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An epic tale of power struggles, betrayal and conspiracies during the final years of the Ming Dynasty, Brotherhood of Blades comes to UK Blu-ray, DVD on-demand and download in April from Second Sight.
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Four new Blu-ray & DVD titles from Arrow Academy in June

20 March 2017

Arrow Academy has announced its release slate for June 2017, giving cinephiles plenty to get excited about just as summer hits.

One of the first titles to be released is Marcel Ophuls’ magnificent four-and-a-half-hour documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity. Originally made for French television, the documentary took such an unflinching look at the German occupation of Clermont-Ferrand between 1940 and 1944, that the broadcasters would not show it for more than a decade. Beautifully nuanced and complex, The Sorrow and The Pity is charts the fall of France and the rise of the Resistance, all while demolishing self-serving national myths.

Out on the same day is Seijun Suzuki’s Taisho Trilogy – made up of Zigeunerweisen, Kageroza and Yumeji – marks the first time these films have been released together on Blu-ray outside Japan. Considered as Suzuki’s masterpieces, these supernatural dramas are a far cry from his usual output of cops and gangsters. In fact, The Taisho Trilogy is defined by its lush exoticism and its hypnotic, haunting, flamboyant style. A must for fans of Japanese cinema and for those seeking something a bit different.

Mid-June comes the Dual Format release of One-Eyed Jacks in a gorgeous 4K restoration by Universal Pictures and The Film Foundation in consultation with Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. This strange Western stars Marlon Brando and is also the actor’s first and only stint behind the camera as director. Critics and audiences didn’t know what to make of it upon its release, but it has since become a cult classic and can be seen here as was originally intended with the addition of a raft of special features.

Last on the slate is the delightful Aquarius, featuring a tour-de-force performance by Sonia Braga as Clara, a 65-year-old widow and retired music critic. Clara is the last resident of the Aquarius, an apartment block mostly acquired by a company who want her to move out so that they can demolish it. Clara, however, has other ideas and engages in a sort of cold war with the company in a confrontation that’s equal parts mysterious, frightening and nerve-wracking, and that gets Clara thinking about her past and her future.

 

The Sorrow and the Pity [Le chagrin et la pitié] | 5 June 2017 | Blu Ray (£19.99) and DVD (19.99)

Marcel Ophuls’ four-and-a-half hour portrait of the French town of Clermont-Ferrand under German occupation from 1940-44 is one of the greatest documentaries ever made, as important as Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah in its value not just as a film but as an essential historical record in its own right – not least since its interviewees are all long dead.

Describing the fall of France and the rise of the Resistance, with the aid of newly-shot interviews and eye-opening archive footage including newsreels and propaganda films, Ophuls painstakingly crafts a complex, nuanced picture of what really happened in France over this period. He also demolishes numerous self-serving national myths to such an extent that, although he made the film for French television, they wouldn’t show it for over a decade.

But, as he demonstrates again and again, the overwhelming majority of French citizens during this period weren’t heroes, villains or cowards, but simply ordinary people trying to make the best of an impossible situation. And it’s Ophuls’ portrayal of these people, their hopes, their fears and their appalling moral quandaries, that remains unmatched in film history.

Special Edition contents:

Blu-ray

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, from materials supplied by Gaumont
  • Original French mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Interview with director Marcel Ophuls, filmed in 2004
  • Le Nouveau Vendredi: The Sorrow and the Pity, a 55-minute debate that followed the film’s belated 1981 French television premiere, in which Ophuls and historians Henri Amouroux and Alain Guérin discuss the film and the issues that it raises with an audience of students from Clermont-Ferrand
  • Reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork
  • First pressing only: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Pauline Kael and Jean-Pierre Melville, plus extensive historical context.

DVD

  • High Definition digital transfer, from materials supplied by Gaumont
  • Original French mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Interview with director Marcel Ophuls, filmed in 2004
  • Le Nouveau Vendredi: The Sorrow and the Pity, a 55-minute debate that followed the film’s belated 1981 French television premiere, in which Ophuls and historians Henri Amouroux and Alain Guérin discuss the film and the issues that it raises with an audience of students from Clermont-Ferrand
  • Reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork

 

Seijun Suzuki’s The Taisho Trilogy (Zigeunerweisen / Kagero-za / Yumeji) | 5 June 2017 | Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) | £59.99

After over a decade in the wilderness following his firing from Nikkatsu for Branded to Kill (1967), maverick director Seijun Suzuki returned with a vengeance with his critically-praised tryptic of cryptic supernatural dramas set during the liberal enlightenment of Japan’s Taisho Era (1912-26).

