Each month, the fine folks at FilmStruck and the Criterion Collection spend countless hours crafting their channels to highlight the many different types of films that they have in their streaming library. This August will feature an exciting assortment of films, as noted below.
Tuesday, August 1
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: These Boots and Mystery Train
Music is at the heart of this program, which pairs a zany music video by Finnish master Aki Kaurismäki with a tune-filled career highlight from American independent-film pioneer Jim Jarmusch. In the 1993 These Boots, Kaurismäki’s band of pompadoured “Finnish Elvis” rockers, the Leningrad Cowboys, cover a Nancy Sinatra classic in their signature deadpan style. It’s the perfect prelude to Jarmusch’s 1989 Mystery Train, a homage to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the musical legacy of Memphis, featuring appearances by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer.
Wednesday, August 2
The Friends of Eddie Coyle: Criterion Collection Edition #475
Celebrate Robert Mitchum’s centenary with one of the actor’s best performances. In Peter Yates’s 1973 crime thriller, the Hollywood icon stars as a two-bit gunrunner forced to choose between betraying his fellow gangsters and risking more jail time. With its depictions of the gritty side of Boston and its sympathetic embrace of its outlaw characters, The Friends of Eddie Coyle represents the 1970s Hollywood suspense film at its starkest. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURE: an audio commentary by the director.
Thursday, August 3
Bicycle Thieves: Criterion Collection Edition #374
Vittorio De Sica’s Academy Award-winning masterpiece is one of the ultimate touchstones of Italian neorealism, a movement that turned a compassionate gaze on the everyday struggles of real people. Set in postwar Rome, this classic of world cinema is both a powerful look at the toll of economic desperation and a deeply moving depiction of the relationship between a father and a son. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: a program on the history of Italian neorealism; a 2003 documentary about screenwriter and longtime De Sica collaborator Cesare Zavattini; and a collection of interviews with screenwriter Suso Cecchi d’Amico, actor Enzo Staiola, and film scholar Callisto Cosulich.
Friday, August 4
Friday Night Double Feature: Putney Swope and Chafed Elbows
Kick off your weekend with two irreverent underground classics from iconoclastic New York filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. A mainstay on the midnight-movie circuit, 1969’s
Putney Swope is an eccentric comedy that mines gloriously chaotic racial satire from the tale of a Madison Avenue advertising agency that inadvertently elects its only black board member as its chairman. Composed primarily of still 35 mm photographs and processed at Downey’s local Walgreens, the 1966 Chafed Elbows focuses on the outrageous misadventures of a Manhattanite going through his “annual November breakdown.”
Monday, August 7
They Live by Night: Criterion Collection Edition #880, In a Lonely Place: Criterion Collection Edition #810, and Bigger Than Life: Criterion Collection Edition #507
On the anniversary of Nicholas Ray’s birth, we’re presenting our special editions of three of the maverick director’s most essential works. His 1948 film debut, They Live by Night, was one of the first major lovers-on-the-run thrillers, a genre milestone that paved the way for such daring films as Badlands and Natural Born Killers. Prime Bogart is at his brooding best in the moody noir-melodrama In a Lonely Place, bringing a psychological complexity to the role of a washed-up screenwriter who becomes the suspect in a murder case. Bigger Than Life, an unsettling look at Eisenhower-era suburbia, examines the fragility of the American nuclear family through the story of a schoolteacher whose cortisone addiction wreaks havoc on his household.
Tuesday, August 8
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Sunday in Peking and The Last Emperor
Two European masters capture China at different moments in the twentieth century: in the groundbreaking documentary Sunday in Peking, French filmmaker Chris Marker meditates on his experiences traveling through China’s capital city in the 1950s and observing the everyday lives of its inhabitants; in 1987’s The Last Emperor – which won nine Oscars, including best picture – Italian auteur Bernardo Bertolucci mounts a lavish re-creation of the Forbidden City in the twilight of the Ching Dynasty.
Wednesday, August 9
Tampopo*: Criterion Collection Edition #868
On the heels of its theatrical re-release last year, Juzo Itami’s ode to the sensuality of food makes its debut on the Channel. A delirious blend of the surreal, the erotic, and the comedic, this 1985 “ramen western” follows the tale of a noodle shop owner’s widow, who endeavors to become a first-class chef with the help of a band of culinary ronin. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: a ninety-minute documentary about the making of the film; interviews with a ramen scholar and prominent chefs; and Itami’s 1962 debut short, Rubber Band Pistol.
*Premiering on the Channel this month
Thursday, August 10
White Material*: Criterion Collection Edition #560
One of the most acclaimed figures in contemporary French cinema, director Claire Denis explores the ravages of European colonialism in this raw, complex drama. Isabelle Huppert stars as a French woman living in an unnamed African country, where civil war and racial conflict have led to the demise of her family’s coffee plantation. Deftly combining Huppert’s characteristic intensity with Denis’s intimate style, White Material is a provocative character study of a woman hell-bent on surviving in an increasingly brutal landscape. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: interviews with Denis, Huppert, and cast member Isaach de Bankolé; a short documentary by Denis that captures the film’s premiere in Cameroon; and a deleted scene.
