Welcome back to C What’s On, our monthly look at what the Criterion Channel has coming up for subscribers. The Criterion Collection announced the official June programming last week, and it’s again full of classics and acclaimed contemporary films. Some highlights include almost every Akira Kurosawa movie ever made, a spotlight on The Decline of Western Civilization director Penelope Spheeris, plenty of movies starring Alec Guinness, and the classic work of British horror The Wicker Man. You can also check out the recent Criterion Collection release for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with supplemental materials available online.
I’ve included the full June schedule below, with some commentary for notable release and programming that’s piques my interest. My picks for the month are designated by a double asterisk (**).
Saturday June 1**
Saturday Matinee: The Tales of Beatrix Potter (Reginald Mills, 1971)
The Man Who Fell to Earth: Criterion Collection Edition #304 (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Criterion Collection Edition #982 (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)
Commentary: While not billed as a double feature, pairing The Man Who Fell to Earth with Hedwig and the Angry Inch on the same day makes so much sense. David Bowie’s acting debut is a startling work about fame, sex, and the loss of purpose. (I can’t believe I wrote about The Man Who Fell to Earth for Flixist almost seven years ago, when I was younger, dumber, and full of hope.) Jonathan Cameron Mitchell’s Bowie-inspired Hedwig and the Angry Inch, meanwhile, takes a story from a Platonic dialogue and turns it into a glam rock search for love and a sense of identity. Mitchell is working on a podcast pseudo-sequel to Hedwig called Anthem: Homunculus.
Sunday June 2**
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
- Performance (1970)
- Walkabout (1971)
- Don’t Look Now (1973)
- The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
- Bad Timing (1980)
- Insignificance (1985)
- Track 29 (1988)
Commentary: Follow up The Man Who Fell to Earth with more movies by Roeg. I have only seen his three biggest films (Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth), so I look forward to seeing his other works.
Monday June 3**
Meet the Filmmakers: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Canadian actor/filmmaker Connor Jessup follows the acclaimed Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul on a location-scouting trip to the Colombian jungle.
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
- Mysterious Object at Noon (2000)
- Tropical Malady (2004)
- Syndromes and a Century (2006)
- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)
- Cemetery of Splendor (2015)
Funny Games: Criterion Collection Edition #975 (Michael Haneke, 1997)
Commentary: Weerasethakul is one of the great slow-cinema directors. In a month packed with incredible movies, I will make time to sit and slowly observe his work. Also, for all the flak it gets, I still think the original Funny Games is one of the best horror movies of the 1990s.
Tuesday June 4**
Short + Feature: A Pack of Hyenas
Hairat (Jessica Beshir, 2016) and Yeelen (Souleymane Cissé, 1987)
Featuring an introduction by Hairat director Jessica Beshir
Commentary: I caught Yeelen while doing The 300 last year and enjoyed it mythic storytelling. I’m wondering how this double feature will play. The connective tissue for the two films has to do with hyenas.
Wednesday June 5**
Dorothy Arzner x 3
Featuring a new introduction by critic B. Ruby Rich
- Christopher Strong (1933)
- Craig’s Wife (1937)
- Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
Commentary: According to the press release from the Criterion Channel, Dorothy Arzner was “an openly gay woman director whose career spanned from the silent era into the 1940s.” I’m looking forward to seeing queer and feminist films from this era, especially from a director whose work I’ve never seen.
Thursday June 6**
George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin
Featuring a new introduction by George Stevens Jr.
Overlord: Criterion Collection Edition #382 (Stuart Cooper, 1975)
Friday June 7
Double Feature: Wild Things
Watership Down (Martin Rosen and John Hubley, 1978) and The Plague Dogs (Martin Rosen, 1982)
Commentary: If you are a person of a certain age, you probably saw one of these Richard Adams adaptations as a child and it gave you nightmares. In adult life, these nightmares would later manifest themselves as a deep cynicism about the heart of mankind.
Saturday June 8
Saturday Matinee: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947)
Sunday June 9**
Enjoy 14 films by the legendary British actor
- Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946)
- Oliver Twist (David Lean, 1948)
- Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)
- Last Holiday (Henry Cass, 1950)
- The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951)
- The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick, 1951)
- The Card (Ronald Neame, 1952)
- The Captain’s Paradise (Anthony Kimmins, 1953)
- The Prisoner (Peter Glenville, 1955)
- The Horse’s Mouth (Ronald Neame, 1958)
- The Scapegoat (Robert Hamer, 1959)
- Our Man in Havana (Carol Reed, 1959)
- Tunes of Glory (Ronald Neame, 1960)
- Damn the Defiant! (Lewis Gilbert, 1962)
Commentary: Genuine class.
