As you probably know, FilmStruck will be closing down on November 29th. At the time that the press release went out, detailing the programming on the Criterion Channel, it was believed that the channel would exist through the end of the month (there were also expiration dates in 2019 for many of the titles included below, but I’ve removed them).
I’m not sure if the final Friday Night Double Feature listed below will be moved forward.
While you won’t be able to start a new subscription now that the end has been announced, if you have a subscription, I’d highly recommend you take advantage of as much on the service as you have time for.
Thursday, November 1
From the Archives: Trainspotting
Danny Boyle’s electrifying 1996 adaptation of the cult novel by Irvine Welsh is a heady tour through Edinburgh’s scuzzy 1980s underground, where Renton, an aimless young man, bounces from heroin highs to desperate lows as he tries, fails, and tries again to get his life on track. Starring Ewan McGregor in his breakout role and set to an iconic soundtrack that jumps from Iggy Pop and Brian Eno to Pulp and Primal Scream, Trainspotting is a rush of audacious, hyperinventive filmmaking. Released by the Criterion Collection only as a laserdisc, the film is presented here along with that edition’s audio commentary, recorded in London in 1996 and featuring Boyle, McGregor, producer Andrew Macdonald, and screenwriter John Hodge.
Friday, November 2
Friday Night Double Feature: Day of Wrath and The Devils
Carl Theodor Dreyer and Ken Russell conjure radically divergent visions of seventeenth-century mass hysteria in these tales of witchcraft, paranoia, and persecution. Made during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, Dreyer’s Day of Wrath (1943) is a transcendent parable of totalitarian oppression exquisitely filmed with the director’s signature austerity. On the other end of the stylistic spectrum, mad genius Ken Russell goes over-the-top bonkers in The Devils (1971), a delirious saga of demonic possession and sexual frenzy in a French convent that was censored around the world for its graphic, sacrilegious imagery. Despite their contrasting aesthetics, both films are searing statements on power and its abuse.
Monday, November 5
Adventures in Moviegoing with Paul Dano
In the latest episode of the Channel-exclusive guest-programmer series Adventures in Moviegoing, actor and Wildlife director Paul Dano revisits the films that have shaped him as an artist both in front of and behind the camera. Dano sheds light on his evolution from performer to acclaimed filmmaker by way of a conversation that touches upon revelatory viewings of classics by Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu, and Jean-Pierre Melville; his experiences working with contemporary auteurs like Paul Thomas Anderson; and the reasons why movies about families resonate so strongly with him.
Monday, November 5
Shorts for Days: Women Auteurs
The first installment of this new series-which presents monthly programs of short films, each curated around a different theme-brings together early works by path-breaking artists working out the themes and aesthetics they would further explore in their celebrated features. Teen angst fuels both Sofia Coppola’s first film, Lick the Star (1998), a stylish, punk rock-inflected forerunner to The Virgin Suicides, and Chantal Akerman’s debut, Saute ma ville (1968), a blistering, anti-domestic yowl that laid the groundwork for her feminist landmark Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. The complex family dynamics Jane Campion would investigate in Sweetie and The Piano are fully present in her enigmatic An Exercise in Discipline: Peel (1982), while Andrea Arnold displays her distinctive poetic-realist eye in her devastating, Academy Award-winning international breakthrough, Wasp (2003). Finally, Uncle Yanco (1967) is vintage Agnès Varda: a wonderfully sunny, bohemian documentary made during her California period.
Tuesday, November 6
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Kaiju Bunraku and Mothra vs. Godzilla
Japan’s second-most famous movie monster, Mothra, strikes twice in this fantastical pairing. Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva’s psychedelic short Kaiju Bunraku (2017) blends traditional Japanese puppet theater and monster-movie mayhem into a feverishly original, surprisingly poignant tale of marital conflict. It screens with Ishiro Honda’s 1964 kaiju classic Mothra vs. Godzilla, in which the winged avenger goes up against the King of the Monsters. The first-and perhaps finest-in a long line of films pitting Toho’s iconic beasts against one another, it’s a prime showcase for the studio’s wildly imaginative creature effects and epically entertaining battle sequences.
Wednesday, November 7
Day for Night: Edition #769
This affectionate farce from François Truffaut about the joys and strife of moviemaking is one of his most beloved films. Truffaut himself appears as the harried director of a frivolous melodrama, the shooting of which is plagued by the whims of a neurotic actor (Jean-Pierre Léaud), an aging but still forceful Italian diva (Valentina Cortese), and a British ingenue haunted by personal scandal (Jacqueline Bisset). An irreverent paean to the prosaic craft of cinema as well as a delightful human comedy about the pitfalls of sex and romance, Day for Night (1973) is buoyed by robust performances and a sparkling score by the legendary Georges Delerue. Supplemental features: A visual essay by filmmaker kogonada, interviews with cast and crew members, archival footage of Truffaut on the set, and more.
