Criterion March 2022 Slate Includes Scorsese’s ‘Last Waltz,’ James Stewart’s ‘Flight of the Phoenix’

Titles being released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD by the Criterion Collection in March 2022 include Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, Hungarian film Adoption, James Stewart in The Flight of the Phoenix, Theodore Witcher’s Love Jones, and Alain Delon in Le Cercle Rouge on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Arriving March 8 on DVD and Blu-ray is 1975’s Adoption, from Hungarian director Márta Mészáros. The first film directed by a woman to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Adoption immerses the viewer in the worlds of two women, each searching for fulfillment: Kata (Katalin Berek), a middle-aged factory worker who wants to have a child with her married lover, and Anna (Gyöngyvér Vígh), a teenage ward of the state determined to emancipate herself in order to marry her boyfriend. The bond that forms between the two speaks quietly but powerfully to the social and political forces that shape women’s lives, as each navigates the realities of love, marriage, and motherhood in her quest for self-determination.

The film comes with a new 4K digital restoration undertaken by the National Film Institute Hungary — Film Archive, supervised by cinematographer Lajos Koltai and approved by Mészáros, a new English subtitle translation, and an uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new video essay by scholar Catherine Portuges; an interview with Mészáros from 2019; Blow-Ball, a 1964 short film by Mészáros; Márta Mészáros: Portrait of the Hungarian Filmmaker, a 1979 documentary by Katja Raganelli featuring on-set interviews with the director and creative collaborators; the film’s trailer; and an essay by film scholar Elena Gorfinkel.

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Due March 15 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is 1970’s Le Cercle Rouge, starring Alain Delon as a master thief, fresh out of prison, who crosses paths with a notorious escapee (Gian Maria Volontè) and an alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). The unlikely trio plot a heist, against impossible odds, until a relentless inspector and their own pasts seal their fates. With its honorable antiheroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces, Le cercle rouge is the quintessential film by Jean-Pierre Melville—the master of ambiguous, introspective crime cinema.

The 4K/Blu-ray combo pack includes a new 4K restoration from Studiocanal of the uncut version of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The 4K disc includes the film with Dolby Vision HDR and the regular Blu-ray includes the film and special features. Extras include segments from a 1971 episode of “Cinéastes de notre temps” featuring director Jean-Pierre Melville; interviews with assistant director Bernard Stora and Rui Nogueira, author of Melville on Melville; on-set and archival footage, featuring interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, Yves Montand and André Bourvil; the film’s trailer; and essays by film critics Michael Sragow and Chris Fujiwara, excerpts from Melville on Melville, a 2000 interview with composer Eric Demarsan, and an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo.

Arriving March 22 on Blu-ray is 1965’s The Flight of the Phoenix, starring James Stewart as a veteran pilot whose Benghazi-bound plane — carrying passengers played by an unshaven ensemble of screen icons including Richard Attenborough, Ernest Borgnine, Ian Bannen, Dan Duryea, Peter Finch, and George Kennedy — crash-lands in the remote Sahara. As tensions simmer among the survivors, they find themselves forced to trust a coldly logical engineer (Hardy Krüger) whose plan to get them out may just be crazy enough to work — or could kill them all.

The Blu-ray includes a new 2K digital restoration, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Extras include a new conversation between filmmaker Walter Hill and film scholar Alain Silver; a new interview with biographer Donald Dewey on actor James Stewart and his service as a bomber pilot; the film’s trailer; and an essay by filmmaker and critic Gina Telaroli.

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Due March 29 on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD is director Martin Scorsese’s 1978 concert film The Last Waltz. Invited to document the farewell performance of the legendary rock group The Band at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving in 1976, Scorsese conceived a new kind of music documentary. Enlisting seven camera operators (including renowned cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond, László Kovács and Michael Chapman) and art director Boris Leven to design the sets, Scorsese created a grandly immersive experience that brings viewers onstage and inside the music itself, as performed by The Band and a host of other generation-defining artists, including Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, the Staple Singers, Muddy Waters and Neil Young.

The film comes with a new 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by musician Robbie Robertson, with a 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack, and an alternate uncompressed stereo soundtrack. The 4K disc includes the film with Dolby Vision HDR, and the regular Blu-ray disc includes the film with bonus materials. Extras include two audio commentaries, featuring Scorsese, Robertson, other members of The Band, members of the production crew, and performers Dr. John, Ronnie Hawkins and Mavis Staples; a new interview with Scorsese, conducted by critic David Fear; a documentary from 2002 about the making of the film; outtakes; an Interview from 1978 with Scorsese and Robertson; the film’ s trailer and TV spot; and an essay by critic Amanda Petrusich.

