My 2014 Criterion Sale Haul


The latest Barnes and Noble 50% off Criterion sale concluded today, and I spent some dough. Been digging into the discs above for the last few weeks, and I’ll continue to for weeks to come. Some thoughts on the films:

A Hard Day’s Night — There’s a good chance this ends up being my favorite non-box-set Criterion release of the year. First, the film is just a breath of fresh air—so light, so confident in its individuality. It also looks spectacular—clean, crisp, unforgettable black-and-white cinematography. Then there are the special features, which are robust and informative. I learned more about this film from its Criterion release than any other I can think of. A must-own by any stretch of the imagination.

All That Heaven Allows — I blind bought this beloved Douglas Sirk melodrama, and while it was right up my alley—the period, the raw emotion, the technicolor—it didn’t totally blow me away. I’ll write more in depth about it one day, but it never quite reached the level I’d hoped or expected it would. Still, it looks absolutely spectacular on Blu-Ray, and Rock Hudson’s Home Videos is a top-notch Criterion extra.

Red River — The first of three glorious bricks I bought this month, Red River is nothing more or less than a grand time. John Wayne goes dark for the first time in his career, and Criterion is here to explain everything there is to explain about these two wildly entertaining hours of cinema. It also comes with a novel—always a terrific touch.

Picnic at Hanging Rock — Here’s the second brick, and also the second film I bought to come with a novel. I haven’t dug into Peter Weir’s breakout film just yet, but it looks great.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou — This one’s the only Wes Anderson film available through Criterion that I didn’t own, which meant its Blu-Ray upgrade date was one I’d been anticipating for a while. It also happens to be my least favorite Anderson film, but that hardly means it’s bad. I’m excited to re-evaluate it soon and dig into some of those extras.

The Hidden Fortress — I’m woefully uninformed when it comes to Kurosawa, so every Criterion sale is a chance to get to know the man’s work a little more. This time, The Hidden Fortress was my target.

Rififi — I feel like with this purchase, I crossed a line. My Criterion fandom has finally reached the point where I’m purchasing Blu-Ray editions of films I already own on DVD. To be fair, I unloaded my (hideous) Rififi DVD to pay for some of the cost of the (gorgeous) Dual-Ray set. Nevertheless, it’s a bold move on my part, but after giving it a brief look, I’m not looking back.

The Essential Jacques Demy — Wow. I hadn’t ever seen a Demy film until about a week ago. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is an all-timer as far as I’m concerned, and the rest of what I’ve seen now isn’t far behind. This is as comprehensive a dive into a single filmmakers’ work as you can hope for, and it’s got me awfully excited to see what Criterion does with The Complete Jacques Tati later this year.

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