In 2016, I began producing this video series for Forbes to coincide with the launch of FilmStruck. Over the next two years of FilmStruck's all-too-brief run I continued to produce them even after my own (all-too-brief) run with Forbes. Here is the complete video series (in reverse order) for all of your dining pleasure. Enjoy!
AUGUST PROGRAMMING ON THE CRITERION CHANNEL ON FILMSTRUCK!
Includes Sydney Pollack's Tootsie,
Adventures in Moviegoing with Barry Jenkins on The World, the Flesh and the Devil, and Sofia Coppola's Lick the Star!
Wednesday, August 1
Tootsie: Edition #738*
In Tootsie, Michael Dorsey lands the role of a lifetime-as did the actor playing him, Dustin Hoffman. This multilayered comedy from Sydney Pollack follows the elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who poses as a woman to get a soap opera gig; while "Dorothy Michaels" skyrockets to fame, Michael finds himself learning to be a better man. Given support by a stellar cast that includes Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, George Gaynes, Bill Murray, and, in a breakthrough performance, Jessica Lange, Tootsie is a funny, cutting, and poignant film from an American moment defined by shifting social and sexual identities. Supplemental features: an audio commentary featuring director Sydney Pollack, interviews with Hoffman and comedy writer Phil Rosenthal, interview with Dorothy Michaels by film critic Gene Shalit, two documentaries about the making of the film, and more.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Wednesday, August 1
Barry Jenkins Presents The World, the Flesh and the Devil*
As a guest curator on the Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, Barry Jenkins introduces this atmospheric science fiction film from 1959. Mine inspector Ralph (Harry Belafonte) digs himself out of a caved-in coal shaft only to discover that a sudden apocalypse has wiped humanity from the face of the earth. When he meets two other survivors in New York, he discovers that prejudice and taboo have outlived the demise of civilization itself. Directed by Ranald MacDougall, and produced by Belafonte's own production company, The World, the Flesh and the Devil fuses ingenious genre filmmaking with incisive social commentary.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Thursday, August 2
Female Trouble: Edition #929
Glamour has never been more grotesque than in Female Trouble, which injects the Hollywood melodrama with anarchic decadence. Divine, director John Waters' larger-than-life muse, engulfs the screen with charisma as Dawn Davenport, the living embodiment of the film's lurid mantra, "Crime is beauty," who progresses from a teenage nightmare hell-bent on getting cha-cha heels for Christmas to a fame monster whose egomaniacal impulses land her in the electric chair. Shot in Waters' native Baltimore on 16 mm, with a cast drawn from his beloved troupe of regulars, the Dreamlanders (including Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey, and Cookie Mueller), this film-the director's favorite of his work with Divine-comes to life through the tinsel-toned vision of production designer Vincent Peranio and costume designer/makeup artist Van Smith. An endlessly quotable fan favorite, Female Trouble offers up perverse pleasures that never fail to satisfy. Supplemental features: audio commentary featuring Waters, a conversation between Waters and critic Dennis Lim, interviews with cast and crew members, deleted scenes and alternate takes, and more.
Friday, August 3
Friday Night Double Feature: The Clock and Before Sunrise
Time runs out for new lovers in these exquisitely romantic films by Vincente Minelli and Richard Linklater. The Clock (1945) stars Robert Walker as a soldier on leave who meets cute with Judy Garland in Penn Station. The couple fall deeply in love on a rhapsodic tour of New York City-stunningly recreated on a studio soundstage-before the war threatens to separate them forever. In Before Sunrise (1995), an American tourist (Ethan Hawke) and French student (Julie Delpy) meet by chance on a train to Vienna and decide to spend a day together. Over the course of a rambling, charming, intimate series of conversations, they form a tender connection, made all the more poignant by the chance that they'll never see each other again.
Tuesday, August 7
Tuesday's Short and Feature: Hunger* and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Gluttony and greed drive men to dangerous and grotesque extremes in this week's Short + Feature pairing. Peter Foldes's 1974 Cannes-award-winning short Hunger, one of the first computer-animated films ever made, follows a shape-shifting figure who sets out at the end of a workday on a monstrous eating binge and is consumed by the wages of sin. Then, John Huston's classic fable of adventure and avarice-shot on location south of the border-stars Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Huston (the filmmaker's father) as Americans in Mexico whose hunt for gold drives them to paranoia, desperation, and violence.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Wednesday, August 8
Being There: Edition #864
In one of his most finely tuned performances, Peter Sellers plays the pure-hearted, childlike Chance, a gardener who is forced into the wilds of Washington, D.C., when his wealthy guardian dies. Shocked to discover that the real world doesn't respond to the click of a remote, Chance stumbles into celebrity after being taken under the wing of a tycoon (Melvyn Douglas, in an Oscar-winning performance), who mistakes his protégé's horticultural mumblings for sagacious pronouncements on life and politics, and whose wife (Shirley MacLaine) targets Chance as the object of her desire. Adapted from a novel by Jerzy Kosinski, this satire, both deeply melancholy and hilarious, is the culmination of Hal Ashby's remarkable string of films in the 1970s, and a carefully modulated examination of the ideals, anxieties, and media-fueled delusions that shaped American culture during that decade. Supplemental features: a documentary on the making of the film, excerpts from a 1980 American Film Institute seminar with director Hal Ashby, appearances from 1980 by actor Peter Sellers on The Don Lane Show, and more.
