the 2013 stage play by Kemp Powers, who also wrote the screenplay, and marks the feature directorial debut of Academy Award-winning actress Regina King.

The story is a fictionalized account of a meeting of four icons of African-American culture — Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, NFL great Jim Brown, and “King of Soul” Sam Cooke — on Feb. 25, 1964, following the boxing match in which Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) defeated Sonny Liston. Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Cooke. Other cast members include Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Eli Goree as Ali, and Aldis Hodge as Brown.

One Night in Miami … was released in limited theaters at the end of 2020 and on Amazon Prime Video in early 2021. The film also earned Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for Powers, and Best Original Song for “Speak Now.”

The Blu-ray and DVD editions include a new 4K digital transfer, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new conversation between King and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons; a new conversation among King, Powers and critic Gil Robertson; a conversation between King and filmmaker Barry Jenkins from a 2021 episode of “The Director’s Cut – A DGA Podcast “; a new program featuring King and the four stars of the film; a new program on the making of the film, featuring King, Powers, director of photography Tami Reiker, editor Tariq Anwar, producer Jody Klein, costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck, and set decorator Janessa Hitsman; a new program on the film’s sound design, featuring sound editor and mixer Andy Hay, sound mixer Paul Ledford, and music producer Nick Baxter; and an essay by critic Gene Seymour.

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The 1969 film The Learning Tree arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 14. With this tender and clear-eyed coming-of-age odyssey, the renowned photographer turned filmmaker Gordon Parks not only became the first black American director to make a Hollywood studio film, he also served as writer, producer and composer, resulting in a deeply personal artistic achievement. Based on Parks’ own semi-autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree follows the journey of Newt Winger (Kyle Johnson), a teenage descendant of Exodusters growing up in rural Kansas in the 1920s, as he experiences the bittersweet flowering of first love, finds his relationship with a close friend tested, and navigates racism in the legal and education systems.

The Learning Tree Blu-ray and DVD editions include a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new documentary on the making of the film, featuring artist and critic Ina Diane Archer, curator Rhea L. Combs, and filmmakers Ernest R. Dickerson and Nelson George; a new conversation, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie, between artist Hank Willis Thomas and art historian Deborah Willis about the influence of Parks; the documentary My Father: Gordon Parks, made on the set of The Learning Tree, narrated by Gordon Parks Jr., and featuring interviews with Gordon Parks Sr. and members of the cast and crew; Diary of a Harlem Family and The World of Piri Thomas, two 1968 films on which Parks played creative roles, with a new introduction by Combs; Unstoppable, a 2005 documentary featuring producer Warrington Hudlin in conversation with Parks and filmmakers Ossie Davis and Melvin Van Peebles; and “How It Feels to Be Black,” a 1963 Life magazine photo-essay by Parks, and an excerpt from the director’s 2005 book A Hungry Heart: A Memoir.

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Also arriving Dec. 14 is a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc edition of the 1948 film The Red Shoes.

The singular fantasia from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Red Shoes is cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor feasts ever concocted for the screen. Moira Shearer is a rising star ballerina torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection. Featuring outstanding performances, blazingly beautiful cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Oscar-winning sets and music, and an unforgettable, hallucinatory central dance sequence, this beloved classic, dazzlingly restored, stands as an enthralling tribute to the life of the artist.

The Ultra HD edition includes a 4K digital transfer from the 2009 restoration, with Dolby Vision HDR. Also included is a regular Blu-ray version with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack and bonus features, including an introductory restoration demonstration featuring filmmaker Martin Scorsese; audio commentary from 1994 by film historian Ian Christie, featuring interviews with actors Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and Scorsese; A Profile of ‘The Red Shoes,’ a 2000 documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with members of the production team; an interview with director Michael Powell’s widow, editor Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, from the 2009 Cannes Film Festival; audio recordings from 1994 of actor Jeremy Irons reading excerpts from Powell and screenwriter Emeric Pressburger’s novelization of The Red Shoes and the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Red Shoes”; publicity stills and behind-the-scenes photos; a gallery of memorabilia from Scorsese’s collection; The ‘Red Shoes’ Sketches, a 1948 animated film of Hein Heckroth’s painted storyboards, with the Red Shoes ballet as an alternate angle; and an essay by critic David Ehrenstein and a description of the restoration by UCLA film archivist Robert Gitt.

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