C What’s On: The Criterion Channel’s Programming for November 2019


We fell back over the weekend, which means you have extra time to read C What’s On, our look at what the Criterion Channel has programmed for its subscribers. The November offerings are once again eclectic and delectable, with a showcase on classic MGM musicals, the work of Judy Garland, a showcase on Peter Greenaway, and lots of food-related films for everyone to binge on come Thanksgiving.

The Criterion Channel also included my favorite new film of 2019: An Elephant Sitting Still by the late Hu Bo. The movie is almost four hours long, so watching it at home will allow you to take bathroom breaks as needed and schedule reprieves from the film’s overpowering sense of bleakness.

The full November 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.

Colonel Blimp - Trailer

Friday, November 1**

The Mustache Club

In honor of Movember, a collection of films with some of the most iconic mustaches in cinema history.

  • The Thief of Bagdad (Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, and Tim Whelan, 1940)
  • The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
  • 49th Parallel (Michael Powell, 1941)
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)
  • Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962)
  • High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
  • Capricious Summer (JiÅ™í Menzel, 1968)
  • The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)

They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1942) – Criterion Collection Edition #880

Double Feature: Love Me Do

A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964) and The Hours and Times (Christopher Münch, 1991)

Commentary: Some people will spend November writing the first draft of a novel very quickly. Others will grow a mustache to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. If you’re doing either or none, there’s a lot to watch regardless. Admire the novelistic qualities of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, for instance, or just marvel at the facial hair. Interesting they picked The Great Dictator, though I suppose that’s two mustaches (one funny, one infamous) in a single film. Perhaps a nod to the wide release of Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit this week?

Saturday, November 2**

Saturday Matinee: Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

Featuring an introduction by Bill Hader

Commentary: While in the news recently because he weighed in on Marvel movies, Ken Loach has long chronicled the struggles of the British working class. Kes remains one of his finest films. Also, why is anyone surprised Ken Loach would dislike corporate superhero blockbusters centered around a really, really rich guy?

An American in Paris (1951) Official Trailer - Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron Movie HD

Sunday, November 3**

MGM Musicals from the Golden Age

A collection of classic movie musicals from MGM.

  • Broadway Melody of 1940 (Norman Taurog, 1940)
  • For Me and My Gal (Busby Berkeley, 1942)
  • Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli, 1943)
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
  • The Harvey Girls (George Sidney, 1946)
  • Easter Parade (Charles Walters, 1948)
  • The Pirate (Vincente Minnelli, 1948)
  • On the Town (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1949)
  • In the Good Old Summertime (Robert Z. Leonard, 1949)
  • The Barkleys of Broadway (Charles Walters, 1949)
  • Summer Stock (Charles Walters, 1950)
  • An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)
  • The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
  • Give a Girl a Break (Stanley Donen, 1953)
  • I Love Melvin (Don Weis, 1953)
  • Lili (Charles Walters, 1953)
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Stanley Donen, 1954)
  • Brigadoon (Vincente Minnelli, 1954)
  • It’s Always Fair Weather (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1955)
  • That’s Entertainment! (Jack Haley Jr., 1974)

Starring Judy Garland

  • For Me and My Gal (Busby Berkeley, 1942)
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
  • The Harvey Girls (George Sidney, 1946)
  • The Pirate (Vincente Minnelli, 1948)
  • Easter Parade (Charles Walters, 1948)
  • In the Good Old Summertime (Robert Z. Leonard, 1949)
  • Summer Stock (Charles Walters, 1950)

Commentary: What a lovely double dose of old Hollywood glory. While Singin’ in the Rain is not included, you’ve got plenty of other MGM musical classics, and two Judy Garland/Gene Kelly collaborations. While it’s a few years old and may not work anymore, I still stand by my idea that a remake of It’s Always Fair Weather would make a great Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao reunion vehicle.

Monday, November 4

12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957) – Criterion Collection Edition #591

Tuesday, November 5**

Short + Feature: Last Call

El doctor (Suzan Pitt, 2006) and Under the Volcano (John Huston, 1984)

Wednesday, November 6**

The Arbor (Clio Barnard, 2010)

Commentary: I’m not familiar with this documentary, but the trailer and its apparent hybrid approach to non-fiction filmmaking looks really intriguing.

