Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Criterion Releases: September 2023

As summer turns into fall, as film festivals begin to push out releasing movies that couldbe considered for Oscar contention, we have more and more newcomers and re-releases from Criterion. There are two of those re-releases: a milestone in the Australian New Wave and a modern fairy tale from the 80s. The three newcomers include a new film from Orson Welles, a biopic on one of the major figures in 1950s rock n’ roll, and a recent documentary on a rock iconoclast who is known by many names, including Ziggy Stardust.

The Trial (1962)

Orson Welles adapted Franz Kafka’s novel about a singular office worker (Anthony Perkins) who is accused of a crime that is not specified but he claims his innocence. Jeanne Morneau and Romy Schnieder co-star, along with a young Italian actress named Paola Mori, who would be Welles’ last wife. Divisive upon release, the film has since gotten a retrospective that is more positive, reflecting Welles’ continuing artistry with cinematography and production design which he later said was one of the best movies he ever made, even over Citizen Kane. 

Walkabout (1971)

Funny that I wrote a little blurb on this movie with my previous piece about heat waves. The sun and the harsh Outback are only part of the story from Nicolas Roeg. It is also a coming-of-age story about the new world – two kids who escape their father’s murderous behavior – meeting the old world – a teenage Aboriginal (David Gulpilil) who shows them his way of living and surviving. The transition into adulthood via the red landscape is getting the 4K-UHD reedition that will absolutely light up the screen.

La Bamba (1987)

Lou Diamond Phillips as 50s rock icon Richie Valens is a sensational performance with Esai Morales as his half-brother adding beautifully layered emotion from writer/director Luis Valdez, a legend of Chicano cinema. Seen in a span of a few years, Valens is portrayed as a poor Mexican-American teen who falls for the new genre and immediately rises to stardom to where he stands alongside Buddy Holly – before that fateful evening now known as “The Day The Music Died.” The band Los Lobos bolsters the soundtrack that recaptures the period which was a watershed moment in American history, especially amongst the Mexican-American community, while also realizing the amount of talent totally lost in 1959. 

The Princess Bride (1987)

The second re-release of the month is Rob Reiner’s comedy from legendary writer William Goldman which remains a culturally significant film in the last forty years. Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Peter Falk, and other notable names are part of an incredible ensemble with eclectic characters that remain very memorable. It is a fairy tale story that hits everyone’s heart; even newbies to the film have eaten it up that have made the film continuously relevant.

Moonage Daydream (2022)

From Brett Morgan, documentarian of Jane and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the life and career of David Bowie come alive, the first film with permission from the singer’s estate. It is a magical voyage through his prism in the 60s and 70s as Bowie rockets to stardom with his persona, which was unlike any other in history. Bowie’s own words narrate his evolution as an artist, working in London and West Berlin, bringing in those influences which elevated Bowie to permanent superstardom in this touching tribute to an iconoclast. 

Follow me on Twitter: @brian_cine (Cine-A-Man)

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