It’s the first day of a new month, which means it’s time once again for C What’s On, our look at what the Criterion Channel has programmed for its subscribers. The August offerings feature two of my favorite people in the movies: Werner Herzog and Jackie Chan. Herzog once said “Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film, a Fred Astaire picture, or a porno.” You heard it, folks, Police Story > Goodbye to Language. (Thing is, I pretty much agree. Though maybe not all pornos.)
Alfred Hitchcock’s British films also have a big spotlight this month, and ditto movies about the immigrant experience.
The full August schedule for the Criterion Channel is below. My picks for the month are designated by a double asterisk (**), and I’ve included some commentary where warranted.
Thursday, August 1**
The Manchurian Candidate: Criterion Collection Edition #803 (John Frankenheimer, 1962) – Featuring an introduction by filmmaker Julie Taymor
Female Trouble: Criterion Collection Edition #929 (John Waters, 1974)
Commentary: Two great tastes that probably don’t go together, but hey, enjoy the buffet regardless.
Friday, August 2**
Double Feature: Face Off!
The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011) and Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960)
Commentary: Here are two great tastes that definitely go together. The DNA of Eyes Without a Face are all over The Skin I Live In, and they pair together really well. Unrelated: “Eyes Without a Face” is my favorite Billy Idol song.
Saturday, August 3
Saturday Matinee: Black Jack (Ken Loach, 1979)
Sunday, August 4**
Directed by Werner Herzog
- Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)
- Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)
- Fata Morgana (1971)
- Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
- The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (1974)
- Heart of Glass (1976)
- Stroszek (1977)
- Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
- Woyzeck (1979)
- Fitzcarraldo (1982)
- Ballad of the Little Soldier (1984)
- Where the Green Ants Dream (1984)
- Cobra Verde (1987)
- Lessons of Darkness (1992)
- Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)
- My Best Fiend (1999)
Also featuring a 1989 documentary about Herzog
Commentary: Herzog is one of the great cinematic mavericks, and these pre-2000s films are all an excellent look into his work, his sensibilities, and his obsessions. As a supplement to this already loaded lineup, I recommend checking out the two Les Blank documentaries about Herzog: The Burden of Dreams, which chronicles the making of Fitzcarraldo, and Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, in which Werner Herzog eats his f**king shoe. I’d also recommend Herzog’s Conquest of the Useless, a book of Herzog’s diary entires during the making of Fitzcarraldo.
Monday, August 5**
True Stories: Criterion Collection Edition #951 (David Byrne, 1986)
Commentary: The movie is worth it even if just to hear John Goodman sing “People Like Us.” An absolutely sublime moment.
Tuesday, August 6**
Short + Feature: Summer Wonderlands
A Day with the Boys (Clu Gulager, 1969) and George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2000)
Commentary: It still trips me out that the maker of George Washington also did Pineapple Express and the most recent Halloween.
Wednesday, August 7
Manny & Lo (Lisa Krueger, 1996)
Featuring a new interview with director Lisa Krueger and her short film Best Offer (1993)
Thursday, August 8
From the Archive: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)
With a classic Criterion laserdisc commentary featuring members of the cast and crew
- Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1975)
- American Gigolo (Paul Schrader, 1980)
- Mala Noche (Gus Van Sant, 1985)
Friday, August 9**
Double Feature: The Devil Made Me Do It
The Devil and Daniel Webster (William Dieterle, 1941) and Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950)
Commentary: It just dawned on me that I have not seen a René Clair film made after À Nous la Liberté (1931).
Saturday, August 10
Saturday Matinee: For Me and My Gal (Busby Berkeley, 1942)
Sunday, August 11**
- America America (Elia Kazan, 1963)
- The Emigrants (Jan Troell, 1971)
- The New Land (Jan Troell, 1972)
- Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)
- News from Home (Chantal Akerman, 1976)
- ¡Alambrista! (Robert M. Young, 1977)
- …And the Pursuit of Happiness (Louis Malle, 1986)
- La haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995)
- La promesse (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 1996)
- Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
- Paraíso (Nadav Kurtz, 2012)
Featuring an introduction by critic Michael Sragow
Commentary: Right now, given the state of the world, so many of these movies about immigrants, nationalities, ideologies, and borders feel like essential viewing.
Monday, August 12**
Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise Trilogy
- Paradise: Love (2012)
- Paradise: Faith (2012)
- Paradise: Hope (2013)
Featuring an interview with cinematographer Ed Lachman
Commentary: The Criterion Collection notes that these films have a similar transgressive, boundary-pushing feel as the work of Lars von Trier and Gaspar Noé. I’m intrigued to at least try one of these movies.
Tuesday, August 13**
Short + Feature: Party Politics
Fatherland (George Sikharulidze, 2017) and The Firemen’s Ball (Milos Forman, 1967)
Commentary: The output of the Czech New Wave always deserves a spotlight for its inventive subversiveness.
Wednesday, August 14**
Heart of a Dog: Criterion Collection Edition #846 (Laurie Anderson, 2015)
Commentary: Missed this at the New York Film Festival a few years back. A great excuse to play catchup.
