Polyester is the Pick of the Week

John Waters's 1981 biting domestic classic tops a week of solid releases.
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John Waters is one of our greatest filmmakers. He is a singular director of outrageous bad state, but he dares to show a side of society that usually doesn't get depicted too often in film. He also found the perfect alter ego in his greatest actor: the legendary Divine. They had made many movies together (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Multiple Maniacs, among others), but in 1981, I think they both hit their stride with Waters's first studio feature, Polyester. In a twisted reversal of Douglas Sirk, Divine brilliantly plays Francine Fishpaw, a long-suffering Baltimore housewife grappling with her keen sense of smell, a cheating husband, a relentless mother, and her two uncontrollable children. But her saving destiny comes in the form of a handsome lothario (played with gusto by vintage beefcake Tab Hunter).

I'm so glad that Waters has a relationship with Criterion. They treat him and his classic films with respect, and this is no different on their third release of his cinema with the new release of Polyester. It not only has arguably the greatest cover in their history, but Criterion provides some nifty supplements, including a new conversation between Waters and critic Michael Musto, vintage audio commentary featuring Waters (from the 1993 laserdisc edition), deleted scenes and alternate takes, and more. It also comes with a new essay by film scholar Elena Gorfinkel, a foldout poster of the cover, and the famous Odorama scratch-and-sniff card (from previous editions). Of course, this is one of most anticipated releases of the year and definitely a must-have in your collection!

Other interesting releases:

Cluny Brown (Criterion Collection) - Jennifer Jones and Charles Boyer play a carefree parlor maid and Czech refugee who turn an English village upside down with their unconventional values.

My Favorite Year - Benjy Stone, junior writer on the popular 1950s variety show, The King Kaiser Show, has to keep guest star Alan Swann (the great Peter O'Toole) out of trouble and deliver him sober to the live telecast. This proves to be quite the challenge, considering the show also has to deal with a notorious gangster who threatens violence if the show doesn't cease to make fun of him.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 - Wes Craven's follow up to his 1977 shocker, where a biker gang takes a dangerous shortcut and encounter the murderous Jupiter clan from the original film.

Who Saw Her Die? - A Venice sculptor's daughter is found murdered, and while trying to come to terms with her death, he uncovers a high-level conspiracy of sexual perversity and violence after the police fail to find the killer.

Whirlpool - Gene Tierney plays a woman being hypnotized in order to cure her of her kleptomania. She is found at the scene of a crime with no recollection of how she ended up there and apparently no way to prove her innocence.

Pasolini - Willem Dafoe portrays controversial director Pier Paolo Pasolini during the final days of his life. Focusing on his private and public life, his inner world is explored in the hours leading to his notorious murder.

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