Criterion Collection announces March 2011 release slate; IFC hints at future CERTIFIED COPY Criterion release

Joshua Brunsting

by: Joshua Brunsting
December 15th, 2010

With it being the 15th of December, not only have the great folks over at The Criterion Collection announced the films they will be releasing come March of 2011, but in the Christmas spirit, they’ve decided to give us one hell of a slate to look forward to.

First off, continuing the tradition of multiple previous, DVD only releases getting the Blu-ray treatment, Criterion will be releasing two previous Collection staples. First, March 15 will bring the re-release of the stunningly beautiful heartbreaker of a film from Louis Malle, AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS. The film follows two kids living in Nazi-controlled France. It’s a visually wondrous, autobiographical piece of cinema, that will more than certainly fit perfectly in the Blu-ray formant. This release is also notable, as it marks another moment in Charlie Chaplin’s Criterion history, as it includes the icon’s short film, THE IMMIGRANT, that is featured in LES ENFANTS.

The second film finding a re-release is another visually striking piece of cinema, Edward Yang’s 2000 masterpiece, YI YI. The film follows “a middle-class family in Taipei over the course of one year, beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral,” and is one of the more interesting and underseen films from the decade past. Just missing this writer’s top 10 of the 2000s, YI YI is a stunning film that is equally broad in appeal, and yet intimate and singular in style and aesthetic. Not the biggest of releases, YI YI will feature a new transfer, a commentary with the late writer/director Yang, and an interview with Yang and critic Tony Rayns.  Not the most impressive of releases, but it’s easily one of the more impressive pieces of recent cinema that the Collection has released. The film hits on March 15.

A classic documentary is finally getting its just due on DVD and Blu-ray on March 22, in the form of a new release of THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILKfrom director Robert Epstein. The film follows the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay US politician, and the vibrant and trailblazing human rights activists. Probably best known as the basis of the Sean Penn film, MILK, this is the one and only film about this man, and this harrowing story, that you need to see. One of the greatest pieces of documentary filmmaking this writer has ever seen, the Oscar-winning film is not only one of the first documentaries to truly look at the idea of being gay in the U.S., but is also singular story of a man who always preached hope even when it seemed like everything was against not only him, but the human rights movement as a whole. A brimming release, HARVEY MILK features an audio commentary, an interview with UC Berkeley professor Jon Else, a program on both HARVEY MILK and Gus Van Sant’s MILK, along with interview clips not used, audio and video recording of Milk himself, panel discussion on Dan White’s subsequent trial, and even footage from the film’s Castro Theater premiere and it’s Oscar win. Simply put, it’s the month’s true must-own release.

Finally, two films from the duo Gilbert and Sullivan are finding their home in the collection. First, Mike Leigh’s classic 1999 film, TOPSY-TURVY will be hitting store shelves on March 29th. Based on the 1885 opera, The Mikado, Leigh’s adaptation stars Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner, and marks the NAKED director’s return to the collection. The second film is a feature film adaptation of the opera that TOPSY-TURVY calls its inspiration, entitled THE MIKADO. Directed by Victor Schertzinger, the film is yet another Technicolor release from the collection, and while this is the one film from the pair that I have yet to see, I can’t wait to dig into both of these films. TOPSY-TURVY is an absolute cinematic wonder, and marks an interesting turn for Leigh, and director whose visual style hasn’t since gotten to be this lavish and truly full of cinematic life. The film may not be as strong as something like NAKED, but for those who can’t get enough of films with stunning art and costume design, and breathtaking performances, there may not be a more interesting release. Plus, it’s got the month’s best cover art.

Now, that’s not all. On the Eclipse front, we have a new box set to be released on March. Entitled Silent Naruse, the set features five silent films from Mikio Naruse, a Japanese filmmaker who often finds his name in the same breath as people like Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. Talk about some solid company. Included in this set are the films FLUNKY, WORK HARD, NO BLOOD RELATION, APART FROM YOU, EVERY-NIGHT DREAMS, and STREET WITHOUT END.  Now, I’m not massively familiar with the filmmaker or his work, but, like any good Eclipse box set, this seems to be a perfect welcome into this filmmaker’s canon. All films here are silent pieces, and are on DVD for the very first time.

However, that’s not all the Criterion related news we have for you today.

According to IFC, the much talked about Abbas Kiarostami film, CERTIFIED COPY, will not only be released into theaters on March 11, 2011, but will also be yet another Criterion release for the director. Both TASTE OF CHERRY and CLOSE-UP have been released by Criterion, and this one will be following suit. Look for it likely in early 2012.

What film are you looking forward to most?

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