Also due March 29 is 1997’s Love Jones, the debut feature of writer-director Theodore Witcher. Steeped in the bohemian cool of Chicago’s 1990s Black creative scene, Love Jones, a love story for anyone who has ever wondered: How do I know when I’ve found the one? Larenz Tate and Nia Long have magnetism and chemistry to burn as the striving, artistically talented twentysomethings — he’s a poet, she’s a photographer — who spark over their love of literature and jazz, but whose mutual reluctance to commit to a relationship leaves them both navigating an emotional minefield of confusion, jealousy and regrets. The ensemble cast also includes Isaiah Washington, Lisa Nicole Carson, Bill Bellamy, Bernadette Speakes and Leonard Roberts.

The Blu-ray includes a new 4K digital restoration supervised by Witcher, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack. Extras include a new interview with Witcher and film scholar Racquel J. Gates; a new interview with music scholars Mark Anthony Neal and Shana L. Redmond on the soundtrack; a panel discussion featuring Witcher and members of the cast and crew; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Danielle A. Jackson.

Fellini Classic ‘La Dolce Vita’ Headed to Blu-ray With New Intro by Martin Scorsese

Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic La Dolce Vita will be released on Blu-ray Feb. 8 by Paramount Home Entertainment with a new introduction by director Martin Scorsese, who shares his thoughts on the film and its impact on cinema.

Both a critique of the culture of stardom and a look at the darkness beneath the seductive lifestyles of Rome’s rich, La Dolce Vita follows a notorious celebrity journalist over one crazy week. It stars Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée and Yvonne Furneaux.

The film was restored in 2011 by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in association with The Film Foundation, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Mediaset-Medusa, Paramount Pictures and Cinecittà Luce.

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Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD Dec. 14

Director Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street arrives on 4K Ultra HD for the first time Dec. 14  from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter), the 2013 film earned more than $390 million worldwide.

DiCaprio plays a young, hungry and corrupt stockbroker in the story of Wall Street excess. In addition to Hill, the supporting cast also includes Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner and Jean Dujardin.

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The 4K Ultra HD release features a new film transfer supervised by Scorsese. The disc includes access to a digital copy of the film and previously released bonus content, including “The Wolf Pack,” “Running Wild” and “The Wolf of Wall Street Round Table.”

The Wolf of Wall Street will also be available on 4K Ultra HD in a limited-edition Steelbook.

The Irishman

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/24/20;
Criterion;
Drama;
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language and strong violence.
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel.

Lest anyone accuse Martin Scorsese of glamorizing gangsters, he presents The Irishman, a screed against the criminal lifestyle.

The film is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, a recounting of the life of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, the man who claims to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, the union boss whose disappearance in 1975 became one of the 20th century’s great mysteries.

The subject matter is fodder for Scorsese, who assembles a cast of mob-movie all-stars to deliver another highly entertaining trip into the inner workings of the criminal underworld. This includes usual Scorsese collaborators such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci (who was coaxed out of retirement to appear). It is somehow also the first teaming of Al Pacino with Scorsese despite both being famously associated with the mafia movie genres.

The film, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is lengthy at three-and-a-half hours, but is briskly paced enough to hold one’s attention. Of course, the nature of home video also allows viewers to pause the movie whenever they want, giving Scorsese plenty of leeway to indulge himself.

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De Niro stars as Sheeran, the ‘Irishman’ of the title, a truck driver who gets drawn into the mafia as an enforcer. He eventually becomes a trusted ally of Teamster president Hoffa (Al Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

The extended running time not only allows the audience time to get to know the characters, but it also allows Scorsese to hone in on an aspect of criminal life that wasn’t central to his earlier works in the genre: What happens to the violent gangsters who manage not to get killed and end up growing old? Was their life of crime still worth it once they realize what they had to leave behind to achieve it?

As if to carry the point home, Scorsese makes a point to pause the introductions of several minor characters to display an on-screen graphic describing their fates, which usually involves a horrific, violent death.

On the subject of aging, the film famously made extensive use of de-aging visual effects software in order to allow the elderly stars to play the younger versions of their characters since the film spans several decades. Scorsese in the Blu-ray’s bonus materials says the technology was vital to his deciding to direct the film, as he didn’t want to have to cast younger actors for the earlier scenes and only work with De Niro for half the movie. The results are subtle if not always perfect, but they don’t hamper the effectiveness of the film at all.

