Yesterday The Criterion Collection announced their March 2020 titles (six!), and I’m pretty excited about them. I haven’t seen the noir on the list, so that’s the one I’m particularly anxious about, but it’s great to see another Spike Lee joint get in the collection!

As always, I hope you find something you’ll enjoy!

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


March 10, 2020

Salesman (1969)
d. David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin

From The Criterion Collection:

This radically influential portrait of American dreams and disillusionment from Direct Cinema pioneers David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin captures, with indelible humanity, the worlds of four dogged door-to-door Bible salesmen as they travel from Boston to Florida on a seemingly futile quest to sell luxury editions of the Good Book to working-class Catholics. A vivid evocation of midcentury malaise that unfolds against a backdrop of cheap motels, smoky diners, and suburban living rooms, Salesman assumes poignant dimensions as it uncovers the way its subjects’ fast-talking bravado masks frustration, disappointment, and despair. Revolutionizing the art of nonfiction storytelling with its nonjudgmental, observational style, this landmark documentary is one of the most penetrating films ever made about how deeply embedded consumerism is in America’s sense of its own values.


March 17, 2020

Bamboozled (2000)
d. Spike Lee

From The Criterion Collection:

With this blisteringly funny, unapologetically confrontational satire, writer-director Spike Lee examined the past, present, and future of racism in American popular culture, issuing a daring provocation to creators and consumers alike. Under pressure to help revive his network’s low ratings, television writer Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) hits on an explosively offensive idea: bringing back blackface for a “new-millennium minstrel show.” The white network executives love it, and so do audiences, forcing Pierre and his collaborators to confront their public’s insatiable appetite for dehumanizing stereotypes. Shot primarily on unvarnished digital video and boasting spot-on performances from Savion Glover, Tommy Davidson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Rapaport, Mos Def, and Paul Mooney, Bamboozled is a stinging indictment of mass entertainment at the turn of the twenty-first century that looks more damning with each passing year.


March 24, 2020

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
d. John M. Stahl

From The Criterion Collection:

Novelist Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) seems to have found the perfect woman in Ellen (Gene Tierney), a beautiful socialite who initiates a whirlwind romance and steers him into marriage before he can think twice. Yet the glassy surface of Ellen’s devotion soon reveals monstrous depths, as Richard comes to realize that his wife is shockingly possessive and may be capable of destroying anyone who comes between them. A singular Hollywood masterpiece that draws freely from the women’s picture and film noir alike, Leave Her to Heaven boasts elegant direction by melodrama specialist John M. Stahl, blazing Technicolor cinematography by Leon Shamroy, and a chilling performance by Tierney, whose Ellen is a femme fatale unlike any other: a woman whose love is as pure as it is poisonous.


March 24, 2020

The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
d. Mikhail Kalatozov

From The Criterion Collection:

This landmark film by the virtuosic Mikhail Kalatozov was heralded as a revelation in the post-Stalin Soviet Union and the international cinema community alike. It tells the story of Veronica and Boris, a couple who are blissfully in love until the eruption of World War II tears them apart. With Boris at the front, Veronica must try to ward off spiritual numbness and defend herself from the increasingly forceful advances of her beau’s draft-dodging cousin. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, The Cranes Are Flying is a superbly crafted drama with impassioned performances and viscerally emotional, gravity-defying cinematography by Kalatozov’s regular collaborator Sergei Urusevsky.


March 31, 2020

Show Boat (1936)
d. James Whale

From The Criterion Collection:

Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s immortal musical adaptation of Edna Ferber’s sprawling novel receives its most faithful and enduring cinematic adaptation under the elegant direction of James Whale. A rich portrait of changing American entertainment traditions and race relations, Show Boat spans four decades and three generations as it follows the fortunes of the stage-struck Magnolia (Irene Dunne), an aspiring actor whose journey takes her from her family’s humble floating playhouse in the 1880s South to the height of fame in the 1930s North. The cast of show-business legends includes Helen Morgan, Hattie McDaniel, Charles Winninger, and the great Paul Robeson, whose iconic, soul-shaking rendition of “Ol’ Man River” is one of the crowning glories of the American stage and screen.


March 31, 2020

The Prince of Tides (1991)
d. Barbara Streisand

From The Criterion Collection:

For her acclaimed second feature as a director, Barbra Streisand crafted a sumptuous, emotionally wrenching adaptation of Pat Conroy’s best-selling novel—which she also produced and starred in. Summoned to New York after his sister attempts suicide, Tom Wingo (Nick Nolte) must serve as her memory, reckoning with the traumas of their southern childhood so that her psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Lowenstein (Streisand), can help her recover. But Tom’s sessions with Lowenstein will plunge him into the depths of his own long-repressed pain—and reawaken the possibility of love within him. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor for Nolte’s soulful performance, The Prince of Tides is a life-affirming tale of healing and renewal from a triple-threat filmmaker with a keen and humane insight into her characters’ sorrows, joys, and yearnings.

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