by Rob Boylan
The most wonderful time of the year (or one of them) for film nerds, the twice yearly Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble begins today online, and in stores tomorrow (July 1).
Be nice to your poor cinephile friends today, because they'll be heartbroken if they can't buy anything in this sale window. The sale is usually held annually in July and November, so it's not the end of the world if you have to take a pass for the sake of paying bills or feeding yourself or your children. For now anyway, you could always sell the DVDs from any of the dual format sets, but the company will be saying goodbye to dual format releases starting in September.
If your wallet can stand the outlay though, here are some suggestions:
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Wes Anderson (dual): An indirect, loving take on Jacques Cousteau that stars Bill Murray as a washed out oceanographer and documentarian trying to avenge the death of his best friend at the hands of the elusive jaguar shark while in the midst of a mid-life crises.
Band of Outsiders - Jean-Luc Godard (dual): Many people say this is Godard's least challenging film -- but it's also his best. It's a half love story, half crime caper whose scenes are often copied in modern cinema, especially this one:
In the Mood for Love - Wong Kar Wai: WKW's devilishly clever take on the infidelity scandal trope sees Little Tony Leung and Maggie Chen bonding over the fact their significant others are having an affair together. The film transfer is flawless.
Fanny and Alexander - Ingmar Bergman: Bergman's take on Hamlet and his strict religious upbringing is my favorite film ever. The box set comes with the long cut of the film (5+ hours), the Oscar-winning theatrical cut (~3 hours) and the feature length making of documentary.
For All Man Kind - Al Reinert: A simple, beautiful kaleidoscope that knits hours of film shot during the NASA Apollo Missions together.
Breaking the Waves - Lars von Trier (dual): Watch this for Emily Watson's incredible performance as a newlywed whose husband goes into a coma after an accident at an oil rig.
Weekend - Andrew Haigh: This achingly honest and beautifully acted love story operates on the principal that timing is everything.
Badlands - Terrence Malick: This whimsical take (almost a comedy of manners) on the Charles Starkweather murders that features Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen as runaway lovers-slash-murderers was Malick's debut and probably his best film.
The Beatles' Hard Day's Night - Richard Lester (dual): As great as the Fab Four are in this, the show is literally stolen by Paul's "grandfather", Irish actor Wilfrid Brambell. Features "performances" of A Hard Day's Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, Tell Me Why, I Should Have Known Better, and If I Fell.