It's mid-month so you know what that means...a new announcement from The Criterion Collection about what they've got around the corner. Start saving yer pennies, kiddies.
The big highlight of the July releases is easily Satyajit Ray's "The Music Room." The Indian director has largely gone unseen in this country thanks to complicated rights issues and we hope this is just the first of more releases (Apu Trilogy please!). Anyway, the film follows a fallen aristocrat who shambles around his gigantic home, pining for the years gone by. As usual, the set is loaded with extras, perhaps most significantly, it features the 1984 docuementary "Satyajit Ray" that gives an overview of the director's career and features clips from his films. This is pretty much a must-have for any fan of world cinema and more exposure on this director is a great thing.
While Criterion recently called Abbas Kiarostami's "Certified Copy" -- somewhat bizarrely -- a "minor" film not deserving of an entry in the collection, have they actually watched Todd Solondz's quasi-"Happiness" sequel "Life During Wartime"? It's ain't all that and a bag of potato chips. Oh sure, it's kind of clever and intermittently funny, but not the director's finest work by any stretch. Anyway Solondz will get his first entry in the collection with the film that revisits, tweaks and updates the characters from his breakout hit with a bunch of features including a video Q&A with the director answering fan questions and a documentary on the making of the movie.
While we're used to Jean-Pierre Melville's impeccably cool crime pics, the Criterion Collection will show off a different side of the helmer with "Leon Morin, Priest." The sexually charged film stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as the titular character, the object of lust of all the women in Nazi-occupied village in France who is drawn to a widow already engaging in her own battle against her faith and her desires. We need a drink. This one is coming lean and mean with only a few extras to speak of including archived interviews with the director and star.
A few titles in the collection get the BluRay upgrade in July as well, including Jean Cocteau's gorgeous "Beauty and the Beast," Akira Kurosawa's phenomenal and crackling thriller "High and Low" and Mike Leigh's grim and gritty "Naked."