Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life is growing 50 minutes longer for a new Criterion edition

The Tree Of Life, Terrence Malick’s symphonically ambitious rumination on his ’50s Texas childhood and overall place in the cosmos, is coming to the Criterion Collection. That’s no surprise, considering that the storied deluxe video label has already produced DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the reclusive filmmaker’s first…

Guillermo Del Toro cheats when picking his 10 favorite Criterion movies

The appeal and the folly of any broad top 10 list—favorite movies, favorite bands, favorite foods— is the misguided belief that you can derive a clear-cut top 10 out of so much disparate material. This is especially true for buffs of any artistic medium, who, when forced to make top 10 lists, find themselves strung…

Oscar nominee Barry Jenkins is the latest director to nerd out in Criterion’s closet

The concept for Closet Picks is simple: visiting actors or filmmakers (or Marxist cultural critics) are taken to the tightly packed closet where the esteemed home video label Criterion keeps its extra Blu-rays and DVDs, and allowed to take whatever they want. The latest to run loose in this cinephile candy store is …

See how Criterion turned its Guillermo del Toro set into an evil puzzle box

The ostensible reason to invest in a Criterion Collection edition of a movie is its reference-quality audio and video, its thoughtful critical notes, and its surplus of supplemental documentaries and commentaries. But another huge part of it is the thrill of seeing its cover, which reliably reimagines the accompanying…

Thank Divine, no restoration can scrub John Waters’ Multiple Maniacs clean

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There’s something faintly perverse about the idea of John Waters’ early work being painstakingly restored, especially by the highbrow gatekeepers at Janus Films/Criterion. Audiences originally saw these films in cruddy conditions, on the underground/midnight circuit, and that continued to be the case for decades…

The Coens’ magnificent noir debut Blood Simple returns again to theaters

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Every 16 years (at least so far), the Coen brothers’ 1984 debut, Blood Simple, gets a theatrical re-release. Back in 2000, the marketing hook was a so-called “director’s cut,” though Joel and Ethan had encountered no interference regarding the original release; they were just a bit embarrassed, in retrospect, by what…

With Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick shot a brilliant satire like a straight thriller

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For those who know Dr. Strangelove well, here’s a fun experiment: Watch it with the sound off, imagining that you’ve never seen it before, and try to determine at which point you’d realize that you’re supposed to be laughing. Stanley Kubrick, collaborating on the script with Terry Southern and Peter George,…

Fantastic Planet looks as strange today as it must have 40 years ago

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Originally released in 1973, René Laloux’s animated sci-fi parable Fantastic Planet still looks strikingly alien, over four decades later. Its visual ideas are so outré that few have been borrowed or referenced by subsequent films, and Laloux himself made only two other features (most notably 1988’s Gandahar, which…

Neither Warren Beatty nor Chris Rock could improve upon Here Comes Mr. Jordan

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Originally released at a time of national anxiety—four months before Pearl Harbor—the comic fantasy Here Comes Mr. Jordan positively radiates reassurement, in the form of a beatific and perpetually amused Claude Rains. Best known at the time for playing villains like Prince John in The Adventures Of Robin Hood and…

John Waters’ hard-to-find trash epic Multiple Maniacs gets the Criterion treatment

You can see a lot of things in John Waters movies, but if you want to see Divine get raped by a giant lobster, you’ll have to do some digging. That outrageous scenario comes literally out of nowhere in the climactic scene of Multiple Maniacs, Water’s second feature film, which stars Divine as the leader of a traveling…

Antonioni’s Le Amiche is an early gem that scarcely resembles his later ones

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When a director settles on a unique vision of the world and then sticks to it forever after, early movies that don’t reflect that vision sometimes wind up forgotten or undervalued. Too Late Blues, starring Bobby Darin as a jazz musician, ranks with John Cassavetes’ best work; it rarely gets mentioned, though, because…

Robert Altman affectionately skewered Hollywood with The Player

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Robert Altman’s adaptation of Michael Tolkin’s The Player—a novel that eviscerates ’80s Hollywood—begins with a lengthy joke that only cinema could make. As a studio security chief (Fred Ward) bitterly complains about the era’s ADD aesthetic (“All this cut, cut, cut,” he grumbles, blissfully unaware that Michael Bay…

Bogart goes boldly unhinged in the essential noir In A Lonely Place

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Nicholas Ray’s 1950 film noir masterpiece In A Lonely Place barely reaches the one-minute mark before its protagonist, Dixon Steele, tries to start a fight with a total stranger on the street. Since this as yet unidentified but clearly pugnacious character is played by Humphrey Bogart, it’s natural to assume that he’s…

Robert Drew’s Kennedy films chart the evolution of American politics—and American documentary

Nowadays, anyone who can afford a smartphone carries a fairly decent video camera around with them 24/7, ready to shoot documentary footage at a moment’s notice. Half a century ago, by contrast, cameras that could shoot moving images were such clunky behemoths that the documentary as we know it today was more or less…

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