Criterion announces May slate; includes Chaplin, Demme, and Breillat on Blu

Joshua Brunsting

by: Joshua Brunsting
February 14th, 2011

Talk about a Valentine’s Day gift for us film nerds.

The geniuses over at the Criterion Collection have decided to take this Valentine’s Day as the perfect time to unleash their release slate for the month of May, and it’s one hell of a doozy.

First off, in the world of re-releases, there are four set to release come May, and two of which are getting a complete face-lift, along with their introduction to Blu-ray.

May will see the re-release of both Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterful thriller, DIABOLIQUE, as well as a new edition of Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS.  Both films have been previously released by the Collection, but in the case of DIABOLIQUE, in a relatively bare bones edition, and in the case of SOLARIS, a technical issue apparently arose where now we will be getting a brand new edition.  Both are following the recent trend of Criterion DVDs being lowered to $30, so definitely make it a priority to pick both of these up.

Films that will be simply getting the Blu-ray treatment this month are Ingmar Bergman’s SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT, and Catherine Breillat’s FAT GIRL. Personally, despite my adamant love for anything and everything Bergman, the one I want to steer people to get is Breillat’s FAT GIRL.  It’s a hauntingly powerful film that may in fact be Breillat’s best film.  She’s one of the world’s most unsung auteurs, and hopefully this brand new Blu-ray edition of her masterpiece will help push a few people to go out and nab it.

Oh, and there are three of the best new releases 2011 will have to offer as well.

First, Jonathan Demme makes his Criterion return (after SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which is currently and sadly OOP) with his film, SOMETHING WILD.  I have not yet seen this film (I know, shoot me now), but Demme has always been a director I hoped would make a strong return to the Collection, and this is a perfect fit.  Featuring one hell of a great cast, the release itself is really low on features; only including a trailer and interviews with Demme and the film’s writer E. Max Frye, but the artwork is killer, and it will be more than interesting to see an early work from one of today’s most compelling American auteurs.

Next, we have the long rumored PALE FLOWER, from master filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda, and it’s a more than welcome addition.  Not short on gangster films, PALE FLOWER fits right in as Shinoda’s true masterpiece, and again, while it’s a relatively small addition (featuring a trailer, selected scene audio commentary and an interview with Shinoda), this month is a massively stacked slate, so prepare your bank accounts now.  This is one you absolutely can’t miss.

Finally, the month’s biggest release is the return of Charlie Chaplin, with his masterpiece, THE GREAT DICTATOR.  Chock full of features (audio commentary, documentary, two visual essays, on set production footage, deleted scene from Chaplin’s film SUNNYSIDE and a trailer), DICTATOR is far and away May’s most expansive release, and despite the problems I may have with the artwork, I can’t wait to pick this one up.  DICTATOR may not be my favorite Chaplin film (MODERN TIMES holds that title), but it is an interesting next step for Criterion as they make their way through his filmography.  It’s a brilliant film, so hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Mr. Chaplin in 2011.

What film are you most looking forward to?

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