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Jean Gabin stars as an army deserter looking for another chance to make good on life in Marcel Carné’s stark portrayal of an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies. Port of Shadows is a quintessential example of poetic realism from the golden age of French cinema.
In this magnificently inscrutable late-sixties masterpiece, Marco Ferreri, one of European cinema’s most idiosyncratic auteurs, takes us through the looking glass to one seemingly routine night in the life of an Italian gas mask designer, played by Michel Piccoli.
Subu makes pornographic films. He sees nothing wrong with it. They are an aid to a repressed society, and he uses the money to support his landlady, Haru, and her family in controversial director Shohei Imamura’s comic treatment of voyeurism and incest.
This unique love story follows the maneuverings of a society lady as she connives to initiate a scandalous affair between her aristocratic ex-lover and a prostitute. With his second feature film, director Robert Bresson was already forging his singularly brilliant filmmaking technique.
In this pitch-black comedy from Preston Sturges, Rex Harrison stars as a world-famous symphony conductor consumed with the suspicion that his wife is having an affair. Unfaithfully Yours is a brilliantly performed mixture of razor-sharp dialogue and uproarious slapstick.
Sacha Guitry was once a household name. Something of a Gallic Noël Coward, this disarming, multitalented artist served up some of 1930s French cinema’s tastiest dishes.
Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema.
People on Sunday, an effervescent, sunlit silent, about a handful of city dwellers (a charming cast of nonprofessionals) enjoying a weekend outing, offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin, would influence generations of film artists around the world.
Robert Flaherty’s classic film tells the story of Inuit hunter Nanook and his family as they struggle to survive in the harsh conditions of Canada’s Hudson Bay region.
It’s 1968, and the whole world is watching. With the U.S. in social upheaval, famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler decided to make a film about what the hell was going on. Medium Cool, his debut feature, plunges us into the moment.
Makavejev’s films about political and sexual liberation were revolutionary, raucous, and ribald. Across these first three films, he investigates love, death, and work; the legacy of war and the absurdity of daily life in a Communist state; criminology and hypnosis; strudels and strongmen.
A romantic deadbeat has a wayward crush on a handsome Mexican immigrant in Mala Noche, Gus Van Sant’s important prelude to the New Queer Cinema of the nineties and a fascinating capsule from a period and place that continues to haunt its director’s work.
This collection of Gabriel Pascal’s productions of Shaw’s work includes Major Barbara, Androcles and the Lion, and Caesar and Cleopatra, starring such luminaries of the big screen as Vivien Leigh, Claude Rains, Wendy Hiller, and Rex Harrison.
During the 1940s, realism reigned in British cinema—but not at Gainsborough Pictures. The studio, which had been around since the twenties, found new success with a series of pleasurably preposterous costume melodramas.
This bruised and bloody collection represents a standout cross section of the nimble nasties Nikkatsu had to offer, action potboilers modeled on the western, comedy, gangster, and teen-rebel genres.
These three groundbreaking films helped usher in the Polish School movement and have often been regarded as a trilogy. But each boldly stands on its own—a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the struggle for personal and national freedom.
Lodge Kerrigan’s raw, ravaging Clean, Shaven is a headfirst dive into the mindscape of a schizophrenic as he tries to track down his daughter after he is released from an institution.
The films directed by the great Satyajit Ray in the last ten years of his life have a unique dignity and drama. They are complex, political, and humane depictions of worlds both corrupt and indescribably beautiful, constructed with Ray’s characteristic elegance and imbued with autumnal profundity.
Set in the impoverished back alleys of Victorian London, The Threepenny Opera follows underworld antihero Mackie Messer (a.k.a. Mack the Knife) as he tries to woo Polly Peachum and elude the authorities. Set to Kurt Weill’s irresistible score, this film remains a benchmark of early sound cinema.
This trio of rousing action epics reveals a deeply unsettling portrait of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and provided battle-scene blueprints for filmmaking giants from Laurence Olivier in Henry V to Akira Kurosawa in Seven Samurai.
Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, the Academy Award–winning Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica, defined an era in cinema.
One of the most powerful of Yasujiro Ozu’s family portraits, Late Spring (Banshun) tells the story of a widowed father who feels compelled to marry off his beloved only daughter.
Federico Fellini’s wife Giulietta Masina plays Gelsomina, a naive girl sold into the employ of a brutal strongman in a traveling circus, in this poetic fable of love and cruelty, winner of the 1956 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
In Les cousins, Claude Chabrol crafts a sly moral fable about a provincial boy who comes to live with his sophisticated bohemian cousin in Paris. This dagger-sharp drama won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and was an important early entry in the French New Wave.
This ripe, colorful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s vicious novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by the versatile René Clément, stars Delon as Tom Ripley, a duplicitous American charmer in Rome.
Based on a popular novel by Raymond Queneau that had been considered unadaptable, Malle’s audacious Zazie dans le métro, made with flair on the cusp of the French New Wave, is a bit of stream-of-consciousness slapstick, wall-to-wall with visual gags, editing tricks, and effects.
Widely regarded as the greatest Spanish film of the 1970s, Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive is a visually arresting, bewitching portrait of a child’s haunted inner life.
