It’s that time of year again, friends: Barnes & Noble’s 50% off sale for the Criterion Collection is back. It’s a dangerous time for the wallets of movie fans everywhere, but we’re here to help you out with some recommendations.
You can find all the titles available in the sale on Barnes & Noble’s website. The sale will last through July 31.
There are tons of great movies to check out in the collection, but the sale is also one of the only times where it can feel reasonable to spring for a box set. The Criterion Collection’s box sets are often terrific, collecting multiple great films with terrific box art and a lot of wonderful supplementary material. Here are some of our favorites for you to consider this time around.
Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project
Martin Scorsese has directed many timeless classics, but his lasting legacy in the world of cinema will likely be the World Cinema Project. An invaluable series of collections featuring incredible movies from around the world, Scorsese’s dedication to the preservation of international and historically significant cinema is something to be admired and held on to. The World Cinema Project has restored 47 classic movies from around the world, and four box set volumes are available as a part of the Criterion Collection. You can’t go wrong with any of them. —Pete Volk
Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits
Arguably the most influential movie star in the history of cinema, Bruce Lee’s short-lived action career is collected in this gorgeous box set, with cover art by Gian Galang. Featuring his first martial arts movie (The Big Boss), his oft-remade follow-up (Fist of Fury), my personal favorite (his directorial debut, The Way of the Dragon), his most famous movie (Enter the Dragon), and the movie he was making when he tragically died at the age of 32 (Game of Death), this collection is essential. —PV
The Complete Films of Agnès Varda
The incomparable Agnès Varda effortlessly blended fact and fiction in a glorious career that spanned genres, mediums, and decades. This box set is organized thematically, not chronologically, with sections focused on her time in California, her Paris films, her films about her husband, Jacques Demy, and more (each section has its own essay included). Through this unconventional organization, viewers can see how Varda’s work is in conversation with itself over time, particularly when some of her later pieces are paired with some from earlier in her filmography. —PV
Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975
Criterion’s 1000th release is as massive as the king of the kaiju himself. Boasting 15 digitally restored films including Ishiro Honda’s 1954 original and beloved fan favorites like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, the Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films box set is bursting at the seams with in-depth essays, archival interviews, and special features, not to mention beautiful commissioned illustrations by prolific artists, including Geof Darrow, Ronald Wimberly, Yuko Shimizu, and many more. —Toussaint Egan
The Complete Jacques Tati
Jacques Tati is considered one of the foremost comedic filmmakers of the 20th century, a French mime and actor-director whose place within the rarified canon of cinematic legends exists somewhere equidistant between the likes of Buster Keaton and Jean-Luc Godard. Renowned for his role as the bumbling yet benevolent Monsieur Hulot, Tati honed his idiosyncratic blend of cerebral, architecturally focused slapstick across a considerable collection of shorts and several features, including his 1967 masterpiece Playtime.
The Complete Jacques Tati Criterion box set collects all six of Tati’s features, his shorts, and a wealth of archival interviews and featurettes, including the English-language version of Mon oncle (My Uncle) and several documentaries dedicated to Tati’s films and on-screen persona. Lastly, there’s the illustration packaging by David Merveille, a fantastic Belgian children’s book illustrator who art perfectly captures the characteristic whimsy and effortless wit of Tati at his best. —TE
Lone Wolf and Cub
Based on Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s iconic manga series, the Lone Wolf and Cub films are iconic installments in the genre of samurai cinema. The story of the itinerant assassin Itto Ogami and his infant son Daigoro’s adventures across the conflict-torn plains of Japan has inspired Western artists as far afield as Frank Miller, Genndy Tartakovsky, Jon Favreau, and the Wu-Tang Clan. The Lone Wolf and Cub Criterion box set includes all six films in the venerated series, the 1980 English-dubbed Shogun Assassin re-edit, an essay booklet by critic Patrick Macias, and archival interviews with author Kazuo Koike and biographer Kazuma Nozawa. And of course, who could forget the packaging and liner illustrations drawn by Paul Pope of Batman: Year 100 and Heavy Liquid fame. There’s even a cool accordion-fold schematic illustration of Ogami’s baby cart arsenal! —TE