Criterion Collection Titles for August 2014

The Criterion Collection has announced their upcoming titles to be released in August 2014. Most of these films are somewhat unexpected, and only one of the five is already in the collection, but all of them are from some of the most respected and revolutionary directors of their (or all) time.

Here are the releases for August:

Being Released August 12th, 2014:

  • “Love Streams” (1984): Love StreamsCriterion Collection regular, filmmaker John Cassavetes not only directs this picture, but also stars alongside longtime collaborator (and wife) Gena Rowlands. The story revolves around a brother and sister who reconnect at a later point in their lives. This is one of Cassavetes least seen “masterpieces”, but it appears that the good folks at Criterion have decided to change that by adding it to their collection. “Love Streams” will be presented in its original 141 minutes version, with some incredible bonus features, including a 60 minutes documentary on the making of the film.

Being Released August 19th, 2014:

  • “Y tu mama tambien” (2001): Y tu mama tambienIt’s been rumored for so long, and now it has finally happened. “Y tu mama tambien” is in the Criterion Collection. Before he was an Academy Award winner for “Gravity”, Alfonso Cuaron made this highly acclaimed film about two sex-crazed friends (Gael Garcia Bernal & Diego Luna) who go on a road trip with a slightly older woman (Maribel Verdu), frustrated with her own life. The three embark on a life-changing journey of self (and sexual) discovery.
  • “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1990): Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!From director Pedro Almodovar comes this dark comedy about a recently released psychiatric patient (Antonio Banderas) who kidnaps an adult film actress (Victoria Abril), and holds her hostage in an attempt to convince her to marry him.

Being Released August 26th, 2014:

  • “Vengeance is Mine” (1979): Vengeance is MineThis Japanese film, from director Shohei Imamura, is already part of the Criterion Collection, but is now getting a blu-ray upgrade. This film, based on a true story, is about a serial killer, retelling the events of his life, and a killing spree that he went on over 78 days.
  • “All That Jazz” (1979): All That Jazz (1979)This Best Picture nominee stands out as one of Bob Fosse’s very best pictures, and although there are those who don’t share in this picture’s general acclaim (me, me, that’s me) it does offer a marvelous performance from its star Roy Scheider, and is easily considered to be one of the best musicals to come out of the 1970’s.

Well, that’s all for August… now we can start speculating about September!

Criterion Collection Titles for July!

It’s time again to examine the list of films the will be joining the Criterion Collection this coming July. This month’s selections offer a wide variety of films from some of the most underrated directors of their own (or all) times. This month is a little different as there are two new films joining the collection, two previous selections earning a Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format upgrade, as well as the much-anticipated box set from legendary filmmaker Jacques Demy.

Here is the lineup for this coming July.

Being released July 15th, 2014:

  • “Pickpocket” (1959): Pickpocket (1959)Easily one of the most respected films of all time, this drama from director Robert Bresson stars Martin LaSalle as a low-level pickpocket, learning the ropes of his dangerous profession. If you look at any list of “world’s greatest films” you’re bound to run across this one soon enough. It is the very definition of a must see, and the blu-ray upgrade with a 2K digital restoration, is sure to look better than ever.
  • “Scanners” (1981): ScannersOn the opposite end of the spectrum from “Pickpocket”, comes this science fiction- horror film that was the breakthrough picture for now famous filmmaker David Cronenberg. The plot involves a select group of people with telepathic powers who fight against one another in order to either take over man kind or live in peace with them. Basically, it’s another, earlier version of the X-Men movies. If sci-fi, or horror, or cult classics is your thing, then here, you have found a release designed with you in mind.

Being released July 22nd, 2014:

  • “Insomnia” (1997): Insomnia (1997)This thriller, from director Erik Skjoldbjaerg, was remade by Christopher Nolan in 2002. This, however, is the far superior film, with stunning visuals and an eerie-ness that is hard to duplicate. The plot revolves around a detective who accidentally shoots his own partner, and then tries to cover his crime. Well, that’s part of the plot, but the psychological angle is what makes the movie really shine. “Insomnia” stars the incredibly talented Stellan Skarsgard in the leading role, and also offers a strong supporting performance from Gisken Armand. Coincidentally, and of note, Roger Ebert once compared “Insomnia” to a modern-day telling of “Crime and Punishment”. He had also said the same thing about Bresson’s “Pickpocket”.
  • The Essential Jacques Demy Box Set: Jacques Demy Box SetIf you don’t know Jacques Demy, then this box set will be a rare treat. This set includes six of Demy’s films released during his most productive years, between 1961 and 1982. In addition to the films, there are enough bonus feature included to take up days of entertainment and fill viewers with endless amounts of information. The six films included are, “Lola” (1961), “Bay of Angels” (1963), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964). “The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967), “Donkey Skin” (1967), and “Une Chambre En Ville” (1982).

