The Criterion Collection has announced its releases for July 2018, which includes five new releases, one of which is a six-film box set!

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

July 3, 2018

Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood
Morocco (1930)
Dishonored (1931)
Shanghai Express (1932)
Blonde Venus (1932)
The Scarlet Empress (1934)
The Devil Is a Woman (1935)

What a fantastic, major release! Criterion had released The Scarlet Empress on DVD years and years ago, and we were expecting that to get an upgrade, but to also get a large box set with all six of von Sternberg and Dietrich’s Hollywood films is special news.

From The Criterion Collection:

Tasked by studio executives with finding the next great screen siren, visionary Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg joined forces with rising German actor Marlene Dietrich, kicking off what would become one of the most legendary partnerships in cinema history. Over the course of six films produced by Paramount in the 1930s, the pair refined their shared fantasy of pleasure, beauty, and excess. Dietrich’s coolly transgressive mystique was a perfect match for the provocative roles von Sternberg cast her in—including a sultry chanteuse, a cunning spy, and the hedonistic Catherine the Great—and the filmmaker captured her allure with chiaroscuro lighting and opulent design, conjuring fever-dream visions of exotic settings from Morocco to Shanghai. Suffused with frank sexuality and worldly irony, these deliriously entertaining masterpieces are landmarks of cinematic artifice.

July 10, 2018

Dragon Inn (1967)
d. King Hu

Two years ago in July Criterion released King Hu’s landmark film A Touch of Zen (which I reviewed here). It seemed likely they’d release the follow-up, Dragon Inn, at the same time — we even had the artwork already — but that didn’t happen. It became stranger as the years past, but here we are . . . finally!

From The Criterion Collection:

The art of martial-arts filmmaking took a leap into bold new territory with this action-packed tale of Ming-dynasty intrigue. After having the emperor’s minister of defense executed, a power-grabbing eunuch sends assassins to trail the victim’s children to a remote point on the northern Chinese border. But that bloodthirsty mission is confounded by a mysterious group of fighters who arrive on the scene, intent on delivering justice and defending the innocent. The first film King Hu made after moving to Taiwan from Hong Kong in search of more creative freedom, Dragon Inn combines rhythmic editing, meticulous choreography, and gorgeous widescreen compositions with a refinement that was new to the wuxia genre. Its blockbuster success breathed new life into a classic formula and established Hu as one of Chinese cinema’s most audacious innovators.

July 10, 2018

Bull Durham (1988)
d. Ron Shelton

I haven’t seen Bull Durham for a long time. I liked the film quite a bit in the day, and I’m surprised to see some scoff that it’s getting a Criterion Collection release. I’m excited to see it again, though.

From The Criterion Collection:

Former minor leaguer Ron Shelton hit a grand slam with his directorial debut, one of the most revered sports movies of all time. Durham Bulls devotee Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon)—who every year takes a new player under her wing (and into her bed)—has singled out the loose-cannon pitching prospect Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), a big-league talent with a rock-bottom maturity level. But she’s unable to shake Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), the veteran catcher brought in to give Nuke some on-the-field seasoning. A breakthrough film for all three of its stars and an Oscar nominee for Shelton’s highly quotable screenplay, Bull Durham is a freewheeling hymn to wisdom, experience, and America’s pastime, tipping its cap to all those who grind it out for love of the game.

July 17, 2018

sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
d. Steven Soderbergh

I’ve never seen sex, lies, and videotape, but I remember seeing the cassette for rent when I was too young to rent it. From what I’ve heard since then, while it’s provocative it probably isn’t as scandalous as I imagined it to be. Am I wrong?

From The Criterion Collection:

With his provocative feature debut, twenty-six-year-old Steven Soderbergh trained his focus on the complexities of human intimacy and deception in the modern age. Housewife Ann (Andie MacDowell) feels distant from her lawyer husband, John (Peter Gallagher), who is sleeping with her sister (Laura San Giacomo). When John’s old friend Graham (a magnetic, Cannes-award-winning James Spader) comes to town, Ann is drawn to the soft-spoken outsider, eventually uncovering his startling private obsession: videotaping women as they confess their deepest desires. A piercingly intelligent and flawlessly performed chamber piece, in which the video camera becomes a charged metaphor for the characters’ isolation, the Palme d’Or–winning sex, lies, and videotape changed the landscape of American film, helping pave the way for the thriving independent scene of the 1990s.

July 24, 2018

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
d. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

Criterion begins and ends the month with a bang. Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death is a masterpiece among even their great masterpieces. It’s fun and beautifully shot, and I cannot wait to see what this release has in store.

From The Criterion Collection:

After miraculously surviving a jump from his burning plane, RAF pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) encounters the American radio operator (Kim Hunter) to whom he’s just delivered his dying wishes and, face-to-face on a tranquil English beach, the pair fall in love. When a messenger from the afterlife arrives to correct the clerical error that spared his life, Peter must mount a fierce defense for his right to stay on earth—painted by production designer Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff as a rich Technicolor Eden—climbing a wide staircase to stand trial in a starkly beautiful, black-and-white modernist heaven. Peppered by humorous jabs intended to smooth tensions between the wartime allies Britain and America, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s richly humanistic A Matter of Life and Death traverses time and space to make a case for the transcendent value of love.

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