A brilliant marriage of classic theatrical technique and early-cinema innovation, Marcel Pagnol’s decades-spanning Marseille Trilogy is the featured edition this week on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. This exquisitely wrought humanist epic—encompassing the features Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1936)—chronicles the romantic and family conflicts and emotional sea changes endured by a raft of characters who make their living on the city’s waterfront. Now available in stunning new restorations, these landmark films stream on the Channel alongside a host of special features, including an introduction by Bertrand Tavernier and segments from Marcel Pagnol: Morceaux choisis, a 1973 documentary series on Pagnol’s life and work.
Also up this week: a two-film seaside romp with French masters Jean Vigo and Pierre Etaix, a spotlight on Pulitzer Prize–winning author Michael Cunningham, and a visit to a movie lover’s haven in the remotest state capital in the country.
Adventures in Moviegoing with Michael Cunningham
In the latest episode of our ongoing Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, Michael Cunningham, the author of The Hours, discusses his personal journey through cinephilia. In addition to the conversation, whose topics include his love of horror movies and the irresistible charm of Grey Gardens, Cunningham presents a selection of films that have made a lasting impression on him, including Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939), Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955), and Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973). Watch a preview of the episode here.
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: À propos de Nice and Land of Milk and Honey
Two idiosyncratic masters bring their playful visual sensibilities to the coast: in his debut short, À propos de Nice (1930), Jean Vigo makes use of iconoclastic montage techniques to critique that city’s vulgar hedonism and decaying values; in his final feature, Land of Milk and Honey (1971), Pierre Etaix canvasses popular holiday spots to present a richly layered, often surreal picture of an overcommercialized culture riddled with inequalities.
Art-House America: Gold Town Nickelodeon, Juneau, AK
All around the country, in big cities and small towns, independent art-house theaters are thriving hubs of moviegoing, each with its own audience, history, mission, programming, and vibe. With this series, Criterion goes wherever film culture is happening and brings back brief documentary portraits of different local art houses along with a selection of films handpicked by their programmers. We kicked off the series earlier this year with a celebration of New York’s Walter Reade Theater on its twenty-fifth anniversary. This month, we set off for Juneau, Alaska, the only state capital you can’t reach by road, where intrepid programmer Collette Costa runs a downtown art house for year-round locals in the transient cruise-ship capital of North America. Watch an excerpt from the documentary here, then head to the Channel to check out her series, which focuses on “what it feels like to live in Alaska” through eight movies that weren’t made there.