I’m always excited to see what Criterion is releasing, but some months really hit my sweet spot. Today, The Criterion Collection announced their February 2022 releases, and I’m excited for each and every one of them on this varied list. We have Leo McCarey in the 1930s, Douglas Sirk in the 1950s, and the Coen Brothers in the 1990s. I’m excited for each. But the one that really stands out as a must watch as soon as possible is Ann Hui’s 1982 film Boat People. It is on The Criterion Channel right now as well, so I may have to take this as a push to watch it there this very week.

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


February 1, 2022

Written on the Wind (1956)
d. Douglas Sirk

From The Criterion Collection:

Douglas Sirk’s Technicolor expressionism reached a fever pitch with this operatic tragedy, which finds the director pushing his florid visuals and his critiques of American culture to their subversive extremes. Alcoholism, nymphomania, impotence, and deadly jealousy—these are just some of the toxins coursing through a massively wealthy, degenerate Texan oil family. When a sensible secretary (Lauren Bacall) has the misfortune of marrying the clan’s neurotic scion (Robert Stack), it drives a wedge between him and his lifelong best friend (Rock Hudson) that unleashes a maelstrom of psychosexual angst and fury. Featuring an unforgettably debauched, Oscar-winning supporting performance by Dorothy Malone and some of Sirk’s most eye-popping mise-en-scène, Written on the Wind is as perverse a family portrait as has ever been splashed across the screen.


February 8, 2022

Miller’s Crossing (1990)
d. Joel and Ethan Coen

From The Criterion Collection:

A Roaring Twenties gangster saga that only the Coen brothers could concoct, Miller’s Crossing marries the hard-boiled sensibility of classic noir fiction with the filmmakers’ trademark savory dialogue, colorful characters, and finely calibrated set pieces. Gabriel Byrne brings a wry gravitas to the role of Tom Reagan, the quick-thinking right-hand man to a powerful crime boss (Albert Finney), whose unflappable cool is tested when he begins offering his services to a rival outfit—setting off a cascade of betrayals, reprisals, and increasingly berserk violence. The Hopperesque visuals of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, majestically elegiac score by Carter Burwell, and vivid supporting performances from John Turturro and Marcia Gay Harden come together in an intricately constructed slice of pulp perfection that crackles with sardonic wit while plumbing existential questions about free will and our own terrifying capacity for evil.


February 15, 2022

Love Affair (1939)
d. Leo McCarey

From The Criterion Collection:

Golden-age Hollywood’s humanist master Leo McCarey brings his graceful touch and relaxed naturalism to this sublime romance, one of cinema’s most intoxicating tear-wringers. Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer are chic strangers who meet and fall in love aboard an ocean liner bound for New York. Though they are both involved with other people, they make a pact to reconnect six months later at the top of the Empire State Building—until the hand of fate throws their star-crossed affair tragically off course. Swooning passion and gentle comedy coexist in perfect harmony in the exquisitely tender Love Affair (nominated for six Oscars), a story so timeless that it has been remade by multiple filmmakers over the years—including McCarey himself, who updated it as the equally beloved An Affair to Remember.


February 22, 2022

Boat People (1982)
d. Ann Hui

From The Criterion Collection:

One of the preeminent works of the Hong Kong New Wave, Boat People is a shattering look at the circumstances that drove hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees to flee their homeland in the wake of the Vietnam War, told through images of haunting, unforgettable power. Three years after the Communist takeover, a Japanese photojournalist (George Lam) travels to Vietnam to document the country’s seemingly triumphant rebirth. When he befriends a teenage girl (Season Ma) and her destitute family, however, he begins to discover what the government doesn’t want him to see: the brutal, often shocking reality of life in a country where political repression and poverty have forced many to resort to desperate measures in order to survive. Transcending polemic, renowned director Ann Hui takes a deeply humanistic approach to a harrowing and urgent subject with searing contemporary resonance.

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