Whit Stillman and Oscar Snub ‘Phoenix’ Coming to Criterion Collection This April

Whit Stillman and Oscar Snub 'Phoenix' Coming to Criterion Collection This April
Whit Stillman and Oscar Snub 'Phoenix' Coming Criterion Collection This April

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Christian Petzold’s “Phoenix” earned some of last year’s highest critical accolades when it opened over the summer, and it appears the Criterion Collection took notice, as it is bringing the German psycho-drama to its library this April. 

Petzold’s film will be joining classics from Whit Stillman, Howard Hawkes, Richard Drew and more. 

Check out all of the titles hitting Criterion this April below, with synopses and special addition information provided by the collection.

“Only Angles Have Wings”
Electrified by the verbal wit and visual craftsmanship of the great Howard Hawks, “Only Angels Have Wings” stars Jean Arthur as a traveling entertainer who gets more than she bargained for during a stopover in a South American port town. There she meets a handsome yet aloof daredevil pilot, played by Cary Grant, who runs an airmail company, staring down death while servicing towns in treacherous mountain terrain. Both attracted to and repelled by his romantic sense of danger, she decides to stay on, despite his protestations. This masterful and mysterious adventure, featuring Oscar-nominated special effects, high-wire aerial photography, and Rita Hayworth in a small but breakout role, explores Hawks’s recurring themes of masculine codes and the strong-willed women who question them. Special features include a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, and audio excerpts from a 1972 conversation between filmmakers Howard Hawks and Peter Bogdanovich.

Whit Stillman followed his delightful indie breakthrough Metropolitan with another clever and garrulous comedy of manners, this one with a darker edge. A pair of preppy yet constitutionally mismatched American cousins—a salesman and a navy officer—argue about romance and politics while working in the beautiful Spanish city of the film’s title. Set during the eighties, Barcelona explores topics both heady (American exceptionalism, Cold War foreign policy) and hilarious (the ins and outs of international dating, the proper shaving method) while remaining a constantly witty delight, featuring a sharp young cast that includes Taylor Nichols, Chris Eigeman, and Mira Sorvino. Special features include deleted scenes and an alternate ending, with commentary by Stillman, Eigeman, and Nichols, and audio commentary from 2002 featuring Stillman and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols.

A Whit Stillman Trilogy: “Metropolitan,” “Barcelona,” “The Days of Disco”
Over the course of the 1990s, writer-director Whit Stillman made a trilogy of films about the acid tongues and broken hearts of some haplessly erudite young Americans in New York and abroad. Set in the eighties, these films would trace the arc of that decade, led by Stillman’s Oscar-nominated debut, Metropolitan, which introduced moviegoers to a strange, endangered species of privileged New Yorker dubbed the “urban haute bourgeoisie.”

“Brief Encounter” 
After a chance meeting on a train platform, a married doctor and a suburban housewife begin a muted but passionate, and ultimately doomed, love affair. With its evocatively fog-enshrouded setting, swooning Rachmaninoff score, and pair of remarkable performances, this film, directed by David Lean and based on Noël Coward’s play Still Life, deftly explores the thrill, pain, and tenderness of an illicit romance, and has influenced many a cinematic brief encounter since its release. Special features include a short documentary from 2000 on the making of the film and a 1971 television documentary on Lean’s career.

This evocative and haunting drama, set in a rubble-strewn Berlin in 1945, is like no other film about post–World War II Jewish identity. After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer (Nina Hoss), her face disfigured and reconstructed, returns to her war-ravaged hometown to seek out the gentile husband who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Without recognizing her, he enlists her to play his wife in a bizarre hall-of-shattered-mirrors story that’s as richly metaphorical as it is preposterously engrossing. Revenge film or tale of romantic reconciliation? One doesn’t know until the superb closing scene of this marvel from Christian Petzold, perhaps the most important figure in contemporary German cinema. Special features include conversations with Petzold, Hoss and cinematographer Hans Fromm.

The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates
Seeking to invigorate the American documentary format, which he felt was rote and uninspired, Robert Drew brought the style and vibrancy he had fostered as a Life magazine correspondent to filmmaking in the late fifties. He did this by assembling an amazing team—including such eventual nonfiction luminaries as Richard Leacock, D. A. Pennebaker, and Albert Maysles—that would transform documentary cinema. In 1960, the group was granted direct access to John F. Kennedy, filming him on the campaign trail and eventually in the Oval Office. This resulted in three films of remarkable, behind-closed-doors intimacy—”Primary,” “Adventures on the New Frontier,” and “Crisis”—and, following the president’s assassination, the poetic short “Faces of November.” Collected here are all four of these titles, early exemplars of the movement known as Direct Cinema and featuring the greatest close-up footage we have of this American icon.

READ MORE: The Coen Brothers (Finally) Join the Criterion Collection This January

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