Being released July 29th, 2014:

  • “The Big Chill” (1983): The Big Chill (1983)Last, but not least, we have this Best Picture nominee from acclaimed writer/director Lawrence Kasdan. The film revolves around a suicide, and the assembling of friends for the funeral. The time they spend together going over old times, and talking about what is still yet to come, makes “The Big Chill” one of the warmest, most touching films to come out of the 1980’s. It also has a tremendous cast of up and comers that includes Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum, and Glenn Close.

An interesting month of films overall. Not all the titles are going to be popular with all audiences, but with such a variety, there is a little something for everyone.

Criterion Collection Releases for June 2014!

June seems so far away, but here we are talking about the films that are going to join the Criterion Collection that month. And what a group of films we have. There are only two “new” titles being added, with four additional titles receiving an upgrade to blu-ray. Of course, for many, the real excitement comes from the release of the much-anticipated “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964). Any way you look at it, June is going to be a lot of fun! Here are the upcoming Criterion Collection titles for June 2014:

Being Released June 10th, 2014:

  • “All That Heaven Allows” (1955): All That Heaven AllowsDirector Douglas Sirk is the king of the melodrama, but never was his work more glorious than in this romantic tale of a widow (perfectly played by Jane Wyman) who falls in love with her younger, socially unacceptable gardener (portrayed by the marvelous Rock Hudson). With great acting and directing, and a beautiful visual experience thanks to cinematographer Russell Metty, “All That Heaven Allows” is a realistic and monumentally important American film that captures a time in this country that few other films achieved during the 1950’s.
  • “L’eclisse” (1962): L'eclisseFinishing off Michelangelo Antonioni’s trilogy that started with “L’Avventura” (1960) and “La Notte” (1961) is this film about a young woman (Monica Vitti), who after breaking up with her older boyfriend, begins a relationship with a young stockbroker. It is a beautiful film that has gloriously used Rome as its setting, and the result is a powerful and unforgettable experience that only becomes more intoxicating with additional viewings. Now all we need is the “L’Avventura” blu-ray upgrade!

Being Released June 17th, 2014:

  • “Judex” (1963): JudexThis French film from director Georges Franju is based on the pulp hero, Judex. The movie involves a plot where Judex tries to convince a crooked banker to repay the customers that he has treated poorly. Part crime film, part hero-comic, “Judex” is a welcomed addition to the Criterion Collection (and my collection as well).
  • “Hearts and Minds” (1974): Hearts and MindsWell, not every film can be fun and games, and the blu-ray upgrade for this documentary certainly is proof. Directed by Peter Davis, this film is about America’s involvement in Vietnam. “Hearts and Minds” is one of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of its (or all) time, and with bonus features that include two hours of new deleted scenes, the overall experience is sure to be more powerful than ever.
  • “Picnic at Hanging Rock” (1975): Picnic at Hanging RockFrom director Peter Weir comes this drama film about a group of girls who after journeying to an island, suddenly disappear. This is probably one of the most critically acclaimed Australian films of all time and has been part of the Criterion Collection for quite some time (spine #29). Part mystery, part social drama, “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a film that seems to get better with age, and the remastered blu-ray upgrade will be more than appreciated by the film’s fans.

Being Released June 24th, 2014:

  • “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964):A Hard Day's Night (1964) Last, but definitely not least, we have The Fab Four making their Criterion Collection debut with this much-anticipated musical film. The plot? Who cares- it’s The Beatles! With a 4K digital restoration, and enough bonus features to last an entire day, John, Paul, George, and Ringo are going to be a welcomed addition to many movie libraries come June.

Well, that’s all for this month. What will you be watching?

Criterion Collection Releases for May 2014

Well, it’s that time again. Time for the Criterion Collection to announce the latest grouping of films to be honored with an induction to their illustrious vaults this coming May. Some of these titles are already part of the Collection, just obtaining a new (and much appreciated) blu-ray upgrade, with a couple of other films making their Criterion debut (and after much speculation, I might add). So, without further ado, here are the newest films that are now available for preorder.

