Celebrating its second birthday, the Criterion Channel is launching a smorgasbord of incredible, massive series this April. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh? With the likes of the Marx Brothers ringing in the month of Spring and the late, great Ennio Morricone’s music put front-and-center, it’s a particularly excellent lineup this month.
I shout it loud and proud whenever prompted (and often when I’m not!) that Sergio Leone is, hands-down, my favorite filmmaker. A lot of his success is due as much to his talent as that of his stalwart composer (and former school classmate) Maestro Morricone. The Channel highlights their early-’70s collaboration Duck, You Sucker, a massive Mexican Revolutionary road trip that is often forgotten when discussing their films together. It is, of course, excellent.
I’m also overjoyed to see King Hu’s Raining in the Mountain appear as a streaming premiere on the Channel. I’ve not seen Hu’s late-’70s film, but his iconic Dragon Inn from 1967 (also streaming!) is one of my all-time favorite films (Ed Note: As is Come Drink With Me).
The Channel’s lineup of gambling films is also an absolute treasure trove, with two personal favorites in Pale Flower and Bob le flambeur, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson’s feature debut Hard Eight (reminding us all that John C Reilly and Philip Baker Hall are some of our greatest performers). We also get Warren Beatty’s tremendous fur coat in Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Trust me, you can’t miss it.
Back when FilmStruck was struck from the records, a lot of us diehards were at a loss: the streaming service was a bastion for classic films, the likes of which we (at least, I) had never had access to previously. For all the luxuries of modern streaming services, they’re all decidedly modern in their offerings. Go figure! I’m all for the new hotness, but it’s with the past that my heart lies. It was with FilmStruck’s rebirth as the Criterion Channel that the prayers of film buffs the world round were answered, and with some-700 days under its belt now, clearly, the force is strong with this one. Here’s to another two years.
** indicates programming available only in the U.S.
The Maestro: Scores by Ennio Morricone
Fists in the Pocket (1965), The Battle of Algiers (1966), The Big Gundown (1966), Death Rides a Horse (1967), Teorema (1968), The Mercenary (1968), A Quiet Place in the Country (1968), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Burn! (1969), Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970), Companeros (1970), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Automobile (1971), Duck, You Sucker (1971), Arabian Nights (1974), The Human Factor (1975), Night Train Murders (1975), Hitch-Hike (1977), Days of Heaven (1978), The Professional (1981), The Mission (1986), Ripley’s Game (2002)
Close to Home: How to Make a Movie Without Leaving the House
Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), Portrait of Jason (1967), Faces (1968), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Narcissus (1971), Italianamerican (1974), That’s Life! (1986), The Garden (1990), Oxhide (2005), Momma’s Man (2008), Oxhide II (2009), This Is Not a Film (2011)**, The Mend (2014)
And the shorts Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Saute ma ville (1968), La chambre (1972), A Loft (2010), And Nothing Happened (2016), Words, Planets (2018), The Big Trim (2021)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
And the shorts The Secret of the Marquise (1922), The Flying Coffer (1922), Dr. Dolittle: A Trip to Africa (1923), Dr. Dolittle: The Lion’s Den (1923), The Death-Feigning Chinaman (1928), Harlequin (1931), The Stolen Heart (1934), Papageno (1935), The Magic Horse (1953), Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (1954), The Caliph Stork (1954), The Star of Bethlehem (1956), The Lost Son (1974)
The Best of the Marx Brothers
Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), Room Service (1938), At the Circus (1939), Go West (1940), The Big Store (1941)
Dark City (1950), The Las Vegas Story (1952), Bob le flambeur (1956), The Hustler (1961), Bay of Angels (1963), Pale Flower (1964), 5 Card Stud (1968), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), California Split (1974), The Gambler (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Atlantic City (1980)**, Tricheurs (1984), House of Games (1987), Queen of Diamonds (1991), Hard Eight (1996), Croupier (1998)
Criterion Collection Edition #921 – Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948)
Criterion Collection Edition #866 – Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders, 1999)
Criterion Collection Edition #963 – To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)
Criterion Collection Edition #1067 – Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, 2007)
Criterion Collection Edition #235 – The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963)
Exclusive Streaming Premiere – A Girl Missing (Koji Fukuda, 2019)
Now Playing in 30 Years of The Film Foundation
Sons of the Desert (1933)**, How Green Was My Valley (1941), Force of Evil (1948)**, Caught (1949)**, The Leopard (1963)
Double Feature: Feelin’ Feisty
The Man Who Cheated Himself (Felix E Feist, 1950) and Tomorrow Is Another Day (Felix E Feist, 1951)
Saturday Matinee – Little Women (Gillian Armstrong, 1994)
True Stories – Mayor (David Osit, 2020)
Short + Feature: From the Salon to the Boardroom
Hair Wolf (Mariama Diallo, 2018) and Putney Swope (Robert Downey Sr, 1969)
Women Filmmakers – Smooth Talk (Joyce Chopra, 1985)
Double Feature: Can You Dig It?
Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971) and Shaft’s Big Score! (Gordon Parks, 1972)
Saturday Matinee – Chef Flynn** (Cameron Yates, 2018)
True Stories – Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson, 2017)
Double Feature: Stranger Danger
Picnic (Joshua Logan, 1955) and To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)
Saturday Matinee – Winged Migration** (Jacques Perrin, 2001)
True Stories – The World of Gilbert & George (Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore, 1981)
Short + Feature: Childhood Interrupted
Rupture (Pierre Etaix and Jean-Claude Carrière, 1961) and New Homeland (Barbara Kopple, 2018)
Señorita (2011), Apparition (2012)
Double Feature: East Meets West Texas
Blood Simple (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1984) and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop** (Zhang Yimou, 2009)
Saturday Matinee – Androcles and the Lion (Chester Erskine, 1952)
Short + Feature: Manic Killer Nightmare Girls
Ramona (Andrei Cretulescu, 2015) and Dementia (John Parker, 1955)
Double Feature: Addiction and Anxiety in Fog City
Days of Wine and Roses (Blake Edwards, 1962) and Experiment in Terror (Blake Edwards, 1962)