One of the most bittersweet romances in contemporary cinema made its debut on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck this week in its complete edition. British director Andrew Haigh’s 2011 breakthrough, Weekend, follows a casual hookup between two young men as it teeters on the cusp of something more, capturing both the subtle push-and-pull between the new lovers and the complexities of modern gay life in the English Midlands. Among the must-see supplemental features on our edition are interviews with Haigh and his cast and collaborators, footage of the film’s shoot, and two of the director’s early shorts.
Also up this week: a Jean Renoir masterpiece celebrating its eightieth anniversary, a spotlight on Australian filmmaker Bruce Beresford, and two films set entirely in moving cars.
This pairing of car-bound films hits the road with Norwegian director Gunhild Enger, whose 2012 short Premature follows a pregnant Spanish woman through an agonizing encounter with her boyfriend’s family, and Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, whose 2002 feature Ten explores social fissures through conversations between a female driver and a series of passengers.
“If I had only one film in the world to save, it would be Grand Illusion,” said Orson Welles. No wonder it was our first DVD edition! Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, and Erich von Stroheim star in Jean Renoir’s masterpiece, a prison-escape film that sounds an elegiac note for the doomed nobility of Europe. We’re commemorating the eightieth anniversary of this masterpiece—and the ongoing World War I centennial—with our edition, which includes video footage of Renoir discussing his experiences in combat.
Australian director Bruce Beresford, celebrated for American hits like the Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy and Tender Mercies, broke through internationally with Breaker Morant (1980), the riveting drama of three Australian soldiers who are court-martialed and made scapegoats for the crimes of the British Empire during the Boer War. Ten years later, he again trained his eye on the human costs of colonialism in Mister Johnson, which adapts Joyce Cary’s novel about a Nigerian villager who seeks to ingratiate himself with the British authorities in hopes of realizing his ambitions.