Being released May 6th, 2013

  • “Ace in the Hole” (1951): Billy Wilder made so many great films, it can be easy to overlook one (or even a few in his case) every now and then. That is exactly what many movie-lovers have done to “Ace in the Hole”, aka “The Big Carnival”. Ace in the Hole (1951)The film revolves around a New York newspaperman (magnificently played by Kirk Douglas), who ends up at a small town New Mexico paper, waiting again for a chance- his chance to move back into the “big time”. That opportunity comes when a man (Richard Benedict) gets trapped in an old Indian cave while digging for artifacts. Instead of focusing on getting the man out, Douglas makes the event the largest possible story he can, creating a media circus the likes of which were rarely seen at the time (but we fully understand-and flock towards today). Quite simply, “Ace in the Hole” is a must see film in every sense of the phrase. Billy Wilder does some of his most underrated work here, and you will never forget the power of Douglas’s performance, or that of the hardened, unloving wife, perfectly performed by Jan Sterling.

Being released May 13th, 2013

  • “Like Someone in Love” (2012): This film, from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, is a French-Japanese production about a young woman attending college, Like Someone in Love (2012)who spends her nights working as a prostitute. She ends up getting a call that leads her to the home of an older professor, and the two spend the night bonding (in the non-physical way). The morning only brings problems for both of them, as together they run into her boyfriend, who knows nothing about her night job. “Like Someone in Love” has received much praise and admiration from audiences since its initial release, and is a welcomed addition to the Criterion Collection, particularly after Kiarostami’s previous films (“Taste of Cherry”, “Close-Up”, & “Certified Copy”) have proven to be such glorious additions to the Criterion Collection.

Being released May 20th, 2014

  • “Overlord” (1975): This is another film that is already part of the Criterion Collection, but the blu-ray upgrade is not only deserved, but also encourages fans to watch it yet again.Overlord (1975) This film, directed by Stuart Cooper, centers on a young man fighting during the D-Day invasion. He is an average man, except for the fact that he has already had a premonition of his own death, and now contemplates “his part” in the war, as well as the world, while waiting for what he considers his own inevitable end. The real beauty of “Overland” is in the mastery of the picture’s construction. Its portrayal of war is as real as it can be in a film, and in ways feels more documentary than anything else.

Being released May 27th, 2014

  • “Red River” (1948): Yee-haw!! Need I say more? Well, I will anyway. Red River (1948)“Red River” is one of those movies that never gets old no matter how many times you have seen it, and with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift leading the way, it is easy to enjoy yourself. What is also amazing about the way director Howard Hawks pieced this one together is how is mixes the light-hearted western atmosphere from so many westerns of its time, with a darker, much more mean-spirited side that keeps the audience off-balance. It jumps back and forth between these two opposite styles, and feels so often the entire picture almost seems jumbled, keeping the audience constantly intrigued, sitting on the edge of their seat, waiting for that climactic conclusion. “Red River” is a movie that has been rumored to be joining the Criterion Collection for years, and I for one, am thrilled to see it finally make the list.
  • “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004): Creative The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissoufilmmaker extraordinaire Wes Anderson is one of the most regular directors around the Criterion office these days. All but one of his currently released films (Where is “Moonrise Kingdom”, Criterion?) are already part of the collection, including his sometimes misunderstood (but still brilliant) 2004 film, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”. With an all-star cast, and enough subtle humor to fill two films, Anderson has brought the world of Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his life on the water, to our hearts and minds- never to be forgotten. Also starring in this hysterical tale are Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum.

Well, that’s all for this month. Happy shopping movie fans!

The Criterion Collection Announces Their Titles for February 2014!

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): Jules and Jim 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): 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): 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): 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): 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): 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): 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.

The Criterion Collection Announces New Titles for January 2014!

2014 is here! Alright, not really, but we do go a glimpse into what The Criterion Collection has in store for us with their January releases. If these selections are any indication, this is going to be a great year. Two classic films already in the collection are getting the much deserved blu-ray treatment, four new films are being added, and there is a fantastic addition to the Eclipse Series, featuring three of the final films from historic director Satyajit Ray. But enough introduction; here are the titles.

