Wednesday, November 13
7 Films by Suzan Pitt
Featuring Suzan Pitt: Persistence of Vision, a 2006 documentary by Blue and Laura Kraning
Enter the wild and wondrous world of the late Suzan Pitt, an independent animation visionary whose oneiric psychosexual odysseys are direct channels to her dreams, nightmares, fantasies, and inner desires. Straining a diverse array of influences—from Leonora Carrington to Betty Boop to magical realism—through her subconscious, Pitt became an underground-animation legend with her DIY landmark Asparagus, a kaleidoscopic vegetal fantasia that blew minds when it toured the midnight-movie circuit on a double bill with David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Embedding deeply personal explorations of issues like mental illness (Joy Street) and mortality (El doctor) within whorls of biomorphic, Jungian imagery, Pitt’s films are triumphs of surrealist imagination from an artist who brought her unconscious to florid, flickering life.
Crocus, 1971
Jefferson Circus Songs, 1973
Asparagus, 1979
Joy Street, 1995
El doctor, 2006
Visitation, 2011
Pinball, 2013
Thursday, November 14
Directed by Peter Greenaway
Featuring a 2016 documentary portrait of Greenaway produced by FilmStruck
Endlessly fascinated by the baroque, the bizarre, and the esoteric, the uncompromisingly personal films of British iconoclast Peter Greenaway unfold like maddeningly intricate cabinets of curiosities. After fine-tuning his singular sensibility in a string of avant-garde shorts, Greenaway realized his idiosyncratic vision on an epic scale with his feature debut, The Falls, an apocalyptic faux documentary that established his penchant for arcane taxonomies and playful structuralist experimentation. He went on to achieve increasing critical and, at times, mainstream recognition with boldly unconventional works like the scabrous period mystery The Draughtsman’s Contract, the perversely zoological dark comedy A Zed & Two Noughts, and the brilliantly provocative erotic feast The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Witty, outrageous, sumptuous, shocking, and unapologetically intellectual, Greenaway’s films are richly realized worlds unto themselves, intricately constructed by an auteur unafraid to indulge his most private obsessions.
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
Friday, November 15
Double Feature: Jamdown Style
The Harder They Come and No Place Like Home
In 1972, Perry Henzell put Jamaican cinema on the map with his landmark cult classic The Harder They Come, a Robin Hood–esque crime fable starring legendary musician Jimmy Cliff that went on to become a phenomenon in its home country. Henzell’s long-lost sophomore feature, No Place Like Home, was shelved for three decades before finally emerging in 2005, offering a vital snapshot of rural Jamaica in the 1970s (as well as a glimpse of a pre-superstardom Grace Jones). Both films pulse with vibrant sights, sounds, and energy—as well as the intoxicating rhythms of their killer reggae, ska, and pop soundtracks.
Saturday, November 16
Saturday Matinee: My Life as a Dog
My Life as a Dog tells the story of Ingemar, a twelve-year-old from a working-class family sent to live with his uncle in a country village when his mother falls ill. There, with the help of the warmhearted eccentrics who populate the town, the boy finds both refuge from his misfortunes and unexpected adventure. Featuring an incredibly mature and unaffected performance by the young Anton Glanzelius, this film is a beloved and bittersweet evocation of the struggles and joys of childhood from Oscar-nominated director Lasse Hallström. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: An early short feature by Lasse Hallström and an interview with the director.
Sunday, November 17
Queersighted: The Ache of Desire
Featuring a conversation between critics Michael Koresky and Melissa Anderson
Queer cinema has existed nearly as long as the movies themselves. You just have to know where to look for it. This new series brings attention to film history through a distinctly queer lens. Rather than provide a history of films featuring lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual characters and themes, Queersighted draws out the presence of a non-heteronormative, non-gender-binary cinema that has always existed alongside, parallel, or underneath the status quo. For most of cinema’s century-plus of existence, queer viewers have had to find their reflections in the corners and crevices of film history. Presenting films from around the world, from a diverse selection of filmmakers, this series reckons with that reality, allowing viewers to both see well-known movies in a new light and to discover new films that have been obscured by film history. This first installment, The Ache of Desire, presents a range of movies about that longing feeling that is so specific to the queer experience and to queer cinema itself, alongside a conversation between the series’s programmer, Michael Koresky, author of Film Comment’s Queer & Now & Then column, and film critic and editor Melissa Anderson.
Persona, Ingmar Bergman, 1966
Les rendez-vou 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
Monday, November 18
An Elephant Sitting Still
Exclusive streaming premiere, featuring a new introduction by critic and programmer Aliza Ma and Hu Bo’s 2017 short film Man in the Well
One of the most acclaimed feature debuts of the last decade, the first and, tragically, last film from Hu Bo, who took his own life at the age of twenty-nine, is a tour de force of existential fury and transcendent catharsis. Set under the gray skies of China’s industrial north, AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL traces the intertwining lives of a band of dispossessed souls who come together on a pilgrimage toward a city in Manchuria where a circus elephant is rumored to be sitting still, seemingly oblivious to the pain and tribulations of the world at large. Composed in a series of bravura tracking shots, this profoundly felt epic gathers an overwhelming emotional power as it moves toward its soul-shattering climax.
