The Criterion Collection is going bowling. Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning documentary “Bowling for Columbine” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray by the Collection this June, ditto “Manila in the Claws of Light,” “El Sur,” “Female Trouble,” and a new edition of Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring.”
16 years later, Moore’s take on America’s gun culture in general and the aftermath of the school shooting at Columbine in particular feels more relevant than ever, making this new release nothing if not timely. More information — and, as ever, cover art — below.
“Lino Brocka broke through to international acclaim with this candid portrait of 1970s Manila, the second film in the director’s turn to more serious-minded filmmaking after building a career on mainstream films he described as ‘soaps.’ A young fisherman from a provincial village arrives in the capital on a quest to track down his girlfriend, who was lured there with the promise of work and hasn’t been heard from since. In the meantime, he takes a low-wage job at a construction site and witnesses life on the streets, where death strikes without warning, corruption and exploitation are commonplace, and protests hint at escalating civil unrest. Mixing visceral, documentary-like realism with the narrative focus of Hollywood noir and melodrama, ‘Manila in the Claws of Light’ is a howl of anguish from one of the most celebrated figures in Philippine cinema.”
“Ten years after making his mark on Spanish cinema with ‘The Spirit of the Beehive,’ Víctor Erice returned to filmmaking with this adaptation of a novella by Adelaida García Morales, which deepens the director’s fascination with childhood, fantasy, and the legacy of his country’s civil war. In the North of Spain, Estrella grows up captivated by her father, a doctor with mystical powers-and by the enigma of his youth in the South, a near-mythical region whose secrets seem to haunt him more and more as time goes on. Though Erice’s original vision also encompassed a long section set in the South itself, which was never made, ‘El Sur’ remains an experience of rare perfection and satisfaction, drawing on painterly cinematography by José Luis Alcaine to evoke the enchantments of memory and the inaccessible, inescapable mysteries of the past.”
“In the wake of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the intrepid documentarian Michael Moore set out to investigate the long, often volatile love affair between Americans and their firearms, uncovering the pervasive culture of fear that keeps the nation locked and loaded. Equipped with a camera and a microphone, Moore follows the trail of bullets from Littleton, Colorado, and Flint, Michigan, all the way to Kmart’s Michigan headquarters and NRA president Charlton Heston’s Beverly Hills mansion, meeting shooting survivors, militia members, mild-mannered Canadians, and musician Marilyn Manson along the way. An unprecedented popular success that helped usher in a new era in documentary filmmaking, the Oscar-winning ‘Bowling for Columbine’ is a raucous, impassioned, and still tragically relevant journey through the American psyche.”
“Glamour has never been more grotesque than in ‘Female Trouble,’ which injects the Hollywood melodrama with anarchic decadence. Divine, director John Waters’ larger-than-life muse, engulfs the screen with charisma as Dawn Davenport-who progresses from a teenage nightmare hell-bent on getting cha-cha heels for Christmas to a fame monster whose egomaniacal impulses land her in the electric chair-in the ultimate expression of the film’s lurid mantra, “Crime is beauty.” Shot in Baltimore on 16 mm, with a cast drawn from Waters’ beloved troupe of regulars, the Dreamlanders (including Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey, and Cookie Mueller), this film, the director’s favorite of his work with Divine, comes to life through the tinsel-toned vision of production designer Vincent Peranio and costume designer/makeup artist Van Smith. An endlessly quotable fan favorite, ‘Female Trouble’ offers up perverse pleasures that never fail to satisfy.”
“Winner of the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Virgin Spring’ is a harrowing tale of faith, revenge, and savagery in medieval Sweden. With austere simplicity, the director tells the story of the rape and murder of the virgin Karin, and her father Töre’s ruthless pursuit of vengeance, set in motion after the killers visit the family’s farmhouse. Starring frequent Bergman collaborator and screen icon Max von Sydow, the film is both beautiful and cruel in its depiction of a world teetering between paganism and Christianity.”