Being released January 7th, 2014:

  • Eclipse Series 40: Late Ray (1984-1991): The Stranger (1991)Satyajit Ray’s directorial career is amazing. It is also underrated. His films are just beginning to be widely seen and talked about by the average movie fan, and The Criterion Collection is partially responsible for his resurgence. Ray’s masterpieces, “The Big City” (1963), “Charulata” (1964), and “The Music Room” (1958) are already a part of the collection, and now three of his final films will be boxed together for us to experience. This set will include “The Home and the World” (1984), “An Enemy of the People” (1989), and his final film, “The Stranger” (1991).
  • “Throne of Blood” (1957): Throne of Blood (!957)This amazing film from director Akira Kurosawa is already part of Criterion’s Collection, but is at long last coming to blu-ray. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, brilliantly set in feudal Japan. As always, Kurosawa delicately blends action, drama, and suspense, while creating a film that is not to be forgotten.

Being released January 14th, 2014:

  • “Thief” (1981): Theif (1981)Director Michael Mann’s films have many strengths. His ability to enthrall his audience in a heist or crime is one of his biggest, and in his directorial debut, “Thief,” that is exactly what he does. James Cann stars as a successful jewel thief, looking for a “normal” life. After a big score, his world is turned upside-down when his friend (and fence) is killed. This suspenseful, action-packed extravaganza clearly shows an endless amount of talent from the film’s writer/director, and you can see the foundation for the style that he would continue to use later in his career. It’s no wonder he has gone on to have such an accomplished career.
  • “Rififi” (1955):Rififi (1955) Another movie that is already part of The Criterion Collection (and also another crime story) is this masterfully crafted French film from director Jules Dassin. Dassin’s career is one that will take you all over the map, both figuratively and metaphorically, but his crime films are his best, or at least his most beloved today. “Rififi” is a story about four career criminals who band together for one unforgettable heist. This is a movie that is not to be missed, and I promise that the climactic robbery scene will stay with you long after the film has ended. As a side note, the wonderfully entertaining book, “The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies,”  ranked “Rififi” the 27th greatest gangster film of all time. That’s pretty impressive.

Being released January 21st, 2014:

  • “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963): Sometimes movies get added to The Criterion Collection because of their significance. Sometimes it’s because of some small, brilliant aspect that often would go unnoticed. Then there are the films that get added because, well, why not. “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” probably would fall into this last category. Stanley Kramer could make any type of movie, and he proved it with film such as “The Defiant Ones” (1958), “Judgement at Nuremberg” (1961), “Ship of Fools” (1965), and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967), all of which received Best Picture nominations.It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Right in the middle of his filmography, however, is this screwball comedy about a group of strangers racing to a hidden treasure, all the while being pursued by a police captain marvelously played by Spencer Tracy. The cast includes a who’s who of comedy geniuses, and delivers laugh upon laugh throughout the extensive 161 minutes. For its release into The Criterion Collection, a newly restored, high-definition extended version is being released, with a running time of 197 minutes, giving us 36 more minutes of laughter and smiles. This is going to be great fun!
  • “La Vie De Boheme” (1992):La Vie de Boheme (1992) If you haven’t seen many movies from filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki, you don’t know what you’re missing. Already in The Criterion Collection are his latest film “La Havre” (2011), and in two different Eclipse Series, you can see “Shadows in Paradise” (1986), “Ariel” (1988), “The Match Factory Girl”  (1990), “Leningrad Cowboys Go America” (1989), “Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses” (1994), and “Total Balalaika Show” (1994). His latest induction into the collection features some of his “regulars” in a tale based on Henri Murger’s “Scenes de la vie de Boheme,” which also is the source material for the famous opera, “La boheme”.

Being released January 28th, 2014:

  • “The Long Day Closes” (1992):The Long Day Closes (1992) This film, from acclaimed director Terence Davies, centers around an eleven-year-old boy, as he attempts to deal with the struggles that many children his age face. His escape from the world is the local cinema, where Davies masterfully makes the movie house an intricate part of the young boy’s life.

New Criterion Collection Titles Announced for December 2013

It seems impossible to already be closing in on the end of the year, but when The Criterion Collection announces their last releases of 2013, that’s when you know we are nearing the end of the calendar.The Housemaid (1960) Of course closing the year off with a great selection of new inductees to Criterion’s illustrious vault certainly makes the winter months seem warmer, right? So far in 2013, The Criterion Collection has already given us several brilliant films from some of the world’s finest directors: Ingmar Bergman, Roberto Rossellini, Yasujiro Ozu, Ernest Lubitsch, Max Ophuls, Ang Lee, Guillermo del Toro, Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni, Charlie Chaplin, Terrence Malick, John Cassavetes, Fritz Lang, Elia Kazan, Delmer Daves, Robert Bresson, and Alfred Hitchcock, just to name a few!

