C What’s On: The Criterion Channel’s Programming for March 2020

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A new month is upon us, which means it’s time for another installment of C What’s On, our look at what the Criterion Channel has programmed for its subscribers. We have an eclectic and essential mix this month, including classic works of German Expressionism, films scored by Quincy Jones, a showcase on actress Catherine Deneuve, and a cinematic journey with Patton Oswalt.

Oh, and also Andrei f**king Tarkovsky. That was his full name. Fact.

The full March 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.

Sunday, March 1**

Scores by Quincy Jones

  • The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)
  • The Slender Thread (Sydney Pollack, 1965)
  • The Deadly Affair (Sidney Lumet, 1967)
  • In Cold Blood (Richard Brooks, 1967)
  • In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967)
  • A Dandy in Aspic (Anthony Mann, 1968)
  • Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, 1969)
  • Cactus Flower (Gene Saks, 1969)
  • The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969)
  • Mackenna’s Gold (J. Lee Thompson, 1969)
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (Gordon Douglas, 1970)
  • The Out-of-Towners (Arthur Hiller, 1970)
  • $ (Richard Brooks, 1971)
  • The Anderson Tapes (Sidney Lumet, 1971)
  • Brother John (James Goldstone, 1971)
  • The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah, 1972)

Commentary: Even though I’ve seen several of these movies, I tend to think of Quincy Jones’ music and work as a producer outside of film. It’ll be fun to rewatch some of these movies with an ear open for Jones’ scores and compositions. I’m particularly interested to rewatch The Out-of-Towners given the steady deterioration of New York City’s infrastructure over the last couple of years.

Monday, March 2**

Triple Play

  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Busby Berkeley, 1949)
  • Kill the Umpire (Lloyd Bacon, 1950)
  • Angels in the Outfield (Clarence Brown, 1951)

The Daytrippers (Greg Mottola, 1996) – Criterion Collection Edition #1001

Commentary: I often joke that I don’t like baseball, but I really like the idea of baseball. As for movies about baseball, I think I prefer documentaries, but I’m willing to give all three of these a shot. Also, you know, I haven’t seen Daytrippers, so time to make that happen.

Tuesday, March 3**

Short + Feature: Moving Pictures

24 Frames per Second (Shirley Clarke, 1977) and 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, )

Commentary: I missed Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames while it was in theaters, so I look forward to catching up with it through the Criterion Channel. It consists of 24 short films inspired by still images, each roughly four and a half minutes long. I wonder if it’s the kind of movie I can just watch over the course of 24 days, with one frame a day. The Shirley Clarke short I’d save for the end—some viewing for day 25.

Though would I lose the gestalt effect of 24 Frames by watching the movie piecemeal? Just pondering that makes me appreciate the way movies make us think about time and our experience of it.

Wednesday, March 4**

Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor, 2018)

Exclusive streaming premiere, featuring a conversation with director Dominga Sotomayor

Commentary: I liked Dominga Sotomayor’s Too Late to Die Young when I caught it at the 2018 NYFF. It felt like a mix of John Hughes and Lucrecia Martel. I sense I missed a lot of the film’s social texture since I know nothing about Chile’s political history, yet I connected with the imagery and the film’s teenage feeling.

Thursday, March 5**

Patton Oswalt’s Adventures in Moviegoing

Includes a conversation with Alicia Malone

  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)
  • The Warped Ones (Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1960)
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
  • A Colt Is My Passport (Takashi Nomura, 1967)
  • Gimme Shelter (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin, 1970)
  • Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May, 1976)
  • Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)

Commentary: Patton Oswalt shares some of his favorite movies following his long stint as a movie junkie. It’s a solid selection of movies, including two Japanese crime movies I haven’t seen that sound right up my alley. This dovetails nicely into the next day of programming.

Friday, March 6**

Directed by Kelly Reichardt

  • River of Grass (1994)
  • Old Joy (2006)
  • Wendy and Lucy (2008)
  • Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

Double Feature: Going Nuclear

Fail Safe (Sidney Lumet, 1964) and Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

Commentary: Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow comes out this week, and I look forward to checking out the latest from this modern master of slow cinema. In the meantime, I really should check out Old Joy. It’s a movie I’ve been meaning to see for ages.

On the flipside, I have seen Dr. Strangelove multiple times but have never seen Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe. Two movies about nuclear annihilation seems like pretty light fare these days just given the state of the planet. I’ll probably watch Old Joy first, though.

