Sunday, March 23, 2014

Criterion Collection releases for June 2014

     Earlier this week, the Criterion Collection announced their June releases. We get some Beatles, an iconic Peter Weir mystery, and the beautiful malaise of Michelangelo Antonioni. First off, the film that helped elevate The Beatles to even higher status, Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (1964), captured the astonishing impact they had on popular music and culture. The boys played somewhat slapstick versions of themselves and the film contains the massive hits "Cant' Buy Me Love" and "I Should've Known Better." The film, which I have not seen, also had a huge influence on the future of music videos and musicals in general. The film will be released in dual-format, and DVD alone editions, on June 24th.
     In my opinion, the biggest release of the month is the highly anticipated re-release of Peter Weir's suspenseful mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). The film that put, not only Weir on the map, but Australian cinema in general, is an unbelievable, amazing piece of cinema that focuses on the disappearance of a group of college students from an all-girl school. This film is one of the best horror-suspense films that came out of the 70s. The film has been hinted at for years, and now we get a dual-format release and an absolutely gorgeous new cover. This is just one of those films that is flat-out brilliant. Picnic at Hanging Rock will be released on June 17th.
     Another film I am really looking forward to picking up is the blu-ray upgrade of Michelangelo Antonioni's  L'eclisse (1962). The concluding film in  Antonioni's three film series, including the masterpieces L'avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961), about contemporary relationships and the malaise that resides in life. These films, and all of Antonioni's films, are slow, beautiful, thought provoking pieces of intelligent cinema. This is some of the finest filmmaking, not just out of Italy, but throughout the world. It also stars maybe the most beautiful actress ever in cinema, Monica Vitti, as she leaves one lover and goes for another. The film also stars the great Alain Delon as the other man. There is no one like Antonioni and he is seriously one of my favorite filmmakers. The films are so brilliantly crafted and true pieces of arthouse cinema. The film will be released on June 10th in dual-format.
     Another fairly big release, but a film I have yet to see, is Douglas Sirk's lavish melodrama All That Heaven Allows (1955). I have seen Rainer Werner Fassbender's homage/remake Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), which is great, but never the original from Sirk. Starring Rock Hudson, who plays a young gardener, who starts a relationship with an elderly widow played by Jane Wyman. The film addresses American morals in a rather conservative society in the 50s and is one of the hallmark melodramas in American cinema. The color palette has always been talked about as absolutely breathtaking and having seen Sirk's Written on the Wind (1956), I know the sentiment. The film will be released in dual-format on June 10th.
     One of the most important documentaries in the history of film gets an upgrade in Peter Davis's landmark film Hearts and Minds (1974). A film that confronts the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. The film is an unflinching indictment and, embarrassingly, I have yet to see it. I have read about it for years and know it is a hard sit, but an informative and educational one. An emotional film for sure. The film will be released in dual-format on June 17th and contains extra footage that was not initially released on the original Criterion DVD. It also carries a striking, powerful new cover. I absolutely love this cover and think it was one of Criterion's best.
     The last film to be released during the month of June is one I have not seen, or heard of, until now, Georges Franju's crime caper Judex (1963). This is an instant, blind buy for me. I love cool crime films from France and this one looks like it is right up my alley. A film, from reading the description on Criterion's website, is a mixture of cool crime caper, sci-fi and silent cinema homages, Judex appears to be one of those classic thrillers that is too good to pass up. Franju did direct one of the eeriest films in history with Eyes Without A Face (1960) so that definitely adds to the intrigue. The film will be released in dual-format, and DVD alone editions, on June 17th.
     And that is it. 2 new releases and 4 upgrades. Still waiting on more Cronenberg, probably around October, and the first releases from David Lynch.

Photo credits by The Criterion Collection.


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