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


We’re a bit little later than intended because of some traveling, but it’s time for another installment of “C What’s On”, our look at what the Criterion Channel has programmed for its subscribers.

The September offerings are solid once again—who would have thought the Criterion folks would be so good at curation? Pshaw—with an eclectic set of movies and programming. This month we have John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color on deck, which is everything good in the world in different ways. I sort of want a mash-up of the Escape from New York and Upstream Color soundtracks now. I sort of want to watch them back to back as well—drinking a coffee stout with my baked salmon.

Also on board this September are selections from the works of Lina Wertmüller and Christian Petzold, and the complete films of supercool French noir master Jean-Pierre Melville.

The full September 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.

Midnight Cowboy release trailer

Sunday, September 1

Directed by John Schlesinger

  • A Kind of Loving (1962)
  • Billy Liar (1963)
  • Darling (1965)
  • Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
  • Marathon Man (1976)
  • Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)
  • The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

With a new introduction by John Schlesinger’s nephew, cultural historian Ian Buruma

Monday, September 2**

Back to Work

  • Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
  • The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick, 1951)
  • Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)

Commentary: The only movie here I have not seen is The Man in the White Suit. This must be rectified. If anything, the Chaplin/Tati pairing is a delight.

Tuesday, September 3**

Short + Feature: Long Roads Home

On the Border (Wei Shujun, 2018) and Kaili Blues (Bi Gan, 2015)

Commentary: I missed out on catching Kaili Blues when it was previously highlighted on The Criterion Channel. Looks like I have a second chance.

Wednesday, September 4

A Dry White Season: Criterion Collection Edition #953 (Euzhan Palcy, 1989)

Three Reasons: Orpheus

Thursday, September 5**

Creative Marriages: Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946)

Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1946)

Commentary: Cocteau and Marais were lovers and a strong artistic pairing, and these films have a wondrous showcase of the Cocteau brand of cinematic poetry. Any time I see Cocteau appear in the context of The Criterion Collection, I wonder if an when The Blood of a Poet or Testament of Orpheus will ever show up to round out the Orphic trilogy. 

Friday, September 6**

Double Feature: She’s Leaving Home

Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949) and 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008)

Commentary: I’m interested in this pairing, especially since I’ve seen neither of these movies but admire both of the filmmakers a great deal.

Saturday, September 7**

Saturday Matinee: A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964)

Commentary: You’re a swine. [Ed Note: I’m working like a dog, though.]

Sunday, September 8**


  • Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
  • Brute Force (Jules Dassin, 1947)
  • Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948)
  • Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)
  • A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
  • Le trou (Jacques Becker, 1960)
  • Escape from New York (John Carpenter, 1981)
  • Down By Law (Jim Jarmusch, 1986)

Commentary: I scream, you scream, we all scream for jailbreak movies. Ice cream, too, I guess. [Ed note: No…]

Monday, September 9

David Lynch: The Art Life: Criterion Collection Edition #895 (Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm, 2016)

Tuesday, September 10**

Short + Feature: Reclaimed Images

Mobilize (Caroline Monnet, 2014) and Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1973)

Commentary: I have been meaning to see Touki Bouki forever now, and it frequently plays at repertory theaters in the city. Time to make it happen in the comfort of my own apartment.

Harlan County USA Official Trailer - HD

Wednesday, September 11**

Harlan County USA: Criterion Collection Edition #334 (Barbara Kopple, 1976)

Commentary: One of the best and most important political documentaries ever made. It’s an incredible portrait of the life of coal miners, the struggle for unionization, and the constant fight for dignity in the face of oppression. It’s also fascinating to note the role that the women in this coal community play. This will make a great pairing with John Sayles’ Matewan when it finally enters The Criterion Collection later this year.

Friday, September 13**

Double Feature: Drama Queen of England

Oh! What a Lovely War (Richard Attenborough, 1969) and Sparrows Can’t Sing (Joan Littlewood, 1963)

Commentary: A musical satire about WWI and a bit of domestic strife by the Mother of Modern Theatre? Hell, sign me up.

Saturday, September 14**

Saturday Matinee: Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)

Sunday, September 15

Starring Laurence Olivier

  • Perfect Understanding (Cyril Gardner, 1933)
  • Fire over England (William K. Howard, 1937)
  • Wuthering Heights (William Wyler, 1939)
  • That Hamilton Woman (Alexander Korda, 1941)
  • 49th Parallel (Michael Powell, 1941)
  • Henry V (Laurence Olivier, 1944)
  • Hamlet (Laurence Olivier, 1948)
  • Richard III (Laurence Olivier, 1955)
  • The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, 1960)
  • Oh! What a Lovely War (Richard Attenborough, 1969)
  • Marathon Man (John Schlesinger, 1976)
  • War Requiem (Derek Jarman, 1989)

Featuring a 1973 interview with Olivier

Commentary: Tastefully, they did not include Olivier in Othello. Oof.

Tanner '88 (1988) HBO promo

Monday, September 16**

Tanner ’88: Criterion Collection Edition #258 (Robert Altman, 1988)

Commentary: I wonder how it’ll feel to re-watch with an impending election year.

