As we reach the halfway point to our current month, The Criterion Collection has announced the latest group of films to enter the illustrious collection. We have seven titles being released in February, two of which are already in the collection and are just receiving an upgrade. The other five, however, are truly diverse films that because of their uniqueness are extremely welcomed additions to the ever-growing collection of wonderful films. Here is the line-up for this coming February.
Being released on February 4th, 2014:
- “Jules and Jim” (1962): This powerhouse film, from acclaimed director Francois Truffaut, is already part of The Criterion Collection, but is finally getting a much appreciated blu-ray upgrade. This movie tells the life-long story of two friends (masterfully played by Oskar Werner and Henri Serre) and the woman who is the object of their admiration, affection, and rivalry (Jeanne Moreau). One of the most important and beloved films of the French New Wave, “Jules and Jim” has long been hailed as not only one of the quintessential films of that era, but of all time.
Being released on February 11th, 2014:
- “Blue is the Warmest Color” (2013): This year’s winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this amazing French film has captivated audiences with its intensity and honesty. The film has also earned a NC-17 rating due to the graphic sexuality of the film, sparking controversy and acclaim on a consistent basis as it continues to be released to more theaters and cities. The plot involves a young girl, with aspirations of becoming a teacher, who’s life is sent spinning when she becomes attracted to a college age, free spirited girl. This release is a “bare bones” release, meaning that there are no significant special features, but that also means it is selling at a lower price than usual. Also of note, director Abdellatif Kechiche already has his previous film, “The Secret of the Grain,” (2007) in The Criterion Collection.
- “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009): Wes Anderson surprised audiences with this stop-motion animation film, based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story. It is a hysterical jolt of a ride that includes some of the funniest dialogue ever written for an animated film. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” stars the voice talents of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Willem Dafoe (along with several others). The release is, of course, one that many Criterion fans have expected, as almost all of Wes Anderson’s films are already included in the vast collection. I suppose it’s only a matter of time until “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) is also inducted.
Being released on February 18th, 2014:
- “Foreign Correspondent” (1940): Alright, we all know that Alfred Hitchcock is brilliant, but these days it’s his less popular, out of the limelight films that excite and captivate audiences everywhere. “Foreign Correspondent” is one of those titles. Not because it’s not brilliant, mind you, because even upon its initial release it was hailed as a masterpiece, made a decent amount of money (although high production costs kept the film in the negative), and it even found itself garnering six Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. The truth is that I don’t know why more people don’t still talk about this film in glowing terms. Perhaps it’s because it hasn’t been an easy one to track down, but thanks to Criterion, that will no longer be a problem. The story involves an American correspondent (Joel McCrea) who finds himself (most characteristically for a Hitchcock film) becoming sucked into a nefarious plot involving an entire network of spys trying to keep him out of the way. The film also stars Laraine Day, George Sanders, and Herbert Marshall, who earned himself an Academy Award nomination for his performance.
Being released on February 25th, 2014:
- “Tess” (1980): Based upon “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” written by Thomas Hardy, this highly acclaimed epic movie from filmmaker extraordinaire Roman Polanski is a hard film to classify. Part romance, part mystery, and even part thriller, this movie has a little bit of everything. Nastassja Kinski gives a powerhouse performance as the title character, but it’s the film’s aesthetics that really shine. Polanski’s direction is flawless, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the costumes are painstakingly perfect. In all, “Tess” found itself nominated for six Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture, and even after more than thirty years has remained a film that people love to discuss in length.
- “King of the Hill” (1993): Based on the memoir of A.E. Hotchner, this film from legendary filmmaker Steven Soderbergh is about a depression-era boy who is stranded when his father must go out-of-town on business. He is forced to look out for himself, while staying in a hotel in St. Louis. Although this title is certainly one of the lesser known films joining The Criterion Collection this February, it has proven to be a film that delights and inspires its viewers time and time again.
- “Breathless” (1960): Jean-Luc Goddard’s first film is also probably his most acclaimed. This crime drama is doubtlessly one of the most innovative films in history, with its use of jump cuts and inspiring visual style. It is also a film that is already in The Criterion Collection. In fact, it’s already been released in the collection, on both DVD and on blu-ray. This time around it is coming to us in the form of a blu-ray/DVD combo pack, with some new, updated special features that neither of the other versions have to offer.