This Week on the Criterion Channel

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Nov 23, 2018

In case you missed the news, FilmStruck will be shutting down next week, on November 29. If you’re looking to cram some viewing in over the Thanksgiving break, we’ve got one last batch of programming for you. Take a look at the latest additions below, and be sure to sign up for updates on the new, independent Criterion Channel we just announced last week, launching in the spring.

If you’re in the mood for a dose of all-American eccentricity, look no further than our complete edition of music icon David Byrne’s sole foray into feature-film directing, 1986’s True Stories, now up on the Criterion Channel. This beloved cult movie stars the Talking Heads front man as a visitor to Virgil, Texas, who introduces us to the citizens of the town during preparations for its Celebration of Specialness. As shot by cinematographer Ed Lachman, Texas becomes a hyperrealistic late-capitalist landscape of endless vistas, shopping malls, and prefab metal buildings. Byrne uses his songs to stitch together pop iconography, voodoo rituals, and a singular variety show—all in the service of uncovering the rich mysteries that lurk under the surface of everyday experience. Alongside the film, watch a documentary about its production, deleted scenes, an homage to the town of Virgil, and more.

Also up this week:

Guillermo del Toro Presents: The Night of the Hunter

As a guest curator on the Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, Guillermo del Toro, the Oscar-winning director of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, introduces Charles Laughton’s 1955 masterpiece The Night of the Hunter. The renowned actor’s only film as a director stars Robert Mitchum in a performance of towering menace as an ex-con turned sham preacher who terrorizes a widow (Shelley Winters) and her two children. Steeped in southern-gothic atmosphere and shot in striking, expressionist style by the great Stanley Cortez, the film has the dreamlike air of a sinister fairy tale, marking it as a forerunner to del Toro’s similarly dark, fable-like fantasies. Check out the intro here, then watch the movie on the Channel.

Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke and La Jetée

Chris Marker’s radically influential science-fiction classic is paired with a gonzo reimagining of its premise. Composed almost entirely of still images, Marker’s La Jetée (1963) voyages through history and memory to evoke a time traveler’s recollections of a pre-apocalyptic world. In Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke (2012), directors Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva—of Miami’s celebrated indie-film collective Borscht Corporation—offer an outré spin on Marker’s masterpiece. Starring Luther Campbell—aka 2 Live Crew’s Luke Skyywalker—this festival hit combines rainbow-colored animation, cartoonish live action sequences, and archival footage as it traipses through the hip-hop legend’s memories and musings.

Friday Night Double Feature: Les dames du Bois de Boulogne and Dangerous Liaisons

Sexual and psychological gamesmanship is the order of the day in these stylish, high-society-set tales of revenge based on classics of eighteenth-century French literature. The second feature made by Robert Bresson, Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945) is an atypical masterwork in the director’s oeuvre. Featuring dialogue by Jean Cocteau (adapting Denis Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist) and surprisingly opulent visuals, it tells the story of a spurned aristocrat who gets even with her ex-lover by orchestrating his affair with a prostitute. Similarly, Glenn Close is a scheming marquise spinning a web of erotic manipulation in Stephen Frears’s deliciously decadent 1988 adaption of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s classic novel Dangerous Liaisons, acted to the hilt by a cast that includes John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, and Keanu Reeves.