By Drew Taylor | The Playlist January 3, 2011 at 6:11AM
Continuing a trend they started last year, The Criterion Collection has released a big-ass mega-clue for 2011, tantalizingly teasing us about what's in store from the studio in the months to come. Two interesting things to note about the giant clue, in regards to how things were presented last year. One: most of the releases that Criterion teased with the last New Year's post made their way to stores in the first half of the year (giant releases like Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line," Guillermo del Toro's "Cronos" or the BBS box set). In other words: expect these titles sooner rather than later. Secondly, there's an interesting distinction in terms of color choices. Last year, things that were going to be newly reissued in high-definition Blu-ray format were indicated by being scribbled in blue ink. This year, everything (besides the red circle on the calender) is black and white. This seems to indicate what we've suspected -- that all future Criterion collections additions will be issued in both Blu-ray and DVD. (This has been the case in the last few batches of releases.) Exciting stuff.
Below is what we've compiled and guessed ourselves about the clues, although explicit thanks should be handed out to our buddy Ryan Gallagher and the good folks over at the CriterionCast. There's plenty of stuff to get jazzed about. Start saving your money now.
* The boat is one of the more puzzling aspects of the clue. Most have been spit-balling. Some suggest that it could be a reissue of Fellini's "And the Ship Sails On," which was an early Criterion release. Others are pointing towards Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic," which seems like more of a stretch. Then again, Criterion did just release "The Darjeeling Limited" (for no discernible reason) and "The Life Aquatic" has never had a glittery high-definition release.
* The stars/snowflakes are another area of puzzlement, although we had the genius (but probably wrong) idea that it could be Jane Campion's "Bright Star." Again: it's never had a high-definition release and Criterion and Sony have been getting along recently; last year Criterion released Terry Zwigoff's documentary "Crumb."
* The person tied to the boat seems to be a reference to Roman Polanski's 1966 thriller "Cul-de-sac," which has been rumored for inclusion in the Collection for years now.
* The clutch of strawberries suggests... Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries." The Collection has put it out once before but Bergman in high-definition (with new special features?) Count us in!
* The hovering space station (on the left hand of the image) seems like a direct grab from Andrei Tarkovsky's "Solaris." There was a minor uproar when it seemed like Criterion would be bringing Steven Soderbergh and James Cameron's underrated "Solaris" remake to the Collection, but that seems to have turned out to not be the case, sadly. Then again, anything could happen, and Fox and Criterion seem pretty chummy, having brought about both the "Darjeeling Limited" and 'Thin Red Line' discs last year.
* The glowing briefcase on top of the boat looks a whole lot like the radioactive whats-it from "Kiss Me Deadly," arguably one of the all-time greatest film noirs. The film was included in Criterion's mini film festival at All Tomorrow's Parties, and this seems like confirmation that it's headed our way via the Collection proper.
* The bag of coffee beans (next to the briefcase) looks like our first indication that Claire Denis' breathless, totally brilliant (and shamefully overlooked) "White Material" will be coming to the Collection. This was an IFC release, so it makes sense. The film is about a coffee plantation caught in the middle of a civil uprising in an unnamed African nation (it plays like a small scale human drama set against something like "Assault on Precinct 13"). Hopefully it will open people's eyes to how unbelievably good that movie is.
* Underneath the beans and briefcase, in the boat's cabin, is a fairly explicit image from Olivier Assayas' wonderful "Carlos," which we broke the news of.
* Next to Carlos is a ghost cat, which again is a fairly obvious nod to "Kuroneko," a samurai ghost story whose American name is "Black Cat." Janus began showing it this Halloween. If it's half as good as Criterion's "House" disc, we'll be in for a treat this Halloween.
* The calender on the boat (with "Sunday" circled in red) suggests John Schlesinger's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," a taut relationship drama from 1971.
* On the right side of the boat's cabin is a child with a pillow. This is a reference to French filmmaker Jean Vigo's "Zero for Conduct." Again, this has been a title that has been rumored for a while now, so consider a crudely drawn cartoon official confirmation.
* The woman dancing on the boat's deck is a little more nebulous, with no one suggesting anything that seems remotely correct (and we've come up with nothing on our own). Please, suggest away in the comments.
* The Marilyn Monroe/Albert Eisenstein freakish creature to the right of the dancing woman points us towards Nicolas Roeg's bizzaro "Insignificance," a movie about an imaginary meeting between Einstein, Monroe, Joseph McCarthy and Joe DiMaggio. We haven't seen the movie in a long time but remember it being fun and totally weird. (This is another one that has been rumored for a while.) More Roeg is always good.
* The globe that the Monroe monster is bouncing is a nod to Charlie Chaplin's "Great Dictator." It's been public knowledge that Janus has secured the rights to a number of Chaplin films (they've begun to exhibit them theatrically), and last year saw the outstanding release of Chaplin's "Modern Times."
* There are also a couple of things in the water. The sign with the Spanish words is a reference to Alfonso Cuaron's "Y Tu Mama Tambien," a film that was referenced in relation to the initial partnership between Criterion and IFC and then, like Christopher Nolan's "Following," seemed to slip into the ether... Well it's back baby! And we can't wait. (We wouldn't mind having "Following" too, by the way.)
* The bobbing head in the water is way more mysterious but suggests that Criterion may have plans to reissue Henris-George Clouzot's "Diabolique," an early entry in the Collection. (May we suggest the "Inferno" documentary as part of the bonus features?)
Did we miss anything? Are we totally off-base or wrong? Please, let us know in the comments.