Saturday, March 7

Saturday Matinee: Young Sherlock Holmes (Barry Levinson, 1985)

Sunday, March 8**

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

With the 1988 documentary Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

  • The Steamroller and the Violin (1961)
  • Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
  • Andrei Rublev (1966)
  • Solaris (1972)
  • The Mirror (1975)
  • Stalker (1979)
  • Nostalghia (1983)
  • The Sacrifice (1986)

Commentary: One of the all-time masters of cinema. Always visually arresting and philosophically fascinating, Tarkovsky’s movies have an elemental force behind their imagery. His movies are transcendent experiences that reward patience and attentiveness. I might sit down and re-read Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris before revisiting the Tarkovsky adaptation. I’m especially eager to make time for re-watches of Stalker and The Sacrifice, and might just find the time for another go round of Andrei Rublev.

Monday, March 9**

Safe (Todd Haynes, 1995) – Criterion Collection Edition #739

3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves, 1957) – Criterion Collection Edition #657

Commentary: With the COVID-19 paranoia going around, I feel like Todd Haynes’ Safe might feel even more unnerving than it already does. If I’m too freaked while washing my hands and making homemade hand sanitizer with old vodka, I’ll watch the western instead.

Tuesday, March 10**

Short + Feature: Get Thee to a Nunnery!

Aves (Nietzchka Keene, 1998) and The Nun (Jacques Rivette, 1966)

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life (1971, 1972, 1974) – Criterion Collection Edition #631

Wednesday, March 11**

Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)

Commentary: As a teen growing up in the video store age, I have seen the VHS cover of Orlando countless times never realizing that it was an adaptation of a Virgina Woolf novel and that I was looking at Tilda Swinton, an actress I’d eventually adore. Such is the provincialism and philistinism of a suburban teenager. This is definitely a must for a first-time viewing.

Thursday, March 12**

Three by Peter Bogdanovich

  • Targets (1968)
  • The Last Picture Show (1971)
  • Paper Moon (1973)

Commentary: I haven’t seen Targets, so I’m looking forward to that. The Last Picture Show I remember liking well enough; it’s like a novel you read a decade ago and remember very little about it expect that you’re pretty sure you enjoyed it. I’m absolutely in love with Paper Moon, though. What a wonderful picture.

Friday, March 13**

Double Feature: Read All About It!

The Front Page (Lewis Milestone, 1931) and His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)

Commentary: This is just like the pairing of Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove. I’ve seen the motor-mouthed Hawks masterpiece multiple times, but I have never seen The Front Page before. Wonder how much moxie that 1931 film has—probably not as much as Rosalind Russell’s left pinky, but to be fair, no one has that much moxie.

Saturday, March 14**

Saturday Matinee: Hans Christian Andersen (Charles Vidor, 1952)

Sunday, March 15**

Starring Rita Hayworth

Featuring a new introduction by critic Farran Smith Nehme

  • Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939)
  • Angels over Broadway (Ben Hecht and Lee Garmes, 1940)
  • The Strawberry Blonde (Raoul Walsh, 1941)
  • You’ll Never Get Rich (Sidney Lanfield, 1941)
  • You Were Never Lovelier (William A. Seiter, 1942)
  • Cover Girl (Charles Vidor, 1944)
  • Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947)
  • Down to Earth (Alexander Hall, 1947)
  • Affair in Trinidad (Vincent Sherman, 1952)
  • Salome (William Dieterle, 1953)
  • Pal Joey (George Sidney, 1957)
  • Separate Tables (Delbert Mann, 1958)

Commentary: Filling another major gap in my film knowledge, here’s a collection of essential Rita Hayworth films. It’s odd that I mostly know her from that one hair flip in Gilda, and only because it’s in The Shawshank Redemption.

Monday, March 16**

Observations on Film Art No. 35: In the Service of Horror—The Lyrical Cinematography of Picnic at Hanging Rock

Commentary: Another fine pairing of a film you can stream on Criterion Channel and a critical analysis of its formal technique.

Tuesday, March 17**

Short + Feature: Express Yourself

Would You Look at Her (Goran Stolevski, 2017) and Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)

Commentary: Tomboy is excellent. I also want to use this opportunity to say that everyone should see Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, one of the best movies of last year.

Wednesday, March 18**

Directed by Kathleen Collins

Includes an archival interview with the filmmaker

  • The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy (1980)
  • Losing Ground (1982)

Commentary: Another fins showcase of women in film from the Criterion Channel. In this case, it’s Kathleen Collins, who passed away at just 46 years old. Looking forward to seeing her work and learning more about her.

