Baby steps guys, baby steps.
Just a year ago, the world learned that the wonderful team over at Hulu would not only be launching a new subscription based service, but that Criterion would be helping them out by pumping out streaming versions of various films that they either currently have within the walls of The Criterion Collection, or somehow own the rights to. And in honor of that year, it’s about time that we take a look back as to what we’ve received, what we’ve watched, what we’ve loved and what Criterion has done and will do next.
Now with over 500 films, shorts and supplements on Hulu Plus, Criterion has become arguably the most influential player with regards to the content of Hulu’s streaming collection. So, where does one even begin when trying to dig into this series of films?
Well, honestly, the options are obviously endless. With a cavalcade of classic from the likes of equally iconic filmmakers ranging from Godard (‘˜Made In The USA’) to Malle (‘˜My Dinner With Andre’), Criterion has brought out the big guns for this streaming outlet. Big Collection hits are also found here, including ‘˜Breathless,’ ‘˜The Virgin Spring,’ ‘˜In The Realm Of The Senses’ and ‘˜Seven Samurai’ which pair beyond perfectly with the likes of the smaller gems found here.
And in those gems, are often times the best films. Now, while it’s not all that small, the collection of Charlie Chaplin films that Criterion has hand, including classics like ‘˜City Lights’ and smaller films like ‘˜A Woman In Paris’ (Chaplin’s directorial effort which found him quite a bit of negative press as he didn’t star in the drama, despite the fact that it’s utterly brilliant), are the best place to start. But for those looking to dig deep into cinema, this is the best way to do it.
I’ve had the luck of having some down time to watch a few of these films, and there are some utter masterpieces here. ‘˜Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell’ is a bloody entertaining horror film with tinges of ‘˜Hausu’ just a little less comedic, and in that vein, ‘˜Princess From The Moon’ is a really entertaining sci-fi romp that too many people have seemed to avoid or just haven’t seen. ‘˜Permanent Vacation’ is the first film from Jim Jarmusch and is a brilliant little look into what was ultimately to come from that white haired crazy man, and Robert Bresson’s ‘˜A Man Escaped’ may be the most eagerly awaited addition to the Criterion Collection in quite some time.
And then there are the films introduced by Hulu, only to find their way into the Collection. ‘˜Gojira’ is arguably the biggest addition to the entire Hulu brand, and ‘˜The Letter Never Sent’ is one of the most visually striking additions, an absolute steal at $30 for Criterion’s impending Blu-ray. With films like ‘˜Le Havre’ being hinted at as impending releases, and stuff like ‘˜Three Colors: Red’ hinting at a release that was directly down the pipeline, Hulu Plus not only gives us a great look into what films Criterion owns the rights to, but films that they seem hell bent on putting into the ether in the best possible condition.
But where do they go from here? The number of films being placed onto Hulu Plus’ Criterion page have been slowing but when the company dumps a cavalcade of films onto the site, they sure as hell know how to do it. Carlos Saura’s ‘˜Peppermint Frappe’ has been put up on the website most recently, a film that this writer has yet to see, but is definitely a must watch. It’s shocking how many films Janus and Criterion has the rights to, and we are routinely shocked as to what films pop up, and when. Take ‘˜Le Havre’ for example. A film still making its way around cinemas stateside, is available to be seen on the small screen as we speak. Toss in the fact that Hulu is now growing even bigger, even moving to the Nintendo Wii, things appear to be moving at a fast clip for the beloved streaming giant.
With Netflix faltering in the court of public opinion, a spot is open for a streaming outlet to take a massive amount of market share. With the ever present help of Criterion and Janus, Hulu Plus has a definitively distinct brand that they can claim as their own. And with the massive amount of hype coming from additions like Jean Luc Godard’s ‘˜Weekend,’ this is one partnership that will only grow in the future. From ‘˜Himiko’ to ‘˜Hoop Dreams’ this is one hell of a collection of films, and it’s only going to get better.
What do you think?