Criterion November 2021 Slate Includes Three 4K Titles

The Criterion Collection has announced its slate of November 2021 titles, including 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc releases of Citizen Kane, Mulholland Dr. and Menace II Society, plus a regular Blu-ray release of Federico Fellini’s La strada, and a Blu-ray boxed set of the Once Upon a Time in China films from Hong Kong in the 1990s.

When the Criterion Collection Aug. 11 announced its initial slate of 4K titles heading to disc, it highlighted Citizen Kane as leading the batch of six 4K films. Well, according to Criterion’s Aug. 16 announcement of its November 2021 lineup, it turns out its first 4K disc will actually be director David Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Dr. on Nov. 16.

In Mulholland Dr., blonde Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) has only just arrived in Hollywood to become a movie star when she meets an enigmatic brunette with amnesia (Laura Harring). As the two set off to solve the second woman’s identity, filmmaker Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) runs into ominous trouble while casting his latest project.

Criterion’s Mulholland Dr. comes in a combo pack with one 4K Ultra HD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR, while the second disc is a regular Blu-ray with the film and special features. The 4K version includes a new digital restoration supervised by Lynch and director of photography Peter Deming, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

Extras include interviews from 2015 with Lynch, Deming, Watts, Harring, Theroux, composer Angelo Badalamenti, production designer Jack Fisk, and casting director Johanna Ray; on-set footage; a deleted scene; the film’s trailer; and a booklet featuring an interview with Lynch from the 2005 edition of filmmaker and writer Chris Rodley’s book Lynch on Lynch.

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Citizen Kane follows on Nov. 23. The 1941 masterpiece directed by and starring Orson Welles tells the story of the rise and fall of a newspaper magnate whose efforts to reshape America are trumped only by his desire to recapture the lost innocence of his youth.

Criterion’s edition will be a combo pack containing the film on a 4K disc with Dolby Vision HDR, and three regular Blu-ray Discs containing the film and a slew of bonus materials. The film itself boasts a new 4K digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. A standalone three-disc Blu-ray edition without the 4K disc also will be offered.

Extras include three audio commentaries — from 2021 featuring Welles scholars James Naremore and Jonathan Rosenbaum; from 2002 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich; and from 2002 featuring film critic Roger Ebert. Also included will be The Complete Citizen Kane, a rarely seen feature-length BBC documentary from 1991; new interviews with critic Farran Smith Nehme and film scholar Racquel J. Gates; a new video essay by Welles scholar Robert Carringer; a new program on the film’s special effects by film scholars and effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt; a new documentary featuring archival interviews with Welles; interviews with actor Joseph Cotten from 1966 and 1975; The Hearts of Age, a brief silent film made by Welles as a student in 1934; television programs from 1979 and 1988 featuring appearances by Welles and Mercury Theatre producer John Houseman; a program featuring a 1996 interview with actor William Alland on his collaborations with Welles; a selection of “The Mercury Theatre on the Air” radio plays featuring many of the actors from Citizen Kane; the film’s trailer; and deluxe packaging, including a book with an essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri.

The set also includes interviews from 1990 with editor Robert Wise; actor Ruth Warrick; optical-effects designer Linwood Dunn; Bogdanovich; filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Henry Jaglom, Martin Ritt and Frank Marshall; and cinematographers Allen Daviau, Gary Graver and Vilmos Zsigmond.

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Also due Nov. 23 on 4K disc is directors Albert and Allen Hughes’ 1993 film Menace II Society, a fatalistic, unflinching vision of life and death on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1990s. There, in the shadow of the riots of 1965 and 1992, young Caine (Tyrin Turner) is growing up under the influence of his ruthless, drug-dealing father (Samuel L. Jackson) and his loose-cannon best friend, O-Dog (Larenz Tate), leading him into a spiral of violent crime from which he is not sure he wants to escape, despite the best efforts of his grandparents and the steadfast Ronnie (Jada Pinkett).

The film will be available as a 4K Ultra HD combo pack with a Blu-ray, and as a standalone Blu-ray, with a new 4K digital restoration of the directors’ cut of the film, supervised by cinematographer Lisa Rinzler and co-director Albert Hughes, with 7.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The original 2.0 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD master audio, also is offered. The 4K edition includes one 4K disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR, and a regular Blu-ray with the film and special features.

Extras include two audio commentaries from 1993 featuring directors Albert and Allen Hughes; “Gangsta Vision,” a 2009 featurette on the making of the film; a new conversation among Albert Hughes, screenwriter Tyger Williams and film critic Elvis Mitchell; a new conversation among Allen Hughes, actor and filmmaker Bill Duke, and Mitchell; an interview from 1993 with the directors; deleted scenes; a film-to-storyboard comparison; the film’s trailer; and an essay be film critic Craig D. Lindsey

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Among Criterion’s non-4K titles for the month, Nov. 2 sees the release of a Blu-ray Disc edition of director Federico Fellini’s 1954 film La strada, which launched both himself and his wife and collaborator Giulietta Masina to international stardom. Masina plays Gelsomina, loyal companion to the traveling strongman Zampanò (Anthony Quinn), whose callousness and brutality gradually wear down her gentle spirit. La strada was the winner of the very first Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film.

The La strada Blu-ray includes a new 4K digital restoration, undertaken in collaboration with The Film Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. It also includes an alternate English-dubbed soundtrack, featuring the voices of Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart.

Extras include audio commentary from 2003 by Peter Bondanella, author of The Cinema of Federico Fellini; an introduction from 2003 by filmmaker Martin Scorsese; Giulietta Masina: The Power of a Smile, a documentary from 2004; Federico Fellini’s Autobiography, a documentary originally broadcast on Italian television in 2000; the film’s trailer; and an essay by film critic Christina Newland.

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Due Nov. 16 will be the six-disc Once Upon a Time in China: The Complete Films Blu-ray collection.

One of the pinnacles of Hong Kong cinema’s 1990s golden age, the “Once Upon a Time in China” series set a new standard for martial-arts spectacle and launched action star Jet Li to international fame.

Against the backdrop of China in the late nineteenth century, one man — the real-life martial-arts master, physician, and folk hero Wong Fei-hung—emerges as a noble protector of Chinese values as the country hurtles toward modernity. The set includes 1991’s Once Upon a Time in China, plus its 1992 sequel, the third and fourth films from 1993, and the fifth film from 1994. The first three films boast 4K digital restorations, while the latter two have 2K restorations. All are presented with their original Cantonese theatrical-release sound mixes in uncompressed monaural or stereo

Also included is 1997’s Once Upon a Time in China and America with a 2K digital transfer featuring 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio and monaural Cantonese soundtracks, along with a stereo Mandarin track with the voice of actor Jet Li.

Extras include new interviews with director Tsui Hark, film workshop cofounder Nansun Shi, editor Marco Mak, and critic Tony Raynsl; excerpts from audio interviews with Li conducted in 2004 and ’05; deleted scenes from Once Upon a Time in China III; a documentary from 2004 about the real-life martial-arts hero Wong Fei-hung; From Spikes to Spindles, a 1976 documentary about New York City’s Chinatown featuring uncredited work by Tsui; excerpts from a 2019 master class given by martial-arts choreographer Yuen Wo-ping; archival interviews featuring Tsui and actors John Wakefield, Donnie Yen and Yen Shi-kwan; behind-the-scenes footage for Once Upon a Time in China and Once Upon a Time in China and America; a making-of program from 1997 on Once Upon a Time in China and America; film trailers; and essays on the films by critic Maggie Lee, and cinematic depictions of Wong by novelist Grady Hendrix.

Criterion Announces Its First 4K Disc Slate Will Include ‘Citizen Kane’

The Criterion Collection is finally making the leap to 4K Ultra HD. The boutique Blu-ray and DVD distributor Aug. 11 announced its first slate of six titles in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format will be highlighted by Citizen Kane in November.

Other Criterion 4K Ultra HD Discs to be released in the coming months include Menace II Society, The Piano, Mulholland Dr., The Red Shoes and A Hard Day’s Night.