In the multiple Japanese Academy Award-winning Zigeunerweisen (1980), two intellectuals and former colleagues from military academy involve their wives in a series of dangerous sexual games. In Kageroza (1981), a playwright is drawn like a moth to a flame to a mysterious beauty who might be a ghost, while Yumeji (1991) imagines the real-life painter-poet Takehisa Yumeji’s encounter with a beautiful widow with a dark past.

Presented together on Blu-ray for the first time outside of Japan, the films in the Taisho Trilogy are considered Suzuki’s masterpieces in his homeland. Presenting a dramatic turn from more his familiar tales of cops, gangsters and unruly youth, these surrealistic psychological puzzles drip with a lush exoticism, distinctively capturing the pandemonium of a bygone age of decadence and excess, when Western ideas, fashions, technologies and art fused into everyday aspect of Japanese life.

Special Edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original stereo audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New introductions to each film by critic Tony Rayns
  • Making-of featurette
  • Vintage interview with Seijun Suzuki
  • More to be announced…
  • First pressing only: Booklet featuring writing on the films by critic Jasper Sharp and more.

 

One-Eyed Jacks | 12 June 2017 | Dual format (Blu-ray & DVD) | £24.99

One-Eyed Jacks is a film with a troubled history. It was almost the feature debut of emerging television director Sam Peckinpah, who penned the original draft screenplay, and it was almost the only Western to be directed by Stanley Kubrick before he too left the project. The eventual director was Marlon Brando, stepping behind the camera for the first and only time.

Brando is Rio, a bank-robber who is double-crossed by his friend and mentor, Dad (Karl Malden). Rio is imprisoned for his role in the crime, but escapes with thoughts of revenge. He tracks down Dad only to find that, during those years spent behind bars, Dad has used his ill-gotten wealth to become the sheriff of Monterey…

A strange, baroque Western, One-Eyed Jacks met with bewilderment by critics and audiences upon release, but slowly developed a cult following despite a succession of below-par masters. Now, thanks to an outstanding new 4K restoration from Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation, audiences can finally see the film as intended once again and recognise the masterpiece it always was.

Special Edition contents:

  • New 4K restoration by Universal Pictures and The Film Foundation, in consultation with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies, recorded exclusively for this release
  • Introduction by Martin Scorsese
  • Marlon Brando: The Wild One, Paul Joyce’s 1996 documentary on the actor, featuring interviews with Dennis Hopper, Shelley Winters, Martin Sheen and Anthony Hopkins
  • Additional, previously unseen interview material from Marlon Brando: The Wild One with Francis Ford Coppola and Arthur Penn
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips
  • First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Jason Wood and Filippo Ulivieri, Karl Malden on Marlon Brando, Paul Joyce on Marlon Brando: The Wild One and an excerpt from Stefan Kanfer’s Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando.

 

Aquarius | 26 June 2017 | Blu-ray (£17.99) and DVD (£15.99)

Clara, a 65 year old widow and retired music critic, was born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil. She is the last resident of the Aquarius, an original two-story building, built in the 1940s, in the upper-class, seaside Avenida Boa Viagem, Recife. All the neighbouring apartments have already been acquired by a company which has other plans for that plot. Clara has pledged to only leave her place upon her death, and will engage in a cold war of sorts with the company, a confrontation which is both mysterious, frightening and nerve wracking. This tension both disturbs Clara and gives her that edge on her daily routine. It also gets her thinking about her loved ones, her past and her future.

Sonia Braga delivers a tour-de-force performance as Dona Clara in Kleber Mendonça Filho's follow up to his audacious 2012 debut, Neighbouring Sounds, where, once again, the Brazilian film critic, turned director, examines human life in urban spaces in his hometown of Recife. Clara's eclectic collection of LP's and her vintage French 3-sheet poster of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, the latter item belonging to the director, will delight lovers of packaged media and memorabilia, items that Clara herself calls 'special objects'.

Special Edition contents:

Blu-ray

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original 5.1 audio (uncompressed)
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New interview with Director Kleber Mendonça Filho conducted by critic Ian Haydn Smith
  • Making-of featurette
  • Trailer

DVD

  • Standard Definition DVD presentation
  • Original 5.1 audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New interview with Director Kleber Mendonça Filho conducted by critic Ian Haydn Smith
  • Making-of featurette
  • Trailer