A lot of films will disappear from the Criterion Channel at the end of the month. Here are a few you might want to catch.
Click a film’s title to start watching the movie – assuming you subscribe to the Channel.
A+ The Last Waltz (1978)
The Band played their final concert on Thanksgiving night, 1976. Their guest performers included Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and Joni Mitchell. Martin Scorsese brought a crew of talented filmmakers to record the show and created the greatest rock documentary ever made. Scorsese and company ignored the audience and focused on the musicians, creating an intimate look at great artists who understood that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Read my A+ appreciation.
A The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets caught having sex with another girl. Her parents send her to an ultra-Christian camp intended to cure teenagers of SSA (Same-Sex Attraction). Initially, she views everyone as her enemy. But as she realizes that all the other “patients” are in the same boat, her courage begins to awaken. Unlike But I’m a Cheerleader (same plot; very different approach), Miseducation goes for down-to-earth realism instead of over-the-top jokiness – although I believe that it could have been made very well as a comedy. The film is set in the 1990s.
A Before Midnight (2013)
The third film in Richard Linklater’s Before series is a gem – perhaps as good as the first, and much better than the second. It also stands entirely on its own. Even if you’ve never seen either of the previous Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy talkfests, you’ll still laugh, cry, and cringe at this study of a relationship in crisis. If you’re not acquainted with this trilogy, watch the whole trilogy before August. I don’t know why Criterion is taking the third chapter away so soon.
A- The Pirate (1948)
Cole Porter’s songs disappoint, but the dances are fun and, for their time, sexy. Most importantly, the story may be the best among all the MGM musicals, playing off and contrasting two common romantic fantasies–pirates and actors. Judy Garland is a young woman on an 18th-century Caribbean Isle, who dreams about a famous and terrible pirate. Gene Kelly plays the actor who falls for her and tries to win her by pretending he’s that pirate. If you think the song “Be a Clown” sounds familiar, producer Arthur Freed reused the music and slightly changed the lyrics for Singin’ in the Rain‘s “Make ’em Laugh.”
B+ Bacurau (2019)
The Brazilian town of Bacurau is so small and unimportant that it’s not even on Google Maps. But something evil is coming its way. We know there’s something wrong when an overturned truck is filled with empty, now-broken coffins. And yet, for a large part of the picture, we get to sit back and enjoy the people and the atmosphere. I’m not telling you where the evil comes from, but the final act feels like a Sam Peckinpah western, and a good one. Sônia Braga plays the no-nonsense doctor.
B+ High Sierra (1941)
Humphrey Bogart became a star to a large degree because he performed “Mad Dog” Roy Earle in this early Warner Brothers noir. When he leaves prison, he goes to a local park and enjoys the trees and watches the children playing. He falls for Ida Lupino, but he also falls for a very nice family with a sweet, teenage, partially crippled daughter. And yet, he’s tough as nails. Read my Blu-ray review.
B Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Yes, it’s a very sexist title, but consider when the movie was made. Marilyn Monroe wants a man with millions. Jane Russell wants one with muscles. These two best friends take an ocean cruise. The story isn’t much. The comedy isn’t as good as you’d expect from director Howard Hawks. But the songs and dances, especially Anyone Here for Love and especially Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friends, are classics. Most people consider this a Monroe movie, but Russell’s performance makes Monroe look like a mannequin.
B Wait Until Dark (1967)
Audrey Hepburn stars as a blind housewife stalked by drug dealers who are themselves stalked by a vicious killer (a surprisingly scary Alan Arkin). This effective thriller has one very original, very effective shock moment (I can’t give it away) that has since been ruined by overuse. But this, I believe, was the first time it was done.
Other films probably worth watching
- Body Heat
- Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
- The Jackie Robinson Story
- Meet Me in St. Louis
- Something Wild
Here are all the films that will leave Criterion on August 1.