Criterion Collection: March 2023
March only has four films for release this month; one is a classic from the film noir era, along with three new entries. Two of them, coincidently, came out the same year; one is a starting point for a Hong Kong directing legend, the other an almost-forgotten Hollywood rom-com. The last film comes from the legend that is David Lynch with his most unconventional production that the diehard fans of his ate up from the beginning.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
The only re-issue from the collection, Michael Curtiz’s soap opera noir features Joan Crawford in an Oscar-winning performance playing the titular character, a single mother struggling to make life better for her children. However, bad luck intervenes every time and creates a shocking revelation after a man is shot dead in her home. Melodrama hits its high note in James Cain’s novel, portraying the hard-working woman in a world lacking gentlemen (this was set during WWII) and making Joan Crawford the ultimate solo woman fighting for her slice of the American dream.
Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979)
One of five women to direct a feature for Hollywood in the 1970s, Joan Micklin Silver dives into a comedy about the difficulties of finding and keeping love for one man. A civil servant falls for a woman who then leaves him to go back to her husband, only to learn later she’s single again. Desperate, he tries to get her back. John Heard, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Riegert, and Gloria Grahame star in an underrated romantic comedy about the obsessive, love-smitten loner who just wants to find happiness.
Last Hurrah For Chivalry (1979)
Legendary Hong Kong director John Woo made a hit with one of his first features, a martial arts story about two swordsmen who help a man seek revenge. However, the journey turns into one about deception and the truth about who is really honorable. It finished up a decade of highly successful wuxia films that flourished in Hong Kong at this time with similar themes and Woo paid tribute to his mentor Chang Cheh, one of the biggest innovators of the martial arts theme at the time.
Inland Empire (2006)
David Lynch’s last full-length feature to date is one of the strangest he’s ever done, yet one of the best. Shot by himself with his then-wife and editor, Mary Sweeney, this was done with a digital camera, low resolution, and made on-the-fly with a day’s script being written on the spot. This was a very experimental project, but the Lynchian qualities are unmistakably present. Laura Dern, “a woman in trouble,” as the tagline states, is an actress who finds her role in a movie cursed due to past events around a previous production of the story. In true Lynchian form, you have to just sit back and take in a whole new experience.
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