So what do they have in store for us this December? Here they are:

Being released Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013:

  • “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” (1970): Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)This Italian film from director Elio Petri revolves around a high-ranking police officer who kills his mistress, and then helps his fellow officers in the investigation. When the evidence clearly points to himself, the other officers go out of their way to fumble the case and keep their fellow officer above the law. This film stars Gian Maria Volonte and Florinda Bolkan, and was the winner of the 1970 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • “Nashville” (1975): Robert Altman directs this epic drama that was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award in 1975, and has only grown in both popularity and acclaim since that time.Nashville (1975) The almost non-existent plot revolves around several different main characters, as their lives converge during a few fateful days in the musical title city. Often considered one of Altman’s very best films, “Nashville” is a welcomed addition to The Criterion Collection, and a must see for all true cinema fans. (The cover art is pretty fantastic as well.)

Being released Tuesday, December 10th, 2013:

  • “Grey Gardens” (1976):Grey Gardens (1976) This documentary film from director Albert Maysles is already in The Criterion Collection, but is, at long last, making its blu-ray debut. The film tells the story of “Big Edie” and “Little Edie”, a mother and daughter who live at the slowly deteriorating Grey Gardens, in near isolation. When the estate become dangerously inhabitable, the powers that be begin to interceded, but because “Big Edie” happens to be the Aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, an attempt is made to help restore the home and grounds to its previous glory. 
  • “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project” (1936-1981): In 2007, acclaimed filmmaker (and cinema lover) Martin Scorsese established the “World Cinema Project”, with the goal of restoring rarely seen foreign films, and making them available to the general population.Redes (1936) In this exclusive collection, six of the films that they have restored will be bundled together in what promises to be a historic collection. The films included are: “Touki Bouki” (1973), “Redes” (1936), “A River Called Titas” (1973), “Dry Summer” (1964), “Trances” (1981), and “The Housemaid” (1960).  Of interesting note (at least to me), “Redes” is a very early experimental film in the career of legendary director Fred Zinnemann, and “The Housemaid”, even with its limited availability in the past, has earned so much acclaim that it has already found its way into the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”.

New Criterion Collection Titles Announced for November 2013

The middle of the month is here, which means that once again it is time to argue… I mean discuss what we think about the new additions to the historic Criterion Collection that we will be seeing this coming November. As if these films aren’t great enough on their own, The Criterion Collection will also be adding a new feature for their discs: the “dual format” feature, that will include both DVD and blu-ray copies of the film. But we can talk about that another time; on to the selections.

Being released on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013:

  • “City Lights” (1931): City Lights (1931)It doesn’t get much better than this Charlie Chaplin classic that is FINALLY making its way to blu-ray. This is arguably Chaplin’s greatest film, as he brilliantly mixes his usual array of comic enthusiasm with quite possibly the greatest romance in screen history. And how about that boxing scene, right? “City Lights” has been given a 4K digital film transfer for this release which I am sure is going to look as glorious as possible, and the array of bonus features seems worth while as well. Unfortunately, we do have to wait until November to see this film in its new found glory!
  • “Frances Ha” (2013): Frances Ha (2013)Being released the same day is another comedy film, this time from one of The Criterion Collection’s favorite active directors, Noah Baumbach. Greta Gerwig stars as a twenty-something year old, living in New York, while trying to find her place amongst those around her. With a style that only Baumbach possesses, and a skill that should be applauded, “Frances Ha” is a delightful and sweet film that is getting some much deserved validation with this release.

Being released on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013:

  • “Tokyo Story” (1953): Tokyo Story (1953)I’m not trying to sound too preachy or anything, but if you haven’t seen- no wait, experienced this exceptional film- wait no longer. This poignant story was inspired in part by Leo McCarey’s 1937 masterpiece, “Make Way for Tomorrow”, and centers on an elderly couple experiencing difficulties adjusting to life in a new era. Masterful director Yasujiro Ozu has many great films to his credit, but there is little denying that “Tokyo Story” is his best, and is also one of the most moving and powerful films of all time. If you don’t believe me, just try to find a bad review for this film. “Tokyo Story” is already part of The Criterion Collection, but is at long last making its blu-ray debut, as well as receiving some new bonus materials. 

