Best of Criterion’s New Releases: September 2023

Movies Lists The Criterion Collection
Best of Criterion’s New Releases: September 2023

Each month, Paste brings you a look at the best new selections from the Criterion Collection. Much beloved by casual fans and cinephiles alike, Criterion has presented special editions of important classic and contemporary films for over three decades. You can explore the complete collection here.

In the meantime, because chances are you may be looking for something, anything, to discover, find all of our Criterion picks here, and if you’d rather dig into things on the streaming side (because who’s got the money to invest in all these beautiful physical editions?) we’ve got our list of the best films on the Criterion Channel. But you’re here for what’s new, and we’ve got you covered.

Here are all the new releases from Criterion, September 2023:

The Princess BrideYear: 1987
Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Robin Wright
Runtime: 98 minutes

Quite possibly the most perfectly executed transformation of a beloved book to a beloved film in the history of the sport. A family-friendly “kissing movie” with pitch-perfect performances by the entire cast—from main character to bit player—The Princess Bride is the most relentlessly quotable film anywhere this side of Monty Python and their Holy Grail. Though regarded warmly enough by critics, its status as comedic fable ensures it is criminally underrated on most lists. Inconceivable? Alas, no. But unfair, nonetheless. —Michael Burgin

WalkaboutYear: 1971
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Jenny Agutter, Lucien John, David Gulpilil
Runtime: 100 minutes

Australian New Wave

Walkabout’s narrative follows an Australian sister and brother who encounter an Indigenous boy performing the traditional Aboriginal coming-of-age rite: the walkabout. Based on the James Vance Marshall book of the same name, Edward Bond’s original screenplay totaled 14 pages (barely enough for a short film). In Roeg’s hands, it became a meditation on modern rituals and ancient ones, conflicts between the native Aboriginal and invasive European cultures, human language and storytelling, female and male gender roles and the misunderstanding between them, the cruelty of nature and the madness of the modern world.—Andy Beta

The TrialYear: 1962
Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Akim Tamiroff, Elsa Martinelli
Runtime: 118 minutes


It’s difficult to classify Orson Welles’ The Trial; it’s certainly not of this world, instead seemingly the product of some muted parallel universe. A cynical blend of defeatist anti-thriller and jet-black comedy set in a sparse, loveless city draped in perpetual dusk, the film stars Anthony Perkins (despairingly comical) as Josef K, an office drone who’s put on trial without knowing the nature of his crime. Fluctuating between satire and full-on nightmare, The Trial is dense with ideas and themes for the viewer to wade through along with K, as he’s seduced by harpies and taunted by oddballs on his way to discovering there’s no straight answer to why he’s on trial, and that for a man to ask the question “Why?” in such a world is in itself a crime. The term “ahead of its time” is often applied to the films of Welles, and is more so as we reevaluate his body of work and realize there’s so much more to the other-than-Citizen Kanes in his back catalog. There’s a feeling, though, that The Trial will forever seem ahead of its time—it is nearly impenetrable more than 50 years later. It’s also absolutely unforgettable. —Brogan Morris

Moonage DaydreamYear: 2022
Director: Brett Morgen
Runtime: 140 minutes

See David Bowie as You Never Have Before in First Look at Moonage Daydream

Brett Morgen’s indulgent, colorful, melancholy mélange of David Bowie footage, Moonage Daydream is concerned with the artist’s evolution, mutation and transportation between audio and visual media. Over two hours of film clips, interviews, concert footage and a running, necromantic voiceover from Bowie himself constantly questioning his own place in the art world compose a lush (if not always effective) facsimile of the artist’s life for us to step inside and inhabit. So innovative as to be constantly seen as modern, Bowie was a man whose biography will always seem to be written in the present, and Morgen’s work emphasizes this prescience in its highlighting of Bowie’s queerness and his flexibility through genres and forms. Pivoting away from the over-sexed genderfluidity of his early rock years and into the stately pop, private painting, prestigious stage acting and movie stardom of middle age is seen as practical, brilliant and, most of all, personally fulfilling. Though the trek through Bowie’s life can seem a bit askew of its narrative–more invented than focused on self-invention–and the self-consciously trippy colors and compositions might begin to grate once the mushrooms wear off, Moonage Daydream is still a remarkable feat of archival collage and a treat for Bowie devotees.–Jacob Oller.

La BambaYear: 1987
Director: Luis Valdez
Stars: Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Joe Pantoliano, Lou Diamond Phillips
Runtime: 108 minutes

Luis Valdez’s biopic of Ritchie Valens is a movie split down the middle. One half is straightforwardly obsessed with Valens’ tragic fate as the youngest rising star to die in the plane crash that would later be known as The Day the Music Died. The other half paints an intimate portrait of a high schooler, a boy, living in a complicated, impoverished family and excited to simply be popular–regardless of whether he was pioneering Chicano rock. This unassuming story is far better than the heavy, portentous, obvious mythmaking Valdez traffics in when emphasizing Valens’ recurring nightmare, influenced by a near-miss where his best friend died after two planes collided over his junior high school. Allowing Lou Diamond Phillips (playing a fresh-faced, squeaky-clean Valens) and especially Esai Morales (outstanding as his resentful, loving, alcoholic, bad boy half-brother Bob) to be more than figures in a musical legend makes La Bamba sing, and allows Valdez to show off creative filmmaking that rises above the tragic biopic form. A party scene that intermingles handheld camera footage, then shows us it’s being shot using a plugged-in lamp as its light source, is as sweet and evocative as anything in the movie. No lip-syncing (however energetic) can beat Valdez’s eye for family.–Jacob Oller

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