Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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Nihonophile
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#251 Post by Nihonophile » Sun Feb 18, 2007 1:36 am

"Only the direction, by Marcel Carne, seems less than it could be; there's a lack of imagination and suppleness in the images that pulls the film down."- Dave Kehr quote from beaver review

I agree with him, this film mostly has the performances going for it. The roughest stretch for me was the opening moments that featured a plodding Seven Samurai-esque title theme score set to Gabin's down cast eyes. When an over acting blind man appeared he did not help the situation. Anyone else seen this have a more positive reaction?

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kinjitsu
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#252 Post by kinjitsu » Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:22 am

A reappraisal of the film at Stylus.

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Kinsayder
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#253 Post by Kinsayder » Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:54 am

kinjitsu wrote:DVD Beaver review (from the Essential Art House)
What a horrible transfer. The French Studio Canal (which has optional English subs) is a little better:

Essential Art House:
Image
Studio Canal:
Image

All that the Janus/Criterion pictureboxing seems to do is cover up the parts of the frame that they've cropped!

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Jeff
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Essential Art House

#254 Post by Jeff » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:08 pm

A new line of films from the Essential Art House collection will be sold individually and in six-packs beginning this fall.

Here is the full text of the press release Criterion sent me:
June 17, 2008

Essential Art House – September 2008 releases

This fall, Janus Films and the Criterion Collection introduce a new line: Essential Art House, indispensable cinema classics in simple, affordable editions. For Volume 1, we’re pleased to select six of the greatest films from around the world, from directors Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Roman Polanski, Peter Brook, Jean Cocteau, and Jean Renoir. All will be available separately, or in one box set. For the devoted cinephile, these are the must-own fundamentals; for the novice film-lover, this is precisely where to begin.

Happy viewing!

Title: Grand Illusion
CAT: EAH002
UPC: 7-15515-03262-9
ISBN: 978-1-60465-074-7
SRP: $19.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

Jean Renoir’s pacifist masterpiece stars Jean Gabin as a French World War I POW held by Erich Von Stroheim’s German captain. One of the greatest antiwar films ever made, as well as a rousing prison-escape adventure, Grand Illusion is an exemplar of the 1930s poetic realist movement.

Info
• Directed by Jean Renoir (The Rules of the Game, The River, The Golden Coach)
• Starring Jean Gabin (La bête humaine, Pépé le moko, Touchez pas au grisbi)

Title: Beauty and the Beast
CAT: EAH003
UPC: 7-15515-03272-8
ISBN: 978-1-60465-075-4
SRP: $19.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

Jean Cocteau reinvented the fairy tale for the cinema with this enchanting, exquisitely realized version of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s fantasy romance. With all manner of unparalleled visual effects and photographic tricks, Cocteau makes the spellbinding tale of transformative love both ethereal and tangible, and his indelible images still haunt the cinema like no other.

Info
• Directed by Jean Cocteau (Blood of a Poet, Orpheus, Testament of Orpheus)

Title: Rashomon
CAT: EAH004
UPC: 7-15515-03252-0
ISBN: 978-1-60465-073-0
SRP: $19.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

The murder of a man and the rape of his wife in a forest grove—seem from four different perspectives. Toshiro Mifune explodes as the feral bandit who may or may not be guilty of these crimes in Akira Kurosawa’s meditation on the nature of “truth”—a classic, humane allegory that transformed narrative cinema as we know it and turned its director into an international sensation.

Info
• Directed by Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, High and Low, Ran)
• Starring Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo)

Title: Wild Strawberries
CAT: EAH005
UPC: 7-15515-03242-1
ISBN: 978-1-60465-072-3
SRP: $19.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

Weaving a tapestry of memory and dreams, Ingmar Bergman delves into the past of aged professor Isak Borg, en route to receive an award from his alma mater for a life he no longer understands. Following directly on the heels of his international breakthrough The Seventh Seal, the alternately warm and nightmarish Wild Strawberries cemented Bergman as the leading art-house visionary of his era.

Info
• Directed by Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal, Cries and Whispers, Fanny and Alexander)

Title: Knife in the Water
CAT: EAH006
UPC: 7-15515-03232-2
ISBN: 978-1-60465-071-6
SRP: $19.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

A husband, a wife, a stranger, a knife: Roman Polanski sets them all adrift on a weekend filled with simmering resentments and gut-churning suspense in his seminal psychological thriller, still one of the greatest feature debuts in film history. With Knife in the Water, Polanski revealed his delight in exploring sexual and class boundaries with ruthless precision.

Info
• Directed by Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist)

Title: Lord of the Flies
CAT: EAH007
UPC: 7-15515-03222-3
ISBN: 978-1-60465-070-9
SRP: $19.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

Under the direction of Peter Brook, William Golding’s classic fable, about a swarm of young boys who, without adult supervision, devolve into chaos after crash-landing on a remote island during wartime, becomes an unforgettable work of cinematic horror. Shot with almost verité camera work, Lord of the Flies takes a radical approach to Golding’s metaphor, grounding it in a terrifying reality.