Being released on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013:

  • “Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman” (1962-1973): ZatoichiI’m not going to sit here and pretend to know everything movie related, so I’ll be honest and admit that I have no memory of these films what-so-ever. From what I can gather, these films are based on a character by Ken Shimozawa that is both a blind masseur and a master swordsman. In total, 26 films were made with this character, as well as a brief television show. This set includes the first 25 films in the series. (That is a lot of blind-swordplay!)

New Release Round-Up! August 6th, 2013

New Release on Blu-ray and DVD for Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Well there is no point in beating around the bush this week- I have never been so excited by a week’s releases! It just seems like all the good films that could have been spaced out over the last month have been culminated into this “hall of fame” week.The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) Let me give you a quick run-down as to what I mean: The Criterion Collection came through with a great blu-ray debut, Disney has released three of their classics in blu-ray editions for the first time, we have a special release from the only Academy Award winning Best Picture that has yet to be available on home media, as well as the only two films from 2013 that I have given a rating of ★★★★★. And just in case that wasn’t enough, we also get a first time blu-ray release of an Alfred Hitchcock classic, and Terrance Malick’s latest opus. (Can you tell I’m a bit excited here?) So tell me, how many of these films will you be watching this week?

  • “Mud” (2013): Mud (2013)I loved this movie. Matthew McConaughy gives a knock-out performance as a man on-the-run, hiding on a small island along the Mississippi River. He is found by two young boys (Tye Sheridan & Jacob Lofland) who try to help him escape the law and reunite with his on-again off-again girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon).The film is brilliantly made and combines the perfect blend of warmth and drama. “Mud” boasts an amazing supporting cast as well, including Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson. Trust me when I say that this is a movie worth watching.

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  • “The Place Beyond the Pines” (2013):The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) Another film released earlier this year that surprised me with its quality was this drama directed by Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”). The film stars Ryan Gosling as a motorcycle stunt man who puts his driving to use by becoming a bank robber. Bradley Cooper plays the police officer whose life is forever changed because of the decisions that he makes while trying to stop the robberies. With brilliant editing, haunting music and spot on performances from the entire cast, including Eva Mendes, Bruce Greenwood and Ray Liotta, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a stunning example of expert filmmaking.

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  • “The Earrings of Madame de…” (1953): The Earrings of Madame de... Getting a much deserved blu-ray release through The Criterion Collection is this brilliantly conceived and constructed French film from director Max Ophuls. The story is about the wife (Danielle Darrieux) of a wealthy General who decides to sell a pair of earrings that her husband (Charles Boyer) gave to her on their wedding day. Although the earrings don’t seem to mean much to her now, through a series of fateful events, these expensive jewels find their way back to Madame de through her new love (Vittorio De Sica), once again giving them (and her life) new purpose. Few films are as perfectly designed as this one, and it’s easy to see why, “The Earrings of Madame de…” has become one of the most acclaimed French films of all time.

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  • “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956): Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart were a great team. They made four incredible and unforgettable films together, between 1948 and 1958. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1954)Sure “Vertigo” (1958) and “Rear Window” (1954) are the most acclaimed and remembered of the group, but to overlook either “Rope” (1948) or “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956) simple because they are not as good as the other collaborations would be a serious mistake. In this film, Stewart plays a man on holiday with his wife (Doris Day) and young son (Christopher Olsen). Through a series of coincidences and mistakes, a spy is killed and passes sensitive information, asking him to deliver it to the British government. The nefarious villains kidnap the couple’s son and threaten to kill him if anyone is alerted to their plan. This film is a remake of Hitchcock’s 1934 film of the same name, and although there are many similar plot points, his maturity as a director (and the presence of Stewart and Day) make this the superior film. In addition, this movie also boasts the Academy Award winning song, “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)”, which plays an important role in the film’s plot.

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  • “Robin Hood” (1973):Robin Hood “Oo De Lally”! You can laugh if you want, but I’m not afraid to admit that Disney’s “Robin Hood” is one of my all-time favorite films. For starters, the cast is filled with wonderfully comic voice performances, headlined by Peter Ustinov as the thumb-sucking Prince John. Then, there are the songs that were spectacularly written and are guaranteed to be stuck in your head, giving you something to whistle all day long. Say what you will about the so called greatest animated films of all time, I think I’ll take “Robin Hood” any day.

