This week, we’re offering you the chance to go on a veritable viewing rampage, with this massive collection of fourteen kaiju classics, now streaming on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. Running from Ishiro Honda’s original Godzilla (1954) to the director’s sci-fi drama Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), these spectacular Toho productions track the King of the Monsters and a number of his fellow mutants as they evolved over the course of two decades, reflecting all the while many of the anxieties of a postwar world.
Also up this week: an expertly mounted historical drama about the sinking of the Titanic, a conversation with Oscar-winning documentary director Marcel Ophuls, two films by veteran cinematographer Kirsten Johnson, a gem from Finland’s master of deadpan comedy, a celebration of silent-film icon Harold Lloyd, and a double bill of movies about movies.
A Night to Remember: Criterion Collection Edition #7
On April 14, 1912, just before midnight, the “unsinkable” Titanic struck an iceberg, plunging to the bottom of the sea and taking with it more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. In his unforgettable rendering of Walter Lord’s book, British director Roy Ward Baker depicts with sensitivity, awe, and a fine sense of tragedy the ship’s last hours. Featuring remarkably restrained performances, A Night to Remember (1958) is cinema’s subtlest and best dramatization of this monumental twentieth-century catastrophe. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall, author and illustrator of “Titanic”: An Illustrated History; The Making of “A Night to Remember” (1993), a sixty-minute documentary featuring producer William MacQuitty’s rare behind-the-scenes footage; an archival interview with Titanic survivor Eva Hart; and more.
Masterclass: Kenneth Turan and Marcel Ophuls on Disagreeable Truths
Marcel Ophuls talks to Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan at UCLA about why and how he moved from making commercial feature films to chronicling occupied Europe and the Holocaust in epic documentaries like The Sorrow and the Pity and The Memory of Justice. Along the way, he also opens up about everything from his interview techniques and his experience as a second-generation auteur (the son of Max) to his thoughts on assessing guilt and responsibility for genocide and war crimes. Watch a clip from their conversation here, and check out previous entries in our Masterclass series, including talks with Kirsten Johnson and Michael Moore, and Alex Ross Perry and Robert Greene.
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: The Above and Cameraperson
With a keen eye for landscape and character, Kirsten Johnson’s work documents political turmoil throughout the globe, calling into question the ethical stakes of nonfiction filmmaking. In The Above (2015), a mysterious surveillance blimp with unknown capabilities hovers above Kabul as the Afghans below go about their daily lives. In her breakthrough feature, Cameraperson (2016), she assembles footage captured throughout her twenty-five-year career, weaving together intimate moments from her private life with haunting images from her journeys abroad as a documentary cinematographer.
Le Havre: Criterion Collection Edition #619
With Finnish master Aki Kaurismäki back in theaters with his latest, The Other Side of Hope, we’re revisiting his acclaimed previous film, which initiated his ongoing exploration of global migration and displacement. In this warmhearted comic yarn, fate throws a young African refugee into the path of a kindly old bohemian who shines shoes for a living in a French harbor city. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic French cinema of the past, Le Havre (2011) is a charming, deadpan delight and one of the director’s finest films. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an interview with actor André Wilms; footage from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, including a press conference and a French television interview with cast and crew; and more.
Laughter First!: Harold Lloyd’s Glasses Character Turns 100
Celebrate the centennial of Harold Lloyd’s glasses character—the resourceful go-getter who always got the girl—with Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s lucid and entertaining documentary Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius. Crisply narrated by Lindsay Anderson, the film traces the performer’s development all the way back to his early dramatic days and through his slapstick experiments, until he puts on horn-rimmed glasses and invents the figure who would go on to define his career. Brownlow and Gill pay exuberant tribute to the great silent clown, who was as wildly innovative as Buster Keaton and as skilled with sentiment as Chaplin, but had a resilience of his own that fit America’s roaring twenties better than any other screen personality. The Third Genius streams alongside a selection of Lloyd's films: Safety Last! (1923), Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927), and Speedy (1928).
Friday Night Double Feature: The Stunt Man and 8½
Film sets become hazy frontiers between illusion and reality in this dizzying pair of films. Richard Rush’s Escher-like vortex The Stunt Man (1980) features Peter O’Toole at his most virtuosic, as a megalomaniacal director who manipulates a veteran on the run from the law into serving as a stuntman. Federico Fellini's kaleidoscopic 8½ (1963)—perhaps the most gloriously expansive vision of itself the cinema has ever produced—weaves together the dreams, memories, and fantasies of a director (Marcello Mastroianni) whose latest project is collapsing around him.