Friday, November 9
Friday Night Double Feature: Rendez-vous and Clouds of Sils Maria
Juliette Binoche’s evolution from breakout star to world-cinema icon is mirrored neatly by her roles in this week’s double feature. In 1985, Binoche burst onto the scene with her fearless, César-nominated performance as an aspiring actor ruthlessly chasing stardom in André Téchiné’s dark backstage drama Rendez-vous, coscripted by Olivier Assayas. Three decades later, Assayas directed Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)–a kind of spiritual companion to Rendez-vous in which she plays a renowned, middle-aged actor plagued by insecurity as she prepares to star opposite an up-and-coming Hollywood ingenue in a remake of the film that originally launched her career.
Tuesday, November 13
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Mammy Water and A River Called Titas
Master filmmakers chronicle the everyday dramas and rituals of ancient fishing communities in these far-flung investigations of vanishing ways of life. In his dynamic 1953 short Mammy Water, pioneering documentarian-anthropologist Jean Rouch travels to a village on the Gulf of Guinea, where inhabitants honor the water spirits with elaborate ceremonies and daring “surf boys” head out to sea on multi-day canoe excursions. Then, Bengali auteur Ritwik Ghatak portrays the interlacing lives of fishermen and villagers residing on the banks of Bangladesh’s Titas River in his magisterial epic A River Called Titas (1973), which poignantly captures a society’s disappearing traditions in gorgeous, painterly images.
Wednesday, November 14
Dheepan: Edition #871
With this Palme d’Or-winning drama, which deftly combines seemingly disparate genres, French filmmaker Jacques Audiard cemented his status as a titan of contemporary world cinema. In an arresting performance, the nonprofessional actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan (himself a former child soldier) stars as a Tamil fighter who, along with a woman and a child posing as his wife and daughter, flees war-torn Sri Lanka only to land in a Paris suburb blighted by drugs. As the makeshift family embarks on a new life, Dheepan (2015) settles into an intimate social-realist mode before tightening into a dynamic turf-war thriller, as well as an unsettling study of the psychological aftereffects of combat. Searing and sensitive, Audiard’s film is a unique depiction of the refugee experience as a continuous crisis of identity. Supplemental features: audio commentary featuring Audiard and coscreenwriter Noé Debré, interviews with Audiard and Jesuthasan, and deleted scenes.
Friday, November 16
Friday Night Double Feature: Coma and Dead Ringers
The bill isn’t the scariest thing about going to the doctor in these skin-crawling medical shockers from Michael Crichton and David Cronenberg, both featuring stand-out performances from Geneviève Bujold. In Crichton’s 1978 sci-fi thriller Coma, she plays a surgeon who discovers disturbing goings-on at a Boston hospital-staffed by a cast that includes Michael Douglas, Richard Widmark, and Rip Torn-where patients keep mysteriously going brain-dead. Meanwhile, Cronenberg’s 1988 body-horror classic Dead Ringers casts Bujold as an actress who unleashes a psychosexual maelstrom when she comes between a pair of identical-twin gynecologists, played by Jeremy Irons in a diabolical double role.
Monday, November 19
Guillermo del Toro Presents: The Night of the Hunter
As a guest curator on the Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, Guillermo del Toro, the Oscar-winning director of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, introduces Charles Laughton’s 1955 masterpiece The Night of the Hunter. The renowned actor’s only film as a director stars Robert Mitchum in a performance of towering menace as an ex-con turned sham preacher who terrorizes a widow (Shelley Winters) and her two children. Steeped in southern-gothic atmosphere and shot in striking, expressionist style by the great Stanley Cortez, the film has the dreamlike air of a sinister fairy tale, marking it as a forerunner to del Toro’s similarly dark, fable-like fantasies.
Tuesday November 20
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke and La Jetée
Chris Marker’s radically influential science-fiction classic is paired with a gonzo reimagining of its premise. Composed almost entirely of still images, Marker’s La Jetée (1963) voyages through history and memory to evoke a time traveler’s recollections of a pre-apocalyptic world. In Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke (2012), directors Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva – of Miami’s celebrated indie-film collective Borscht Corporation – offer an outré spin on Marker’s masterpiece. Starring Luther Campbell- aka 2 Live Crew’s Luke Skyywalker– this festival hit combines rainbow-colored animation, cartoonish live action sequences, and archival footage as it traipses through the hip-hop legend’s memories and musings.
Tuesday, November 20
True Stories: Edition #951
Music icon David Byrne was inspired by tabloid headlines to make his sole foray into feature-film directing, an ode to the extraordinariness of ordinary American life and a distillation of what was in his own idiosyncratic mind. The Talking Heads front man plays a visitor to Virgil, Texas, who introduces us to the citizens of the town during preparations for its Celebration of Specialness. As shot by cinematographer Ed Lachman, Texas becomes a hyperrealistic late-capitalist landscape of endless vistas, shopping malls, and prefab metal buildings. In True Stories (1986), Byrne uses his songs to stitch together pop iconography, voodoo rituals, and a singular variety show-all in the service of uncovering the rich mysteries that lurk under the surface of everyday experience. Supplemental features: a documentary about the film’s production, deleted scenes, an homage to the town of Virgil, Texas, and more.
Friday, November 23
Friday Night Double Feature: Les dames du Bois de Boulogne and Dangerous Liaisons
Sexual and psychological gamesmanship is the order of the day in these stylish, high-society-set tales of revenge based on classics of eighteenth-century French literature. The second feature made by Robert Bresson, Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945) is an atypical masterwork in the director’s oeuvre. Featuring dialogue by Jean Cocteau (adapting Denis Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist) and surprisingly opulent visuals, it tells the story of a spurned aristocrat who gets even with her ex-lover by orchestrating his affair with a prostitute. Similarly, Glenn Close is a scheming marquise spinning a web of erotic manipulation in Stephen Frears’s deliciously decadent 1988 adaption of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ classic novel Dangerous Liaisons, acted to the hilt by a cast that includes John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, and Keanu Reeves.
Tuesday, November 27
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Sea Devil and Dheepan
The struggles of refugees are powerfully portrayed in these visceral looks at what happens when the dream of escaping to a better life becomes a harrowing fight to survive. Directed by Dean C. Marcial and Brett Potter of Miami’s acclaimed Borscht Corporation, Sea Devil (2014) is a surreal, horror-laced allegory in which a father and daughter fleeing Cuba encounter something unsettling lurking at the bottom of the ocean. In his gripping 2015 Palme d’Or winner Dheepan, director Jacques Audiard traces the journey of a Tamil fighter who trades civil unrest in Sri Lanka for simmering violence on the streets of Paris.
Wednesday, November 28
The Awful Truth: Edition #917
In this Oscar-winning farce, Cary Grant (in the role that first defined the Cary Grant persona) and Irene Dunne exude charm, cunning, and artless affection as an urbane couple who, fed up with each other’s infidelities, resolve to file for divorce. But try as they might to move on, the mischievous Jerry can’t help meddling in Lucy’s ill-matched engagement to a corn-fed Oklahoma businessman (Ralph Bellamy), and a mortified Lucy begins to realize that she may be saying goodbye to the only dance partner capable of following her lead. Directed by the versatile Leo McCarey, a master of improvisation and slapstick as well as a keen and sympathetic observer of human folly, The Awful Truth (1937) is a warm but unsparing comedy about two people whose flaws only make them more irresistible. Supplemental features: an interview with critic Gary Giddins, a video essay on Grant’s performance, a radio adaptation of the film starring Grant and Claudette Colbert, and more.
Thursday, November 29
Observations on Film Art No. 25: Nonlinear Narrative- Lydia and the Power of Flashbacks
Julien Duvivier’s haunting, exquisitely bittersweet 1941 romance Lydia stars Merle Oberon as an elderly woman who recalls her youthful relationships with three men-memories that unfold in intricate, subjective flashback sequences that were nearly unprecedented in early 1940s Hollywood (the film was released a mere two weeks after the similarly structured Citizen Kane). In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that offers viewers a monthly dose of film school, Professor David Bordwell illuminates how this unsung melodrama helped redefine the art of cinematic flashbacks as we know them today and how the film’s creative nonlinearity enhances its sublime emotional impact.
Friday, November 30
Friday Night Double Feature: Meantime and This Is England
The desperation and rebellion of Thatcher-era England are vividly evoked in this week’s double feature. One of the greatest of the pioneering films Mike Leigh made for British television, the darkly funny Meantime (1984) stars Tim Roth as an alienated East Londoner grappling with unemployment and ennui opposite Gary Oldman (in his first major role) as a nigh-psychotic skinhead. While Leigh’s film reflects the turmoil of the era in which it was made, Shane Meadows’ hard-hitting cult classic This Is England (2006) meticulously recreates 1980s Britain via a moving coming-of-age story to take stock of how the skinhead underground evolved from a working-class movement rooted in ska and West Indian culture to an emblem of white nationalism.
Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:
Kaiju Bunraku, Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer, 2017
Dheepan, Jacques Audiard, 2015
Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer, 2012
True Stories, David Byrne, 1986
Sea Devil, Brett Potter and Dean C. Marcial, 2014
This is England, Shane Meadows, 2006