This Week In Criterion’s Hulu Plus Channel

Well, if anyone had been planning a personal Keisuke Kinoshita retrospective, now’s your chance! Strike! Strike! Strike!  Criterion has added no fewer (and, well, no MORE either)  than nine films to their Hulu channel, and I couldn’t be more intrigued! All are available in HD.

The Good Fairy (1951) – “Two journalists and their lovers share an uncertain future.”

Sing, Young People (1963) – “A college student receives a surprising offer to be a movie star.”

The Living Magoroku (1943) – “A wealthy family will not allow the military to grow crops on their fields due to their superstitious beliefs about their son’s illness.”

A Legend or Was It? (1963) – “A young woman fends off a series of aggressive marriage proposals from a man who committed atrocities during World War II.” It also has a righteous image accompanying it.

Farewell to Dream (1956) – “The conflicting dreams of the members of a Japanese family are threatened by a series of misfortunes.”

Tragedy of Japan (1953) – “A widowed mother works as a maid to provide for her children only to find that they resent her.”

Immortal Love (1961) – “A woman is pushed to marry a rich but impaired man against her will, but soon her estranged lover reappears.”

Broken Drum (1949) – “When the future of his construction company falls into danger, a controlling father pushes his children into unsatisfying marraiges and careers in order to  regain financial stability.”

Apostasy (1949) – “Amidst rumors of his lower class origins that threaten his job, a school teacher pleads for freedom and equality.”

This makes twenty-four Kinoshita films total available on Hulu, which is still less than half of his total works (he made fifty films between 1943 and 1988; he died in 1998), but it’ll certainly get you started.  Admittedly, I’ve not seen a single one of the famed Japanese director’s works, but they have such intriguing premises, do they not?  In this way they sort of remind me of Mikio Naruse, whose filmography I am currently working through – each one of them is driven by a fascinating, but simple, moral quandary. Kinoshita’s seem a bit more plot-driven, they also benefit from a similar simplicity while at the same time feeling unfamiliar.

As much as I love catching up on the huge classics, a sizable benefit to Criterion’s Hulu channel has been catching up on the many, many Eclipse releases that have passed me by over the years. Criterion has added a few, just for me, I’m sure.

Two of Jean-Pierre Gorin’s three “popular films” have been added – Poto and Cabengo (1980), about two young San Diego twins who have developed, for all intents and purposes, their own language, and My Crassy Life (1992), about a  Samoan street gang in Long Beach. I’ve heard great things about the Gorin set from a surprisingly diverse crowd, so these are going straight to my (admittedly overflowing) queue. And, unlike most Eclipse titles on Hulu, both are available in HD.

However, two other Eclipse titles are slightly more pressing to me, personally. The “Pearls of the Czech New Wave” box set is one I am eagerly anticipating, and we can now see two of them – Daisies (1966)  and Pearls of the Deep (1966). My fellow Hulumaniac James McCormick singled out the former,  Vera Chytilová’s anarchic and absurdist piece,  as a fantastic film, and I know many cinephiles expressed surprise that it didn’t get its own mainline release, but, hey, here it is for your enjoyment. Fun tidbit – so outraged were Czech authorities that Chytilová was banned from working there until 1975.

Beyond that, we get two Masahiro Shinoda films – Ballad of Orin (1977) and Silence (1971), a remake of which is slated to be Martin Scorsese’s next film. Obviously the film has a great deal to recommend on its own reputation, but there now you can also be the coolest guy in the room and be all, “Yeah, well, Shinoda had a different take on the material.” Or douchiest; I don’t know what crowd you roll with. Ballad  is about a  blind traveling musician who is abused and oppressed wherever she goes, even as the modern world imposes change around her, while Silence  tells the tale of two Portuguese priests who sneak into a Japanese village to serve its Christian citizens during a time when Christianity was outlawed in Japan. Both are available in HD.

There’s a new Francois Truffaut film! Huzzah! Granted, I’ve yet to get to many of his others, including The Soft Skin, but it’s still good news. It also benefits from an inversion of the premise he employed in Jules and Jim, which might make it an interesting companion piece. This time, it’s Two English Girls (1971), about, you guessed it, two English girls who fall in love with a Frenchman.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders  (1970) sounds very Rochelle, Rochelle on the surface of things, dealing as it does with a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, but seems to take a surreal bent to the proceedings, and as such, has me quite intrigued. And of the many things that piqué Scott Nye’s interest in a film, “dreamlike” is high on that list.

I know Merchant and Ivory get a bad rap in some corners, and while I’m not best suited to defend them – I’ve only seen two of their productions and only found them mostly satisfying – I am completely in for The Householder (1963). I’m a big fan of people getting married well before they’re ready and dealing with the consequences. I know it’s not a section at the video store, but I’ll take it anytime I see it. Available in HD.

And finally, a 30-minute Chaplin film, and in HD no less? Yes please! Sunnyside (1919) is about a farmhand who’s in love with his neighbor, but sees sudden competition in the form of a city slicker who rides into town.

That’s going to do it for this edition, dear readers. Hopefully you’ve found a few things of note on here; I know I can’t wait to get to them (as my queue nears 200 films…).