Next up in the 2019 PopCult Gift Guide are two great restored movies that are currently available at a bargain price at Barnes & Nobel. Criterion is a company that releases high-quality, remastered and restored movies on DVD and Blu Ray with tons of bonus features. They always do a fantastic presentation and their product is usually more expensive and well worth the price.
The Criterion Collection is a veritable movie museum, preserving masterpieces of cinema for generations of movie fans, many yet to be born. Their editions of films feature the best possible picture and sound, and are the ultimate presentation of significant examples of filmmaking.
For a very short period, Barnes & Noble has their Criterion releases for 50% off, which brings them down to normal prices. Two of those releases are well worth pointing out because they’re great gift ideas, and one of them was shot here in West Virginia.
Our Gift Guide recommendations for today are the Criterion Collection releases of John Sayles’ Matewan, and Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz. Both of these films are available as DVDs or Blu Ray sets.
Written and directed by John Sayles, this wrenching historical drama recounts the true story of a West Virginia coal town where the local miners’ struggle to form a union rose to the pitch of all-out war in 1920. When Matewan’s miners go on strike, organizer Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper, in his film debut) arrives to help them, uniting workers white and black, Appalachia-born and immigrant, while urging patience in the face of the coal company’s violent provocations.
With a crackerjack ensemble cast—including James Earl Jones, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, and Will Oldham—and Oscar-nominated cinematography by Haskell Wexler, Matewan taps into a rich vein of Americana with painstaking attention to local texture, issuing an impassioned cry for justice that still resounds today.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director John Sayles, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary from 2013 featuring Sayles and cinematographer Haskell Wexler
Two new documentaries on the making of the film featuring Sayles, producer Maggie Renzi, production designer Nora Chavooshian, and actors Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham, and David Strathairn
New interview with composer Mason Daring
Short documentary on the impact that Matewan’s production had on West Virginia
New program on the film’s production design featuring Chavooshian
PLUS: An essay by critic A. S. Hamrah
The preternaturally gifted director and choreographer Bob Fosse turned the camera on his own life for this madly imaginative, self-excoriating musical masterpiece. Roy Scheider gives the performance of his career as Joe Gideon, whose exhausting work schedule—mounting a Broadway production by day and editing his latest movie by night—and routine of amphetamines, booze, and sex are putting his health at serious risk.
Fosse burrows into Gideon’s (and his own) mind, rendering his interior world as phantasmagoric spectacle. Assembled with visionary editing that makes dance come alive on-screen as never before, and overflowing with sublime footwork by the likes of Ann Reinking, Leland Palmer, and Ben Vereen, All That Jazz pushes the musical genre to personal depths and virtuosic aesthetic heights.
New 4K digital restoration, with 3.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary featuring editor Alan Heim
Selected-scene audio commentary by actor Roy Scheider
New interviews with Heim and Fosse biographer Sam Wasson
New conversation between actors Ann Reinking and Erzsebet Foldi
Episode of the talk show Tomorrow from 1980, featuring director Bob Fosse and choreographer Agnes de Mille
Interviews with Fosse from 1981 and 1986
Portrait of a Choreographer, a 2007 documentary on Fosse
The Soundtrack: Perverting the Standards, a 2007 documentary about the film’s music
Interview with George Benson from 2007, about his song “On Broadway,” which opens the film
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Hilton Als
Click the movie titles for links to the Barnes and Noble sale prices. Once the sale is over, you might come close to the bargain deals at Amazon. Both gifts are perfect for the sophisticated film fan on your holiday shopping list.