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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:50 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
Zazou dans le Metro wrote:
maybe the Essential line now paves the way for a less cultish Eclipse option for more classic titles that would otherwise not fit any particular bill/price structure.

I hope so, too. But then I wonder why they didn't simply create another line; I never really bothered to look at the Essential line before, seeing that these were all stripped-down releases of films available in the CC line. I always regarded the extras and the booklets as essential features of the original releases, and wouldn't even want to think of a barebones "Tales of Hoffmann" without "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and audiocommentary, for instance. In other words: the four new films being dumped into Essential might even get less attention than if they were Eclipse releases. In any case, CC should decide whether they want Essential to be a cheapo re-release line or a line of exclusive, though barebones releases from now on. The situation as it is now is simply rather confusing.

My uninformed spin on this is that I think the recession is catching up with Criterion...with production costs going up, customers reluctant to buy...Criterion isn't immune from the vagaries of the economy. As a result, for the near future I am surmising we are going to see main line Criterion releases in twos rather than announcements of four or five at a time.

Undoubtedly, Criterion likely has a huge library of films that either don't justify the economics of a full-fledged release or the elements aren't available for a pristine transfer. Many of those releases aren't appropriate for whatever reason for an Eclipse box. I anticipate seeing some of these coming out on an irregular basis under the Essential Art House line. I'm sure that sometime in the future things might change to warrant a regular Criterion release for some of these titles.

After all, Criterion has done some profitable business re-issuing titles from the regular line...clearly they see some future in continuing that. In the interim, however, we'll continue seeing these odd titles pop up on occasion under EAH.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:08 pm 
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Let's not forget that when Criterion first started releasing DVDs, it was very common for them to issue titles with no supplements whatsoever (and frequently with mediocre, non-anamorphic transfers). The early releases of Amarcord, High and Low, Alphaville, and others were basically "Essential Art House" releases with a $30-$40 MSRP. They regularly released similar product on laserdisc for $50 or more. They made a decision several years ago to include supplemental content on all new releases, but their massive (and growing) library doesn't really allow for that. While it would be great if they had supplements, I'll be happy to pick up Le jour se lève and maybe a couple of others for around $15.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:13 pm 
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I can see the point for EAH and Eclipse, and have no problem with this business strategy. I just wish the budget lines had more imaginative cover art.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:24 pm 
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I am skeptical that this line will be morphing into Eclipse: Single Servings. I may be mistaken, but haven't all of the films that have been released so far (both in the 50 year book set, or as new individual releases) been titles that were intially distributed in the States by Janus during its heyday? That would seem to substantially limit the universe of potential titles . . .


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:38 pm 
Just speculation, but it may be that Made in U.S.A. and 2 or 3 Things will be the last new spine #'s with the lower price point. If the current release trend continues, it's pointing toward less main-line releases per month, which may not be a terrible thing if it means we'll still get solid releases without having to pay the extra $10 for a trailer and a ten-minute interview, and possibly that much more due diligence in the main-line titles. Personally, I hope it's moving to the point that every spine number will have a simultaneous blu release. This opinion hinges on assuming that they put acceptable effort into the transfers for the EAH releases.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:35 am 
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I was pondering some films that are pretty high profile and may wind up going the route of Le Jour se Leve due to lack of good enough elements (that would seem to be the main reason, I think) or because they may not sell as well.

Phantom Carraige
Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
There was a Father
Westfront 1918
Leibelie
zero de conduite
Things to Come
Make Way for Tomorrow

damn, there were some others I thought of, but I can't remember them now. :/ (those last two seem more likely for the main line, though, for some reason).

Still, I would be happy if it meant these films becoming available with new transfers. Something is better than nothing in a lot of these cases. or at the very least something would be better than those horrendous VHS of Chrysanthemums I've seen.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:21 am 
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If Zero de conduite went straight to Essential Art House it would be a crime, even if the elements are not in great condition this film needs contextualizing, and supplemental materials couldn't possibly be that hard to come by, considering the huge importance and influence of the film. I'm hoping, personally, that Criterion offers a beefed up version of AE's Complete Vigo set, with more supplements, commentaries, etc. This would also make it more likely that Vigo's two documentary shorts would be released than if this came out on EA and L'Atalante on the main label.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:25 am 
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FerdinandGriffon wrote:
If Zero de conduite went straight to Essential Art House it would be a crime, even if the elements are not in great condition this film needs contextualizing, and supplemental materials couldn't possibly be that hard to come by, considering the huge importance and influence of the film. I'm hoping, personally, that Criterion offers a beefed up version of AE's Complete Vigo set, with more supplements, commentaries, etc. This would also make it more likely that Vigo's two documentary shorts would be released than if this came out on EA and L'Atalante on the main label.

Much agreed here. There must be tons of relevant goodies that can be added to a Vigo release, even if it doesn't include L'Atalante. I'd be very surprised if Zero was not a Criterion release.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:11 am 
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Of these I doubt that There was a Father would turn up being Essential Art House only. Even minor titles by the biggest names of Criterion are surely going in the main line or Eclipse. I dunno why, coherence maybe.
I can see Phantom Carriage being EAH, but I'm mostly looking after a release with a good score, so a release with a few different scores would be nice...


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:39 pm 

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Jeff wrote:
They made a decision several years ago to include supplemental content on all new releases, but their massive (and growing) library doesn't really allow for that. While it would be great if they had supplements, I'll be happy to pick up Le jour se lève and maybe a couple of others for around $15.

