Two of the year’s best films are out this week; Claire Denis’s High Life and Christian Petzold’s Transit. Both have attention-grabbing premises (a space movie centered around graphic sexuality and a World War II story transplanted with no changes to the modern day, respectively) that don’t quite do justice to the complex films around them. High Life is pretty close to Denis’s notorious Trouble Every Day in terms of the sexual violence and gross amount of fluids on display, but it’s anchored by a moving father-daughter story and the most soulful performance of Robert Pattinson’s career. And even more than Petzold’s Phoenix, Transit is a slow-burn building to a whopper of a climax (and specifically final song choice; the Talking Heads have never been this soul-crushing before), its present-day gambit fading into the background in a way that’s more disturbing to consider than if it was constantly nudging you about the similarities between the events of then and now.
Elsewhere this week, two major Criterion titles go back in print and premiere in new restorations; Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy from Criterion and Godard’s Alphaville (speaking of settings that don’t match the time period) from Kino. For more depressing World War II films, there’s Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa, also out from Criterion. And for more oddball stabs at sci-fi from arthouse auteurs, there’s a 4K release of Ang Lee’s Hulk, in case you want to test out your new flatscreen with moody Ice Storm colors and the occasional burst of pea green.
The BRD Trilogy (Criterion)
Bronco Billy (Warner Archive Collection)
The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 2 (Sherlock Jr. / The Navigator) (Cohen)
Europa Europa (Criterion)
High Life (Lionsgate)
Hulk 4K (Universal)
Mothra (Mill Creek)
Pet Sematary (Paramount)
Peter Pan (Kino)
Silent Hill (Shout Factory)
This Island Earth (Shout Factory)
Transit (Music Box)