Thursday, November 7**

Three Jacks

  • Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
  • The King of Marvin Gardens (Bob Rafelson, 1972)
  • The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973)

Commentary: Oft-imitated and emulated but rarely surpassed, here’s a primer on three quintessential early ‘70s Jack Nicholson performances that paved the way for his superstardom and status as Hollywood royalty.

Friday, November 8**

Double Feature: Between Us Girls

The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967) and Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, 2007)

Commentary: I didn’t expect pairing one of Jacques Demy’s charmers with an adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed comic book memoir, but here we are. And we’re better for it.

Saturday, November 9

Saturday Matinee: Elephant Boy (Robert J. Flaherty and Zoltan Korda, 1937)

The Conversation - Trailer - HQ

Sunday, November 10**

Caught on Tape

  • A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan, 1957)
  • Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971)
  • The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
  • Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)
  • Diva (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1981)
  • Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof KieÅ›lowski, 1994)
  • Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
  • The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Commentary: The classics of voyeurism, observation, and paranoia are all worth a rewatch or a first watch. I haven’t seen The Conversation or Blow Out in almost 20 years; Red and Caché in about a dozen. I still haven’t seen Klute or The Lives of Others, come to think of it.

Monday, November 11

The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959) – Criterion Collection Edition #5

Featuring a new 60th anniversary documentary by Daniel Raim featuring François Truffaut’s daughter, Laura Truffaut

Tuesday, November 12**

Short + Feature: Listen Up

Death of the Sound Man (Sorayos Prapapan, 2017) and Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)

Commentary: A focus on the sound technicians who though unseen make movies memorable.

Wednesday, November 13**

7 Films by Suzan Pitt

  • Crocus (1971)
  • Jefferson Circus Songs (1973)
  • Asparagus (1979)
  • Joy Street (1995)
  • El doctor (2006)
  • Visitation (2011)
  • Pinball (2013)

Featuring Suzan Pitt: Persistence of Vision (Blue and Laura Kraning, 2006)

Commentary: I’m not familiar with Suzanne Pitt’s work, but looking at images online, I admire the handmade quality of what’s she’s doing. Looking forward to diving into her work and watching the accompanying documentary.

THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER Trailer | Food on Film 2016

Thursday, November 14**

Directed by Peter Greenaway

  • Intervals (1973)
  • Windows (1974)
  • Dear Phone (1976)
  • H Is for House (1976)
  • A Walk Through H (1978)
  • Water Wrackets (1978)
  • Vertical Features Remake (1978)
  • The Falls (1980)
  • The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
  • A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
  • Prospero’s Books (1991)
  • The Pillow Book (1996)

Featuring a 2016 documentary portrait of Greenaway

Commentary: The best thing about this showcase of Peter Greenaway’s work isn’t just the film selection but the many pieces of Michael Nyman music you’ll hear. Nyman is one of my favorite film score composers.

Friday, November 15**

Double Feature: Jamdown Style

The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972) and No Place Like Home (Perry Henzell, 2006)

Commentary: The Harder They Come was a great watch during The 300 last year, so I’m particularly excited to see what this long-lost follow-up film is like.

Saturday, November 16**

Saturday Matinee: My Life as a Dog (Lasse Hallström, 1985)

Mulholland Drive | Official Trailer | Starring Naomi Watts

Sunday, November 17**

Queersighted: The Ache of Desire

A showcase of queer and LGBTQ cinema

  • Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
  • Les rendez-vous d’Anna (Chantal Akerman, 1978)
  • Yentl (Barbra Streisand, 1983)
  • Desert Hearts (Donna Deitch, 1985)
  • Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai, 1997)
  • Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
  • I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, 2006)
  • Raging Sun, Raging Sky (Julián Hernández, 2009)
  • Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, 2013)

Featuring a conversation between critics Michael Koresky and Melissa Anderson

Commentary: Looking forward to seeing these films and the larger conversation of queerness. I’m particularly interested in watching Les rendez-vous d’Anna again. It’s haunted me since last year much like another Chantal Akerman film we’ll get to shortly.

Monday, November 18**

An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)

Featuring a new introduction by critic and programmer Aliza Ma and Hu Bo’s 2017 short film Man in the Well

Commentary: Completed last year and released in the United States this year, Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still is my favorite movie of 2019. It is a moving work of despondent slow cinema, and it’s haunted me all this time. If I can steel myself for it, I will give this long existential epic a rewatch this month.

