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Criterion’s August slate features some Norman Mailer, British romance, and The Who

Joshua Brunsting

May 15th, 2012

Every month, I feel as though we routinely say that each respective month features the best slate of Criterion releases announced to date. Be it a new Chaplin addition, or something totally out of the blue, Criterion refuses to rest on its laurels. And August may be their best month yet.

Starting off the month is the introduction of the iconic art-house giants Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, whose beloved films ROSETTA and LA PROMESSE will hit on August 14. Both releases are relatively bare bones, but do include a conversation with the directors and critic Scott Foundas as well interviews with the respective leads of each film. While I’ve only see PROMESSE, I can say that they are some of the best directors currently working  and, hopefully, this won’t be the last we hear of them in the collection.

Next is the Paul Fejos film, LONESOME. Long rumored as a possible entrant into the collection, the release comes with a commentary, a silent film entitled THE LAST PERFORMANCE (also directed by Fejos), a reconstruction of a musical penned by Fejos, a visual essay and some interviews. In one of the month’s most stacked releases, this may very well be the unsung gem of this entire year’s worth of Criterion Collection offerings. Though I’ve never seen the film I have only heard great things; this 1928 release is just one of the few early cinematic releases that Criterion has since made into some of the best home releases. Hopefully this can live up to the hype.

Far from shocking, we finally get QUADROPHENIA. The Who's rock opera includes a commentary, some interviews and behind the scenes footage in what has been one of their more anticipated releases (ever since the film found its way to Criterion’s Hulu Plus page, totally out of the blue). The Eclipse series gets another entrant, a series of films by Norman Mailer, the iconic activist and novelist. Crafting some of the most experimental films of his time, this is a great release that should prove once again that the Eclipse series is a rare breed of box set.

That’s not all though. No, there is still one more film to speak of. Last year saw the release of a beautiful and understated bit of romance, WEEKEND, from director Andrew Haigh.  Praised for its depiction of romance, sex and love, it became better known for its depiction of all of those things, through the story of a tryst between two men. However, what makes the film as brilliant as it truly is, is that the film is utterly universal. I absolutely adore this film, and found it to be much like a modern day BRIEF ENCOUNTER; it may be one of the best films to come from the fruitful Criterion/IFC relationship.

Toss in a bunch of features, and you have a must-own release in a month of nothing but must-own releases.

Oh, and ROYAL TENENBAUMS is coming to Blu-ray on the 14th. Boom.

Damn you Criterion. My wallet says damn you.

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