*Premiering on the Channel this month
Friday, August 11
Friday Night Double Feature: Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday and The Party
Two titans of physical comedy take the spotlight in these wildly inventive classics. First up is the 1953 seaside farce Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, which made an immortal slapstick hero out of Jacques Tati’s deadpan alter ego. Next is the 1968 fish-out-of-water comedy The Party, in which director Blake Edwards and actor Peter Sellers echo the spirit of Tati’s set pieces with a freewheeling structure and brilliant gags that verge on the avant-garde. Don’t miss an introduction to Edwards’s film by author Jonathan Lethem, included in his Adventures in Moviegoing.
Monday, August 14
Something Wild: Criterion Collection Edition #563
No film embodies the ebullient spirit of Jonathan Demme more than this cult hit, a showcase for the late director’s infectious sense of humor and brilliant use of music. This tonally intricate hybrid of comedy, romance, and action follows a mild-mannered yuppie (Jeff Daniels) as he takes a walk on the wild side with a free-spirited woman (Melanie Griffith) and her loose-cannon ex (an unforgettably menacing Ray Liotta, in a career-defining role). The unforgettable soundtrack is packed with gems by New Order, Jimmy Cliff, and Fine Young Cannibals, and the Feelies can be seen in an on-screen appearance. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: new video interviews with Demme and writer E. Max Frye, and the original theatrical trailer.
Tuesday, August 15
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Six Men Getting Sick and Fantastic Planet
This double dose of head-spinning animation kicks off with the 1966 short that marked David Lynch’s leap from painting to filmmaking and continues with René Laloux’s sci-fi opus, a psychedelic allegory set on a planet where human beings are enslaved by blue giants. Winner of a special award at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, Fantastic Planet is a one-of-a-kind voyage to another world, featuring striking cutout animation and a hallucinatory score by Alain Goraguer.
Wednesday, August 16
Buena Vista Social Club: Criterion Collection Edition #866
In this exuberant documentary, Wim Wenders followed an ensemble of legendary Cuban instrumentalists and vocalists brought together by Ry Cooder to introduce a long-dormant musical tradition to the world. Traveling from the streets of Havana to the stage of Carnegie Hall, Wenders’s hit film – one of the most successful documentaries of the 1990s – captures unforgettable performances and conversations with these captivating musicians.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: audio commentary with Wim Wenders; interviews with the director and performers Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, Rubén González, Eliades Ochoa, and Omara Portuondo; and additional scenes.
Friday, August 18
Friday Night Double Feature: Daisy Kenyon and Sudden Fear
Joan Crawford shows off the versatility of her inimitable persona in these two fan favorites. In Otto Preminger’s romantic melodrama Daisy Kenyon, she is restrained and vulnerable as an artist entangled in a fateful love triangle with a married man (Dana Andrews) and a widowed veteran (Henry Fonda). In the gripping noir Sudden Fear, she brings a feverish intensity to the role of an heiress-cum-playwright who becomes the victim of her scheming new husband (Jack Palance) and his suspicious ex-flame (Gloria Grahame).
Monday, August 21
Crumb: Criterion Collection Edition #533
Terry Zwigoff’s 1995 documentary is an astonishingly intimate portrait of one of America’s strangest artists, the underground-comix legend Robert Crumb. Drawing on his long friendship with Crumb, Zwigoff delves into the eccentric illustrator’s controversial art – much of it charged with sexual and racial provocation – as well as his troubled family history. Tapping into the vein of offbeat alienation that Zwigoff would go on to explore in his fiction films (Ghost World, Art School Confidential), Crumb is one of the most indelible documentaries ever made about the creative process. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: two audio commentaries, one featuring Zwigoff from 2010, and one with Zwigoff and critic Roger Ebert from 2006; and more than fifty minutes of unused footage.
Tuesday, August 22
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Teeth* and How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Richard E. Grant lets loose his sneering gift for menace and loathsomeness in these two black comedies. In the unnerving animated short that opens the program, he relates the story of a lifelong fascination with teeth – an obsession that leads to some bizarre experimentation. And in How to Get Ahead in Advertising, he reteams with director Bruce Robinson, with whom he made the 1986 cult sensation Withnail and I, for a caustic satire about an ad executive who develops an evil, talking boil on his shoulder.
