Every Friday on the newly launched Criterion Channel, we’ll be playing matchmaker, presenting a double bill of films that, for one reason or another, belong beside each other. Our Double Features will be sure to multiply your viewing pleasure, whether programmed according to a readily apparent style or theme, behind-the-camera personnel, or—as is the case with this week’s pairing, colorfully introduced in the video above by author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix—a more unexpected kinship altogether.
What’s the connection between Jacques Demy’s poignant, pastel-hued musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and John Woo’s early-career action spectacle Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979)? Here, Hendrix explains that these movies—though set centuries apart, in far-flung corners of the globe—in fact have a lot in common. Woo found a formative influence in the way that Hollywood musicals and the films of the French New Wave portrayed their characters’ inner lives, and the Hong Kong director’s reinvigoration of the then-out-of-fashion swordplay epic mirrors Demy’s emotional and stylistic overhaul of a genre famous for its sheer razzle-dazzle. What’s more, Chivalry and Cherbourg both also center around tight-knit relationships. As Hendrix sums it up, “What you’re getting is the same movie twice, just with two different haircuts.”