For those of you who come to The Mookse and the Gripes strictly for books, don’t worry — there will be book reviews posted this week. That said, this is going to be a film heavy week for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s the Criterion Blogathon, and I signed up for two posts (one for Brief Encounter, already posted here, and one for Mr. Thank You, coming later this week); and 2) there are many new releases I’m covering, including The Apu Trilogy, In Cold Blood, and Faust.

So I figured why not also post on what The Criterion Collection is releasing next February, since they announced those today and they’ve definitely given us stuff to keep celebrating (though, strangely, a second month in a row with no upgrades from old DVD releases). The blurbs are from The Criterion Collection’s website (so are the links) — go there to see the details on the supplements.


The Emigrants CoverFebruary 9, 2016

The Emigrants (1971)
The New Land (1972)
d. Jan Troell

First up, we have a two-disc Blu-ray box set with two long-rumored and anticipated titles from Jan Troell. This past July, Criterion released Troell’s debut Here Is Your Life (my thoughts here). I have never seen these, but I’m very excited to see more Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann.

From The Criterion Collection:

This monumental mid-nineteenth-century epic from Jan Troell (Here Is Your Life) charts, over the course of two films, a poor Swedish farming family’s voyage to America and their efforts to put down roots in this beautiful but forbidding new world. Movie legends Max Von Sydow (The Seventh Seal) and Liv Ullmann (Persona) give remarkably authentic performances as Karl-Oskar and Kristina, a couple who meet with one physical and emotional trial after another on their arduous journey. The precise, minute detail with which Troell depicts the couple’s story — which is also the story of countless other people who sought better lives across the Atlantic — is a wonder to behold. Engrossing every step of the way, the duo of The Emigrants and The New Land makes for perhaps the greatest screen drama about the settling of America.


The KidFebruary 16, 2016

The Kid (1921)
d. Charles Chaplin

How wonderful to get more Charlie Chaplin out on Blu-ray! This month we are getting Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies from Flicker Alley, earlier this year we got Limelight from Criterion. They are treating his work well, and it will be wonderful to see Chaplin and Coogan in high definition with this new 4K digital restoration of the 1972 rerelease. You will also be able to watch Nice and Friendly from 1922, featuring Chaplin and Coogan.

From The Criterion Collection:

Charlie Chaplin was already an international star when he decided to break out of the short-film format and make his first full-length feature. The Kid doesn’t merely show Chaplin at a turning point, when he proved that he was a serious film director — it remains an expressive masterwork of silent cinema. In it, he stars as his lovable Tramp character, this time raising an orphan (a remarkable young Jackie Coogan) he has rescued from the streets. Chaplin and Coogan make a miraculous pair in this nimble marriage of sentiment and slapstick, a film that is, as its opening title card states, “a picture with a smile — and perhaps, a tear.”


Death by HangingFebruary 16, 2016

Death by Hanging (1968)
d. Nagisa Oshima

Most of my experience with Japanese cinema has come from The Criterion Collection, which has released a lot of it. For whatever reason, though, the last couple of years have seen fewer releases of Japanese films, which is unfortunate since it is such a rich tradition and Criterion has the rights to many that remain unreleased. I’m very excited that we are getting more this month, and more Oshima at that.

From The Criterion Collection:

Genius provocateur Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses), an influential figure in the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, made one of his most startling political statements with the compelling pitch-black satire Death by Hanging. In this macabre farce, a Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next. At once disturbing and oddly amusing, Oshima’s constantly surprising film is a subversive and surreal indictment of both capital punishment and the treatment of Korean immigrants in his country.


I Knew Her WellFebruary 23, 2016

I Knew Her Well (1965)
d. Antonio Pietrangeli

I am completely unfamiliar with this film, other than hearing a few people speak highly of it. Italian cinema from the 1960s is another cinematic tradition treated well by The Criterion Collection in years past that seemed to be falling by the wayside until recently. This looks excellent!

From The Criterion Collection:

This prismatic portrait of the days and nights of a party girl in sixties Rome is a revelation. On the surface, I Knew Her Well, directed by Antonio Pietrangeli, plays like an inversion of La dolce vita with a woman at its center, following the gorgeous, seemingly liberated Adriana (Divorce Italian Style’s Stefania Sandrelli) as she dallies with a wide variety of men, attends parties, goes to modeling gigs, and circulates among the rich and famous. Despite its often light tone, though, the film is a stealth portrait of a suffocating culture that regularly dehumanizes people, especially women. A seriocomic character study that never strays from its complicated central figure while keeping us at an emotional remove, I Knew Her Well is one of the most overlooked films of the sixties, by turns hilarious, tragic, and altogether jaw-dropping.


The GraduateFebruary 23, 2016

The Graduate (1967)
d. Mike Nichols

For spine #800, The Criterion Collection is releasing an American classic with a new 4K digital restoration. It has been years — something like 15 — since I last watched this film, and I’m really looking forward to revisiting it with the supplements in this new edition.

From The Criterion Collection:

One of the most beloved American films of all time, The Graduate earned Mike Nichols a best director Oscar, brought the music of Simon & Garfunkel to a wider audience, and introduced the world to a young actor named Dustin Hoffman. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just finished college and is already lost in a sea of confusion and barely contained angst when he becomes sexually involved with the middle-aged mother (Anne Bancroft) of the young woman he’s dating (Katharine Ross). Visually imaginative and impeccably acted, with a clever, endlessly quotable script by Buck Henry (based on the novel by Charles Webb), The Graduate had the kind of cultural impact that comes along only once in a generation.

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