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Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama.
A magnetic Vittorio De Sica is Bardone, an opportunistic rascal in wartime Genoa forced by the Nazis to impersonate a dead partisan general in prison to extract information from fellow inmates. Roberto Rossellini’s gripping drama is among his most commercially popular films.
Gorgeously photographed to evoke the medieval paintings of Saint Francis’s time, and cast with monks from the Nocera Inferiore Monastery, Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis is a timeless and moving portrait of the search for spiritual enlightenment.
This selection of Rossellini’s history films presents Blaise Pascal, the three-part The Age of the Medici, and Cartesius—works that don’t just enliven the past but illuminate the ideas that brought us to where we are today.
Near the end of his long and celebrated career, master filmmaker Jean Renoir indulged his lifelong obsession with life-as-theater and directed three majestic films infatuated with the past, love, and artifice.
Orson Welles’s Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report) tells the story of an elusive billionaire who hires an American smuggler to investigate his past, leading to a dizzying descent into a cold-war European landscape.
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Derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, Ugetsu, a ghost story like no other, is surely the Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi’s supreme achievement and one of the most beautiful films ever made.
Inspired by the earthy eroticism of Harriet Andersson, in the first of her many roles for him, Ingmar Bergman had a major international breakthrough with this sensual and ultimately ravaging tale of young love.
Max Ophuls brings his astonishing visual dexterity and storytelling bravura to this triptych of tales by Guy de Maupassant about the limits of spiritual and physical pleasure.
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Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II—Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero—that he left his first transformative mark on cinema.
At once a rousing paean to artistic creation, a delicate evocation of divine grace, and the ultimate film about food, the Oscar-winning Babette’s Feast is a deeply beloved treasure of cinema.
AndySunshine: “Never seen it but I've really enjoyed all of the other Mizoguchi in the collection. This looks interesting as hell.”
AndySunshine: “Between Shoah and a Wild Strawberries upgrade this seems to be the least talked about June release... and yet it's the most intriguing imo.”
AndySunshine: “Always wanted to see this film. So glad that Criterion is bringing it to blu-ray.”
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One of the great cult classics, The Blob melds ’50s schlock sci-fi and teen delinquency pics even as it transcends these genres with strong performances and ingenious special effects. The Blob helped launch the careers of superstud Steve McQueen and composer Burt Bacharach.
Sunday Bloody Sunday depicts the romantic lives of two Londoners, a middle-aged doctor and a prickly thirtysomething divorcée—played with great sensitivity by Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson—who are sleeping with the same handsome young artist.
AndySunshine: “So excited. I got to see this on the big screen and fell in love with it. Now it's on Criterion. And a 3D blu-ray no less! The 3D effect is amazing.”
Al Reinert’s visually dazzling documentary For All Mankind is the story of the twenty-four men who traveled to the moon—told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences.
Fat Girl is not only a portrayal of female adolescent sexuality and the complicated bond between siblings but also a shocking assertion by the always controversial Catherine Breillat that violent oppression exists at the core of male-female relations.
Swedish master Jan Troell, director of the beloved classics The Emigrants and The New Land, returns triumphantly with Everlasting Moments, a vivid, heartrending story of a woman liberated through art at the beginning of the twentieth century.
A timeless American idyll and a gritty evocation of turn-of-the-century labor, Terrence Malick’s glorious period tragedy Days of Heaven features Oscar-winning cinematography by Nestor Almendros.
In director Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, three estranged American brothers reunite for a meticulously planned, soul-searching train voyage across India one year after the death of their father.
Roman Polanski orchestrates a mental ménage à trois in this slyly absurd tale of paranoia from the director’s golden 1960s period.
Even among cinema’s legends, Jean Vigo stands apart. The son of a notorious anarchist, Vigo had a brief but brilliant career making poetic, lightly surrealist films before his life was cut tragically short by tuberculosis at age twenty-nine.
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In Arnaud Desplechin’s beguiling A Christmas Tale, Catherine Deneuve brings her legendary poise to the role of Junon, matriarch of the troubled Vuillard family, who come together at Christmas after she learns she needs a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative.
Carlos, directed by Olivier Assayas, is an epic, intensely detailed account of the life of the infamous international terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sanchez—also known as Carlos the Jackal.
Working outside the mainstream, the wildly prolific, visionary Stan Brakhage made more than 350 films over a half century. Challenging all taboos in his exploration of “birth, sex, death, and the search for God,” he turned his camera on explicit lovemaking, childbirth, even autopsy.
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When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired.
This Freudian tale of adolescent sexuality set in a postapocalyptic world of shifting identities and talking animals is one of Malle’s most experimental films and a cinematic daydream like no other.
This gripping envelope-pusher, the most popular film by Hollywood provocateur Otto Preminger, was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sex—but more than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words.
Vivid and spare where other films about illegal immigration might sentimentalize, Young’s take is equal parts intimate character study and gripping road movie, a political work that never loses sight of the complex man at its center.
Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician (Ansiktet) is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists, a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny.
These early films, which show the stirrings of the genius to come, remain the hidden treasures of a European cinema on the cusp of a golden age.