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The Criterion Collection – February 2022

February brings another compelling selection of titles from The Criterion Collection. Whether you’re looking for weepy romance or surreal giggles, this month’s slate should offer something for you.

LOVE AFFAIR (1939)

Golden-age Hollywood’s humanist master Leo McCarey brings his graceful touch and relaxed naturalism to this sublime romance, one of cinema’s most intoxicating tear-wringers. Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer are chic strangers who meet and fall in love aboard an ocean liner bound for New York. Though they are both involved with other people, they make a pact to reconnect six months later at the top of the Empire State Building—until the hand of fate throws their star-crossed affair tragically off course. Swooning passion and gentle comedy coexist in perfect harmony in the exquisitely tender Love Affair (nominated for six Oscars), a story so timeless that it has been remade by multiple filmmakers over the years—including McCarey himself, who updated it as the no less beloved An Affair to Remember.

LOVE AFFAIR is available on Blu-ray from 21 February 2022

WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956)

The Technicolor expressionism of Douglas Sirk reached a fever pitch with this operatic tragedy, which finds the director pushing his florid visuals and his critiques of American culture to their subversive extremes. Alcoholism, nymphomania, impotence, and deadly jealousy—these are just some of the toxins coursing through a massively wealthy, degenerate Texan oil family. When a sensible secretary (Lauren Bacall) has the misfortune of marrying the clan’s neurotic scion (Robert Stack), it drives a wedge between him and his lifelong best friend (Rock Hudson) that unleashes a maelstrom of psychosexual angst and fury. Featuring an unforgettably debauched, Oscar-winning supporting performance by Dorothy Malone and some of Sirk’s most eye-popping mise-en-scène, Written on the Wind is as perverse a family portrait as has ever been splashed across the screen.

WRITTEN ON THE WIND is available on Blu-ray from 21 February 2022

DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD

This playful, profound, and immensely moving docu-fantasia by Kirsten Johnson is a valentine to the director’s beloved father, Dick Johnson, made as she is beginning to face the reality of losing him to dementia. Using the language of cinema both to defy death and to confront it head-on, Johnson mischievously envisions an array of ways in which the man she loves most in the world might die, staging a series of alternately darkly comic and colorfully imaginative tableaux interwoven with raw vérité footage capturing the pair’s tender but increasingly fragile bond. Tackling taboo questions of aging, mortality, and grief with subversive humor and surprising grace, Dick Johnson Is Dead is ultimately a triumphant celebration of life, and of the gentle, funny, unforgettable man at its center. Long live Dick Johnson.

DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD is available on Blu-ray from 21 February 2022

 

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