Not familiar with streaming, but I just got a notification from Criterion that I was offered a free month of streaming. I assume this applies to members of the website, and/or buyers of their product.
A really strong lineup. I'm especially looking forward to the restored version of Sons Of The Desert since I still haven't purchased that Blu-Ray set.
RYAN'S DAUGHTER. I hope it looks fantastic!!!!
Merry Hitch-mas! During this season of light, embrace the darkness with a holiday helping of favorites from the Master of Suspense. For five decades, Alfred Hitchcock explored our innermost anxieties, desires, and obsessions in his diabolically constructed thrillers, which redefined the mechanics of screen terror through meticulous editing, voyeuristic camera work, and unforgettable set pieces. In early British classics like The 39 Steps and Sabotage, endlessly studied and imitated Hollywood masterpieces such as Rear Window and Vertigo, and fascinatingly personal late-career statements like Marnie and Frenzy, Hitchcock tapped into the peculiar pleasures of fear like no filmmaker before or since.
FeaturesThis sprawling selection of films both directed and shot by women testifies to an extraordinary tradition of female collaboration behind the camera. Spanning the last half century of cinema and including work by trailblazing director-cinematographer duos such as Chantal Akerman and Babette Mangolte (Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles; News from Home), Claire Denis and Agnès Godard (Beau Travail, Let the Sunshine In), and Jane Campion and Sally Bongers (A Girl’s Own Story, Sweetie), as well as fruitful recent partnerships like Céline Sciamma and Crystel Fournier (Tomboy, Girlhood) and Josephine Decker and Ashley Connor (Butter on the Latch, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely), these extraordinary films reveal a vital legacy of visionary women seizing the tools of visual storytelling and opening up new possibilities for cinema.
From the rubble of a devastated postwar Italy, an extraordinary artistic flowering sprang forth that soon took the world by storm. Led by figures such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Luchino Visconti, a generation of filmmakers gave stirring expression to the concerns, struggles, and humanity of ordinary, working-class people with a blend of earthy naturalism and bittersweet lyricism. From early postwar landmarks like Rome Open City and Bicycle Thieves through later films like Rocco and His Brothers and Il posto that built upon neorealism’s concerns while opening up new thematic and aesthetic territory, this overview showcases multiple masterpieces that forever changed the course of film history by revealing the drama and poetry inherent in everyday life.
One of the most lauded performers of her generation, Glenda Jackson is known both for her dazzling work on stage and screen and, in later years, her commanding career as an outspoken member of the UK Parliament’s left wing (referring to herself as an “antisocial socialist”). Bringing an air of steely vulnerability to her intense portrayals of complex women, she has collaborated with provocative filmmakers like John Schlesinger (in the groundbreaking queer relationship drama Sunday Bloody Sunday) and Ken Russell (in the deliriously unhinged Tchaikovsky antibiopic The Music Lovers) but has proven herself equally at home in lighthearted romps like the breezy spy comedy Hopscotch opposite Walter Matthau.
When Orson Welles took Hollywood by storm in the early 1940s, he brought with him several members of his celebrated Mercury Theatre company—including the distinguished, mellifluous-voiced Joseph Cotten, who would go on to star in some of the greatest films of the decade under some of the era’s foremost directors. To classics like Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons, Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (in which the actor offers an unforgettably unnerving portrayal of evil incarnate), and George Cukor’s Gaslight, Cotten brought both a moody sensitivity and an intriguingly cynical edge that lent depth and nuance to each of his delicately shaded performances.
Preservation funding provided by the Sundance Institute in collaboration with Strand Releasing.Breaking new ground in queer representation when it was released in 1995, this tender and charming tale of first love traces the tentative relationship that develops between two high-school girls from very different worlds. Randy (Laurel Holloman) is a white, tomboyish outsider working at her aunt’s gas station; Evie (Nicole Ari Parker) is a popular, well-off Black girl with a boyfriend. As an unlikely friendship built around poetry and music deepens into attraction, director Maria Maggenti captures the muddled emotions of adolescent romance with warmth, humor, and refreshing authenticity.