Tuesday, November 19**

Short + Feature: Table Manners

Next Floor (Denis Villeneuve, 2008) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Peter Greenaway, 1989)

Wednesday, November 20**

Directed by Alice Rohrwacher

  • Corpo celeste (2011)
  • The Wonders (2014)

Commentary: I caught The Wonders last year during The 300 and quite liked it, ditto Alice Rohrwacher’s Netflix film Happy as Lazzarro at the NYFF. Very curious to check out Heavenly Bodies and see how it speaks to me.

Thursday, November 21**

The Koker Trilogy (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987/1992/1994) – Criterion Collection Edition #990/991/992

Friday, November 22**

Double Feature: As Triers Go By

Reprise (Joachim Trier, 2006) and Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier, 2011)

Commentary: I really enjoyed Joachim Trier’s Thelma from a few years ago, which offered a queer take on Carrie-like coming-of-age horror stories. I’ve been meaning to check out his other films, so this is a nice chance to finally make good on that

Saturday, November 23

Saturday Matinee: Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)

Near Dark (1987) International Trailer

Sunday, November 24**

Karyn Kusama’s Adventures in Moviegoing

The director of Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body, and Destroyer discusses her work with presenter and critic Alicia Malone.

Featuring some of Kusama’s favorites:

  • Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
  • High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
  • Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
  • Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
  • Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)

Commentary: Karyn Kusama is a filmmaker who deserved to break big. Jennifer’s Body is getting a well-deserved critical reassessment (i.e., it’s good, actually), and her films The Invitation and Destroyer have been solid. It’ll be cool hearing her talk about her work, and also listening to her geek out about Chantal Akerman’s classic Jeanne Dielman and the glory of Kathryn Bigelow’s underrated vampire western Near Dark.

Monday, November 25

The Inland Sea (Lucille Carra, 1991) – Criterion Collection Edition #988

Tuesday, November 26**

Short + Feature: Someone’s Listening

Hacked Circuit (Deborah Stratman, 2014) and The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Wednesday, November 27**

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (Leslie Harris, 1992)

Featuring a new introduction by director Leslie Harris

Commentary: I meant to catch Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. last year during The 300, though I got thwarted by MoviePass dysfunction around that time. Looking forward to finally seeing this unsung indie film about a young black Brooklynite who gets pregnant and tries to hide it.

Delicatessen - Trailer

Thursday, November 28**

Glorious Food!

Movies featuring meals, feasts, and food, glorious food.

  • The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962)
  • Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963)
  • Daisies (VÄ›ra Chytilová, 1966)
  • Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (Les Blank, 1980)
  • My Dinner with Andre (Louis Malle, 1981)
  • Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985)
  • Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel, 1987)
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Peter Greenaway, 1989)
  • Yum, Yum, Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking (Les Blank, 1990)
  • Delicatessen (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1991)
  • Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee, 1994)
  • Big Night (Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, 1996)
  • The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2007)
  • Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008)

Commentary: An eclectic mix for Thanksgiving, to be sure. You have some savory and sexy ramen in the form of Tampopo or cold summer noodles in Still Walking. There’s some human on the menu if you’re into that, and long discussions with a friend over a meal that’s incidental to what’s in your head and heart. We have two Les Blank documentaries about food, but sadly not included is Blank’s short Werner Herzog Eats a Shoe, in which Werner Herzog eats one of his actual shoes.

Friday, November 29**

Double Feature: Fraud Alert

The Baron of Arizona (Samuel Fuller, 1950) and F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1973)

Commentary: F for Fake is one of the great acts of cinematic trickery. Curious about the Samuel Fuller film. I still think my favorite of Fuller’s movies is 1980’s The Big Red One, which got a major upgrade with its reconstructed version in 2004.

Saturday, November 30**

Saturday Matinee: A Kid for Two Farthings (Carol Reed, 1955)

Commentary: You know, I think the only two Carol Reed movies I’ve seen off the top of my head are The Third Man (at one time my favorite film) and Oliver! (which I vague remember as a child). A Kid for Two Farthings sounds like a hoot. A boy is convinced his goat is really a unicorn that grants wishes. Hot damn.

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