The Criterion Collection has set its April release calendar and once again there are film delights planned that will certainly please a wide spectrum of film tastes. So let’s get right to it.
The release celebration begins on Apr. 12 with a new 4K restoration of iconic filmmaker Howard Hawks’ 1939 romantic adventure, Only Angels Have Wings, teaming Cary Grant with Jean Arthur (who was very busy during this period with starring roles in You Can't Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) … others in this all-star cast include Rita Hayworth, Sig Ruman, Thomas Mitchell, Richard Barthelmess, Noah Beery Jr. and Western legend Don 'Red' Barry.
Bonus goodies for both the DVD and Blu-ray editions include segments of a 1972 video session featuring Howard Hawks and auteur filmmaker PeterBogdanovich, a newly-prepared video session with author, historian and film critic David Thomson, the Lux Radio adaptation of the film featuring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Richard Barthelmess, and Thomas Mitchell and hosted by director Cecil B. DeMille and lastly, film scholars Craig Barron and Ben Burtt are featured in “Howard Hawks and His Aviation Movies.”
A newly restored 2K transfer of director Whit Stillman’s 1994 film release of Barcelona will be available as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings on Apr. 19. Additionally, Criterion will also be packaging the Barcelona as a box set titled A Whit Stillman Trilogy: Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco.
Bonus nuggets include a vintage commentary option featuring Whit Stillman and the film’s stars, Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols, plus there deleted scenes and an alternate ending (both include commentary Stillman, Eigeman and Nichols), the featurette titled “The Making of Barcelona” and a newly-prepared video session with film critic Farran Smith Nehme.
Closing out the month — Apr. 26 — are a trio of DVD and Blu-ray releases. First up is the Blu-ray and double-disc DVD releases of The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates, which showcases a collection of three documentaries — “Primary,” “Adventures of the New Frontier” and “Crisis” — and the short film titled “Faces of November.”
As bonus features, there’s an alternate cut (shorter version) of “Primary,” there’s a commentary option for the extended version of “Primary” featuring Robert Drew and D. A. Pennebaker and a newly prepared video session featuring D. A. Pennebaker and RobertDrew’s daughter-in-law, Jill Drew.
Next up on Apr. 26 is a new hi-def transfer of director David Lean’s 1945 (domestic release was 1946) romantic drama, Brief Encounter. The DVD and Blu-ray editions include a vintage commentary track featuring film historian Bruce Eder and two short documentaries — “A Profile of Brief Encounter” and “David Lean: A Self Portrait.”
Lastly, Apr. 26 brings to DVD and Blu-ray one of the more interesting films of the month, German director Christian Petzold’s Phoenix.
The ARR for this arthouse and film festival circuit favorite is 277 days and domestic ticket sales for this German-language import were an outstanding $3.2 million (that is a very impressive number of a foreign language film).
In post-war Germany we are introduced to Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss — A Most Wanted Man, Barbara, etc.), the survivor of both an unforgivable betrayal and stint in a Nazi concentration camp. Her face was shattered as the result of a bullet meant to kill her and after reconstruction surgery she returns to the real world. She has a small inheritance that affords her the opportunity to leave Germany, but she desperately wants to know if it was her husband (played by Ronald Zehrfeld) who betrayed her to the Nazis.
That’s the short version of Petzold’s clever thriller — she finds him, he doesn’t recognize her and she agrees to help him — are you ready for this? — teach her how to pass for his dead wife so that the two of them can collect her inheritance!! It is a race against time — her uncovering his betrayal and him finally figuring out that the impostor he is training is actually his wife!! Intense!
Bonus features for Phoenix are various video sessions with Christian Petzold and Nina Hoss; as well as Hans Fromm and an on-set session with Petzold, Hoss and actors Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld, plus production designer Kade Gruber.