Last week, the Criterion Collection announced its releases for April and for me, it will be an education. I have only seen one of the films being released that month, The 400 Blows (1959) by legendary French director François Truffaut. I have heard of all the other films, but have not seen any of them. That is what is great about the Criterion Collection. A film recently discovered or transferred with new technology, getting out to film lovers around the world. As I said, The 400 Blows, which is already on blu-ray, will be updated and released in dual-format. A great film of a young boy and a troubling childhood. Antoine Doinel (the magnificent Jean-Pierre Léaud) became Truffuat's lifelong cinematic obsession. This is one of the foundations of the French New Wave and European Art Cinema, as well as one of the finest films ever made. The film will be released on April 8.
A film I know I should have already seen, but regretfully have not, is Lars Von Trier's Breaking the Waves (1996). This is the film that made the Danish auteur well known around the world and contains an Oscar-nominated performance from Emily Watson. When Bess' husband is paralyzed on an oil-rig, her spiritual and sex life are turned upside down. A film that revolves around many themes that have become synonymous with the director, mainly, sex and faith. The cast also includes Stellan Skargård and Udo Kier. I have read a lot on this film and I am really excited to see it, especially on blu-ray. Von Trier is like no other filmmaker and this one will be something interesting. Breaking the Waves will released on April 15.
Another film from an older Danish director will be coming in April as well. Carl Theodor Dreyer's Master of the House (1925) tells the story of domesticity and the insanity of a tyrannical husband. A film that really focuses on the wife's side of life and is considered one of the first films dealing with feminism. Dreyer made the legendary The Passion of Joan of Arc (1925) and the highly eerie Vampyr (1932). Having not heard of this film that is a little bit drama, a little bit comedy, and based on Dreyer's quality and name alone, I am very intrigued to check this one out. I also love silent films and what films looked like in the silent era. The feel, the acting and just the overall production and abilities of the filmmakers is fascinating. You get to see how cinema started. This film will be released on April 22.
Don Siegel's Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) will be another new film for me to discover. A film centered in a maximum-security penitentiary with intensity and energy to spare. The film examines prisoner's rights and life in jail. The film was also filmed on location at Folsom State Prison and used real guards and inmates. Being only familiar with Siegel's later work with Clint Eastwood on Dirty Harry and this peaks my interest. A good, realist prison drama is always a good thing. It appears to be like some of the good, hard American realism that began in the 1950s. The film will be released on April 22.
The last film being released is the recently restored Italian road comedy Il sorpasso (1962). This film is a cherished Italian comedy of the 1960s and will be yet another new introduction into film history for myself. Directed by Dino
Risi, the film goes form comedy to tragedy along a road trip in Italy. I know the film has been screening lately so I am looking forward to checking this one out. It will be released on April 29. And, that is all the releases for April. Not the most exciting month, in my opinion, but one that will grow my respect and love of film and film history. Check them out if you get the chance.
Photo credits by The Criterion Collection.