Because of the film’s length, Criterion has made the Blu-ray of The Irishman a two-disc set, with the entirety of the movie presented as the only content on the first disc. All the bonus materials are on the second disc and they do a good job of taking viewers behind the scenes of the film. Both discs come in a handsome fold-out slipcover with some beautiful painted artwork of De Niro and Pacino, plus a booklet with an essay about the film.

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In addition to the film’s trailers, the extras include a 36-minute “Making The Irishman” featurette that covers all the aspects of the production.

Film history fans will get a kick out of the 19-minute “Table for Four” featurette, a roundtable conversation between Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci as they discuss their careers and how they came together for this movie.

Also interesting is the 21-and-a-half-minute “Gangsters’ Requiem,” a video essay about the evolution of Scorsese’s career and how his previous works are reflected in The Irishman.

A five-minute “Anatomy of a Scene” video features Scorsese providing commentary on the Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night scene.

The film’s visual effects techniques are expanded upon in the 13-minute “The Evolution of Digital De-Aging as Seen in The Irishman” featurette, which was originally a Netflix promotional piece.

Finally, there are a couple of archival videos that the filmmakers used in re-creating historic events: a six-minute interview with an elderly Sheeran, and a 17-and-a-half minute news profile of Hoffa by David Brinkley in 1963.

Criterion Releasing Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 24

The Criterion Collection Nov. 24 will release Blu-ray Disc and DVD editions of director Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mobster epic The Irishman.

The three-and-a-half-hour movie, which earned 10 Oscar nominations but didn’t win any, stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a former hitman and union truck driver who reflects on his life in organized crime in the mid-20th century, from his involvement with Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) to his association with Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), and the rift that forced him to choose between the two.

The movie arrives on disc a year after its debut on Netflix, sporting a new 4K digital master approved by Scorsese, with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

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Extras include a newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci originally recorded in 2019; a new documentary about the making of the film; a new video essay written and narrated by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman’s synthesis of Scorsese’s singular formal style; “The Evolution of Digital De-aging,” a 2019 program on the visual effects created for the film; archival interview excerpts with Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa; the film’s trailer and teaser; plus an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

Criterion previously released disc versions of Netflix originals Roma and Marriage Story.

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Apple TV+ Inks Movie/TV Production Deal With Martin Scorsese

Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese has signed a production deal with Apple TV+ to create original movies and TV shows for the subscription streaming video-on-demand platform.

Scorsese’s last film, The Irishman for Netflix, was nominated for numerous industry awards without winning anything despite a cast featuring Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro  and Al Pacino.

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The Apple deal, which follows a similar deal with Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio, means Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, starring DiCaprio and De Niro, will stream on the platform following a theatrical debut sometime in 2021.

Apple has sought to significantly up its content profile since launching Apple TV+ on Nov. 1, 2019. The $4.99 monthly service has inked separate deals with Idris Elba and Ridley Scott, in addition to deals with Sesame Workshop and Peanuts brands.

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Apple Secures Rights to Next Martin Scorsese Movie

Apple reportedly has taken another major step in Hollywood, securing distribution rights to Martin Scorsese’s next major movie, Killers of the Flower Moon. The former Paramount Pictures title stars Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, among others.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported Flower Moon — about Native American killings in Oklahoma — will be branded an Apple Original Film, with Paramount distributing the $200 million production theatrically and Apple streaming it on its SVOD platform Apple TV+.

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The acquisition follows Apple acquiring the rights to Tom Hanks’ World War II naval drama Greyhound from Sony Pictures.

Scorsese’s last movie, The Irishman, was acquired by Netflix, which marketed the movie staring De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino heavily for industry awards. Despite myriad nominations, Irishman didn’t win a single major award — which some observers contend had much to do with Netflix’s concurrent streaming/theatrical distribution strategy. Major exhibitors have refused to screen Netflix movies in protest.

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Netflix, Apple, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, among others, won’t have to worry about the Academy Awards requirement that a movie be screened theatrically in Los Angeles County for a qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.

With Hollywood and movie theaters in shutdown since March due to the coronavirus, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors last month ruled that for the 93rd Academy Awards taking place Feb. 21, 2021, movies that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture award.

Expect Flower Moon, Greyhound and other streaming feature films to be in the mix for Oscar consideration as the year progresses.

