Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Criterion Collection Releases for May 2014

     The Criterion Collection announced their new releases for the month of May and although the month is light on new films with just two of them, one of them is a big release that is finally arriving. Legendary director Howard Hawks is finally in the collection and what a film to bring him in: Red River (1948). A classic western that played with traditional western motifs and storytelling and is one of the most distinctive westerns Hollywood ever produced. John Wayne plays a Texas rancher who has a contentious relationship with his adopted son (Montgomery Clift). The parallels and dissent between the old and new are enough to make this film a classic, but the cattle drive to Missouri adds the suspense and action. This film has a bit of everything and Clift became a star after its release, but this is probably Wayne's greatest role. Tough, dictator-like, but shows so much range in this film. Hawks is one of the greatest directors of all-time. Never made a film that felt unoriginal or fake. The real deal and one of the best. The film has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, but thankfully it is getting a wonderful release and proper restoration. Both versions, one Hawks approved of more than longer version, will be on the dual-format set. I also love the cover. The big, in-your-face letters that almost fly off the cover and that sepia-ish color of a picture from the film. An instant buy and cannot wait to revisit this film. Maybe my favorite Hawks film next to The Big Sleep (1946). The film will be released on May 27.
     The other new release is a more recent, contemporary film from another legendary filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami. The Iranian filmmakers latest, Like Someone In Love (2013), takes place in present-day Tokyo and follows the relationship between a part-time call girl and her elderly client. The film hit all the big film festivals a few years back and, like with most of Kiarostami's films, received raves from around the world. I have only seen one film from Kiarostami, Close-up (1990), which I really admired, but I really need to catch up with this master of international cinema. The film will be released on May 20 in dual-format. 
     The other three releases during the month of May are all upgrades of previously released titles. The exciting thing about May is that you get titles from not just one great Hollywood filmmaker, but two, with the dual-format upgrade of Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951). Wilder directed one of my favorite films of all-time in Sunset Boulevard (1950) and he came back with Ace. The film stars Kirk Douglas as a newspaper man that will do whatever it takes to get the story. He ends up in Albuquerque and attempts to saturate and exploit a story about a man stuck in a cave to reignite his career. The realities of his actions and literature lead to devastating consequences for all. Douglas, as usual, is supposed to be phenomenal in the role and Wilder is as much a legend as Hawks. These are some of the greatest classics of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema and this is a film that I am eager to buy and watch for the first time. The dual-format release will be out on May 6.
     Wes Anderson's cult favorite The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) gets a blu-ray upgrade in May as well. You know the film. Great Bill Murray performance and an all-around starry cast, with amazing turns from Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Anjelica Huston and Michael Gambon. The film is not one of Anderson's best, being more visual stimulation than quality storytelling, but it is still an enjoyable watch. The stop motion animation, gorgeous color schemes and cinematography are enough on there own. Oh yeah, it stars Bill Murray! The film will be released on May 27. 
     The other upgrade for the month of May is a film I am completely unfamiliar with, minus its title. Overlord (1975), directed by Stuart Cooper, is a striking account of a young British soldier's journey during World War II. I have seen this film in the collection for years, but have never taken the time to look into it all that much. I like British films and especially ones from the 70s, so this might be something I eventually look into. Seems as if it is one of those small films that packs a powerful punch. The film will be released on May 13. And that is it for the month of May. A somewhat light month, so hopefully June will be full of new releases. Still waiting on a Lynch title...

Photo credits by Criterion Collection.

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