What’s leaving Criterion at the end of April

At the end of every month, the Criterion Channel drops a lot of films to make room for other pictures. See these, or at least some of them, before it’s May.

Full recommendations

A Ten Canoes (2006)

This unique film feels more like a piece of oral tradition than of cinema. A heavily accented, English-speaking, off-screen narrator explains the people, actions, and motivations. Meanwhile, we watch ten men build canoes for an annual goose hunt. As the hunt stretches over days, an old man tells a young one an ancient story of a great hunter and his family. It’s a tale of jealousy, fear, and human nature. It’s a sad, poignant, yet often wryly funny motion picture.

A I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Here is the African American experience, spoken by the words of James Baldwin, and read by Samuel L. Jackson. Director Raoul Peck provides visual context from old news footage, talk shows, and scenes shot for this powerful documentary. Every American should see I Am Not Your Negro; unfortunately, only those already sympathetic to its message will likely catch it. Read my full review.

A- Bound (1996)

A lesbian couple goes up against the mob. Before The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers created a stylish and fun crime thriller. Jennifer Tilly hooks up with Gina Gershon, both sexually and in crime, to steal from her gangster husband (Joe Pantoliano). A very sexy, violent, and suspenseful thriller which adds new meaning to the phrase “money laundering.”

A- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Ang Lee and James Schamus turn the period kung fu epic into a character study with warriors who must choose between love or duty. The action scenes are among the most amazing ever filmed – complete with the gravity-defying leaps found only in Hong Kong cinema – but with a very human story at its core.

B+ Pillow Talk (1959)

If you want to see a conventional sex comedy from the 1950’s, this is one of the best. Everything is in bright and popping colors. Doris Day plays a decorator and probably a virgin. Rock Hudson plays a songwriter and a playboy. (The fact that Hudson was gay in real life doesn’t matter.) The movie is very sexist by today’s standards, but it’s still a funny movie. With the wonderful Thelma Ritter and Tony Randall in supporting roles.

B+ The Suspect (1944)

A good man (Charles Laughton) is driven to murdering his dreadful wife–and every member of the audience sympathizes with him. His wife (Rosalind Ivan) is as despicable as a character can be without kicking a puppy. She’s hateful not only to her husband but to their grown son. But now that he has blood on his hands, things are going to get worse. Eventually, he’s pushed into a corner with no choice. But murder never goes smoothly in the world of classic noir.

B The Killers (1946)

Burt Lancaster’s breakthrough movie isn’t called the “Citizen Kane of film noir” because it’s the best of its genre, but because of its multiple flashback story structure. When a gas station attendant (Burt Lancaster) is murdered, an investigator starts asking questions and a life of crime is revealed. It’s a fun little movie, and it introduced Burt Lancaster to the world as the likeable thug whose murder sets all those flashbacks in motion. Ava Gardner plays the femme fatale who enjoys and exploits Lancaster’s beefcake lug.

B Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

This New Zealand comedy starts out wonderful, touching, and very funny, but it wears out its welcome too soon. The story concerns a troubled boy (Julian Dennison) sent to a new foster home in the very rural outback. Soon the boy and his reluctant foster father are living in the woods, and the government creates a dragnet to catch these two escapees from civilization.

Other films probably worth watching

These are not all of the films that will disappear come May. Here are the full collection of films that will go away.

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