The pandemic might be killing us and all our businesses, but you know who seems unaffected? The Criterion Collection who are having a killer 2020 so far. Not only have they made moves like scoring Neon’s Academy Award Best Picture winner “Parasite” just a few short months after it won the Oscar, but they’re having a field day with box sets like the Agnes Varda complete set and the upcoming Federico Fellini set. Now they’ve dropped the bomb of their November 2020 releases and it’s a goldmine of material coming to the collection.

Undoubtedly the big manna from the heavens to cinephiles is Martin Scorsese’s 3-hour-plus Netflix film “The Irishman,” which is also part of the coup of getting Netflix to release related DVDs (something the streaming service rarely does, only for their top-shelf filmmakers). Up for several Oscars and featuring the Trifecta of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, “The Irishman” is a crime saga and an intimate story of loyalty and betrayal writ large across the epic canvas of mid-twentieth-century American history.

But every release this month from Criterion is huge. Jim Jarmusch’s seminal hit-man/hip-hop movie “Ghost Dog” starring Forest Whitaker is arriving this fall, as is Claudia Weill’s seminal 1970s feminist bff story “Girlfriends” (think “Lady Bird” nearly 40 years before its time). Lastly, another classic in the fold, Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning romantic comedy “Moonstruck” starring Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia Dukakis. Start making your Christmas list now because Criterion has literally shown up everyone this week, if not this month, if not this entire year. Details below.

GHOST DOG
Jim Jarmusch combines his love for the ice-cool crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville and Seijun Suzuki with the philosophical dimensions of samurai mythology for an eccentrically postmodern take on the Uhit-man thriller. In one of his defining roles, Forest Whitaker brings a commanding serenity to his portrayal of a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him. Featuring moody cinematography by the great Robby Müller, a mesmerizing score by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and a host of colorful character actors (including a memorably stone-faced Henry Silva), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai plays like a pop-culture-sampling cinematic mixtape built around a one-of-a-kind tragic hero.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Alternate isolated stereo music track
• New Q&A with Jarmusch, in which he responds to questions sent in by fans
• New conversation between actors Forest Whitaker and Isaach De Bankolé, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie
• New interview with casting director Ellen Lewis
• New interview with Shifu Shi Yan Ming, founder of the USA Shaolin Temple
• New video essay on RZA’s original score for the film
• The Odyssey: A Journey into the Life of a Samurai, a 2000 program on the making of the film
• Deleted scenes and outtakes
• Archival interviews
• Trailer
• More!
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Greg Tate and quotations from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by the early-eighteenth-century monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo

1999 • 116 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio

GIRLFRIENDS
When her best friend and roommate abruptly moves out to get married, Susan (Melanie Mayron), trying to become a gallery artist while making ends meet as a bar mitzvah photographer on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, finds herself adrift in both life and love. Could a new job be the answer? What about a fling with a married, older rabbi (Eli Wallach)? A wonder of American independent filmmaking whose remarkably authentic vision of female relationships has become a touchstone for makers of an entire subgenre of films and television shows about young women trying to make it in the big city, this 1970s New York time capsule from Claudia Weill captures the complexities and contradictions of women’s lives and relationships with wry humor and refreshing frankness.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Claudia Weill and director of photography Fred Murphy, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with Weill
• New interview with Weill and actors Melanie Mayron, Christopher Guest, and Bob Balaban
• New interview with screenwriter Vicki Polon
• New interview with Weill and writer and director Joey Soloway
• Joyce at 34, a 1972 short film by Weill and Joyce Chopra
• Commuters, a 1973 short film by Weill
• Trailer
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: Essays by critic Molly Haskell and scholar Carol Gilligan

1978 • 88 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

THE IRISHMAN

Martin Scorsese’s cinematic mastery is on full display in this sweeping crime saga, which serves as an elegiac summation of his six-decade career. Left behind by the world, former hit man and union truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) looks back from a nursing home on his life’s journey through the ranks of organized crime: from his involvement with Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) to his association with Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) to the rift that forced him to choose between the two. An intimate story of loyalty and betrayal writ large across the epic canvas of mid-twentieth-century American history, The Irishman (based on the real-life Sheeran’s confessions, as told to writer Charles Brandt for the book I Heard You Paint Houses) is a uniquely reflective late-career triumph that balances its director’s virtuoso set pieces with a profoundly personal rumination on aging, mortality, and the decisions and regrets that shape a life.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New 4K digital master, approved by director Martin Scorsese, with Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, originally recorded in 2019
• New documentary about the making of the film featuring Scorsese; the lead actors; producers Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Jane Rosenthal, and Irwin Winkler; director of photography Rodrigo Prieto; and others from the cast and crew
• New video essay written and narrated by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman’s synthesis of Scorsese’s singular formal style
• The Evolution of Digital De-aging, a 2019 program on the visual effects created for the film
• Archival interview excerpts with Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran and International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa 
• Trailer and teaser
• PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

2019 • 209 minutes • Color • Dolby Atmos/5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio

MOONSTRUCK

A full moon, a New York City night, and love and music in the air . . . One of the most enchanting romantic comedies of all time assembles a flawless ensemble cast for a tender and boisterously funny look at a multigenerational Italian American family in Brooklyn, wrestling with the complexities of love and marriage at every stage of life. At the center of it all is a radiant Cher as Loretta, an unlucky-in-love bookkeeper whose feelings about her engagement to the staid Johnny (Danny Aiello) are thrown into question after she meets his hot-blooded brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage), and one night at the opera changes everything. Winner of the Academy Awards for best actress (Cher), supporting actress (Olympia Dukakis), and original screenplay (by playwright John Patrick Shanley), this modern-day fairy tale is swept along on passionate Puccini melodies, and directed by master storyteller Norman Jewison with the heightened emotion to match.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with screenwriter John Patrick Shanley
• New interview with scholar Stefano Albertini about the use of opera in the film
• Introduction from 2013 featuring Cher
• Interviews from 1987 with director Norman Jewison and actors Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia Dukakis
• Interview from 2002 with actor Danny Aiello
• Audio interview from 1989 with Shanley about screenwriting and the development of Moonstruck
• At the Heart of an Italian Family, a 2006 program about the making of the film
• The Music of “Moonstruck,” a 2006 program featuring interviews with Jewison and composer Dick Hyman
• Audio commentary from 1998 with Cher, Jewison, and Shanley
• Trailer
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Emily VanDerWerff

1987 • 102 minutes • Color • 5.1 surround • 1.85:1 aspect ratio