Criterion has the difficult task of marketing two films with exactly the same title, released on BluRay a month apart. The first, ‘Weekend‘, Andrew Haigh’s moving and honest depiction of love, not at first sight, but at first couple of days hanging out together, earns its distinction of being one of the few contemporary films to get the typically pristine and engaging treatment only Criterion and Eureka can muster in the US or UK. What’s striking about ‘Weekend’ is how its tale of two guys falling for each other is far more sexually explicit that ‘Brokeback Mountain’, yet the gender of the protagonists is taken for granted. Things have changed – the gay identity of the characters is handled subtly, shown, not told, not made into the reason for the film’s existence. ‘Weekend’ could pass as the first widely seen British gay love story that allows itself to be as much about the love and the story as the gay.
An entirely different kind of emotional honesty is on display in ‘The Game‘, one of my guilty pleasures, also released on Criterion BluRay this past week. Spoiler avoidance is well nigh impossible in any review that wants to explore the themes of a film in which Michael Douglas is invited to take part in a puzzle he doesn’t understand and ends up being much more (and less) than it seems. So I’ll try to avoid giving the film’s title away and just say that as a parable for descent into the psychic shadow, and a proposition for changing direction, ‘The Game’s as good as the story of Jacob Marley’s former business partner.
Both editions carry handsome extras – particularly notable is Haigh’s discussion of avoiding homocliche, and Douglas’ surprisingly vulnerable contributions to the audio commentary.