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Spring may be around the corner for many of us, but the forward-thinking minds over at The Criterion Collection are already mapping out the summer by announcing six new additions that will be hitting its library in June. As always, the new titles represent classic and contemporary masterpieces from both Hollywood and international offerings from all over the world. The most recent title is Olivier Assayas’ 2014 drama “Clouds of Sils Maria,” starring the dream team of Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, the latter of which earned the best reviews of her career.
Check out all of the titles hitting Criterion in June below. Synopses and special features information has been provided by Criterion.
“Clouds of Sils Maria”
This multilayered, immensely entertaining drama from the great contemporary French director Olivier Assayas is a singular look at the intersection of high art and popular culture. The always extraordinary Juliette Binoche is stirring as Maria, a stage and screen icon who is being courted to star in a new production of the play that made her famous—only this time she must assume the role of the older woman. Kristen Stewart matches her punch for punch as her beleaguered assistant, called upon to provide support both professional and emotional for her mercurial boss. And Chloë Grace Moretz is Maria’s arrogant new castmate, a starlet waiting in the wings. Special features include new interviews with director Olivier Assayas and actors Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart and the full version of “Cloud Phenomena of Maloja,” a silent 1924 documentary by Arnold Fanck that is seen in the film.
This major early achievement by Michelangelo Antonioni bears the first signs of the cinema-changing style for which he would soon be world-famous. “Le amiche (The Girlfriends)” is a brilliantly observed, fragmentary depiction of modern bourgeois life, conveyed from the perspective of five Turinese women. As four of the friends try to make sense of the suicide attempt of the fifth, they find themselves examining their own troubled romantic lives. Special features include a new interview with scholar Eugenia Paulicelli on the importance of fashion in Antonioni’s work and an essay by film scholar Tony Pipolo.
Nothing else has ever looked or felt like director René Laloux’s animated marvel “Fantastic Planet,” a politically minded and visually inventive work of science fiction. The film is set on a distant planet called Ygam, where enslaved humans (Oms) are the playthings of giant blue natives (Draags). After Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor, he is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence. With its eerie, coolly surreal cutout animation by Roland Topor; brilliant psychedelic jazz score by Alain Goraguer; and wondrous creatures and landscapes, this Cannes-awarded 1973 counterculture classic is a perennially compelling statement against conformity and violence. Special features include a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, and an alternate English-language soundtrack.
Jean Renoir’s ruthless love triangle tale, his second sound film, is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter “The Rules of the Game,” displaying all of the filmmaker’s visual genius and fully imbued with his profound sense of humanity. A hangdog Michel Simon (“Boudu Saved from Drowning”) cuts a tragic figure as an unhappily married cashier and amateur painter who becomes so smitten with a prostitute that he refuses to see the obvious: that she and her pimp boyfriend are taking advantage of him. Renoir’s elegant compositions and camera movements carry this twisting and turning narrative—a stinging commentary on class and sexual divides—to an unforgettably ironic conclusion. Special features include an introduction to the film by director Jean Renoir from 1967 and a new restoration of “On purge bébé” (1931), Renoir’s first sound film, which has never before been released on Blu-ray or DVD in the U.S.
“Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”
Stanley Kubrick’s painfully funny take on Cold War anxiety is without a doubt one of the fiercest satires of human folly ever to come out of Hollywood. The matchless shape-shifter Peter Sellers plays three wildly different roles: Air Force Captain Lionel Mandrake, timidly trying to stop a nuclear attack on the USSR ordered by an unbalanced general; the ineffectual and perpetually dumbfounded President Merkin Muffley, who must deliver the very bad news to the Soviet premier; and the titular Strangelove himself, a wheelchair-bound presidential adviser with a Nazi past. Finding improbable hilarity in nearly every unimaginable scenario, “Dr. Strangelove” is a genuinely subversive masterpiece that officially announced Kubrick as an unparalleled stylist and pitch-black ironist. Special features include four short documentaries from 2000, about the making of the film, the sociopolitical climate of the period, the work of actor Peter Sellers, and the artistry of Kubrick and interviews from 1963 with Sellers and actor George C. Scott.
“Here Comes Mr. Jordan”
A sophisticated supernatural Hollywood comedy whose influence continues to be felt, “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” stars the eminently versatile Robert Montgomery (“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) as a working-class boxer and amateur aviator whose plane crashes in a freak accident. He finds himself in heaven but is told, by a wry angel named Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), that his death was a clerical error, and that he can return to earth by entering the body of a corrupt (and about-to-be-murdered) banker—whose soul could use a transplant. Having inspired a sequel with Rita Hayworth and two remakes (the first starring Warren Beatty and the second Chris Rock), Alexander Hall’s effervescent “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” is comic perfection. Special features include an audio interview from 1991 in which actor Elizabeth Montgomery discusses her father, actor Robert Montgomery, and an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme.
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