It’s another week which means another round up of all the titles Criterion has put up on their Hulu Plus page. And it’s a great smorgasbord of releases that will keep your eyes full until the next installment. Also, thanks again to everyone who has signed up for Hulu Plus via our referral page. Please sign up and let us know what you think of the service. Enough of this small talk, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Last week’s article spoke about Louis Malle’s films being put up and sure enough, only a few days later they finally released Black Moon to their page, showing a film that will be coming out on June 28th. I love that they’re doing that with releases that are coming out, just to give their audience the film itself and if you like it, you’ll want to grab the whole package. Malle meets Lewis Carroll in this demented fairy tale filmed on his estate. A great deal of sexuality is on display here and it’s one you won’t soon forget. I’m happy that it didn’t disappoint and instead I re-watched it a second time this week. Definitely check it out now or when the Blu-ray/DVD comes out. And speaking of Louis Malle, they’ve also put up the entirety of his Phantom India series, all seven episodes, from his Documentary Eclipse series. A touching series that is a roller coaster ride of emotions, some say this is Malle’s most personal film making endeavor. And so far I agree with them.
When I heard Criterion was rumored to be putting out Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s science fiction film World on a Wire, I was ecstatic. Could it be true and finally, could I be able to see a superior quality print of it? Then Hulu Plus this week put it up on the Criterion page, and now I had no more excuse to be able to watch it anymore. Made for German television in 1973, it is ahead of its time with the ideas it presents, playing with the idea of identity and reality. It was remade in 1999 as The Thirteenth Floor, but hopefully the true original will be watched and appreciated. Now we’ll await when they announce it into the actual Criterion Collection.
The White Angel (1959), a sequel to Raffaello Matarazzo’s 1952 film Nobody’s Children, it furthers the trials and tribulations of Guido and Luisa (Amedeo Nazzari and Yvonne Sanson), this time with doppelgangers and a women in prison set. How did I miss out on this film?
Alain Resnais’ Mon Oncle d’Amerique (1980), a film not yet in the collection, is a film that defies the usual film Resnais made. It was a huge hit in France and America, winning tons of awards and connecting with the audience. It’s about three people (Gerard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia and Roger Pierre) which we see their lives presented as case histories by a lecturer and we are viewing their every day personal lives and the people who shaped their self image at this present day. Full of pop culture and social criticism, it’s a film that I can see joining the ranks of the collection sooner rather than later. We also get Resnais’ Le chant du StyrÃ¨ne (1958), a short documentary he was hired to make by French industrial group Pechiney to showcase the merits of plastics. It was featured on the Last Year at Marienbad release.
Considering we’re about to cover The Bad Sleep Well on this week’s Criterion Cast (so if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out now!), it’s only fitting that Hulu Plus would add a new Akira Kurosawa film to their page. This time it’s the amazing The Lower Depths (1957), his remake of the Jean Renoir film and both adaptations of the Maxim Gorky play. In a post war world, Kurosawa was not hopeful for the world, and gives the story his own stamp but still faithful to the original material, detailing the conflict between illusion and reality, all with Toshiro Mifune lighting fire to the screen. If you have never watched it, see it now.
Andrzej Wajda’s A Generation (1955) is part of the powerful Three War Films set Criterion put out (you can watch Kanal (1957) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958) as well). At its heart a coming of age story, it takes place in Nazi occupied Warsaw and shows how one young man matures in the face of war.
After Criterion put out one of the greatest films of all time with Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, I realized I need to see more by this director. As luck would have it, they then released a box set of his that I consumed fully when it came out. Never owning it but revisiting it here and there over the years, I’m excited to see that they’ve added two of the three films from that set on their Hulu Plus page. They are Day of Wrath (1943) and Ordet (1955). Both films have love, betrayal and religion intertwined with their stories, the first showing a young wife of an older pastor falling in love with her own stepson in their small 17th century village and we see what happens when the morals of the people conflict with someone’s desire. The second film deals with religion itself tearing a family apart when one child thinks he’s Jesus Christ, the second is agnostic and the third falls in love with a fundamentalist’s daughter. We also get a Dreyer film that hasn’t been put into either collection yet, Master of the House (1925), a darkly comical tale of the sexes, which was one of the most popular silent films to come out of Scandinavia at the time (even though most remember his film Vampyr in today’s world). Just make it a Dreyer weekend. You won’t regret it.
It also wouldn’t be a week without a new Ingmar Bergman film joining the Hulu Plus page. The Silence (1963) is about two sisters, Ester (Ingrid Thulin) who is sickly and an intellectual; and Anna (Gunnel Lindblom), the pragmatic sensual one. They are traveling by train with Anna’s young son Johan to another country, which is seemingly on the brink of war. While vying for Johan’s affection while in a foreign land, they might be sabotaging any future they could have with one another. Never seeing it (I know, bad James!), it’s been called one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, this comes from the amazing Trilogy of Films by Bergman (which includes Winter Light and Through a Glass Darkly), now myself and everybody else has no excuse anymore to not check it out.
One of the funniest films in the collection, Rene Clair’s Ã€ Nous la Liberté (1931) is a witty film about the mechanized world, giving us the story of Louis who is an escaped convict and becomes a wealthy industrialist. When an old friend comes around, it might ruin the plan he’s laid out in front of him all along. A great double feature would be this and Chaplin’s Modern Times. I actually insist on it.
Another film that isn’t in either collection, Marcel Carné’s Hotel Du Nord (1938) sounds like a doozy. The beautiful and radiant Annabella stars in this film about star crossed lovers and the way a woman’s innocence, redemption and the way it affects one man in particular. Louis Jouvet also stars and considering how great he was in Jean Renoir’s The Lower Depths, I’m excited about viewing this one as soon as possible.
One of the newer films in the Criterion collection is Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven (1994), which definitely took me by surprise when I got to see it. A raw character study that had so much honesty, Kerrigan doesn’t leave anyone untouched by the ensuing chaos. Starring Peter Greene as a schizophrenic in search of his daughter, the use of sound design and imagery is horrifying at times. A real kick to the gut, it’s 79 minutes will keep you on your toes.
Last but certainly not least is one of the most anticipated and rumored titles to join the Criterion Collection in the last year, especially with the latest drawing the released in their newsletter. That film is Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors – Red (1994), part of his Three Colors Trilogy. He said this would be his last film, and it came through when he sadly passed away in 1996 and he saved the best for last. Using a single color to highlight certain things throughout the film, in this one he of course uses red to do so. In my eyes it’s an anti-romantic film, showcasing a relationship between a young model and a judge, all because she accidentally runs over a dog. This is the release of the week, one that everyone has been excited about and being Kieslowski’s final film makes it that much more special. Watch it right now.
Another week, another amazing varying array of films from Criterion. Thanks to all who have signed up via our referral link. It’s much appreciated. Let us know what you think of this series down below and if there’s any films in particular that you’ve found to be life altering, we’d love to hear from you. Until next week, keep on streaming.