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  • Carrie Specht

The Criterion Collection New Releases of April 2020


This April, The Criterion Collection invites you to check in to Wes Anderson's extravagantly nostalgic caper, The Grand Budapest Hotel. This completely fantastical story has been widely hailed as one of the greatest films of the 2010s. Also joining the Criterion Collection this month is Miranda July's playful and transgressive Me and You and Everyone We Know. And a 1939 marvel of studio craftsmanship, Destry Rides Again pairs Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart for a boisterous, somewhat comedic western. This personal favorite of mine will be presented in a new 4K restoration. There's also something for the horror fan in Juraj Herz's black-as-ashes comedy The Cremator, a macabre marvel of the Czechoslovak New Wave, which has long been unavailable on home video. And that's not all: Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows, widely hailed as the summit of the director's career and the greatest film ever made about the French Resistance, returns to the Collection.


Although these are all great films in their own rights, I am particularly interested in just two of the additions. It is well known that I am heavily biased toward the films of 1939, and Destry Rides Again is no exception - especially when you throw James Stewart into the mix. Lesser known is my admiration for Wes Anderson, who I believe is already well on his way to becoming one of the great auteurs of cinema. You can bet I'll be picking up these babies as soon as they become available. And that's in just a few days! DESTRY RIDES AGAIN The unforgettable Marlene Dietrich and legendary James Stewart ride high in this superb comedic western, which can be described as both a boisterous spoof and a shining example of the western genre. Dietrich sheds her exotic love-goddess image as the brawling, rough-and-tumble saloon singer Frenchy. This was a triumphant career comeback for the queen of sultry dramas during the silent to sound crossover years. On the other end of the spectrum, Stewart cemented his amiable everyman persona in this movie. This is actually the first of his many westerns, and he approaches the wild west with a charming interpretation of a gun-abhorring deputy sheriff. He uses his wits to bring law and order to the frontier town of Bottleneck, much to everyone's surprise. The sparkling script is well supported by a co-starring cast of virtuoso character actors. The mixture creates an irresistible, marvel of studio-era craftsmanship. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL Wes Anderson brings his dry wit and visual inventiveness to this exquisite caper set amid the old-world splendor of Europe between the World Wars. At the opulent Grand Budapest, the concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his young protégé forge a steadfast bond as they are swept up in a scheme involving the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. Meticulously designed, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a breathless picaresque and a poignant paean to friendship and the grandeur of a vanished world, which perhaps never really existed except in the blurry world of nostalgia. Performed with panache by an all-star ensemble that includes F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton, and Bill Murray, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a treat to view.