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  • “To the Wonder” (2012): Terrence Malick… in my opinion, you either love him or don’t understand him.To the Wonder (2012) His films are legendary for having the most beautiful images, combined with a unparalleled narrative style. His latest film, “To the Wonder”, tells the story of a mid-western man (Ben Affleck) who falls in love with a French woman (Olga Kurylenko). She comes to live with him in America, but things quickly begin to become stale. Complicating the issue further is the emergence of his high-school sweetheart (Rachel McAdams) who begins to pull his affections away. The film, which has very little dialogue that isn’t done in voice over, seems unusual to many movie-goers, but for viewers who can be patient, the payoff is well-worth the time invested. It is visually stunning and once again proves that Malick is a pioneer director, forging the way for future filmmakers prepared to think outside the Hollywood way of doing things.

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  • “Oblivion” (2013): Oblivion (2013)Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylrnko star in this science fiction film that takes place in the future, after the human race has abandoned Earth. Only a couple of people remain behind to finish collecting the water from the oceans, until things go terribly wrong. This film pays homage to many of the science fiction films from the 1960’s and 70’s, but ultimately falls short with a story that just doesn’t seem to hold any interest. The visual effects are a plus, but still aren’t enough to keep the mediocre story afloat.

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  • “The Sword in the Stone” (1963): The Sword in the Stone Here’s another Disney classic finally getting a blu-ray release. This classic tale of King Arthur’s fictitious childhood comes to life with the help of Merlin, the fantastic wizard, and his owl, Archimedes. The special features aren’t anything to be excited about, but there is a four-minute, never before seen opening sequence that could be interesting. At this point, I’m just glad to see these Disney classics gaining new interest after so long. Anybody up for a wizard’s duel?

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  • “Cavalcade” (1933): Cavalcade (1933)This is the Best Picture winning film from 1933, that is FINALLY becoming available on DVD and blu-ray. Directed by Frank Lloyd, the story follows an English family from New Years Eve, 1899 all the way through present day (1933). Many scenes revolve around major world events such as different wars, the Titanic sinking and the death of Queen Victoria. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many (or any) special features with this release, but because I’m so excited that I can finally watch the movie, I’m not going to be too picky.

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  • “Oliver and Company” (1988): Oliver and Company (1988)Billy Joel, Bette Midler and Joey Lawrence lead an all-star cast in this modern-day (by modern-day I mean 1988) spin on Charles Dickins, “Oliver Twist”. This is clearly a flawed Disney classic, but still one that entertains, mostly because of the toe-tapping songs.

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Also being released this week are a fewer less-popular films that may be of some interest. We have the 35th anniversary edition of the science fiction classic, “Battlestar Galactica” (1978), the comedy/action film “Silver Streak” (1976), starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, Wesley Snipes’s action extravaganza “Passenger 57” (1992), Kevin Bacon’s bicycle drama, “Quicksilver” (1986), and the Macaulay Culkin fantasy film, “The Pagemaster” (1994).
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New Release Round-Up! July 30th, 2013

We have arrived! That lull in the summer release schedule is over and it is time to have movies to choose from once again. There are more choices this week, as well as an increase in overall quality of the films. We will receive a new addition to The Criterion Collection, as well as blu-ray debuts from some of the most interesting directors of all time, including Budd Boetticher, Otto Preminger, Henry Hathaway and Anthony Mann. It is so nice to once again have to decide what to watch. What will you be watching this week?

  • “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001): The Devil's Backbone (2001)Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro wowed and amazed with this ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War. A home for orphaned boys is run by an elderly woman and her friend, who both side with the Republican loyalists. The estates also has a caretaker, however, who is a mean-spirited young man, hiding dark secrets at every turn. This amazing film is being introduced into The Criterion Collection, and is a must see for fans of the genre. There is so much more to this film than one might expect. Included in this release (particularly the blu-ray edition) are a plethora of bonus features, including a commentary from director del Toro.

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  • “Niagara” (1953): Niagara (1953)Marilyn Monroe made films for almost every genre, but few are as acclaimed as this film noir from director Henry Hathaway. The story revolves around a newlywed couple on their honeymoon and another couple at a crossroads in their marriage, who also happen to be staying at the same motel. The two couples converge in a story filled with sexuality, mystery, adventure and danger- not to mention the second greatest dress of Marilyn’s career. This movie also stars Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters and Casey Adams.

