For the second month in a row Criterion announced a special boxset a few days before the full slate of announcements; as I posted here, they announced a massive set The Complete Films of Agnes Varda. Today they supplemented with four more August releases. We are getting one upgrade, one documentary, and films from Paul Schrader and, most exciting to me, Jean Renoir!

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


August 4, 2020

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975)
d. Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta

From The Criterion Collection:

When a young woman spends the night with an alleged terrorist, her quiet, ordered life falls into ruins. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum portrays an anxious era in West Germany amid a crumbling postwar political consensus. Katharina, though apparently innocent, suddenly becomes a suspect, falling prey to a vicious smear campaign by the police and a ruthless tabloid journalist that tests the limits of her dignity and her sanity. Crafting one of the most accessible and direct works of 1970s political filmmaking, Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta deliver a powerful adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s novel, a stinging commentary on state power, individual freedom, and media manipulation that is as relevant today as when it was released.


August 18, 2020

Town Bloody Hall (1979)
d. Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

From The Criterion Collection:

On April 30, 1971, a standing-room-only crowd of New York’s intellectual elite packed the city’s Town Hall theater to see Norman Mailer—fresh from the controversy over his essay “The Prisoner of Sex” and the backlash it received from leaders of the women’s movement—tangle with a panel of four prominent female thinkers and activists: Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, and Diana Trilling. Part intellectual death match, part three-ring circus, the proceedings were captured with crackling, fly-on-the-wall immediacy by the documentary great D. A. Pennebaker and a small crew, with Chris Hegedus later condensing the three-and-a-half-hour affair into this briskly entertaining snapshot of a singular cultural moment. Heady, heated, and hilarious, Town Bloody Hall is a dazzling display of feminist firepower courtesy of some of the most influential figures of the era, with Mailer plainly relishing his role as the pugnacious rabble-rouser and literary lion at the center of it all.


August 18, 2020

The Comfort of Strangers (1990)
d. Paul Schrader

From The Criterion Collection:

Adapting the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter lends his trademark unnerving dialogue and air of creeping menace to this spellbinding study of power, control, and the frighteningly thin line between pleasure and pain. Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson are the prey, a beautiful British couple working on their relationship while on holiday in Venice; Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren are the hunters who draw them into the sinister web of their opulent, old-world palazzo. What plays out is an unsettling, sadomasochistic seduction imbued with an atmosphere of sumptuous dread by the elegantly gliding tracking shots of cinematographer Dante Spinotti, lush score by Angelo Badalamenti, and carefully controlled direction of Paul Schrader, who choreographs a mesmerizing pas de quatre of sustained erotic and emotional tension.


August 25, 2020

Toni (1935)
d. Jean Renoir

From The Criterion Collection:

In 1934, Jean Renoir stepped off the soundstage and headed to the South of France, where he captured vivid human drama amid the bucolic splendor and everyday social rituals of the countryside. Based on a true story and set in a community of immigrants living, working, and loving on the margins of French society, Toni follows the eponymous Italian migrant (Charles Blavette), whose tempestuous affairs with two women—the faithful Marie (Jenny Hélia) and the flirtatious Josefa (Celia Montalván)—unleash a wave of tragedy. Making use of nonprofessional actors, on-location shooting, and the resources of the great Marcel Pagnol’s Provence studio, Renoir crafts a marvel of poetic feeling that became a precursor to Italian neorealism and a favorite of the directors of the French New Wave.

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