Thursday, March 19

Three Documentaries from the Sensory Ethnography Lab

  • Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009)
  • Leviathan (Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2012)
  • Caniba (Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2017)

Commentary: I really disliked Leviathan (not to be confused with the 2014 Andrey Zvyagintsev movie, which is very good). I am almost curious about Caniba, which is about notorious real-life murderer and cannibal Issei Sagawa. Then again, that curiosity is more because I’m appalled by his pseudo-celebrity status.

Friday, March 20

Double Feature: Thoroughly Modern Malaise

The Passenger (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975) and Identification of a Woman (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982)

Saturday, March 21**

Saturday Matinee: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam, 1988)

Commentary: Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is still one of my favorite movies of all time. Looking back at this piece I wrote about The Adventures of Baron Munchausen almost 7 years ago, I am reminded of the passion I have for this movie, and for what I do, and all those impossible dreams I still have. A film is a memorable if it reminds you of who you were, but it’s a gift if it reminds you of what you are at your core and why you continue to try.

Sunday, March 22**

German Expressionism

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)
  • The Golem (Carl Boese and Paul Wegener, 1920)
  • Destiny (Fritz Lang, 1921)
  • Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (Fritz Lang, 1922)
  • Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau, 1922)
  • The Hands of Orlac (Robert Wiene, 1924)
  • Varieté (E. A. Dupont, 1925)
  • Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
  • M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
  • The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1933)

Commentary: This is absolutely essential viewing for lovers of film as art. The canted angles, hard shadows, and exaggerated emotions of German Expressionism inform everything from film noir to animation to modern cult classics. I haven’t seen The Hands of Orlac or Varieté, so going to add these to my queue.

Monday, March 23**

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

  • Louie Bluie (1985)
  • Crumb (1994)
  • Ghost World (2001)
  • Art School Confidential (2006)

Commentary: Revisiting Crumb should be interesting. As a teen, I’m not sure I understood the documentary and what to make of this odd collection of characters. With adult eyes, I’ll probably find the cartoonist an unpleasant weirdo, and his family a tragic group of men suffering from mental illnesses. Ghost World might be especially peculiar to rewatch just given where Scarlett Johansson’s career has wound up almost two decades later.

Tuesday, March 24**

Short + Feature: Send in the Clowns

24 Hours in the Life of a Clown (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1946) and La strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)

Wednesday, March 25**

Three by Liliana Cavani

  • Women of the Resistance (1965)
  • The Night Porter (1974)
  • The Skin (1981)

Thursday, March 26**

The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Karel Reisz, 1981) – Criterion Collection Edition #768

Commentary: I really liked the John Fowles novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and I had no idea it was made into a film. I’m curious how the film deals with the book’s formal play. Does it find a cinematic equivalent, or does it attempt to be true to the text?

Friday, March 27**

Double Feature: Remembrances of Cities Past

Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008) and My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)

Commentary: Fascinating pairing of two dissimilar filmmakers from different countries exploring home, place, memory, and time. The films were released within a year of each other too, so I’m curious if there are certain visual ideas that secretly typify the aesthetic of mid-2000s collage documentaries.

Saturday, March 28

Saturday Matinee: Fly Away Home (Carroll Ballard, 1996)

Sunday, March 29**

Starring Catherine Deneuve

  • Vice and Virtue (Roger Vadim, 1963)
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
  • Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)
  • Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)
  • The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967)
  • Mississippi Mermaid (François Truffaut, 1969)
  • Donkey Skin (Jacques Demy, 1970)
  • Tristana (Luis Buñuel, 1970)
  • Un flic (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1972)
  • A Slightly Pregnant Man (Jacques Demy, 1973)
  • The Last Metro (François Truffaut, 1980)
  • The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983)
  • The Young Girls Turn 25 (Agnès Varda, 1993)
  • A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)
  • The Girl on the Train (André Téchiné, 2009)
  • On My Way (Emmanuelle Bercot, 2013)

Commentary: A great collection of some of Catherine Deneuve’s best work. I’m especially interested to rewatch Repulsion (a movie I enjoy even though Roman Polanski is a fucking scumbag) and the Demy pictures (which I’ll follow up with the Varda doc).

Running through a few of these movies may be a nice preface to The Truth, the latest Hirokazu Kore-eda film, his first in French and English. The Truth stars Deneuve alongside Ethan Hawke and Juliette Binoche.

Monday, March 30

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954) – Criterion Collection Edition #647

Tuesday, March 31**

Short + Feature: A Woman’s Place

Counterfeit Kunkoo (Reema Sengupta, 2018) and Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964)

Commentary: Everyone get some more Satyajit Ray in your lives.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.