Thursday, August 15
Three by Frank Borzage
- A Farewell to Arms (1932)
- Man’s Castle (1933)
- No Greater Glory (1934)
Featuring a new introduction by critic Farran Smith Nehme
Friday, August 16**
Double Feature: Lovers and Bullfighters
Blancanieves (Pablo Berger, 2012) and Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)
Commentary: Another excellent pairing here, with a common occupation as well as fine use of silent filmmaking grammar and form. Interestingly, two double-features this month have great Almodóvar films.
Saturday, August 17
Saturday Matinee: The Three Musketeers (Richard Lester, 1973)
Sunday, August 18**
Pre-Code Barbara Stanwyck
- Ladies of Leisure (Frank Capra, 1930)
- Night Nurse (William A. Wellman, 1931)
- The Miracle Woman (Frank Capra, 1931)
- Illicit (Archie Mayo, 1931)
- Forbidden (Frank Capra, 1932)
- So Big! (William A. Wellman, 1932)
- The Purchase Price (William A. Wellman, 1932)
- Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, 1933)
- Ever in My Heart (Archie Mayo, 1933)
- Ladies They Talk About (William Keighley and Howard Bretherton, 1933)
- Gambling Lady (Archie Mayo, 1934)
Featuring an introduction with film scholar Catherine Russell and critic Imogen Sara Smith
Commentary: A showcase of one of the great screen starlets of the past. And it’s pre-code, fellas and fillies, so these movies will be very ha-cha-cha.
Monday, August 19**
Police Story and Police Story 2: Criterion Collection Edition #971/972 (Jackie Chan, 1985/1988)
Commentary: For years, the only readily available way to see these Jackie Chan classics were through Dimension/Miramax. These dubbed versions of the film cut parts out and re-did all of the sound effects and music. Glad these action classics are on The Criterion Collection now, and that you can watch both films as well as their supplemental materials online. Police Story includes Jackie Chan: My Stunts, which is essential viewing for fans of Chan’s style of action. The documentary features behind-the-scenes insight into Chan’s action direction and choreography choices, and it’s a nice primer on the art of shooting and editing fight scenes.
Tuesday, August 20**
Short + Feature: Women’s Pictures
You Can’t Do Everything at Once, But You Can Leave Everything at Once (Marie-Elsa Sgualdo, 2013) and One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, 1977)
Commentary: Varda is good for you. Watch any of her films if you haven’t already.
Wednesday, August 21**
Meet the Filmmakers: Athina Rachel Tsangari
The Criterion Collection describes the programming as follows: “Take a trip to the Greek islands to catch up with the boundary-pushing cinematic anthropologist of the Greek Weird Wave.”
Includes a selection of her films:
- Fit (1994)
- The Slow Business of Going (2000)
- Attenberg (2010)
- The Capsule (2012)
- 24 Frames Per Century (2013)
- Chevalier (2015)
Commentary: You had me at “Greek Weird Wave.” I have some fun research and watching to do, seems like.
Thursday, August 22
Three by André Téchiné
- Rendez-vous (1985)
- Wild Reeds (1994)
- The Witnesses (2007)
Diary of a Country Priest: Criterion Collection Edition #222 (Robert Bresson, 1951)
Friday, August 23**
Double Feature: Bon Voyage Blues
Unrelated (Joanna Hogg, 2007) and The Green Ray (Eric Rohmer, 1986)
Featuring an interview with director Joanna Hogg
Saturday, August 24**
Saturday Matinee: The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, 2003)
Commentary: I haven’t seen this in ages. What an absolute charm it would be to see it again.
Sunday, August 25**
- Downhill (1927)
- The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
- Champagne (1928)
- Blackmail (1929)
- Murder! (1930)
- The Skin Game (1931)
- Rich and Strange (1931)
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
- The 39 Steps (1935)
- Sabotage (1936)
- Young and Innocent (1937)
- The Lady Vanishes (1938)
- Jamaica Inn (1939)
Featuring a documentary on Alfred Hitchcock’s early career
Commentary: Do it. Watching these is good for you. It’s like a nice walk. You like walks, right?
Monday, August 26
Observations on Film Art No. 30: The Long Take in Shock Corridor
Tuesday, August 27**
Short + Feature: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
Sacrilège (Christophe M. Saber, 2017) and La haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995)
Commentary: I’ve been meaning to see La haine for ages. This double feature seems like a good chance to make it happen, and to foment some much needed political anger.
Wednesday, August 28
Sweetie: Criterion Collection Edition #356 (Jane Campion, 1989)
Thursday, August 29
- Walden (1969)
- Lost Lost Lost (1976)
- Cassis (1966)
- Hare Krishna (1966)
- Notes on the Circus (1966)
- Report from Millbrook (1966)
- Travel Songs (1981)
- Time & Fortune Vietnam Newsreel (1968)
- Williamsburg, Brooklyn (2003)
Featuring a tribute to Mekas by filmmaker Jem Cohen as well as Jonas Mekas in Kodachrome Days (Ken Jacobs, 2009)
Commentary: I look forward to learning more about this avant-garde filmmaker.
Friday, August 30
Double Feature: Mysterious Mason
The Wicked Lady (Leslie Arliss, 1945) and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 1951)
Saturday, August 31**
Saturday Matinee: Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book (Zoltan Korda, 1942)
Commentary: I’ve never seen this version of The Jungle Book, though I already suspect it’s the best one. Can’t wait.