Criterion Reveals Incredible September 2021 Lineup

The Criterion Collection always has an interesting monthly line-up for its physical releases. But at least once a year there's a batch that will make you pick your jaw off the floor and hide your wallet. This September is definitely one of those months.

First up is Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa. After two films (including the surreal fantasy The Company of Wolves), this was the breakthrough film for him and star Bob Hoskins. This tale of the London underworld has been out-of-print for years, and apparently the most recent version wasn't anything special. This release features a new restoration, an archival commentary with Jordan and the late Hoskins, and a new essay and interview with critic Ryan Gilbey.

Next up is one of my favorite discoveries of last year: Gina Prince-Blythewood's Love & Basketball. This 2000 drama effortlessly wove together two coming-of-age stories, athletic triumph and heartbreak, and a moving tale of Black love. The 4K restoration is a big draw, but the disc also includes three new documentaries, plus three of the director's early short films.

Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To is one of Asia's most prolific directors, with more than 70 credits to his name. He's mostly known for his crime films, but he's also made romantic comedies and historical films. Throw Down marks his debut into the Collection. A tribute to legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and the martial art of judo, it's one of his most personal films. The disc serves a new 4K restoration and subtitle translation, plus vintage supplements.

After the 2010 release of The Leopard and the 2019 release of Death in Venice, Italian director Luchino Visconti gets a third film in. The Damned follows a rich German family as they attempt to screw each other over for power and fortune while Hitler gains power every day. The disc is loaded with documentaries and historical information.

Finally, the pièce de résistance is the massive box set Melvin Van Peebles: Four Films, which collects the first four features from the iconoclastic director. The Story of a Three-Day Pass explored racism in the military. His lone Hollywood film, Watermelon Man, was a dark comedy about a white bigot who awakes one day to find out he's Black. He adapted his own stage musical with Don't Play Us Cheap, his last film for many years. But his biggest critical and commercial success remains Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. That controversial film, which co-starred his son Mario, was recently selected to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The making was also chronicled in the 2003 film Baadassss!, which Mario directed. That film is also included as a bonus feature. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. There are also three of Van Peebles' early shorts, television episodes, and the 2005 documentary How Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It). Plus, there's a 64-page book!



About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.