Criterion is kicking off 2021 with a loud, rock and roll bang in January with its new releases headlined by the home video debut of Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed Netflix documentary, “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.”
As mentioned, leading the way in January is Scorsese’s Bob Dylan doc, “Rolling Thunder Revue.” Since this film was distributed by Netflix, there has yet to be a physical release of the film and what better way to launch the film on disc than by having a Criterion release? The special edition includes a new 4K digital transfer overseen by the filmmaker, as well as a number of special features including new interviews with Scorsese, editor David Tedeschi, and writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman and never-before-seen restored footage of the actual Rolling Thunder Revue performances.
Joining Scorsese’s acclaimed doc is another amazing documentary feature, “Minding the Gap,” the debut film from director Bing Liu. Much like ‘Rolling Thunder Revue,’ “Minding the Gap” is getting its first-ever physical release after the film was initially distributed by Hulu. In addition, Criterion is also releasing a three-film collection focused on the work of acclaimed filmmaker Luis Buñuel and Larisa Shepitko’s final film, “The Ascent.”
You can learn more about each release below:
The crowning triumph of a career cut tragically short, Larisa Shepitko’s final film won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and went on to be hailed as one of the finest works of late-Soviet cinema. In the darkest days of World War II, two partisans set out for supplies to sustain their beleaguered outfit, braving the blizzard-swept landscape of Nazi-occupied Belarus. When they fall into the hands of German forces and come face-to-face with death, each must choose between martyrdom and betrayal, in a spiritual ordeal that lifts the film’s earthy drama to the plane of religious allegory. With stark, visceral cinematography that pits blinding white snow against pitch-black despair, The Ascent finds poetry and transcendence in the harrowing trials of war.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray• New selected-scene commentary featuring film scholar Daniel Bird
• New video introduction by Anton Klimov, son of director Larisa Shepitko and filmmaker Elem Klimov
• New interview with actor Lyudmila Polyakova
• The Homeland of Electricity, a 1967 short film by Shepitko
• Larisa, a 1980 short film tribute to his late wife by Klimov
• Two documentaries from 2012 about Shepitko’s life, work, and relationship with Klimov
• Program from 1999 featuring an interview with Shepitko• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by poet Fanny Howe
1977 • 109 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Russian with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio
MINDING THE GAP
This extraordinary debut from documentarian Bing Liu weaves a story of skateboarding, friendship, and fathers and sons into a coming-of-age journey of courageous vulnerability. Over the course of several years and with his camera always at the ready, Liu records the rocky paths into adulthood of Keire and Zack, two friends from his own skateboarding community in Rockford, Illinois. As he does so, deeper parallels gradually emerge that ultimately draw the filmmaker into a heartrending confrontation with his own past. With an eye for images of exhilarating poetry and a keen emotional sensitivity, Minding the Gap is a powerfully cathartic portrait of fledgling lives forged in trauma and fighting to break free.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition digital master, approved by director Bing Liu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New audio commentary featuring Liu and documentary subjects Keire Johnson and Zack Mulligan
• New follow-up conversation between Liu and documentary subject Nina Bowgren
• New programs featuring interviews with professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and with Liu, Minding the Gap executive producer Gordon Quinn, and producer Diane Quon• Four outtake scenes with introductions by Liu
• Nước (2010), a short film by Liu about two Vietnamese immigrants growing up American
• New English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Jay Caspian Kang
2018 • 93 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.78:1 aspect ratio
ROLLING THUNDER REVIEW: A BOB DYLAN STORY BY MARTIN SCORSESE
In 1975, in an America defined by both the self-mythologizing pomp of the upcoming bicentennial and ongoing sociopolitical turmoil, Bob Dylan and a band of troubadours—including luminaries such as Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, and Joni Mitchell—embarked on a now-legendary tour known as the Rolling Thunder Revue, a freewheeling variety show that was part traveling counterculture carnival, part spiritual pilgrimage. Director Martin Scorsese blends behind-the-scenes archival footage, interviews, and narrative mischief, with a magician’s sleight of hand, into a zeitgeist-defining cultural record that is as much a concert “documentary” as it is a slippery, chimerical investigation into memory, time, truth, and illusion. At the center of it all is the magnetic Dylan, a sphinxlike philosopher-poet singing, with electrifying conviction, to the soul of an anxious nation.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital transfer, approved by director Martin Scorsese, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interviews with Scorsese, editor David Tedeschi, and writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman
• Restored footage of never-before-seen Rolling Thunder Revue performances of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” and “Romance in Durango,” and of a never-before-seen cut of “Tangled Up in Blue”
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by novelist Dana Spiotta and writing from the Rolling Thunder Revue tour by author Sam Shepard and poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman
2019 • 142 minutes • Color/Black & White • 5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
THREE FILMS BY LUIS BUÑUEL
More than four decades after he took a razorblade to an eyeball and shocked the world with Un chien andalou, arch-iconoclast Luis Buñuel capped his astonishing career with three final provocations—The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Phantom of Liberty, and That Obscure Object of Desire—in which his renegade, free-associating surrealism reached its audacious, self-detonating endgame. Working with such key collaborators as screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière and his own frequent on-screen alter ego Fernando Rey, Buñuel laced his scathing attacks on religion, class pretension, and moral hypocrisy with savage violence to create a trio of subversive, brutally funny masterpieces that explore the absurd randomness of existence. Among the director’s most radical works as well as some of his greatest international triumphs, these films cemented his legacy as cinema’s most incendiary revolutionary.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New high-definition digital restorations of all three films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
• The Castaway of Providence Street, a 1971 homage to Luis Buñuel made by his longtime friends and fellow filmmakers Arturo Ripstein and Rafael Castanedo
• Speaking of Buñuel, a documentary from 2000 on Buñuel’s life and work
• Once Upon a Time: “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” a 2011 television program about the making of the film
• Interviews from 2000 with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière on The Phantom of Liberty and That Obscure Object of Desire
• Archival interviews on all three films featuring Carrière; actors Stéphane Audran, Muni, Michel Piccoli, and Fernando Rey; and other key collaborators
• Documentary from 1985 about producer Serge Silberman, who worked with Buñuel on five of his final seven films
• Analysis of The Phantom of Liberty from 2017 by film scholar Peter William Evans
• Lady Doubles, a 2017 documentary featuring actors Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina, who share the role of Conchita in That Obscure Object of Desire
• Portrait of an Impatient Filmmaker, Luis Buñuel, a 2012 short documentary featuring director of photography Edmond Richard and assistant director Pierre Lary
• Excerpts from Jacques de Baroncelli’s 1929 silent film La femme et le pantin, an adaptation of Pierre Louÿs’s 1898 novel of the same name, on which That Obscure Object of Desire is also based• Alternate English-dubbed soundtrack for That Obscure Object of Desire
• New English subtitle translations
• PLUS: Essays by critic Adrian Martin and novelist and critic Gary Indiana, along with interviews with Buñuel by critics José de la Colina and Tomás Pérez Turrent.
THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE
In Luis Buñuel’s deliciously satiric masterpiece, an upper-class sextet sits down to a dinner that is continually delayed, their attempts to eat thwarted by vaudevillian events both actual and imagined, including terrorist attacks, military maneuvers, and ghostly apparitions. Stringing together a discontinuous, digressive series of absurdist set-pieces, Buñuel and his screenwriting partner Jean-Claude Carrière send a cast of European-film greats—including Fernando Rey, Stéphane Audran, Delphine Seyrig, and Jean-Pierre Cassel—through a maze of desire deferred, frustrated, and interrupted. The Oscar-winning pinnacle of Buñuel’s late-career ascent as a feted maestro of the international arthouse, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is also one of his most gleefully radical assaults on the values of the ruling class.
1972 • 101 minutes • Color • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY
Luis Buñuel’s vision of the inherent absurdity of human social rituals reaches its taboo-annihilating extreme in what may be his most morally subversive and formally audacious work. Zigzagging across time and space, from the Napoleonic era to the present day, The Phantom of Liberty unfolds as a picaresque, its main character traveling between tableaux in a series of Dadaist nonsequiturs. Unbound by the laws of narrative logic, Buñuel lets his surrealist’s id run riot in an exuberant revolt against bourgeois rationality that seems telegraphed directly from his unconscious to the screen.
1974 • 103 minutes • Color • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio
THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE
Luis Buñuel’s final film brings full circle the director’s lifelong preoccupation with the darker side of desire. Buñuel regular Fernando Rey plays Mathieu, an urbane widower, tortured by his lust for the elusive Conchita. With subversive flair, Buñuel uses two different actors in the latter role—Carole Bouquet, a sophisticated French beauty, and Ángela Molina, a Spanish coquette. Drawn from the surrealist favorite Pierre Louÿs’s classic erotic novel La femme et le pantin (The Woman and the Puppet, 1898), That Obscure Object of Desire is a dizzying game of sexual politics punctuated by a terror that harks back to Buñuel’s avant-garde beginnings.
1977 • 104 minutes • Color • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio