Sibling bonds turn sour in this week’s diabolical Friday Night Double Feature on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. De Palma’s first foray into horror voyeurism, Sisters follows the twisted relationship that forms between a fashion model, her former conjoined twin, and a hotshot reporter who suspects the latter of murder. Taking its cues from Hitchcock, De Palma’s scary and stylish paean to female destructiveness features a spine-tingling score from the great Bernard Herrmann. Robert Aldrich’s 1962 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a dark and devilishly comedic showcase for two of Hollywood’s most notorious enemies, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who play a sadistic, washed-up actor and her embittered, wheelchair-bound sister.
Youth runs wild in these island-bound parables. In award-winning Greek filmmaker Konstantina Kotzamani’s arresting 2016 short Limbo, a group of children discover a whale carcass that has been washed ashore. With the 1963 Lord of the Flies, experimental theater director Peter Brook takes an innovative, documentary-like approach to William Golding’s tale of lost boys stranded on an uninhabited island.
In this elegantly unsettling murder mystery, Stellan Skarsgård plays an enigmatic Swedish detective with a checkered past who arrives in a small town in northern Norway to investigate the death of a teenage girl. As he digs deeper into the facts surrounding the heinous killing, his own demons and the tyrannical midnight sun begin to take a toll. The success of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s chilling procedural anticipated the international hunger for Scandinavian noirs and serial- killer fictions, and the film features one of Skarsgård's greatest performances. Supplemental Features: a conversation between director Erik Skjoldbjærg and actor Stellan Skarsgård, and two short films by Skjoldbjærg: Near Winter (1993) and Close to Home (1994).
In one of the defining partnerships in British cinema, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made a string of masterpieces that took Technicolor to sublime heights. For this month’s episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that delivers ten minutes of film school a month, scholar Kristin Thompson explores the lush palette of their 1947 Black Narcissus. Set in a convent run by Anglican nuns in the Himalayas, this captivating drama depicts the isolation and extreme weather of the landscape, which combines with interpersonal tensions to drive these pious heroines mad. Thompson’s episode focuses on how the Oscar-winning work of production designer Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff creates an otherworldly atmosphere that affects the psychological arc of the characters.