Christmas comes but once a year…but the Criterion Collection adds new titles all the time, which is kind of like Christmas for film lovers. All films are being released on Blu-ray and DVD. See below for the latest additions, synopses courtesy of Criterion, though you’ll have to wait until summer to buy them.
“The Killers” (1946 and 1964)
Ernest Hemingway’s simple but gripping short tale “The Killers” is a model of economical storytelling. Two directors adapted it into unforgettably virile features: Robert Siodmak, in a 1946 film that helped define the noir style and launch the acting careers of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner; and Don Siegel, in a brutal 1964 version, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and John Cassavetes, that was intended for television but deemed too violent for home audiences and released theatrically instead. The first is poetic and shadowy, the second direct and harsh as daylight, but both get at the heart of Hemingway’s existential classic.
Special features include digital restorations of both films, with uncompressed soundtracks on the Blu-rays, interviews with Stuart M. Kaminsky and Clue Galager, a radio adaptation of the story, Andrei Tarkovsky’s short student film adaptation of the story and essays by novelist Jonathan Letham and critic Geoffrey O’Brien.
“The Black Stallion” (1979)
Another prose-to-screen adaptation (directed by Carroll Ballard), this time of Walter Farley’s classic children’s novel about an American boy rescued after a shipwreck off the coast of North Africa by an untamable wild horse. From the crystalline shores of a deserted island in the Arabian Sea to the green grass and dusty roads of 1930s suburban New York, Ballard and director of photography Caleb Deschanel create a film of consistent visual invention and purity, also featuring a winning supporting performance by Mickey Rooney as a retired jockey and a gorgeous score by Carmine Coppola. Special features include five short films by Ballard, a new interview with Deschanel an an essay by critic Michael Stragow.
“Here Is Your Life” (1966)
This mesmerizing debut by the great Swedish director Jan Troell is an epic bildungsroman and a multilayered representation of early twentieth-century Sweden. Based on a series of semi-autobiographical novels by Nobel Prize winner Eyvind Johnson, “Here Is Your Life” follows a working-class boy’s development from naive teenager to intellectually curious young adult—all set against the backdrop of a slowly industrializing rural landscape. With its mix of modernist visual ingenuity and elegantly structured storytelling, this enchanting film is a reminder that Troell is one of European cinema’s greatest and most sensitive illuminators of the human condition. Special features include a new digital restoration, an introduction by filmmaker Mike Leigh, a conversation between Troell and film historian Peter Cowie and a new English subtitle translation.
Canadians, please note: “Here Is Your Life” will be available in English-speaking Canada only.
“Hiroshima Mon Amour” (1959)
A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming mutual fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. With an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award–nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, “Hiroshima Mon Amour” is a moody masterwork that delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish. Special features include audio commentary by film historian Peter Cowie, interviews with Resnais and Riva, a new English subtitle translation and an essay by critic Kent Jones.
Canadians, please note: “Hiroshima Mon Amour” will be available in English-speaking Canada only.
“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)
An island off the New England coast, summer of 1965. Two twelve-year-olds, Sam and Suzy, fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As local authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing offshore. Wes Anderson’s”Moonrise Kingdom” stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the young couple on the run, Bruce Willis as Island Police Captain Sharp, Edward Norton as Khaki Scout troop leader Scout Master Ward, and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s attorney parents, Walt and Laura Bishop. The magical soundtrack features the music of Benjamin Britten.
Special features include an audio commentary featuring Anderson, selected-scene storyboard animatics, interviews with the cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes tour hosted by Bill Murray and home movies form the set.
“My Beautiful Laundrette” (1985)
Stephen Frears was at the forefront of the British cinematic revival of the mid-1980s, and the delightfully transgressive “My Beautiful Laundrette” is his greatest triumph of the period. Working from a richly layered script by writer Hanif Kureishi, soon to be internationally renowned, Frears tells an uncommon love story that takes place between a young South London Pakistani man (Gordon Warnecke), who decides to open an upscale laundromat to make his family proud, and his childhood friend, a skinhead (Daniel Day-Lewis, in a breakthrough role), who volunteers to help make his dream a reality. This culture-clash comedy is also a subversive work of social realism, which dares to address racism, homophobia, and sociopolitical marginalization in Margaret Thatcher’s England. Special features include a digital transfer supervised by director of photography Oliver Stapleton, a new conversation between Frears and producer Colin MacCabe and an essay by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor.
READ MORE: Career-Best Performances From Julianna Moore, Jack Nicholson and Robin Williams Highlight Criterion Selections For June