Today The Criterion Collection announced their February 2017 line-up. On the docket we have yet another release anticipated by the internet forums for some time as well as a classic Hollywood release highly anticipated by me (though again no upgrades of DVD-only titles).

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


February 7, 2017

Cameraperson (2016)
d. Kirsten Johnson

From The Criterion Collection:

A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home with the director: Kirsten Johnson weaves these scenes and others into her film Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage captured over her twenty-five-year career as a documentary cinematographer. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality with crafted narrative. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world.


February 14, 2017

The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)
d. Ermanno Olmi

This was actually supposed to come out a few months ago, but delays forced it to next February . . . I hope!

From The Criterion Collection:

A painterly and sensual immersion in late nineteenth-century Italian farm life, The Tree of Wooden Clogs by Ermanno Olmi lovingly focuses on four families working for one landowner on an isolated estate in the province of Bergamo. Filming on an abandoned farm for four months, Olmi adapted neorealist techniques to tell his story, enlisting local people to live as their own ancestors had, speaking in their native dialect on locations with which they were intimately familiar. Through the cycle of seasons, of backbreaking labor, love and marriage, birth and death, faith and superstition, Olmi naturalistically evokes an existence very close to nature, one that celebrates its beauty, humor, and simplicity but also acknowledges the feudal cruelty that governs it. Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978, The Tree of Wooden Clogs is intimate in scale but epic in scope—a towering, heart-stirring work of humanist filmmaking.


February 21, 2017

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
d. Pedro Almodóvar

From The Criterion Collection:

Pedro Almodóvar makes telephones, a mambo taxi, and a burning mattress into delirious plot points and indelible images in his international breakthrough, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Melding melodrama with screwball farce, this Academy Award–nominated black comedy secured the auteur’s place at the vanguard of modern Spanish cinema. Continuing Almodóvar’s exploration of the female psyche, the film tells the story of Pepa, an actor—played by the director’s frequent collaborator Carmen Maura—who resolves to kill herself with a batch of sleeping-pill-laced gazpacho after her lover leaves her. Fortunately, she is interrupted by a string of visitors, setting in motion a deliciously chaotic series of events. The filmmaker channeled inspiration by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Douglas Sirk into his own unique vision, arriving at the irreverent sense of humor and vibrant visual sense that define his work today. With a sensational ensemble cast of early Almodóvar regulars that also includes Antonio Banderas and Rossy de Palma, this film shows an artist in total control of his craft.


February 21, 2017

Mildred Pierce (1945)
d. Michael Curtiz

This is the title I’m most anticipating! For one thing, I think this is Joan Crawford’s first film to arrive in The Criterion Collection. For another, this is a wonderful film!

From The Criterion Collection:

Melodrama casts noirish shadows in this portrait of maternal sacrifice from the Hollywood master Michael Curtiz. Its iconic performance by Joan Crawford as Mildred, a single mother hell-bent on freeing her children from the stigma of economic hardship, solidified Crawford’s career comeback and gave the actor her only Oscar. But as Mildred pulls herself up by the bootstraps, first as an unflappable waitress and eventually as the well-heeled owner of a successful restaurant chain, the ingratitude of her materialistic firstborn (a diabolical Ann Blyth) becomes a venomous serpent’s tooth, setting in motion an endless cycle of desperate overtures and heartless recriminations. Recasting James M. Cain’s rich psychological novel as a murder mystery, this bitter cocktail of blind parental love and all-American ambition is both unremittingly hard-boiled and sumptuously emotional.


February 28, 2017

The Before Trilogy
-Before Sunrise 
(1995)
Before Sunset (2004)
Before Midnight (2013)
d. Richard Linklater

And this is the title — well, titles — most of the internet has been clamoring for — and I’m thrilled to see it too! There’s no cover art available yet, but I can’t wait to see what they’ve got up their sleeve.

From The Criterion Collection:

The cornerstone of the career-long exploration of cinematic time by director Richard Linklater, this celebrated three-part romance captures a relationship as it begins, begins again, deepens, strains, and settles over the course of almost two decades. Chronicling the love of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), from their first meeting as idealistic twentysomethings to the disillusionment they face together in middle age, The Before Trilogy also serves as a document of a boundary-pushing and extraordinarily intimate collaboration between director and actors, as Delpy and Hawke, who cowrote two of the films, imbue their characters with a sense of raw, lived-in experience, and as they age on-screen along with them. Attuned to the sweeping grandeur of time’s passage as well as the evanescence of individual moments, the Before films chart the progress of romantic destiny as it navigates the vicissitudes of ordinary life.

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