Not long after winning an Oscar last year for Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins joined Criterion’s Peter Becker for an intimate conversation about his journey as a movie lover, the filmmakers who have influenced his style, and the experience of finding his relationship to cinema as a person of color. As part of this episode of Adventures in Moviegoing, now playing on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, Jenkins selects some of his favorite classics and champions a few little-seen gems. The most recent addition to his series is Chilean director Marcela Said’s 2013 narrative feature debut, The Summer of Flying Fish, which he first discovered while serving on a jury at a film festival. A powerful allegory about environmental destruction, this richly atmospheric drama follows a teenage girl as she goes on vacation with her father, a wealthy landowner who becomes obsessed with eliminating the carp fish from his artificial lagoon. Watch the film now in its U.S. streaming debut, featuring a new introduction by Jenkins.
Also up this week: two glorious odes to New York’s past, a coming-of-age masterpiece from François Truffaut, and a double bill of psycho thrillers.
The New York of the past comes to life in these two portraits, shot in different periods in the city’s history. A pioneering work of American avant-garde cinema, the silent short Manhatta (1921)—directed by photographer Paul Strand and painter Charles Sheeler—takes in the modern metropolis from a variety of soaring perspectives, assembling a miniature symphony of the city in all its industrial splendor. Shot on location more than a quarter of a century later, Jules Dassin’s masterpiece The Naked City (1948), a noir procedural inspired by Italian neorealism, offers a grittier view of Lower Manhattan from street level.
François Truffaut’s first feature is also his most personal. Told from the point of view of his cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), The 400 Blows sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, and petty crime. The film marked the director’s passage from leading critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: two audio commentaries, one by cinema professor Brian Stonehill and the other by director François Truffaut’s lifelong friend Robert Lachenay; rare audition footage of Jean-Pierre Léaud, Patrick Auffay, and Richard Kanayan; newsreel footage from the film’s showing at Cannes; and more.
These unsettling and widely influential thrillers give viewers a glimpse inside the psychopathic mind. Fritz Lang’s expressionist touchstone M (1931) revolves around the Berlin manhunt for a murderer of children (Peter Lorre), in the process offering an analysis of the man’s tortured psyche. In Peeping Tom (1960), a controversial film that nearly ended his career but is now regarded as a masterpiece, Michael Powell offers a Freudian portrait of a London serial killer (Carl Boehm), a cameraman with a predilection for recording the terror of his victims.