Tuesday, November 19
Short + Feature: Table Manners
Next Floor and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
Best not to eat before digging into these gut-busting banquets of grotesque gastronomy that double as subversive explorations of excess, corruption, gluttony, and greed. Your first course is Denis Villeneuve’s enigmatic short Next Floor, a darkly absurdist blend of culinary horrors and eat-the-rich class commentary. It’s the perfect appetizer before the full-course horror show that is Peter Greenaway’s audacious masterpiece The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, in which sex, food, and violence mingle to simultaneously sumptuous and stomach-churning effect.
Wednesday, November 20
Directed by Alice Rohrwacher
Italian director Alice Rohrwacher established herself as one of contemporary cinema’s most sensitive and perceptive auteurs with her first two features, luminous coming-of-age tales imbued with rich humanist and spiritual dimensions. Her feature debut, Corpo celeste, is a remarkably clear-eyed portrait of a young woman grappling with the contradictions of organized religion, while her follow-up, The Wonders, channels her own experiences growing up in the Italian countryside into a warm, naturalistic pastoral. Blending elements of neorealism and folklore with a contemporary feminist worldview, these tender evocations of adolescent awakening are marvels of quiet, unassuming grace.
Corpo celeste, 2011
The Wonders, 2014
Thursday, November 21
The Koker Trilogy: Criterion Collection Edition #990/991/992
Abbas Kiarostami first came to international attention for this wondrous, slyly self-referential series of films set in the rural northern-Iranian town of Koker. Poised delicately between fiction and documentary, comedy and tragedy, the lyrical fables in The Koker Trilogy exemplify both the gentle humanism and the playful sleight of hand that define the director’s sensibility. With each successive film, Kiarostami takes us deeper into the behind-the-scenes “reality” of the film that preceded it, heightening our understanding of the complex network of human relationships that sustain both a movie set and a village. The result is a gradual outward zoom that reveals the cosmic majesty and mystery of ordinary life. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Abbas Kiarostami’s feature-length documentary Homework, a 1994 profile of the director, an interview with scholar Hamid Naficy, and more.
Friday, November 22
Double Feature: As Triers Go By
Reprise and Oslo, August 31st
Shape-shifting Norwegian auteur Joachim Trier burst onto the scene with these compassionate, richly psychological character studies, the first two films in his planned “Oslo Trilogy” (the last installment of which is currently in production). Bristling with nervy energy, his feature debut, Reprise, shows off his dazzling stylistic command as it traces the evolving friendship between two aspiring writers whose lives are rocked by romantic, professional, and emotional turmoil. Trier takes a movingly restrained approach in his sophomore feature Oslo, August 31st, a harrowing, intimate immersion in the life of a recovering drug addict teetering on the edge of oblivion.
Saturday, November 23
Saturday Matinee: Meet Me in St. Louis
This glowingly nostalgic slice of turn-of-the-century Americana follows the daughters of the Smith family of St. Louis—including Esther (Judy Garland), Rose (Lucille Bremer), and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien)—over the course of one year as they experience love, celebrate the holidays, deal with the fallout of their father’s decision to move the family to New York, and eagerly anticipate the coming 1904 World’s Fair. Vincente Minnelli’s gorgeous period production design and the indelible musical set pieces—including Garland’s renditions of the rousing “The Trolley Song” and the achingly bittersweet “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”—have made this beloved classic a perennial holiday favorite.
Sunday, November 24
Karyn Kusama’s Adventures in Moviegoing
The slyly subversive films of Karyn Kusama breathe fresh life into well-tread genres ranging from the sports drama (Girlfight) to teen horror (Jennifer’s Body) to the detective thriller (Destroyer) through their daring tonal shifts and complex depictions of strong, fully realized women. In this episode of Adventures in Moviegoing, Kusama sits down with presenter and critic Alicia Malone to discuss the films she loves, including art-house classics by titans like Chantal Akerman, Satyajit Ray, and Akira Kurosawa.
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
Monday, November 25
The Inland Sea: Criterion Collection Edition #988
In 1971, author and film scholar Donald Richie published a poetic travelogue about his explorations of the islands of Japan’s Inland Sea, recording his search for traces of a traditional way of life as well as his own journey of self-discovery. Twenty years later, filmmaker Lucille Carra undertook a parallel trip inspired by Richie’s by-then-classic book, capturing images of hushed beauty and meeting people who still carried on the fading customs that Richie had observed. Interspersed with surprising detours—visits to a Frank Sinatra–loving monk, a leper colony, an ersatz temple of plywood and plaster—and woven together by Richie’s narration as well as a score by celebrated composer Toru Takemitsu, The Inland Sea is an eye-opening voyage and a profound meditation on what it means to be a foreigner. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: An interview with Lucille Carra, a conversation between filmmaker Paul Schrader and cultural critic Ian Buruma about Donald Richie, and an interview with Richie.
Tuesday, November 26
Short + Feature: Someone’s Listening
Hacked Circuit and The Conversation
In her disquieting short Hacked Circuit, director Deborah Stratman conjures a sense of all-pervasive surveillance while giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the work of Foley artists as they create the sound effects for the final scene of the seventies paranoia classic The Conversation. Starring Gene Hackman as a sound-surveillance expert who becomes convinced he has uncovered a murder plot, Francis Ford Coppola’s haunting thriller is both a sinister encapsulation of Nixon-era societal unease and a creepily prescient vision of life in our current surveillance age.
Wednesday, November 27
Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.
Featuring a new introduction by director Leslie Harris
Leslie Harris’s indie touchstone made a splash when it won a special jury prize at Sundance in 1993, offering a window into a world still sorely underrepresented in mainstream cinema: that of an ambitious, outspoken, and hilarious young black woman growing up in Brooklyn and navigating the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Boasting a charismatic performance from star Ariyan A. Johnson and a killer hip-hop and R&B soundtrack (with an emphasis on women artists), Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. is both a vivid time capsule of 1990s New York and a bracingly raw and real coming-of-age portrait that’s lost none of its vitality.
Thursday, November 28
Glorious Food!
Just in time for Thanksgiving, feast your eyes on a buffet of some of cinema’s most sumptuous banquets, a smorgasbord of lip-smacking delicacies that delight in the sensual pleasures and social rituals of eating. Start with a bowl of lusciously slurpable ramen in the freewheeling Japanese satire Tampopo, then tuck into couscous so fragrant it practically wafts off the screen in the richly textured Franco-Arab family portrait The Secret of the Grain. Next up: an epic celebration of authentic Italian cooking in Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott’s charming Big Night, a decadent seven-course spread of French haute cuisine as served up in the senses-ravishing Oscar winner Babette’s Feast, and a tender portrait of a family told through their weekly Sunday meals in Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman. And if you’ve still got room for more, there is gastronomic debauchery galore courtesy of Věra Chytilová and Luis Buñuel, offbeat odes to garlic and Cajun cuisine from Les Blank, a most memorable dinner with Andre, and more. Bon appétit!
The Exterminating Angel, Luis Buñuel, 1962
Tom Jones, Tony Richardson, 1963
Daisies, Věra 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
Friday, November 29
Double Feature: Fraud Alert
The Baron of Arizona and F for Fake
Samuel Fuller and Orson Welles bring a mischievous sleight of hand to these slippery accounts of some of history’s most notorious scammers, cheats, and cons. Based on a stranger-than-fiction true story, Fuller’s offbeat western-noir gem The Baron of Arizona stars Vincent Price at his unctuous best as a nineteenth-century master swindler who hatches a devious scheme to steal the Arizona Territory for himself. Then, Welles pulls off the ultimate cinematic magic trick in his slyly inventive essay film F for Fake, a meta-documentary investigation of art, truth, and illusion that is itself an elaborately constructed puzzle-box of duplicities and deceptions.
Saturday, November 30
Saturday Matinee: A Kid for Two Farthings
Set against a rich evocation of postwar London’s East End Jewish quarter, Carol Reed’s touchingly bittersweet Technicolor fable concerns a young boy (Jonathan Ashmore) who comes into possession of a curiously-horned goat he believes to be a unicorn with the power to grant wishes. And then, miraculously, the dreams of those around him really do seem to come true . . . Mixing poetic neorealism with child’s-eye fantasy, Reed crafts a delicately moving ode to the power of belief.
Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:
12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet, 1957
An American in Paris, Vincente Minnelli, 1951
And Life Goes On, Abbas Kiarostami, 1992
The Arbor, Clio Barnard, 2010**
The Band Wagon, Vincente Minnelli, 1953
The Barkleys of Broadway, Charles Walters, 1949
Big Night, Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, 1996
Blow Out, Brian De Palma, 1981
Brigadoon, Vincente Minnelli, 1954**
Broadway Melody of 1940, Norman Taurog, 1940
Cabin in the Sky, Vincente Minnelli, 1943
Caché, Michael Haneke, 2005
The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola, 1974
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Peter Greenaway, 1989
Corpo celeste, Alice Rohrwacher, 2011
Crocus, Suzan Pitt, 1971
Dear Phone, Peter Greenaway, 1976
Death of the Soundman, Sorayos Prapapan, 2017
Delicatessen, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1991
Diva, Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1981
El doctor, Suzan Pitt, 2006
The Draughtsman’s Contract, Peter Greenaway, 1982
Easter Parade, Charles Walters, 1948
Eat Drink Man Woman, Ang Lee, 1994
An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018
A Face in the Crowd, Elia Kazan, 1957
The Falls, Peter Greenaway, 1980
Five Easy Pieces, Bob Rafelson, 1970
Give a Girl a Break, Stanley Donen, 1953
H Is for House, Peter Greenaway, 1976
Hacked Circuit, Deborah Stratman, 2014
The Harder They Come, Perry Henzell, 1972
The Harvey Girls, George Sidney, 1946
Homework, Abbas Kiarostami, 1989
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Tsai Ming-liang, 2006
I Love Melvin, Don Weis, 1953
In the Good Old Summertime, Robert Z. Leonard, 1949
The Inland Sea, Lucille Carra, 1991
Intervals, Peter Greenaway, 1969