The hallucinatory debut feature by Rhayne Vermette is a stylistically adventurous meditation on the landscapes of her native Manitoba, impressionistically shot on dreamy 16 mm. As a party wanders into the night, word arrives that Renée (played by Vermette) has returned. Missing for years, her sudden reappearance unsettles her family, including her brother and his wife, who have been raising Renée’s daughter as their own. As Renée begins to reassemble the fragments of her past, ominous premonitions disrupt the land. Shot over the course of two years, Ste. Anne traces an allegorical reclamation of land through personal, symbolic, and historical sites all across Treaty 1 territory, heartland of the Métis Nation.
Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over is the first career-spanning documentary retrospective of Lydia Lunch’s confrontational, acerbic, and always electric artistry. As New York City’s preeminent No Wave icon, Lunch has forged a lifetime of music and spoken-word performance devoted to the rights of all women to indulge, seek pleasure, and raise their voices in rage as loud as any man. Through intimate behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Lunch’s longtime collaborators and colleagues, director Beth B examines Lunch’s work and her quest to empower women to voice the unheard and break the cycle of violence against them. What emerges is a thought-provoking portrait of a fearlessly transgressive artist who has consistently defied patriarchal expectations while forging a vocabulary of rare emotional honesty, philosophy, and humor.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: A making-of documentary and interviews with To, coscreenwriter Yau Nai-hoi, composer Peter Kam, and film scholars David Bordwell and Caroline Guo.The dazzlingly prolific Hong Kong master craftsman Johnnie To delivers a thrilling love letter to the cinema of Akira Kurosawa and to the art and philosophy of judo.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with Redford, screenwriter James Salter, editor Richard Harris, production manager Walter Coblenz, and former downhill skier Joe Jay Jalbert, and more.Astonishing Alpine location photography and a young Robert Redford are just two of the visual splendors of this visceral study of a ruthlessly ambitious skier competing for Olympic gold.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Two audio commentaries by scholars Robert L. Carringer and James Naremore and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, audio interviews with Welles conducted by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, video essays, and more.Orson Welles’s beautiful, nostalgia-suffused follow-up to Citizen Kane is an emotionally rich family saga and a masterful elegy for a bygone chapter of American life.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with Schlesinger, cinematographer Billy Williams, actor Murray Head, production designer Luciana Arrighi, John Schlesinger biographer William J. Mann, and Schlesinger’s longtime partner, photographer Michael Childers.John Schlesinger’s groundbreaking portrait of a bisexual love triangle may be the seventies’ most intelligent, multitextured film about the complexities of romantic relationships.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with Ramsay and cinematographer Alwin Küchler and three short films by Ramsay.In her breathtaking and assured debut feature, Lynne Ramsay creates a haunting evocation of a troubled Glasgow childhood in a work at once raw and deeply poetic.
Having explored Jean-Luc Godard’s iconoclastic use of the boxy 4:3 aspect ratio in Vivre sa vie in the previous edition of Observations on Film Art, Professor David Bordwell here breaks down the French New Wave renegade’s equally experimental use of the elongated CinemaScope frame in another of his 1960s masterpieces, Contempt. While in Vivre sa vie Godard used the square frame to craft an intensely up-close portrait of a woman, in Contempt—a study of a marriage in breakdown spectacularly set against the coast of Italy—he pushed the aesthetic possibilities of CinemaScope to their limits, creating a work that is as much about landscape and environment as it is about human beings.
FeatureFilmmaker and artist Elisabeth Subrin has long explored female subjectivity and representation through her formally restless, conceptually driven shorts, which include tributes to photographer Francesca Woodman and actor Maria Schneider. With the arresting character study A Woman, a Part, Subrin made the leap to feature filmmaking. This complex investigation of female friendship, the representation of women in media, and the difficulties of reckoning with change stars Maggie Siff in a tour-de-force performance as an exhausted fortysomething actor who returns the theater world of New York where her career began and finds that restarting her life may not be so simple.