Amazon Prime Video remains the first and only SVOD platform to win an Oscar for an original movie, Manchester by the Sea, taking home best original screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan, who also directed) and best actor (Casey Affleck) honors in 2017. Amazon also picked best foreign-language film distributing Iran’s The Salesman.

Can Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Avoid Awards Letdown at 92nd Oscars?

Netflix’s expansive marketing push for Martin Scorsese’ mobster movie, The Irishman, paid dividends Jan. 13 when the film was nominated for 10 of the streaming pioneer’s record-setting 24 Academy Awards nods.

The three-and-a-half hour movie was nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Al Pacino, Joe Pesci), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Costume Design and Visual Effects.

Whether the nominations lead to Oscar statues remains to be seen.

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Irishman was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos walked off empty handed. The film was nominated for nine awards by the Hollywood Critics Association Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Pesci.

The movie won Best Acting Ensemble at the Jan. 12 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards while coming up short in 12 other categories.

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Sarandos did get a photo-op with actress Laura Dern, who won again (after the Golden Globes) for Best Supporting Actress in Netflix’s Marriage Story. The movie received six Oscar nominations, including Dern for Actress in a Supporting Role.

Netflix Left $3.6 Billion at the Theatrical Box Office in 2019

Beginning in late 2018 through this year, Netflix has redoubled efforts to produce original feature-length movies in addition to episodic TV series.

At the same time, the SVOD pioneer continues to throw a curve ball into traditional theatrical distribution by largely eschewing exhibitor releases in favor of worldwide streaming access.

The result is friction from theater operators, industry awards groups and a significant hit to the fiscal bottom line.

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Netflix said its most-popular original movies from October 2018 through September 2019 included Bird Box (80 million views), Murder Mystery (73 million), Triple Frontier (52 million), The Perfect Date (48 million) and Tall Girl (41 million).

The streamer said movies such as Fyre, Otherhood, Always Be My Maybe, Secret Obsession and The Highwaymen generated more than 20 million views each within four weeks of release. The list excludes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (25 million) and The Irishman (40 million).

While 72% of Netflix households have more than one user on the account, when factoring just one view per subscription, the aforementioned movies generated about 394 million views. Netflix ended Q3 with 158 million subscribers worldwide.

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Multiplying the views by $9.11, the average cost of a theatrical movie ticket in 2018, suggests Netflix conservatively left more than $3.58 billion in ticket sales on the table over a film’s initial 30-day period.

That’s just slightly less than Netflix’s entire third-quarter 2018 revenue of $3.9 billion.

While it can be argued that streaming a movie for “free” is more likely an option for consumers than leaving the house and buying a ticket for a non-Marvel release at a cineplex, the data underscores users’ willingness to devote a significant time allotment for video content.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a [Netflix] film,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the streamer, told an industry gathering earlier this month.

Sarandos was talking about The Irishman, Netflix’s 3-and-a-half-hour big-budget gangster movie from director Martin Scorsese that has multiple Golden Globe nominations. “Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

Scorsese’s most-recent theatrical release, 2016’s Silence, earned just $23.7 million at the global box office against an estimated budget of more than $40 million. But before that, 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned $392 million at the worldwide box office, 2011’s Hugo earned $186 million, 2010’s Shutter Island earned $294 million, and 2006’s The Departed generated $291 million. With The Irishman touting a typical Scorsese cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, it’s not unreasonable the film would have attracted moviegoers.

Irishman was released in select indie theaters to be considered for industry awards, including the Oscars.

The Irishman lost a lot of box office,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview. “A Scorsese released properly in cinemas would have generated a nice income.”

Indeed, Netflix hasn’t been shy seeking third-party funding for its content aspirations. In October the platform sold more than $2 billion in long-term debt (bonds) in the U.S. and Europe to buttress original content production in response to growing third-party competition, including Disney+.

Sarandos: 40 Million Households to Stream ‘The Irishman’

Netflix’s big-budget mobster movie The Irishman is projected to be streamed in 40 million households through its first 28 days of release.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the SVOD behemoth, disclosed the data during a Dec. 10 presentation at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City.

Sarandos said 26.4 million households watched at least 70% of the lengthy (3.5 hours) movie from director Martin Scorsese — a tally he said does not take into account multiple people watching simultaneously under one roof.

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Indeed, Sarandos seemed to imply anyone watching the movie in its entirety should be applauded.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a film,” Sarandos said.

The Irishman generated multiple Golden Globe nominations, with Sarandos characterizing Netflix’s record nomination indicative the streamer’s “mark of quality.”

“Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

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