The Criterion Collection: World Cinema and a 1975 Cult Classic Highlight December Slate

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After last month’s announcement of November’s killer release slate, Criterion dials it back a bit and settles into a much more low-key and reserved final month of 2013 releases. October was horror and Halloween themed, November was marked by Chaplin and Ozu and now December will see the release of Robert Altman‘s Nashville and a 9-disc box set featuring films of Martin Scorsese‘s World Cinema Project.

The American documentary Grey Gardens and an Italian crime thriller, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (what a killer title!), round out the month.

Incidentally, the only film I’ve seen in this bunch if Nashville, but Investigation sounds phenomenal and Grey Gardens seems like an interesting slice of Americana that Criterion hasn’t indulged in for some time.

The centerpiece of the month is obviously the World Cinema Project box-set. The set has been rumored for months and Martin Scorsese’s involvement in other Criterion releases this year (namely The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Richard III and Marty’s own Blu-ray upgrade of The Last Temptation of Christ last year) lent those claims a lot of credibility.

December marks the fifth Blu-ray box set from the publishing house in six months. August was the only month not to include such a set. Instead, the most recent Eclipse set (a brand of DVD exclusive bundles) saw release. With Eclipse slowly steadying its releases, so many Blu-ray box sets and the new adoption of duel format releases, the question begs to be answered: is Criterion discontinuing Eclipse?

The brand has long provided budget-minded alternatives to Criterion’s main line and would surely be missed if it proved true. Only time will tell whether or not we have seen the last Eclipse, which has gone through 38 editions.

Of the covers, Investigation sports a very cool fingerprint motif and a typeface that screams “70s thriller” that wonderfully dates the picture. Nashville also is treated with a great graph design of the American flag, silhouettes of its ensemble cast making up the flag’s red stripes. Its a bold cover and, in my opinion, one of the year’s very best.

World Cinema Project is, perhaps unavoidably, a little generic, but is a colorful and modern look for a collection that will surely attract buyers with the Scorsese name (which to Criterion’s credit, isn’t is “in your face” as you’d think). Grey Gardens sports the worst cover of the bunch: a production still featuring the film’s star, Edith Bouvier, who is a distant cousin of Jackie Onassis, in front of her wooden home.

Three of the four December’s releases will get dual format (Blu-ray/DVD) editions which Criterion adopted in last month’s announcements (that’s for November releases). Grey Gardens is the conspicuous odd-man out that gets separate Blu-ray and DVD editions. Thankfully, all of the releases seem to feature a good amount of extras!

Overall, I do have to admit being slightly underwhelmed by 2013’s final Criterion slate. They usually reserve the month for a huge, popular release, but instead have opted to go for a bunch of very niche options (sans Nashville, which arguably has the largest fan base of any of these titles). But it is by no means a bad month. It will be a month of variety and discovery of new cultures and films and that’s exactly what makes Criterion the most special of American home video publishers.

Check out synopses, special features and cover art for all the releases in the following pages! Links will take you to their respective pages on Criterion.com!

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