After hearing what Criterion was releasing in January and February 2016 it was clear that they were off to a great start for the new year. Today they announced their March line-up, and it looks even better, with four new titles and one upgrade! Two of the titles have been sought after for as long as I can remember, and the upgrade has been expected for years.

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

Paris Belongs to Us CoverMarch 8, 2016

Since I started really following the online Criterion community I’ve been hearing the question: when are you going to give us Rivette. The answer is next March, when Criterion releases its first title by the director of the French New Wave. I’ve never seen it, and from what I’ve heard I’m not sure Rivette is up my street, but I’m very excited to try his work out!

Paris Belongs to Us (1961)
d. Jacques Rivette

From The Criterion Collection:

One of the original critics turned filmmakers who helped jump-start the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette began shooting his debut feature in 1957, well before that cinema revolution officially kicked off with The 400 Blows and Breathless. Ultimately released in 1961, the rich and mysterious Paris Belongs to Us offers some of the radical flavor that would define the movement, with a particularly Rivettian twist. The film follows a young literature student (Betty Schneider) who befriends the members of a loose-knit group of twentysomethings in Paris, united by the apparent suicide of an acquaintance. Suffused with a lingering post–World War II disillusionment while evincing a playful temperament, Rivette’s film marked the provocative start to a brilliant directorial career.

The Manchurian Candidate CoverMarch 15, 2016

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
d. John Frankenheimer

Recently we learned that Criterion was involved in restoring this classic Frankenheimer film. It’s a good one, though I haven’t seen it for fifteen years or so. It should be fun to revisit it with Criterion’s supplements!

From The Criterion Collection:

The name John Frankenheimer became forever synonymous with heart-in-the-throat filmmaking when this quintessential sixties political thriller was released. Set in the early fifties, this razor-sharp adaptation of the novel by Richard Condon concerns the decorated U.S. Army sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), who as a prisoner during the Korean War is brainwashed into being a sleeper assassin in a Communist conspiracy, and a fellow POW (Frank Sinatra) who slowly uncovers the sinister plot. In an unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performance, Angela Lansbury plays Raymond’s villainous mother, the controlling wife of a witch-hunting anti-Communist senator with his eyes on the White House. The rare film to be suffused with Cold War paranoia while also taking aim at the frenzy of the McCarthy era, The Manchurian Candidate remains potent, shocking American moviemaking.

A Brighter Summer Day CoverMarch 22, 2016

A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
d. Edward Yang

This is the one I’ve been waiting for the longest. Though I’ve had chances to see it in a terrible edition over the past few years, rumors Criterion was working on a restoration always led me to just wait so I could see this 237-minute film in the best edition possible. Criterion is not exaggerating in their first sentence below.

From The Criterion Collection:

Among the most praised and sought-after titles in all contemporary film, this singular masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema, directed by Edward Yang, finally comes to home video in the United States. Set in the early sixties in Taiwan, A Brighter Summer Day is based on the true story of a crime that rocked the nation. A film of both sprawling scope and tender intimacy, this novelistic, patiently observed epic centers on the gradual, inexorable fall of a young teenager (Chen Chang, in his first role) from innocence to juvenile delinquency, and is set against a simmering backdrop of restless youth, rock and roll, and political turmoil.

A Poem CoverMarch 29, 2016

A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974)
d. Les Blank

I love Les Blank’s work, and Criterions boxset from November of last year is one of my favorite releases (see my thoughts here). This is the first time this documentary is getting a release.

From The Criterion Collection:

Les Blank considered this free-form feature documentary about beloved singer-songwriter Leon Russell, filmed between 1972 and 1974, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. Yet it has not been released until now. Hired by Russell to film him at his recording studio in northeast Oklahoma, Blank ended up constructing a unique, intimate portrait of a musician and his environment. Made up of mesmerizing scenes of Russell and his band performing, both in concert and in the studio, as well as off-the-cuff moments behind the scenes, this singular film—which also features performances by Willie Nelson and George Jones—has attained legendary status over the years. It’s a work of rough beauty that serves as testament to Blank’s cinematic daring and Russell’s immense musical talents.

Bicycle Thieves CoverMarch 29, 2016

Bicycle Thieves (1948)
d. Vittorio De Sica

The lone upgrade of 2016 so far, Criterion has picked one we’ve been clamoring for for a long time! What will we talk about next when we talk about upgrades that should have happened by now?

From The Criterion Collection:

Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, the Academy Award–winning Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica, defined an era in cinema. In poverty-stricken postwar Rome, a man is on his first day of a new job that offers hope of salvation for his desperate family when his bicycle, which he needs for his work, is stolen. With his young son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. Simple in construction and profoundly rich in human insight, Bicycle Thieves embodies the greatest strengths of the Italian neorealist movement: emotional clarity, social rectitude, and brutal honesty.

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