One of the great American independent films of the 1990s, writer-director Whit Stillman’s surprise hit Metropolitan is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a young man’s romantic misadventures while trying to fit in to New York City’s debutante society. Stillman’s deft, literate dialogue and hilariously highbrow observations earned this first film an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. Beneath the wit and sophistication, though, lies a tender tale of adolescent anxiety. Metropolitan is now streaming in its full edition on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, with an audio commentary by Stillman, editor Christopher Tellefsen, and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols; and rare outtakes and alternate casting, with commentary by Stillman.
Also up this week: a classic noir melodrama, featuring Humphrey Bogart in one of his most haunting performances; two films that explore the relationship between primates and humans; a stirring Scottish comedy from Bill Forsyth; and a double bill that brings together the French New Wave and New Hollywood.
Cinema has been an important part of Megan Abbott’s life since her days growing up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, when her family would make trips to the local revival house. In her episode of Adventures in Moviegoing, the award-winning novelist spoke with programmer Michael Sragow about films she loves, including ones that have influenced her approach to crime fiction. This month, we’re adding one of her all-time favorites to her personally curated series, along with a new introduction. Nicholas Ray’s emotionally charged adaptation of the Dorothy B. Hughes thriller In a Lonely Place is a brilliant, turbulent mix of suspenseful noir and devastating melodrama, fueled by a powerhouse performance from Humphrey Bogart, who plays a gifted but washed-up screenwriter who becomes the prime suspect in a Tinseltown murder.
Two different takes on the complex relationship between humans and primates. Combining stop-motion animation, live-action, and CG, Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson’s BAFTA-nominated 2014 short Monkey Love Experiments tells the story of a misguided monkey who believes he’s destined for the moon. In Koko: A Talking Gorilla, acclaimed director Barbet Schroeder and cinematographer Nestor Almendros create an intimate documentary portrait of the world-famous title subject, exploring the ethical concerns surrounding a controversial experiment that sought to teach her human communication through American Sign Language.
Last year, the Channel-exclusive series Art-House America took a trip to Juneau, Alaska, where intrepid programmer Colette Costa runs a downtown movie theater catering to year-round locals in the country’s cruise-ship capital. Alongside our documentary portrait of this bustling venue, Costa has been programming an ongoing selection of films that capture “what it feels like to live in Alaska.” The latest addition to the series is Bill Forsyth’s 1983 Local Hero, presented in a limited engagement. Mixing wry comedy and unexpected pathos, and featuring music by Mark Knopfler, this stirring ode to Forsyth’s native Scotland follows a Texas oil executive (Peter Riegert) whose life is changed when his boss (Burt Lancaster) sends him to a Scottish village to buy up land for a new refinery.
“I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kinda like watching paint dry.” So says Gene Hackman, famously, in Arthur Penn’s 1975 neo-noir Night Moves, a film that contains striking parallels and references to the French director’s wonderfully talky 1969 My Night at Maud’s. Penn’s New Hollywood masterpiece centers on Harry Moseby (Hackman), a retired professional football player turned Los Angeles private investigator who finds himself embroiled in the complex case of a runaway teen. One of the most acclaimed entries in the influential series “Six Moral Tales,” Rohmer's film features Jean-Louis Trintignant as a pious Catholic engineer whose rigid ethical standards are challenged when he unwittingly spends the night at the apartment of a bold, brunette divorcée.