2016 is turning out to be a fine year for film releases from the Criterion Collection, as they have yet again delivered the goods for the month of April. Now, this might not be as exciting of a month as the previous three, mainly because I have yet to see any of the Whit Stillman films, but it is still full of great releases. The biggest release looks to be the Kennedy documentaries form Robert Drew. The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates, were a series of documentaries made by Life magazine correspondent Robert Drew that documented JFK and his political rise to the presidency. Drew worked with an amazingly talented group of young filmmakers — Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles — in the fifties that documented John F. Kennedy and his work on the campaign trail and in the Oval Office. The set includes: Primary (1960); Adventures on the New Frontier (1961); Crisis (1963); and Faces of November (1964). This looks really interesting and any Kennedy aficionado, or lover of these great documentarians, might thoroughly enjoy this new wave of documentary filmmaking. The set will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on April 26th.
The Collection is also releasing two classics, one new title and one upgrade. The first is Howard Hawks’s Only Angels Have Wings (1939), starring Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. This is my most anticipated release for this month, and, regretfully, a Hawks film I have yet to see. The film follows Arthur as an entertainer, who stops over in a South American port town where she meets a daredevil pilot played by Grant. Only Angels Have Wings will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on April 12th. The upgraded title is David Lean’s masterpiece, Brief Encounter (1945), starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. The two meet and a have a passionate affair, but Lean delivers such heart, honesty and the thrill of romance throughout this brilliant film. Brief Encounter will be released on Blu-ray on April 26th.
Then we get Chritian Petzold’s masterful and compelling World War II drama, Phoenix (2014), which contains an absolutely breathtaking performance from Nina Hoss. Petzold is the major voice of contemporary German cinema right now and supplanted is place as one of the great young directors in world cinema with this film of Jewish identity and revenge. I just saw this on Netflix and was thoroughly impressed. Phoenix will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on April 26th, and it might be my favorite cover of 2016 so far.
Finally, we get Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (1994), the third film from the nineties indie darling that will be in the collection. Metropolitan (1990) and The Last Days of Disco (1998), will also be added to abox set release titled “A Whit Stillman Trilogy.” I have yet to see any of his films and need to change that, as I do love my nineties indie cinema. The box set and a stand alone release of Barcelona will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on April 19th. Enjoy!!