Monday June 10
The Hours and Times (Christopher Munch, 1991)
Featuring a new introduction by director Christopher Munch
Tuesday June 11**
Short + Feature: Unhappy Anniversary
Close Ties (Zofia Kowalewska, 2016) and 45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015)
Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams: Criterion Collection Edition #842 (Akira Kurosawa, 1990)
Commentary: Been meaning to see 45 Years for a while, so this is a great chance to finally see it. As for Dreams, it’s one of many Kurosawa movies that will be available this month through the Criterion Channel (more on that in a bit). The Criterion Channel has loads of supplemental features available online, one of which is a Dreams making-of documentary by the wonderful director Nobuhiko Obayashi (the man behind the cult classic masterpiece House).
Wednesday June 12**
Desert Hearts: Criterion Collection Edition #902 (Donna Deitch, 1985)
Thursday June 13**
Carlos Reygadas x 3
Three films from the Mexican long-take auteur
- Japón (2002)
- Battle in Heaven (2005)
- Silent Light (2007)
Commentary: More slow cinema to go with the Weerasethakul programming. Excellent. I’ve never seen Reygadas’ films, so looking forward to this experience.
Friday June 14**
Double Feature: Pagans! Policemen! Parents! Palazzos!
The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973) and Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
Featuring an introduction to Don’t Look Now by filmmaker Joachim Trier
Weekend: Criterion Collection Edition #622 (Andrew Haigh, 2011)
Commentary: The eerie Roeg classic and the quintessential work of British folk horror paired together. The Wicker Man is essential viewing for fans of the horror genre, and might be a prerequisite for Ari Aster’s Midsommar. The 2006 remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, is awful in all the best ways
Saturday June 15**
Saturday Matinee: Where is the Friend’s Home? (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987)
Featuring an introduction by actor Michael Cera
Commentary: Wonderful chance to see this Kiarostami film, and I’m curious why Cera is doing the introduction and what he has to say about the late filmmaker’s work.
Sunday June 16**
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Featuring an in-depth documentary on Kurosawa’s working process, the Criterion Channel will host almost of the Japanese filmmaker’s movies:
- Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
- The Most Beautiful (1944)
- Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (1945)
- The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)
- No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)
- One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
- Drunken Angel (1948)
- Stray Dog (1949)
- Rashomon (1950)
- Scandal (1950)
- The Idiot (1951)
- Ikiru (1952)
- Seven Samurai (1954)
- I Live in Fear (1955)
- Throne of Blood (1957)
- The Lower Depths (1957)
- The Hidden Fortress (1958)
- The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
- Yojimbo (1961)
- Sanjuro (1962)
- High and Low (1963)
- Red Beard (1965)
- Dodes’ka-den (1970)
- Dersu Uzala (1975)
- Ran (1985)
- Dreams (1990)
- Madadayo (1993)
Commentary: I am going to watch all of these movies in order chronologically and enjoy every minute of it. I’m especially interested in seeing the Kurosawa movies I’ve never seen, especially Dersu Uzala and the films before Drunken Angel (which I only saw last year). Of his later work, I really want to rewatch Dodes’ka-den; I’ve only seen that as a bad laser disc copy.
Monday June 17**
Secret Sunshine: Criterion Collection Edition #576 (Lee Chang-dong, 2007)
My Beautiful Laundrette: Criterion Collection Edition #767 (Stephen Frears, 1985)
Commentary: Even now I go back and forth on Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, a Hitchcockian exploration of class resentments, suspicion, and toxic masculinity. This is a nice chance to see more of the Korean director’s work. As for My Beautiful Laundrette, it’s quite good, and features an early before-he-became-great supporting performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.
Tuesday June 18**
Short and Feature: Journeys West
Pioneer (David Lowery, 2011) and Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Featuring a new introduction by Pioneer director David Lowery
Wednesday June 19**
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
- The Decline of Western Civilization (Penelope Spheeris, 1981)
- Suburbia (Penelope Spheeris, 1983)
- The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (Penelope Spheeris, 1988)
- The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (Penelope Spheeris, 1998)
Commentary: Oh man! If you have not watched The Decline of Western Civilization documentaries, you are in for a treat. The first is one of the great punk rock docs, and an amazing look into the LA music scene. Part II plays like a companion piece to This Is Spinal Tap, focusing on the vapid debauchery of the metal/rock star lifestyle. Part III (which was difficult to find until the Shout! Factory reissue) covers the gutter punk lives of homeless teens. You must give all three of these a watch, and I’m going to give Suburbia a shot.
