This Week on the Criterion Channel

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Aug 3, 2018

Time runs out for new lovers in these exquisitely romantic films by Vincente Minnelli and Richard Linklater, now playing together on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck as this week’s Friday Night Double Feature. The Clock (1945) stars Robert Walker as a soldier on leave who meets cute with Judy Garland in Penn Station. The couple fall deeply in love on a rhapsodic tour of New York City—stunningly recreated on a studio soundstage—before the war threatens to separate them forever. In Before Sunrise (1995), an American tourist (Ethan Hawke) and French student (Julie Delpy) meet by chance on a train to Vienna and decide to spend a day together. Over the course of a rambling, charming, intimate series of conversations, they form a tender connection, made all the more poignant by the chance that they’ll never see each other again.

Also up this week:

Observations on Film Art No. 21: The Restless Cinematography of Breaking the Waves

Rarely does the camera come to a rest in Lars von Trier’s international breakthrough, Breaking the Waves (1996), a raw fable about a pious Scottish woman (an Oscar-nominated Emily Watson) whose husband, a Norwegian oil-rig worker (Stellan Skarsgård), encourages her to be unfaithful after he’s badly injured in a work accident. The dominant visual mode of this intimate drama, shot by Robby Müller, is handheld naturalism. But as Professor Jeff Smith shows in this month’s episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that examines great auteurs’ use of individual cinematic devices and techniques, Müller and von Trier also make calculated use of more stylized camera work throughout. Rapid pans and long takes periodically disrupt the film’s choppier realism, allowing von Trier to underscore the fascinating contradictions of his scenario, a study in the spirit and the flesh. Check out a preview from the episode here.

Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Möbius and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

The kids aren’t all right in these two surreal mysteries set in the misty environs of the Pacific Northwest. In the 2017 gothic neonoir Möbius, an atmospheric spin on the Orpheus-and-Eurydice myth, a teen poet navigates the disorienting days following the disappearance of her boyfriend. The short (which is introduced on the Channel by its director Sam Kuhn) bears the eerie influence of David Lynch, whose 1992 film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me—a cinematic prequel to his recently revived television serial—revolves around the enigmatic and thoroughly disquieting events leading up to the murder of troubled homecoming queen Laura Palmer.

Tootsie: Edition #738

In Tootsie, Michael Dorsey lands the role of a lifetime—as did the actor playing him, Dustin Hoffman. This multilayered comedy from Sydney Pollack follows the elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who poses as a woman to get a soap opera gig; while “Dorothy Michaels” skyrockets to fame, Michael finds himself learning to be a better man. Given support by a stellar cast that includes Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, George Gaynes, Bill Murray, and, in a breakthrough performance, Jessica Lange, Tootsie is a funny, cutting, and poignant film from an American moment defined by shifting social and sexual identities. Supplemental features: an audio commentary featuring director Sydney Pollack, interviews with Hoffman and comedy writer Phil Rosenthal, interview with Dorothy Michaels by film critic Gene Shalit, two documentaries about the making of the film, and more.

Barry Jenkins Presents The World, the Flesh and the Devil

As a guest curator on the Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, Barry Jenkins introduces this atmospheric science fiction film from 1959. Mine inspector Ralph (Harry Belafonte) digs himself out of a caved-in coal shaft only to discover that a sudden apocalypse has wiped humanity from the face of the earth. When he meets two other survivors in New York, he discovers that prejudice and taboo have outlived the demise of civilization itself. Directed by Ranald MacDougall, and produced by Belafonte’s own production company, The World, the Flesh and the Devil fuses ingenious genre filmmaking with incisive social commentary.

Female Trouble: Edition #929

Glamour has never been more grotesque than in Female Trouble, which injects the Hollywood melodrama with anarchic decadence. Divine, director John Waters’ larger-than-life muse, engulfs the screen with charisma as Dawn Davenport, the living embodiment of the film’s lurid mantra, “Crime is beauty,” who progresses from a teenage nightmare hell-bent on getting cha-cha heels for Christmas to a fame monster whose egomaniacal impulses land her in the electric chair. Shot in Waters’ native Baltimore on 16 mm, with a cast drawn from his beloved troupe of regulars, the Dreamlanders (including Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey, and Cookie Mueller), this film­—the director’s favorite of his work with Divine—comes to life through the tinsel-toned vision of production designer Vincent Peranio and costume designer/makeup artist Van Smith. An endlessly quotable fan favorite, Female Trouble offers up perverse pleasures that never fail to satisfy. Supplemental features: audio commentary featuring Waters, a conversation between Waters and critic Dennis Lim, interviews with cast and crew members, deleted scenes and alternate takes, and more.