Ten iconic films to watch on Criterion’s new streaming site
The Criterion Collection, an unparalleled compendium of impeccably preserved classic Hollywood and foreign-language films, has entered Netflix territory with its new online streaming service. The Criterion Channel costs $11 (U.S.) per month for unlimited streaming, and the first batch of movies is now available to watch, with more content coming weekly. Here are 10 amazing films to check out.
My Name is Julia Ross (1945) and So Dark the Night (1946)
The Criterion Channel spotlights 11 film noir titles from Columbia Pictures. Among them are two Hitchcock-esque gems by Brooklyn director Joseph H. Lewis. The Gothic psychological thriller My Name is Julia Ross tells the story of a wealthy family who abducts a poor young woman and tries to convince her she’s the long-time wife of the son. And So Dark the Night is a twisted crime film about a detective whose fiancée and her ex both disappear at his engagement party and turn up dead. Both classics helped Lewis’s status as a cult legend.
Charlie Chaplin Marathon
No classical film collection would be complete without Charlie Chaplin, Hollywood’s first modern superstar. His highlights on the Criterion Channel pass through World War I (Shoulder Arms), the Roaring Twenties (A Woman of Paris), the Great Depression (City Lights, Modern Times), World War II (The Great Dictator), the Atomic Age (Monsieur Verdoux) and the Red Scare (A King in New York).
For most of her life, Barbara Loden lived in the shadow of her famous husband, On the Waterfront director Elia Kazan. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, she broke out on her own and filmed her sole directorial effort, Wanda. Loden stars as the title character, an aimless wife and mother who deserts her dreary life to run off with an incompetent bank robber—essentially a riff on Bonnie and Clyde with less blood and murder.
David Lynch is the weirdest director in American cinema, and even four decades later, his 1977 debut, Eraserhead, is one of the most convincing dreamscapes to be executed on film. The film, which Lynch pieced together on a shoestring budget while studying at the American Film Institute, tells the story of an awkward man who’s catapulted into a life of unhappy domesticity when his girlfriend gives birth to a baby monster. Obviously, he descends into madness.
The Australian-American director Edgar G. Ulmer spent most of his career working on Hollywood B-movies. The big exception: Detour, which is considered one of the finest film noirs of the 1940s. The bleak story follows Al Roberts, a luckless New York piano player who treks across the country to reunite with his girlfriend. He hitches a ride with a stranger—never a good idea in a film noir—and, when the driver dies in a freak accident, assumes his identity. Of course, things get even weirder when he picks up another hitchhiker, a rough and tough femme fatale played by Ann Savage.
Nine years after the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan’s most famous movie star crawled out of Tokyo Bay. Godzilla went on to become a goofball crimefighter in his many sequels, but the 1954 debut positions the monster as a figure of pure postwar terror. It’s worth revisiting for the moody black-and-white cinematography, the urban devastation and the man-in-a-rubber-suit special effects.
Double Feature: Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1965)
The French New Wave auteur Jacques Demy is best known for the dream worlds he invented in his musicals. He’s also is a big inspiration for the Chinese director John Woo, who choreographs his graceful fight scenes with the same turbo-charged emotions. The Criterion Channel highlights their artistic kinship by pairing Demy’s candy-coloured, melodrama The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as a double feature with Woo’s early martial-arts epic Last Hurrah for Chivalry.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Every day is the same for Jeanne Dielman: she cleans each room in her tiny Brussels apartment, makes dinner for her teenage son, has sex with the occasional male visitor, goes to bed, and does it all over again the next morning. At three hours and 45 minutes, this film from Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s film starts off as a gruelling endurance test and transforms into a thriller when the main character murders a client. When it was released in 1975, Jeanne Dielman was considered one of cinema’s most radical experiments. Now, it ranks among the most compassionate and influential feminist films ever made.
Time Bandits (1981)
Terry Gilliam’s breakthrough film is a wild fantasy reminiscent of Back to the Future and Narnia: an imaginative 11-year-old finds out there’s an entire mythical world behind his wall when an armoured knight on horseback bursts through his closet. Accompanied by six dwarfs, he sets off on a time-travelling adventure, bumping into various mythic icons—including Ian Holm as a boorish Napoleon, John Cleese as a chivalrous Robin Hood and Sean Connery as a regal Agamemnon—along the way.