So basically, Essential Arthouse is now the Warner Archive of Criterion? Only cheaper.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:34 pm 
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Well with decent to great transfers and actual pressed DVDs rather than burned DVD-Rs.

Edit: And $5 cheaper!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:22 pm 
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And available world-wide. Though so far the Warner Archive has the more eagerly desired films.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:53 pm 
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Does anyone have any insights on how well the EAH box sets are selling? They seem to be aimed at an even narrower market than Criterion's mainline: people who are interested in art film enough to buy a box set of foreign/art house movies yet who aren't interested in any supplements.

I've looked them up on Amazon and there isn't one customer review for any of the three EAH box sets (although vol. 3 is ranked 32,000 in sales, while vol. 2 is 62,000).

Originally, it seemed like the line was going to release the "Essential 50 Films" set (which I do have and enjoy) one by one, but their shift to, as someone said, a sort of "single-serving Eclipse" line seems like a plausible idea.

However, if Night and Fog, Patriotism, and Bergman Island can all get their own spine numbers, why not Le Jour Se Leve? A main line release with a lower price point and sparse supplements would be much more visible for sales. Perhaps, despite the above-mentioned anomalies, they want to keep main line releases better-stocked with extras.

It seems that the EAH line is still so unknown that, in tight economic times, it's probably not the best place to focus their resources.
But, as has been said before, this forum may not be indicative of their overall purchasing demographic.

(For what it's worth, I'm hoping Zero for Conduct is on disc 2 of a lovely L'Atalante release.)


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 Post subject: New transfers?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:19 am 
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I failed to find a place as to where to insert this topic, and I hadn't the patience to go through all the previous entries on this thread. My question is: Do any of the Essential Art House CDs sport new transfers when compared to their initial incarnations as regular Criterion DVDs? If memory serves I vaguely recall I read something like The Wild Strawberries essential art house DVD boasts an improved transfer (perhaps only as part of the box set)?? I don't remember the source, but if this is correct, are there other titles that fits this description, too? I'd be grateful for any response. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:43 pm 
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No, all of the present, fucking stuck space bar, transfers were used for the EHA discs.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:08 am 

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I have acquired a copy of the Essential Art House collection complete with all 50 films and the book in mint condition from a relative of mine. I am not a film buff and this is a whole new world to me. I have limited time and to watch all 50 discs would take me forever so my question is this; for a newbie to this scene, which three films should I watch first? (I am flying abroad next week and thought I could watch three en route).


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:02 pm 
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You could literally pick any three and would probably have a great experience. That said, three favorites of mine are The 400 Blows, The Seventh Seal and Loves of a Blonde.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:08 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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Indeed! And I'd vote for Black Orpheus, the Life and Death of Col Blimp, and Miss Julie (though the above are good suggestions as well)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:17 pm 
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Since you say you aren't a film buff, I'd recommend Ikiru, 39 Steps, and Seventh Seal for a broad, varied and approachable introduction. All the films in the set are excellent, but some are more difficult to get into than others. Any of the ones mentioned above are good, though, as are Wages of Fear, Umberto D, and Mr Hulot's Holiday.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:24 pm 
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If La Grande Illusion is in that set, I'd definitely watch that!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:25 pm 
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I'm going to go with:

The Fallen Idol
The Importance of Being Earnest
Pépé le moko

Which I think are generally less celebrated but just as good as the heavy hitters in that set.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:43 pm 
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MuzzyV wrote:
...I am not a film buff...

This is what concerns me. The ESSENTIAL ART HOUSE collection contains many of the finest films every made, but if you aren't a fan of European, Russian or Japanese cinema, you may not find much in this set to get excited about.

I took so long trying to evaluate all of these great films that others have already beaten me to the post. Here's what I think...

If you enjoy mysteries, or well-plotted thrillers, the Hitchcock films might be fun. In this same wheelhouse is THE THIRD MAN which I often consider the finest film ever made for its deft juggling of plot, character and mood. If you're interested in action-adventure stories, THE SEVEN SAMURAI is fantastic; THE WAGES OF FEAR is exciting as well. GRAND ILLUSION is a superb prisoner-of-war film.

Beyond that, it really depends on your taste. Know that the Bergman films, along with the Antonioni, are going to be slowly-paced and ambiguous (especially the Antonioni). If you're open to silent films, then PANDORA'S BOX is one of the finest dramas made during this era. Few films are as dreamlike as Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST while THE RULES OF THE GAME is probably the best social satire in cinema, although VIRIDIANA is not far behind in that category.

Given that virtually all of these films have been critically-lauded and art house favorites for decades makes this post feel like an exercise in reductionism. Pick any three and let us know what you think!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:46 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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This thread is proof that there's nothing a film lover enjoys more than being asked to recommend films!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:43 pm 
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Or any buff/snob/lover of any art form quite frankly.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:23 am 

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Thanks for the replies folks, It sounds like any three will do and it's interesting to hear the varied opinions. As Roger Ryan says above "Given that virtually all of these films have been critically-lauded and art house favorites for decades makes this post feel like an exercise in reductionism. Pick any three and let us know what you think!". Not a bad idea and one which I might take up. I'm now starting to worry that taking three discs on a plane and taking them out of this beautifully presented box may not be a good idea!

Thank you all for your opinions. I guess the only real solution is to watch them all over a period of time, but I can't see that happening as I get so little time to watch films.


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