Made with an all-woman crew, Sally Potter’s bold feature debut is a surrealist science-fiction musical that explores the link between female cinematic representation and capitalist exploitation.
Celebrated playwright Debbie Tucker Green makes her fascinating directorial debut with this enigmatic, engrossing, and brilliantly performed portrait of a Black British family navigating a seemingly unexplainable crisis.
More women filmmakers featured in this month’s programming:A mesmerizing Ally Sheedy stars as a photographer loosely based on Nan Goldin in Lisa Cholodenko’s smart and sexy tale of ambition, sacrifice, and seduction in the nineties New York art world.
George Amponsah’s moving look at the raw human story behind a shocking police killing offers trenchant insight into the racial and cultural realities that shape the lives of young Black men in Britain.
This extraordinary portrait of postwar American fascism explores how servicemen returned home from defeating a racist and genocidal enemy to find a United States plagued by prejudice, Jim Crow, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and xenophobia.
More documentaries featured in this month’s programming:Replete with images of wonder and whimsy, Agnès Varda’s enchanting self-portrait, made in her eightieth year, is a playful and poignant record of a life lived fully and passionately in the name of cinema.
Three plastic toys embark on a freewheeling adventure in this hilarious, delightfully wacky stop-motion extravaganza based on the Belgian cult TV series.
Ringlet-haired dynamo Shirley Temple is at her irresistible best in this spirited Technicolor adaptation of the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Vivid characters and stunning 2D animation bring to life this thrilling adventure about a fearless girl on an epic Arctic quest.
Albert Finney offers his inimitable characterization of the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge in this handsomely mounted musical take on Charles Dickens’s holiday classic A Christmas Carol.
Dedza Films is a new distribution initiative that aims to champion filmmakers from underrepresented communities around the world, beginning with Who Will Start Another Fire, a collection of nine revelatory shorts by emerging filmmakers from Israel, Nigeria, the Philippines, Uganda, and the United States. From child’s-eye portraits of Nigerian (Family Tree) and Chinese American (Like Flying) girlhood to complex explorations of Black masculinity (Not Black Enough) and gentrification (The Lights Are On, No One’s Home), these eclectic works touch on questions of politics, history, memory, and culture through innovative storytelling and profound personal insight.
’Tis the season for infidelity as a pair of husbands and fathers living double lives discover that duplicity is particularly devastating during the holidays.
See the magic of Christmas Eve through a child’s eyes in an enchanting stop-motion wonder and a sumptuous late-career masterpiece from Ingmar Bergman.
Forlorn fish express their alienation through song, a pair of pigeons visit a zoo without animals, and a lonely fox has an enigmatic encounter with the new rabbit next door—welcome to the startlingly surreal, delicately bittersweet world of Swedish stop-motion animator Niki Lindroth von Bahr, whose hyper-detailed miniatures are at once uncanny and strikingly lifelike. Though they star a menagerie of anthropomorphic animals, these wondrously strange and captivating existential fables explore modern malaise with a piercing poignancy that is all too human.
Alfred Hitchcock and Rainer Werner Fassbinder explore the perverse inner workings of sadomasochistic relationships in a pair of lush, expressionistically stylized psychodramas.
The infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder inspires one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most daring experiments and a watershed work of the New Queer Cinema.
Charismatic yet mysteriously menacing figures from the past return to upend the quiet lives of ordinary families in a dark-hearted thriller and a poetic touchstone of the nineties Black-cinema renaissance.
Alfred Hitchcock’s most celebrated masterpiece inspires another mesmerizing investigation of obsessive love and dual identity set amid the ruins of postwar Germany.
An ordinary couple’s vacation abroad turns into a parent’s worst nightmare in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1930s British classic and his own underrated Hollywood remake.
COMPLETE LIST OF FILMS PREMIERING ON THE CRITERION CHANNEL THIS MONTH: