The February Criterion Collection Lineup Has Arrived

Ah yes, it’s yet again the time of month when The Criterion Collection announces their upcoming set of releases. We all flock to check our funds and make sure we’ll have enough for our most desire and start savoring for those on our wish list. With films like City Lights and Frances Ha released this month, we now have Criterion’s picks for February. Here’s what they’ll be releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD. Get excited.

The colorful, electrifying romance that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm courageously dives into a young woman’s experiences of first love and sexual awakening. Blue Is the Warmest Color stars the remarkable newcomer Adèle Excharpoulos as a high schooler who, much to her own surprise, plunges into a thrilling relationship with a female twentysomething art student, played by Léa Seydoux. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, this finely detailed, intimate epic sensitively renders the erotic abandon of youth. It has captivated international audiences and been widely embraced as a defining love story for the new century. 
(See our interview with Excharpoulos HERE)

Blue Is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche

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Jules and Jim, Francois Truffaut

Hailed as one of the finest films ever made, Jules and Jim charts, over twenty-five years, the relationship between two friends and the object of their mutual obsession. The legendary François Truffaut directs, and Jeanne Moreau stars as the alluring and willful Catherine, whose enigmatic smile and passionate nature lure Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) into one of cinema’s most captivating romantic triangles. An exuberant and poignant meditation on freedom, loyalty, and the fortitude of love, Jules and Jim was a worldwide smash in 1962 and remains every bit as audacious and entrancing today.

Foreign Correspondent, Alfred Hitchcock

In 1940, Alfred Hitchcock made his official transition from the British film industry to Hollywood. And it was quite a year: his first two American movies,Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent, were both nominated for the best picture Oscar. Though Rebecca prevailed, Foreign Correspondent is the more quintessential Hitch film. A full-throttle espionage thriller, starring Joel McCrea as a green Yank reporter sent to Europe to get the scoop on the imminent war, it’s wall-to-wall witty repartee, head-spinning plot twists, and brilliantly mounted suspense set pieces, including an ocean plane crash climax with astonishing special effects. Foreign Correspondent deserves to be mentioned alongside The 39 Steps and North by Northwest as one of the master’s greatest adventures.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson Fantastic Mr. Fox is the story of a clever, quick, nimble, and exceptionally well-dressed wild animal. A compulsive chicken thief turned newspaper reporter, Mr. Fox settles down with his family at a new foxhole in a beautiful tree directly adjacent to three enormous poultry farms—owned by three ferociously vicious farmers: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Mr. Fox simply cannot resist. This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel from Wes Anderson is a meticulous work of stop-motion animation featuring vibrant performances by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Bill Murray.

King of the Hill, Steven Soderbergh For his first Hollywood studio production, Steven Soderbergh (whose independent debut, sex, lies, and videotape, had won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival a few years earlier) crafted this small jewel of a growing-up story. Set in St. Louis during the Depression, King of the Hill follows the daily struggles of a resourceful and imaginative adolescent (Jesse Bradford) who, after his tubercular mother is sent to a sanatorium, must survive on his own in a run-down hotel during his salesman father’s long business trips. This evocative period piece, faithfully adapted from the memoir by the novelist A. E. Hotchner, is among the ever versatile Soderbergh’s most touching and surprising films.

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Tess, Roman Polanski

This multiple-Oscar-winning film by Roman Polanski is an exquisite, richly layered adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. A strong-willed peasant girl (Nastassja Kinski, in a gorgeous breakthrough) is sent by her father to the estate of some local aristocrats to capitalize on a rumor that their families are from the same line. This fateful visit commences an epic narrative of sex, class, betrayal, and revenge, which Polanski unfolds with deliberation and finesse. With its earthy visual textures, achieved by two world-class cinematographers—Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquet—Tess is a work of great pastoral beauty as well as vivid storytelling.

Breathless, Jean-luc Godard

There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres that inspired him as a writer for Cahiers du cinéma. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Breathless helped launch the French New Wave and ensured that cinema would never be the same.

The February Criterion Collection Lineup Has Arrived – Movies – BlackBook.

Timeless Originals: This Week on Hulu

Jonathon Demme has said, "I don’t think it’s sacrilegious to remake any movie, including a good or even great movie." And he’s right, some films only grow with adaptation and allow for a new perspective on a world we already love. However, some fall flat and prove entirely unnecessary—like last year’s remake of Straw Dogs, for example. What was point of that film? There’s no way it could have even compared to the cinemaitc audacity and penetrating violence of the Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 original in its cultural context and the repercussions it faced with censorship of the time. However, it’s always interesting when a director remakes is own work, as Michael Haneke did with Funny Games in 2007. But it’s the original film that one should always watch first. And this week, Hulu and the Criterion Collection will be highlighting their favorite originals, all later adapted into other works. From Wim Wenders’ philosophical meditation on love, longing, and the desire for existence in 1980s Berlin with Wings of Desire (later to become City of Angels) to Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal 1960 nouvelle vague classic Breathless (needlessly remade in 1983 with Richard Gere), these originals will remind you what’s it’s like to witness a truly incredible film for the first time. 


Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, 1987


Anthony Asquith’s Pygmalion, 1938


Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, 1958


Peter Brook’s Lord of the Flies, 1963


Roger Vadim’s …And God Created Woman, 1956


Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de souffle (Breathless), 1960


George Sluizer’s The Vanishing, 1988

Iconic Images of the French New Wave

To coincide with the much-ballyhooed 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, the James Hyman Gallery in London is honoring one of the French New Wave’s most intimate chroniclers. Raymond Cauchetier spent nearly a decade working as an on-set photographer for the likes of Godard, Truffaut, Rivette, et al, and while his name might not be well-known, his images are some of the most familiar in film history.

A self-taught photographer, Cauchetier began taking pictures while serving in the air force in Indochina. Upon his return to France, he’d hoped to land work as a photojournalist, but when none was forthcoming he took a low-paying job from a first-time filmmaker. “Godard was very cold,” Cauchetier told the Guardian of his experience working on Breathless. “Nobody thought that the film would be presentable… And then the miracle happened. The rest is history.”

Cauchetier went on to document such seminal films as François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, Jacques Demy’s Lola, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Léon Morin, Prêtre, and Godard’s Une Femme Est Une Femme. In a 2009 profile of Cauchetier, Aperture magazine rightly called his photographs “themselves central works of the New Wave.”

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La Nouvelle Vague. Iconic New Wave Photographs by Raymond Cauchetier opens Wednesday and runs through August 28th.