In today’s Criterion email newsletter, the customary “clue” at the bottom of the page seems to be a bit more obvious this month and seems to indicate that they will soon be issuing a deluxe edition of Steven Soderbergh’s massive, two-part “Che.”

Rather esoteric initially, the clues in these newsletters have been getting more explicit in recent months (what else could a mechanical scarab be, besides Guillermo del Toro’s “Cronos”?), and this picture of a parrot with a Che T-shirt on and the caption, “This fall, Criterion welcomes you to the jungle,” seems to directly point to “Che” (see image below).

Criterion has already put out wonderful, extras-packed editions of Soderbergh’s “Traffic” and “Schizopolis” so it does make sense that they’d want to put together a nice package for “Che.” Hopefully they’ll also be handling the Blu-ray release which is said to be part of the packaged deal. Since “Che” was was shot digitally in high definition and should look breathtaking on the high def format. (Criterion’s recent Blu-ray release of the digitally shot ‘Benjamin Button’ is nothing short of astounding.)

And that looks like the way its supposed to go down. An article in Video Business, around the time of ‘Che’s cable/theatrical release last December, suggested that the DVD release would be “in the middle of 2009” and that Blockbuster Video did some serious underwriting to make sure that the home video release was a “Blockbuster exclusive” (They paid for the Academy screeners).

So what if the teaser image really is just that – a tease? And instead of Steven Soderbergh’s thorny, amazing “Che” maybe we’re given the 1969 Richard Fleischer oddity “Che!,” which starred Omar Sharif as the guerilla fighter and Jack Palance as Fidel Castro (seriously – you can’t make this shit up)? Ha, probably not.

We’re pretty sure it’ll be Soderbergh’s version that gets the Criterion treatment, and that whatever rights issues have to be worked out (and whatever extras they have to assemble) have naturally pushed back the release to the fall.

So, we’ll stick by it – this fall, Criterion will release a definitive DVD and Blu-ray edition of our beloved “Che.” Or at least, that’s what we’re dearly hoping for and hell, the writing sure looks like it’s on the wall, errr.. in the email. Viva la revolution! – Drew Taylor [ed. btw, the artwork is our photoshop job if that wasn’t entirely obvious]

*Update*: “Che” parts I and II are actually both already available for rental on Blockbuster.com, and since they have a 60-day exclusive, that’s probably all the more reason to wait for the fall.