Tuesday, September 17

Short + Feature: War-Torn Youth

The Chicken (Una Gunjak, 2014) and Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)

Wednesday, September 18**

White Material: Criterion Collection Edition #560 (Claire Denis, 2009)

Commentary: An excellent look at colonialism, much of it explored in the form of objects and actions that signify whiteness.

Thursday, September 19

Shorts for Days: Cityscapes

  • À propos de Nice (Jean Vigo and Boris Kaufman, 1930)
  • N.U. (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1948)
  • Daybreak Express (D. A. Pennebaker, 1953)
  • Sunday in Peking (Chris Marker, 1956)
  • Surface Tension (Hollis Frampton, 1968)
  • The Black Balloon (Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2012)

With an introduction by Criterion Channel programmer Penelope Bartlett

Friday, September 20**

Double Feature: Murder Most Funny

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) and The Ruling Class (Peter Medak, 1972)

Saturday, September 21

Saturday Matinee: No Greater Glory (Frank Borzage, 1934)

Upstream Color: Theatrical Trailer

Sunday, September 22**

Rian Johnson’s Adventures in Moviegoing

A collection of his favorite films:

  • La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1963)
  • (Federico Fellini, 1963)
  • World on a Wire (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)
  • F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1975)
  • Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
  • Upstream Color (Shane Carruth, 2013)

Commentary: Rian Johnson is a mensch. I mean, look at that selection of movies. He brought Upstream Color to the Criterion Channel, guys. It’s one of my favorite movies of the 2010s and such a singular vision. Years ago I wrote an extensive, three-part deep analysis of Upstream Color, and even had a chance to interview writer/director/co-star Shane Carruth.

Everything else there is great, yes, but Upstream Color is an idiosyncratic work of art, so much its own odd story about the way people process trauma and return to the world by reasserting control over their lives. That’s just one interpretation.

Monday, September 23

Surprisingly, nothing is scheduled for this day. I’m just filling the blank space here.

Perhaps the assumption is that you’re too blown away by Upstream Color. Seriously, find me in Brooklyn and let’s grab some coffee or tea and talk about this movie. That’s what should happen on this day.

Or you can watch Stalker, I guess. [Ed Note: Watch Stalker. It’s incredible.]

Tuesday, September 24

Short + Feature: Hail Mary Full of Grace?

Misterio (Chema Garcia Ibarra, 2013) and Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961)

Lina Wertmüller: Female Trouble

Wednesday, September 25**

Directed by Lina Wertmüller

  • The Seduction of Mimi (1972)
  • Love and Anarchy (1973)
  • All Screwed Up (1974)
  • Swept Away (1974)
  • Seven Beauties (1975)
  • Summer Night (1986)
  • Ferdinando and Carolina (1999)

Also featuring Behind the White Glasses, a 2015 documentary on Wertmüller

Commentary: Continuing their tradition of highlighting the work of women in film, I’m looking forward to watching my first Wertmüller film this month. Always catching up, always eliminating blond spots.

Thursday, September 26**

Directed by Christian Petzold

  • Yella (2007)
  • Jerichow (2008)
  • Barbara (2012)
  • Phoenix (2014)

With a new introduction by critic Girish Shambu

Commentary: Phoenix slipped past me, though I’ve heard it’s one of the best films in recent years. Petzold is a fascinating filmmaker, whose work is well thought out and observed. Christian Petzold is one of the most fun and intelligent interviews I’ve done for Flixist.

Friday, September 27

Double Feature: Phantom Worlds

Yella (Christian Petzold, 2007) and Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)

Saturday, September 28**

The Circus: Criterion Collection Edition #996 (Charles Chaplin, 1928)

Commentary: It may not be at the same level of City Lights, Modern Times, or The Great Dictator, but The Circus is solid blend of Chaplin humor and pathos. Enjoy!

Le Samouraï Trailer (1967)

Sunday, September 29**

The Complete Jean-Pierre Melville

  • 24 Hours in the Life of a Clown (1946)
  • Le silence de la Mer (1949)
  • Les enfants terribles (1950)
  • When You Read This Letter (1953)
  • Bob le Flambeur (1956)
  • Two Men in Manhattan (1959)
  • Leon Morin, Priest (1961)
  • Le Doulos (1962)
  • Magnet of Doom (1963)
  • Le deuxième souffle (1966)
  • Le samouraï (1967)
  • Army of Shadows (1969)
  • Le Cercle rouge (1970)
  • Un flic (1972)

Also featuring a profile of Melville from the series Cinéastes de Notre temps

Commentary: Oh man. The entire filmography of Jean-Pierre Melville, the king of influentially chic, super cool French noir and crime films. I haven’t seen some of these movies in literally 15 or 16 years. This is going to be a fun deep dive I’ll need to make time for.

Monday, September 30

Observations on Film Art #31: Comedy, Suspense, and Three-Point Lighting in To Be or Not To Be – Professor Kristin Thompson discusses the lighting techniques of Ernst Lubitsch and cinematographer Rudolph Maté.

John Carpenter & Alan Howarth - 1997: Fuga Da New York

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