Info
• Directed by Peter Brook (The Beggar’s Opera, Marat/Sade)

OR BUY ALL SIX FILMS IN BOX SET:

Title: Essential Art House: Volume 1
CAT: EAH001
UPC: 7-15515-03192-9
ISBN: 978-1-60465-064-8
SRP: $99.95
Prebook: 8/5/08
Street date: 9/9/08

“The Janus Films icon—the black-and-white image, the lettering, the two faces on the seemingly ancient coin—meant that you were going to see something special, something new, something completely different from anything you’d ever seen before.”
—Martin Scorsese
Last edited by Jeff on Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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zedz
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#255 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:11 pm

This seems to be individual releases of discs from the big Janus box (these titles were all included, right?). If so, no big news, but nice of them, I suppose.

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tavernier
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#256 Post by tavernier » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:12 pm

What's sad is that Lord of the Flies might be the top seller out of these.

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Jeff
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#257 Post by Jeff » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:21 pm

zedz wrote:This seems to be individual releases of discs from the big Janus box (these titles were all included, right?). If so, no big news, but nice of them, I suppose.
You're right, zedz. I've seen early cover art for these (which I'm sure will be online soon), and they are indeed replicating the look of the big set, so I've merged the threads accordingly.

These will be fine for academic use, and their $15 street price will probably catch the attention of a few curious burgeoning cinephiles who aren't ready to shell out full Criterion prices yet.

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Tom Hagen
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#258 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:43 pm

It will also serve a niche of consumers who are cinephiles, but may be weary of making a financial commitment to deluxe package of a film that they would otherwise enjoy having at hand on their shelves. Likewise, with Netflix, public libraries, etc., it is pretty easy to go through a set of CC supplements, gleam information from them in a single viewing, and have no need or desire to revisit the supplements in a later viewing. In this set of titles for example, I would have little desire to go through the Rashomon supplements again. However, given the film's place in the pantheon, I would like to own a copy, especially one with a high-quality print. I can get a copy of a film that I want to own for half of the price of the CC title, while still giving me roughly the same marginal utility. I will be perfectly happy to keep my CC special editions of Wild Strawberries and Knife in the Water, but now I have a choice about what tier I feel comfortable investing in on films that I don't own.

I would have bought the Essential Art House box but for 1) the hefty price matching the set's hefty size and 2) my disinclination to double dip on titles that I already had or was planning on buying from the main CC label (and of course, 3) the reportedly idiotic packaging). This adds another layer of consumer choice, and in my opinion, is the news of the month.

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justeleblanc
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#259 Post by justeleblanc » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:57 pm

Seriously, at what point can we say Criterion is just re-releasing Jaws every five years?

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fdm
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#260 Post by fdm » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:35 pm

justeleblanc wrote:Seriously, at what point can we say Criterion is just re-releasing Jaws every five years?
Dunno, but a bit disappointed they aren't yet releasing the few titles that were unique to the box.

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zedz
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#261 Post by zedz » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:51 am

fdm wrote:
justeleblanc wrote:Seriously, at what point can we say Criterion is just re-releasing Jaws every five years?
Dunno, but a bit disappointed they aren't yet releasing the few titles that were unique to the box.
Isn't Le jour se leve the only one left?
To juste: the dynamic's a bit different if it's a bare-bones lower-price release six to ten years after the initial one. No risk of any double-dipping here, surely? Worst case scenario is somebody fuming: "If only I'd waited seven years I could have got a worse edition for a few dollars less!"

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fdm
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#262 Post by fdm » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:15 am

zedz wrote:
fdm wrote:
justeleblanc wrote:Seriously, at what point can we say Criterion is just re-releasing Jaws every five years?
Dunno, but a bit disappointed they aren't yet releasing the few titles that were unique to the box.
Isn't Le jour se leve the only one left?
Also some documentaries I think: The Love Godesses; The Great Chase.

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movielocke
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#263 Post by movielocke » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:27 am

very nice, I might start picking up some of these, because by this point in the life of dvd I'm primarily interested in watching the movie and rarely have time to spend devoting myself to criterions extras. Grand Illusion and Lord of the Flies are two favorites and were some of the first dvds I bought, so I won't be going for them, but I might pick up rashomon at that price. Another clearinghouse for more titles with great transfers and competitive prices is allright with me. Bring on a new group of titles a month! :)

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Jeff
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#264 Post by Jeff » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:27 am

The forthcoming wave of Essential Arthouse titles includes Black Orpheus and Pygmalion. The original Criterion-branded discs of those two films included no supplements whatesover. The two new discs are, essentially, exactly the same, but ten dollars less. What motivation could there possibly be to purchase the original discs? More to the point, why wouldn't Criterion just lower the MSRP on the existing product?