Friday, August 10
Friday Night Double Feature: An Actor's Revenge and Tootsie
The duplicitous world of acting takes center stage in these two tales of gender-bending thespians. Kon Ichikawa's kabuki-inspired melodrama An Actor's Revenge (1963) features a chameleonic performance by Kazuo Hasegawa, who plays a female impersonator intent on avenging the deaths of his parents. And in Sydney Pollack's Tootsie (1982), struggling actor Michael (Dustin Hoffman) lands the role of a lifetime by posing as a woman for a soap-opera gig-a part that brings him unexpected fame, as well as a crash course in the trials and tribulations faced by women in 1980s America.
Tuesday, August 14
Tuesday's Short and Feature: Lick the Star* and Smithereens
Trailblazing female filmmakers deliver two lo-fi portraits of young women living dangerously, both fueled by killer soundtracks. Just before breaking through with The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola made her first foray into directing with Lick the Star (1998), a black-and-white 16 mm short about the viciousness of high school cliques that establishes the filmmaker's ongoing fascination with the interior lives of women. With Smithereens (1982)-the first American independent film to compete for the Palme d'Or-Susan Seidelman captures the grit and glam of eighties downtown New York through the story of a fame-seeking punk heroine.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Wednesday, August 15
Barry Lyndon: Edition #897
Stanley Kubrick bent the conventions of the historical drama to his own will in this dazzling vision of a pitiless aristocracy, adapted from a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. In picaresque detail, Barry Lyndon chronicles the adventures of an incorrigible trickster (Ryan O'Neal) whose opportunism takes him from an Irish farm to the battlefields of the Seven Years' War and the parlors of high society. For the most sumptuously crafted film of his career, Kubrick recreated the decadent surfaces and intricate social codes of the period, evoking the light and texture of eighteenth-century painting with the help of pioneering cinematographic techniques and lavish costume and production design, all of which earned Academy Awards. The result is a masterpiece-a sardonic, devastating portrait of a vanishing world whose opulence conceals the moral vacancy at its heart. Supplemental features: a documentary featuring cast and crew interviews as well as audio excerpts from a 1976 interview with director Stanley Kubrick, a program about the film's groundbreaking visuals, an interview with critic Michel Ciment, and more.
Thursday, August 16
Masterclass: Damien Chazelle on Chronicle of a Summer
The last few years have been a wild ride for director Damien Chazelle. His semi-autobiographical breakthrough, Whiplash, received three Academy Awards, and his contemporary spin on the golden-age musical, La La Land, made him the youngest person to ever win an Oscar. Last winter, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Cinematheque invited Chazelle to present a rare 35 mm print of La La Land, and also hosted a series that included a selection of his personal favorite films. A passionate cinephile who developed his inventive approach to style and form while studying documentary filmmaking at Harvard, Chazelle joined professor Kelley Conway for a discussion about Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin's 1961 cinéma verité masterwork Chronicle of a Summer, in which he delved into the evolution of documentary cinema in the sixties and the ways in which nonfiction film has influenced his work with actors. In this program, we present the full wide-ranging talk alongside our edition of Chronicle of a Summer.
Friday, August 17
Friday Night Double Feature: Lolita and The Night of the Iguana
Sue Lyon delivers provocative performances in these two literary adaptations. With her heart-shaped glasses and coquettish charm, the actress, under the direction of Stanley Kubrick, made a cinematic icon out of the title character of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, a fourteen-year-old girl entangled in a forbidden relationship with a middle-aged professor (James Mason). In John Huston's take on Tennessee Williams's play The Night of the Iguana, Lyon once again embodies a daring nymphet, this time attempting to seduce an unstable priest played by Richard Burton.
Tuesday, August 21
Tuesday's Short + Feature: The Moonshiners* and A Private Function*
Oink, oink! This porcine pair of comedies kicks off with Juho Kuosmanen's 2018 short The Moonshiners, which sets out to remake a lost 1907 movie thought to be the first feature in Finnish film history. In Kuosmanen's take, a couple embark on a journey to find the essentials for a good life: moonshine-making equipment and a pig. Then, in Malcolm Mowbray's 1984 comedy A Private Function, Maggie Smith and Michael Palin star as a couple in postwar England who steal a hog fattened up for a royal wedding celebration.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Wednesday, August 22
The Philadelphia Story: Edition #901
With this furiously witty comedy of manners, Katharine Hepburn revitalized her career and cemented her status as the era's most iconic leading lady-thanks in great part to her own shrewd orchestrations. While starring in the Philip Barry stage play The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn acquired the screen rights, handpicking her friend George Cukor to direct. The intoxicating screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart pits the formidable Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn, at her most luminous) against various romantic foils, chief among them her charismatic ex-husband (Cary Grant), who disrupts her imminent marriage by paying her family estate a visit, accompanied by a tabloid reporter on assignment to cover the wedding of the year (James Stewart, in his only Academy Award-winning performance). A fast-talking screwball comedy as well as a tale of regret and reconciliation, this convergence of golden-age talent is one of the greatest American films of all time. Supplemental features: an audio commentary from 2005 featuring film scholar Jeanine Basinger, a documentary about the origin of the character and her social milieu, a piece about actor Katharine Hepburn's role in the development of the film, two full episodes of The Dick Cavett Show from 1973, and more.