*Premiering on the Channel this month
Wednesday, August 23
Stagecoach: Criterion Collection Edition #516
A pioneering achievement that proved, once and for all, that the western genre was more than just B-movie territory, this tale of a group of strangers who go out West for a second chance on life marked two important milestones for John Ford: the beginning of his collaboration with John Wayne, as well as his first movie shot in Monument Valley, which would serve as the backdrop of many of the director’s subsequent films. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Bucking Broadway, an early silent directed by Ford; video pieces about the film’s style, its significance, and the story behind its making; an extensive 1968 video interview with Ford; and more.
Thursday, August 24
Observations on Film Art No. 10: The Stripped-Down Style of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
In our Channel-exclusive series Observations on Film Art, renowned scholars David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, and Jeff Smith (the authors of Film Art: An Introduction) bring you bite-sized pieces of film school, detailing the nuts and bolts of the medium through the lens of history’s greatest auteurs. This month’s episode features Smith examining the distinctive style of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, a film whose spare compositional and blocking strategies brilliantly underscore its themes of social division.
Friday, August 25
Friday Night Double Feature: Odd Obsession and An Actor’s Revenge
Spotlighting the eclectic talent of Japanese master Kon Ichikawa, this week’s double bill features two of the director’s wildest tales: Odd Obsession (1959), which won a jury prize at Cannes as well as a foreign-film Golden Globe, is a pitch-black comedy about erectile dysfunction, manipulation, and homemade porn, starring Machiko Kyo (Ugetsu) and Tatsuya Nakadai (The Human Condition), while the stylish tour de force An Actor’s Revenge (1963) follows a kabuki performer as he seeks to avenge his parents’ death.
Monday, August 28
Adventures in Moviegoing with Michael Cunningham
In the latest episode of our ongoing Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, novelist Michael Cunningham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours, discusses his personal journey through cinephilia. In addition to the conversation, whose topics include his love of thrillers and the irresistible charm of Grey Gardens, Cunningham presents a selection of movies that have made a lasting impression on him, including Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939), Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955), and Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973).
Tuesday, August 29
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: À propos de Nice and Land of Milk and Honey
Two idiosyncratic masters bring their playful visual sensibilities to the seaside: in his debut short, À propos de Nice (1930), Jean Vigo makes use of iconoclastic montage techniques to critique that city’s vulgar hedonism and decaying values; in his final feature, Land of Milk and Honey (1971), Pierre Étaix canvasses popular holiday spots to present a richly layered, often surreal picture of an overcommercialized culture riddled with inequalities.
Wednesday, August 30
The Marseille Trilogy*: Criterion Collection Edition #881
An exquisitely wrought humanist epic, Marcel Pagnol’s decades-spanning Marseille Trilogy – encompassing the features Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1936) – chronicles the romantic and family conflicts and emotional sea changes endured by a raft of characters who make their living on the city’s waterfront. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an introduction by Bertrand Tavernier; an interview with Pagnol’s grandson; segments from Marcel Pagnol: Morceaux choisis, a 1973 documentary series on Pagnol’s life and work; a video essay by scholar Brett Bowles; and more.
*Premiering on the Channel this month
Thursday, August 31
Art-House America: Gold Town Nickelodeon, Juneau, AK
All around the country, in big cities and small towns, independent art-house theaters are thriving hubs of moviegoing, each with its own audience, history, mission, programming, and vibe. With this series, Criterion goes wherever film culture is happening and brings back brief documentary portraits of different local art houses along with a selection of films handpicked by their programmers.
We kicked off the series earlier this year with a celebration of New York’s Walter Reade Theater on its twenty-fifth anniversary. This month, we set off for Juneau, Alaska, the only state capital you can’t reach by road, where intrepid programmer Colette Costa runs a downtown art house for year-round locals in the transient cruise-ship capital of North America. Her series focuses on “what it feels like to live in Alaska” through six movies that weren’t made there.
Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:
Straight Time, Ulu Grosbard, 1978
Welcome to the Dollhouse, Todd Solondz, 1995
Bullshot, Dick Clement, 1983
Cold Duck Soup, Alan Metter, 1990
Checking Out, David Leland, 1989
Five Corners, Tony Bill, 1987
The Raggedy Rawney, Bob Hoskins, 1988
Water, Dick Clement, 1985
Tampopo, Juzo Itami, 1985
White Material, Claire Denis, 2009
Adventures of a Dentist, Elem Klimov, 1965
Torna!, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1953
Taipei Story, Edward Yang, 1985
Youth of the Son, Masaki Kobayashi, 1952
All My Good Countrymen, Vojtech Jasny, 1969
Palermo Shooting, Wim Wenders, 2008
The Passionate Friends, David Lean, 1949
The Masseurs and a Woman, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1938
Teeth, Daniel Gray and Tom Brown, 2015
Maîtresse, Barbet Schroeder, 1975
The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine, Heinosuke Gosho, 1931
Rusty Knife, Toshio Masuda, 1958
Marius, Alexander Korda, 1931
Fanny, Marc Allégret, 1932
César, Marcel Pagnol, 1936