AfterTheRain
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#265 Post by AfterTheRain » Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:54 am

Jeff wrote:The forthcoming wave of Essential Arthouse titles includes Black Orpheus and Pygmalion. The original Criterion-branded discs of those two films included no supplements whatesover. The two new discs are, essentially, exactly the same, but ten dollars less. What motivation could there possibly be to purchase the original discs? More to the point, why wouldn't Criterion just lower the MSRP on the existing product?
Yes, and what's the deal with airline food?

(Quite off topic, but unfortunate nevertheless.)

Dr. Mabuse
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#266 Post by Dr. Mabuse » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:18 pm

AfterTheRain wrote:
Jeff wrote:The forthcoming wave of Essential Arthouse titles includes Black Orpheus and Pygmalion. The original Criterion-branded discs of those two films included no supplements whatesover. The two new discs are, essentially, exactly the same, but ten dollars less. What motivation could there possibly be to purchase the original discs? More to the point, why wouldn't Criterion just lower the MSRP on the existing product?
Yes, and what's the deal with airline food?

(Quite off topic, but unfortunate nevertheless.)
I thought that was a good question, not deserving a smart-ass reply like that...
Back to topic, one could hope for a re-release sometime in the near future. Both would benefit from a new high-def transfer. But I doubt it's high on Criterion agenda.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#267 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:24 pm

Well, in some cases they might not be the same transfer. The transfer for Pandora's Box on E. Arthouse vs the CC are completely different. Arthouse's Pandora is total un-MTI'd pal-ntsc-ghosted smut, whereas the CC is... well.. the CC.

Not to mention you get a *cough* little booklet in the titles you mention above.

stroszeck
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#268 Post by stroszeck » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:08 am

This whole ESSENTIAL ART HOUSE line or whatever it is really, is starting to piss me off.... i paid real good money, top dollar for some of these releases like Wild Strawberries or Life and Death of Colonel Blimp just a few months ago (which are in fact single disc editions), and now i see these $15 dvds, which on one of those e-site sales could be less than $12.XX....quite frankly i doubt either the supplements or whatever are found on the original CCs are much better than these "bare bones" editions. Besides, one less pamphlet with Armond White's shitty comments is fine by me....I wish they would've just released these editions sooner....

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domino harvey
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#269 Post by domino harvey » Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:26 am

Yeah, that ninety minute documentary and commentary track on Wild Strawberries pales in comparison to nothing :roll:

stroszeck
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#270 Post by stroszeck » Sun Dec 28, 2008 5:29 pm

yea well maybe its just me. I just don't feel the documentary is worth paying twice as much for the film....

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Saturnome
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#271 Post by Saturnome » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:00 pm

Maybe Last Holiday? Otherwise, a bonus-feature-like stand-alone documentary, two rereleases, a Janus Essential Art House only release and a skipped (so far of course!) spine number (and a somewhat invisible cover) makes all this month a bit weird.

ianungstad
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#272 Post by ianungstad » Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:49 pm

I got an email response from Mulvaney. Last Holiday will get the criterion treatment in the future but it's not on the production schedule.

Hmm.it seems very stranger for them to release it on essential arthouse first. I'm game for the film but will hold off till whenever the criterion shows up...which probably isn't that far off, in spite of mulvaney saying it's not on the schedule.

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Tribe
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#273 Post by Tribe » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:01 pm

ianungstad wrote:I got an email response from Mulvaney. Last Holiday will get the criterion treatment in the future but it's not on the production schedule.

Hmm.it seems very stranger for them to release it on essential arthouse first. I'm game for the film but will hold off till whenever the criterion shows up...which probably isn't that far off, in spite of mulvaney saying it's not on the schedule.
Sort of the same scenario for Le Jour se lève.

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brendanjc
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#274 Post by brendanjc » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:47 pm

Forgive me if this was posted before, looks like the next batch of Arthouse titles (dated 6/16/09) are going to be: Ashes and Diamonds, Forbidden Games, The Hidden Fortress, Last Holiday, Richard III, and Variety Lights.

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Antoine Doinel
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Re: Essential Arthouse

#275 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sat May 09, 2009 8:46 pm

Emerging Pictures, a digital theatrical distribution company, will be touring twelve titles from the Essential Arthouse series around the country. I'm not sure what to think about this. One the one hand, for theaters with a decent digital setup this will be a great way to see these films on the big screen, but using my local arthouse as purely anecdotal evidence, if the theater has a cheap or lo-fi digital setup it will look awful. And then there is another part of me that would prefer to see an actual film print, but that's just one part of a larger aesthetics vs. technology debate.

The titles are 400 Blows, Black Orpheus, High & Low, Jules & Jim, Knife In The Water, La Strada, Pygmalion, Seven Samurai, Seventh Seal, Summertime, Spirit Of The Beehive, Wild Strawberries.

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