Friday, August 24
Friday Night Double Feature: Child's Pose and White Heat
The bond between mother and son isn't always so wholesome, as these two films go to show. Portraying a corrupt society where everyone seems to have a price, Romanian filmmaker Călin Peter Netzer's award-winning drama Child's Pose (2013) follows a well-to-do woman as she races to steer her ne'er-do-well son clear of facing charges for a fatal hit-and-run. Raoul Walsh's classic noir White Heat (1949) revolves around a psychopathic criminal (James Cagney) who learned his gangster ways from-and remains overly devoted to-his ruthless mother.
Monday, August 27
Observations on Film Art No. 22: Dissolves in The Long Day Closes
Terence Davies's achingly beautiful The Long Day Closes (1992) adopts the perspective of a young boy growing up in 1950s Liverpool, affording an intimate glimpse of the hopes and fears of a lonely child on the cusp of adolescence. Unlike many coming-of-age films, Davies's heavily autobiographical second feature eschews a linear progression in favor of a boldly nonchronological method of storytelling. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that every month offers viewers a ten-minute dose of film school, Professor Kristin Thompson focuses on how the film's editing holds its unorthodox narrative structure together. Davies has said that "when you see a dissolve, whether you realize it or not, you always read it as time passing, either forward or backward," and here, Thompson observes the ways in which the technique allows The Long Day Closes to mimic the fluidity and emotional texture of memory.
Tuesday, August 28
Tuesday's Short + Feature: Night Mayor* and Je t'aime, je t'aime
Weird science powers these films from two of cinema's most original dreamers. In Guy Maddin's Night Mayor (2009), a black-and-white short set in 1939 Winnipeg, a Bosnian-immigrant inventor learns how to use the northern lights to broadcast images across his adopted homeland of Canada. In Alain Resnais's 1968 Je t'aime, je t'aime-a major influence on a later head-trip down memory lane, Michel Gondry's 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-a group of scientists persuade a suicidal man to take part in a mysterious time-travel experiment.
Wednesday, August 29
Army of Shadows: Edition #385
This masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Melville about the French Resistance went unreleased in the United States for thirty-seven years, until its triumphant theatrical debut in 2006. Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville's most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler's regime. Supplemental features: a short program on Melville and the film, a rare short documentary shot on the front lines during the final days of German-occupied France, and more.
Friday, August 31
Friday Night Double Feature: Some Like It Hot and Insignificance
Marilyn Monroe and her enduring legacy step into the spotlight in this week's double bill. One of the most iconic Hollywood films of all time, Billy Wilder's 1959 comedy Some Like It Hotfeatures Monroe as the jazz singer Sugar "Kane" Kowalczyk, whose all-female band is joined by two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) dressed as women in order to hide from the mob. Nicolas Roeg's characteristically idiosyncratic 1985 chamber piece Insignificance takes place in a New York City hotel room, where characters based on four larger-than-life figures of the 1950s-Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), Joseph McCarthy (Curtis), and Monroe herself (Theresa Russell)-reflect on their lives, fame, and the era they've come to signify.
Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:
Tootsie, Sydney Pollack, 1982
The World, the Flesh and the Devil, Ranald MacDougall, 1959
Hunger, Peter Foldes, 1974
Lick the Star, Sofia Coppola, 1998
The Moonshiners, Juho Kuosmanen, 2017
A Private Function, Malcolm Mowbray, 1984
Night Mayor, Guy Maddin, 2009
ABOUT THE CRITERION CHANNEL ON FILMSTRUCK
The Criterion Channel offers the largest streaming collection of Criterion films available, including classic and contemporary films from around the world, interviews and conversations with filmmakers and never-before-seen programming. The channel's weekly calendar features complete Criterion editions, thematic retrospectives, live events, short films, and select contemporary features, along with exclusive original programming that aims to enhance the Criterion experience for the brand's dedicated fans as well as expanding its reach to new audiences. It is presented as part of FilmStruck, a subscription streaming service that is the exclusive home of the Warner Bros. classic film library and the Criterion Collection. FilmStruck was developed by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and is managed by TCM in partnership with Warner Bros. and the Criterion Collection.
For more information on FilmStruck and The Criterion Channel,
please visit http://www.filmstruck.