March (and February) Titles from the Criterion Collection

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Man, the Criterion Collection has started next year off with a bang. The first three months of 2016 are loaded with great titles and March is looking fantastic. The biggest release, at least in my mind, is the first upgrade for the new year and one of the finest films in all of cinema, Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948). One of the finest pieces of Italian Neorealism of the late 1940s, it is one of the most important films and is both touching and honest in its depiction of Italy after the horrifying brutalities of World War II. De Sica, as well as Roberto Rossellini, depicted Italy as it was and balanced that brutal honesty with passionate emotion. Bicycle Thieves will be released on Blu-ray on March 29th.

So, yes, that is a huge release and one many Criterion fans have been dying to see upgraded — I personally cannot wait until Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1957) receives the upgrade treatment — but a film that has been hard as hell to get and one that is justly receiving a stand alone release is Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day (1991). Talk about excitement for film lovers everywhere and a release that has occupied a many Criterion blogs for quite some time, this is a film I am dying to see, especially after seeing Yang’s brilliant Yi Yi (2000). A Brighter Summer Day was picked up by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project and restored with care, and now Criterion is giving it a proper release.  Yang’s Taiwanese masterpiece will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on March 22nd.

The other three releases for the month of March are equally impressive. First, we get the first film in the collection from famed French director and critic Jacques Rivette, Paris Belongs to Us (1961). Yes, another director/film that the blogosphere has been dying to see added to the collection. I have not seen a Rivette film before and I am really looking forward to seeing this film which follows a young French student during the early 60s in Paris. Paris Belongs to Us will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on March 8th. Secondly, John Frankenheimer’s classic, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), is added to the collection. A classic paranoia thriller-drama starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury. I have not seen this in a long time and cannot wait to dig back in to it. The Manchurian Candidate will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on March 15th. Finally, another Les Blank documentary, this time, maybe his best, A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974). The film follows legendary musician Leon Russell on stage and in the studio, and is a film that really exemplifies the masterful touch Blank had for the free-form documentary. A Poem Is a Naked Person will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on March 29th.

What a great month of titles. My wallet and account are already feeling light. That Barnes & Noble sale is going to be a big one next summer…if I can wait that long. Enjoy!

P.S.  I forgot to write a column on February’s releases last month, so here is a list of those titles. What a great month that is going to be as well!!!

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  • The Emigrants/The New Land (1971/1972)  release date 2.9.16
  • The Kid (1921)  release date 2.16.16
  • Death by Hanging (1968)  release date 2.16.16
  • The Graduate (1967)  release date 2.23.16
  • I Knew Her Well (1965)  release date 2.23.16

Photo credits by the Criterion Collection.

 

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