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  • “Bus Stop” (1956):Bus Stop (1956) Two blu-ray debuts for Marilyn in one week! This character drama from director Joshua Logan is one of Marilyn’s most acclaimed performances, as she plays a wandering singer/dancer trying to make her way to California. Don Murray plays a Montana rancher, leaving his ranch for the first time in over a decade. He has absolutely no experience with women, but everything changes the moment these two misfits meet. He wants to take her home, but she wants him to leave. Which strong-willed person will win?

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  • “That Touch of Mink” (1962): That Touch of Mink (1962)Cary Grant, Doris Day and Gig Young star in this romantic comedy about a millionaire who has finally met his match in the tender career woman. This film is memorable as being the last of the Cary Grant “womanizing films”, but lacks some in the comedy aspect. It’s still worth seeing, and the DVD quality has always been so disappointing that it is truly exciting to finally see this film in a remastered edition.

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  • “G.I. Joe Retaliation” (2013): G.I. Joe Retaliation (2012)Guns, bombs, explosions, mayhem and some of the most muscle-bound, heart-throbs out there. Directed by John M. Chu, and based on the Hasbro action figure, this is the sequel to 2009’s “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra”. This next installment, which has received pretty bad reviews, stars Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson, as well as other huge men who find different ways to take off their shirts. I think this film may have been made expressly to cater to both men for the action and women for the stars.

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  • “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986): Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)This 80’s classic from director Francis Ford Coppola is about a middle-aged woman who has recently separated from her husband, after being married since high school. Now she is going to attend her 25-year reunion, but when things get awkward, she faints. When she awakens, Peggy Sue finds that she has been transported back in time to the glory days of high school, giving her life a second chance. Kathleen Turner stars in an Academy Award nominated performance, but the cast includes many up and comers, such as Nicholas Cage, Joan Allen, Helen Hunt and Jim Carrey.

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  • “Black Rock” (2012): Black Rock (2012)This horror film is about three women (Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth and the film’s director, Katie Aselton) who travel to a remote island in order to rekindle a distancing friendship. On the island, they meet three discharged soldiers (Jay Paulson, Will Bouvier and Anslem Richardson). At first the six hit things off, but soon things turn for the worse when one of the men is killed,  and the remaining two begin hunting the three women.

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  • “The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell” (1955): The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)American General Billy Mitchell is being court-martialled for openly complaining about his superiors. Based on a true story, this Otto Preminger film stars Gary Cooper, Charles Bickford, Ralph Bellamy and Rod Steiger, and has received positive reviews, particularly for the acting and directing. Then again, when does Otto Preminger make a movie that isn’t interesting, and when does Gary Cooper ever do a bad acting job?

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  • “Angel and the Badman” (1947): Angel and the Badman (1947)Any week with a John Wayne movie western is a good week, right? Wayne stars as an injured gunfighter and the Quaker girl (played by Gail Russell) who nurses him back to health. This is a wonderful western film that has been almost unwatchable due to the poor quality of the print. It is truly exciting to see this classic get the blu-ray treatment this week.

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  • “Love Me Tender” (1956): Love Me Tender (1956)Elvis Presley made his film debut in this western musical that also stars Richard Egan and Debra Paget. The plot revolves around a family with four sons during the Civil War. The three eldest go off to fight, but the youngest (Presley) stays home to take care of the family and land. Incorrect news is received that the eldest brother has died, and eventually the youngest son marries his brother’s girl. When everyone returns home, passions are ignited in a family that is forever torn apart.

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  • “Bullfighter and the Lady” (1951): Bullfighter and the Lady (1951)From legendary director Budd Boetticher comes this drama film about the dangerous profession of bullfighting. Starring Robert Stack, Joy Page, Virginia Grey and Katy Jurado, “Bullfighter and the Lady” was shot on location in Mexico, and Boetticher used a unique, semi-documentary approach, making this film a memorable look into a sport that is loved and feared around the world.

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  • “God’s Little Acre” (1958):God's Little Acre (1958) Based on the controversial best seller by Erskine Caldwell, this Anthony Mann directed film is about a man obsessed with finding gold thought to be buried by his grandfather, years before. At the same time, his daughter-in-law is suspected of having an affair with a politically controversial “worker” in town. Upon this film’s release, no one under the age of eighteen was admitted to the theaters for the lured subject matter, and after years of neglect, it has finally found its way to blu-ray, giving audiences just cause to be excited.

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