Thursday June 20**
Mala Noche: Criterion Collection Edition #407 (Gus Van Sant, 1986)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days: Criterion Collection Edition #958 (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
Friday June 21**
Double Feature: Small Wonders
Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg, 2010) and Routine Pleasures (Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1986)
Commentary: Marwencol is a great documentary, and much better than Welcome to Marwen, Robert Zemeckis’ narrative film version of the same story. I wonder how this will pair with Routine Pleasures, which I have not seen but look forward to watching. There’s something to be said about the way we recreate and interpret our world in miniatures and through art. It’s like a philosophical act of play.
Saturday June 22
Saturday Matinee: Little Women (George Cukor, 1933)
Sunday June 23
Ingrid Bergman in Europe
- The Count of the Old Town (Edvin Adolphson and Sigurd Wallén, 1935)
- Walpurgis Night (Gustaf Edgren, 1935)
- Intermezzo (Gustaf Molander, 1936)
- Dollar (Gustaf Molander, 1938)
- A Woman’s Face (Gustaf Molander, 1938)
- June Night (Per Lindberg, 1940)
- Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)
- Europe ’51 (Roberto Rossellini, 1952)
- Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
- Elena and Her Men (Jean Renoir, 1956)
- Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman, 1978)
- Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (Stig Björkman, 2015)
Monday June 24**
Observations on Film Art No. 28: Spontaneous Play in Parade
Professor Kristin Thompson examines Parade (1974), Jacques Tati’s final film
Commentary: It’s odd to think that Jacques Tati’s 1967 observant comic masterpiece Playtime essentially torpedoed his career. Looking forward to seeing this look at his final work.
Tuesday June 25**
Short + Feature: Laundry and Longing
My Josephine (Barry Jenkins, 2003) and My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears, 1985)
Featuring an introduction by My Josephine director Barry Jenkins
Commentary: I just want to take this opportunity to say that Barry Jenkins’ Twitter account is one of the few genuinely positive and life-affirming places in that dumpster fire hell site.
Wednesday June 26**
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t: Criterion Collection Edition #978 (Agnes Varda, 1977)
Commentary: One Sings, the Other Doesn’t is a wonderful Agnes Varda film about women making their own way through life on their own terms. It’s great that the movie has a loving home at the Criterion Collection.
Thursday June 27
Something Wild: Criterion Collection Edition #850 (Jack Garfein, 1961)
Commentary: Not to be confused with the Jonathan Demme film of the same name, I’m curious to see how this film deals with the trauma and effects of surviving a sexual assault. The movie also features a Saul Bass opening credits sequence.
Friday June 28
Double Feature: Deadly Domestics
The Maids (Christopher Miles, 1975) and La cérémonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995)
Commentary: This double feature should be super interesting. I saw Isabelle Huppert and Cate Blanchett perform the original Jean Genet play The Maids here in New York City a few years ago, and it was excellent. The film version stars Glenda Jackson (who’s great in King Lear on Broadway) and Susannah York. Huppert, meanwhile, is one of the stars of the Chabrol film, which was partially inspired by the Genet play.
Friday, June 28**
The Times of Harvey Milk: Criterion Collection Edition #557 (Rob Epstein, 1984)
Commentary: This is essential viewing for Pride and on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. I encourage everyone to read the Harper’s piece “Stonewall at Fifty.”
Saturday June 29**
Time Bandits: Criterion Collection Edition #37 (Terry Gilliam, 1981)
Commentary: My three favorite Terry Gilliam movies are The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Brazil, and Time Bandits. What a joy each of these films are in their own ways. I still like the way Gilliam described Time Bandits many years ago: intelligent enough for children, and exciting enough for adults. I think my own work outside of film writing aspires to that level.
Sunday June 30
Raffaello Matarazzo’s Runaway Melodramas
Featuring a new introduction by literature and cinema scholar Stefano Albertini
- Chains (1949)
- Tormento (1950)
- Nobody’s Children (1952)
- The White Angel (1955)
- He Who Is Without Sin… (1952)
- Torna! (1954)