Each title will be available as a combo pack containing a 4K disc of the film and a regular Blu-ray of the film with bonus materials. Select films will be presented in Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos.

Additional release details and street dates will be announced shortly.

Director Orson Welles’ landmark Citizen Kane, which debuted in cinemas in 1941, was Criterion’s first Laserdisc release 37 years ago. The film has received a number of DVD and Blu-ray releases from Warner Bros. in the interim.




Rated ‘R’ for some language.
Stars Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Arliss Howard, Tuppence Middleton, Joseph Cross, Sam Troughton, Toby Leonard Moore, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tom Burke, Charles Dance.

David Fincher’s Mank is as much a rebuke of the politics of Hollywood as it is a peek behind the scenes at the creative process that led to Citizen Kane, which is often regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

The film’s look and feel is definitely an homage to Kane, from its black-and-white photography, to the framing of specific shots, to a time-shifting narrative structure, and a sound mix that seems to emulate classic films. The only thing Fincher seemingly didn’t do was crop the film to a 4:3 aspect ratio.

The docu-drama focuses on the career of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who won an Oscar co-authoring the Kane screenplay with Orson Welles. In the film, Mank (Gary Oldman) works on the Kane script while recovering from a car accident at a retreat in California’s Mojave Desert, and recounts to those around him who inspired the characters in it, leading to flashbacks to the events in question.

Citizen Kane, of course, is famously based on publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies, played here by Charles Dance and Amanda Seyfried. For Oldman’s Mank, Hearst’s coziness with Hollywood generated enough resentment to inspire him to pick him apart in his screenplay.

The inciting event in particular seems to be the 1934 California gubernatorial election, in which Hearst and Hollywood backed Republican incumbent Frank Merriam over the Democrats’ nominee, socialist author Upton Sinclair. Mank sympathized with Sinclair’s anti-poverty positions and took offense to Hearst’s bankrolling of propaganda films by MGM, Mank’s home studio.

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Fincher’s depiction of classic Hollywood will be catnip for film fans, particularly viewers with an affinity for Citizen Kane, but also history buffs in general. On the other hand, ruminations about Mank’s health, his alcohol dependency and frictions between him and the studio system tend to drag on a bit.

The depiction of Hollywood’s attempt to exert its influence over voters is one of those “the more things change, the more they stay the same” kind of moments, and certainly gives the film a timely quality despite its period setting. While some might see Mank’s moral stance as a left-wing defense of the little guy against the big bad corporate machine, it’s hard not to look at the unseemly alliance between Hearst and MGM chief Louis B. Mayer and not see parallels with the media and entertainment establishment’s distaste for Donald Trump (despite whatever message Fincher intended to relay).

The film’s relationship between politics and screenwriting in some ways brings to mind another recent film about a legendary screen scribe, 2015’s Trumbo, about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Oldman’s attempts to capture the affectations of a mid-20th-century Hollywood screenwriter are in many ways similar to Bryan Cranston’s efforts to do the same as Trumbo.

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The other aspect of Mank that will have historians poring over it is the question of how much of the Citizen Kane screenplay can actually be attributed to Welles. Mank seems to want to give most of the credit to its title subject, depicting Welles as a collaborator who earns a contractual credit but mostly calls to check in on Mank’s progress and edits the final product for being too long.

The screenplay for Mank was originally written in the 1990s by Jack Fincher, David’s father who died in 2003. He based the premise on an article from the 1970s that questioned whether Welles had anything to do with the Kane screenplay, a notion at Welles supporters have attacked vociferously.

The subject of the making of Citizen Kane was previously the focus of the 1999 HBO movie RKO 281 (a reference to Kane’s production number). However, that movie focused more on the collaboration between the two men, and attributed the rancor toward Hearst more toward Welles, while Mank, played there by John Malkovich, wanted to ease up — a stark contrast to Oldman’s version. Interestingly, the RKO 281 DVD is actually included as a bonus with some Citizen Kane boxed sets.