The Criterion Collection has announced its releases for July 2019. This is usually the month when Barnes and Noble does a 50% off sale, so it’s always fun to see what new releases will entice us into the store — there are some good ones, including a few from directors I can’t get enough of, like Fassbinder and Pagnol. Speaking of Fassbinder, it seems it’s been a decade or so of clamoring for an upgrade to The BRD Trilogy (I don’t think I’m exaggerating), and it’s finally here. And speaking of upgrades, it’s been about that long we’ve hoped for an upgrade of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. A good month that reminds us not to give up hope.

The blurbs are from The Criterion Collection’s website (so are the links) — go there to see the details on the supplements.


July 9, 2019

Europa Europa (1990)
-d. Agnieszka Holland

From The Criterion Collection:

As World War II splits Europe, sixteen-year-old German Jew Salomon (Marco Hofschneider) is separated from his family after fleeing with them to Poland, and finds himself reluctantly assuming various ideological identities in order to hide the deadly secret of his Jewishness. He is bounced from a Soviet orphanage, where he plays a dutiful Stalinist, to the Russian front, where he hides in plain sight as an interpreter for the German army, and back to his home country, where he takes on his most dangerous role: a member of the Hitler Youth. Based on the real-life experiences of Salomon Perel, Agnieszka Holland’s wartime tour de force Europa Europa is a breathless survival story told with the verve of a comic adventure, an ironic refutation of the Nazi idea of racial purity, and a complex portrait of a young man caught up in shifting historical calamities and struggling to stay alive.


July 9, 2019

The BRD Trilogy
d. Rainer Werner Fassbinder
The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979)
Veronika Voss (1982)
Lola (1981)

From The Criterion Collection:

In 1977, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was thirty-two years old and had already directed more than twenty-five feature films. That summer, he embarked on a project to trace the postwar history of West Germany in a series of films told from the perspectives of three remarkable women. Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun,Veronika Voss, and LolaThe BRD Trilogy—would garner him his greatest commercial success, both at home and abroad, and cement his position as one of the foremost figures of the New German Cinema.


July 16, 2019

Klute (1971)
d. Alan J. Pakula

From The Criterion Collection:

With her Oscar-winning turn in Klute, Jane Fonda arrived full-fledged as a new kind of movie star. Bringing nervy audacity and counterculture style to the role of Bree Daniels—a call girl and aspiring actor who becomes the focal point of a missing-person investigation when detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) turns up at her door—Fonda made the film her own, putting an independent woman and escort on-screen with a frankness that had not yet been attempted in Hollywood. Suffused with paranoia by the conspiracy-thriller specialist Alan J. Pakula, and lensed by master cinematographer Gordon Willis, Klute is a character study thick with dread, capturing the mood of early-1970s New York and the predicament of a woman trying to find her own way on the fringes of society.


July 16, 2019

The Baker’s Wife (1938)
d. Marcel Pagnol

From The Criterion Collection:

The warmth and wit of celebrated playwright turned cinema auteur Marcel Pagnol shine in this enchanting slice-of-life comedy. Returning to the Provençal countryside he knew intimately, Pagnol draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (the inimitable Raimu, praised by no less than Orson Welles as “the greatest actor who ever lived”) snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. Marrying the director’s abiding concern for the experiences of ordinary people with an understated but superbly judged visual style, The Baker’s Wife is at once wonderfully droll and piercingly perceptive in its depiction of the complexities of human relationships.


July 23, 2019

1984 (1984)
d. Michael Radford

From The Criterion Collection:

This masterly adaptation of George Orwell’s chilling parable about totalitarian oppression gives harrowing cinematic expression to the book’s bleak prophetic vision. In a rubble-strewn surveillance state where an endless overseas war props up the repressive regime of the all-seeing Big Brother, and all dissent is promptly squashed, a profoundly alienated citizen, Winston Smith (thrillingly played by John Hurt), risks everything for an illicit affair with the rebellious Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) in a defiant assertion of humanity in the face of soul-crushing conformity. Through vividly grim production design and expressionistically desaturated cinematography by Roger Deakins, Michael Radford’s 1984 conjures a dystopian vision of postwar Britain as fascistic nightmare—a world all too recognizable as our own.


July 23, 2019

Do the Right Thing (1989)
d. Spike Lee

From The Criterion Collection:

Set on one block of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy Do or Die neighborhood, at the height of summer, this 1989 masterpiece by Spike Lee confirmed him as a writer and filmmaker of peerless vision and passionate social engagement. Over the course of a single day, the easygoing interactions of a cast of unforgettable characters—Da Mayor, Mother Sister, Mister Señor Love Daddy, Tina, Sweet Dick Willie, Buggin Out, Radio Raheem, Sal, Pino, Vito, and Lee’s Mookie among them—give way to heated confrontations as tensions rise along racial fault lines, ultimately exploding into violence. Punctuated by the anthemic refrain of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” Do the Right Thing is a landmark in American cinema, as politically and emotionally charged and as relevant now as when it first hit the big screen.

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