Sex, Lies, and Videotape: The hottest flicks joining the Criterion Collection this July
Woohoo! The Criterion Collection has announced its upcoming releases for July 2018. There are five new titles in total – check them out below:
Bull Durham (1988)
Writer, director, (and former minor-league player) Ron Shelton’s debut has earned its rightful place in the pantheon of classic sports flicks. It’s about the relationship between veteran catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and up-and-coming pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), which is immediately complicated by the arrival of Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) – a die-hard Durham Bulls fan who pledges her heart and body to one player per season. Shelton’s Oscar-nominated script is an absolute home run, brimming with wit and insight.
Dragon Inn (1967)
Dragon Inn single-handedly propelled the wuxia genre to dazzling new heights with its slick martial artistry, meticulous choreography, and eye-popping widescreen compositions (unsurprisingly, it was a huge influence on 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). In the era of the Ming Dynasty, the powerful eunuch Cao (Pai Ying) has killed his loyal commander and plans to massacre the remnants of his family. The family seeks refuge at the Dragon Gate Inn, where most of the film’s spectacularly acrobatic sword fights take place.
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
From the minds of dynamic directing duo Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (One of Our Aircraft Is Missing), A Matter of Life and Death – renamed Stairway to Heaven for its original US release – is a spectacle of innovative 40s special effects. David Niven (Murder by Death) plays a WW2 fighter pilot, flying back to Britain after a bombing raid. He’s badly hit and losing height. With his parachute damaged, he bails out of the plane and (somehow) survives, falling in love with an American radio operator (Kim Hunter) almost immediately. Things get a little awkward after that when the pilot is approached by an angel who reveals that his survival was a mistake and they’re expecting him upstairs. The scenes taking place in the afterlife, complete with beautifully modernist architecture to rival Metropolis, make this timeless love story one to die for.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
With his provocative feature debut, the 26-year-old Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich) managed to snatch the Palme d’Or and usher in a new generation of independent cinema (no biggie). Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day) gives a career-defining performance as the bored and sexually repressed housewife Ann. She’s unhappily married to John (Peter Gallagher), and totally unaware that he’s sleeping with her sister on the side. When the soft-spoken charmer Graham (James Spader) shows up in town, Ann falls for him and soon uncovers his startling private fetish: videotaping women as they confess their deepest desires. Soderbergh’s dialogue crackles in this – it’s seriously some of the best stuff ever. If you’re looking for a masterclass in acting, writing, and low-budget directing (and who isn’t?), this is it.
Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood (1930-35)
When visionary Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg (The Devil Is a Woman) was tasked by studio execs with finding America’s next great screen siren, he could have done a lot worse than Marlene Dietrich (Touch of Evil) Their six-picture stint for Paramount in the 30s has cemented their legacy as one of the most iconic director-actor duos in cinematic history. It is in these films that von Sternberg captures the timeless allure of Dietrich absolutely perfectly, with his moody, expressionist lighting and dazzlingly opulent production design. In turn, Dietrich delivers some knockout performances in a number of surprisingly transgressive roles – for Morocco, she dons a tuxedo and kisses a lady in one of the iconic moments of queer cinema. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but only a few years later the brutal censorship of the Hays Code would demand that queer women on film be portrayed as evil, morally bankrupt, or outright doomed.