The Criterion Channel’s April 2021 Lineup

On the Channel

Mar 29, 2021

The Criterion Channel’s April 2021 Lineup
California Split

The Criterion Channel’s April 2021 Lineup

On the Channel

Mar 29, 2021

Next month, the Criterion Channel ups the ante with a collection of some of the greatest films ever made about the pulse-racing highs and gutter-dwelling lows of gambling. We’re also dealing out the Marx Brothers’ anarchic comedies, sublime scores by Ennio Morricone, and a selection of movies ingeniously filmed in their creators’ own homes. Ready to go all in? Check out the full calendar!

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** indicates programming available only in the U.S.

Featured Series
Premiering April 1

The Maestro: Scores by Ennio Morricone

With more than four hundred scores for cinema and television to his credit, Italian maestro Ennio Morricone (1928–2020) left behind a monumental legacy as one of the greatest and most prolific film composers in history, instantly enhancing whatever project he touched. His sublime melodies and adventurous sonic palette—which made memorable use of whipcracks and whistles, gunshots and harmonicas, church bells and animal noises—lent grandeur to art-house masterworks (The Battle of Algiers, Days of Heaven), spaghetti-western classics (The Big Gundown; Duck, You Sucker), stylish giallo slashers (A Quiet Place in the Country, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), and exploitation fare (Night Train Murders, Hitch-Hike) alike. Bringing together some of the composer’s most celebrated scores alongside lesser-known rarities, this Morricone sampler is as much a treat for the ears as it is for the eyes.

Featuring: Fists in the Pocket (1965), The Battle of Algiers (1966), The Big Gundown (1966), Death Rides a Horse (1967), Teorema (1968), The Mercenary (1968), A Quiet Place in the Country (1968), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Burn! (1969), Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970), Companeros (1970), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Automobile (1971), Duck, You Sucker (1971), Arabian Nights (1974), The Human Factor (1975), Night Train Murders (1975), Hitch-Hike (1977), Days of Heaven (1978), The Professional (1981), The Mission (1986), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), Ripley’s Game (2002)

More titles to be announced!

Close to Home: How to Make a Movie Without Leaving the House

Countless filmmakers have turned to their everyday lives for inspiration, but a few directors take it even further: shooting on location in their very own living spaces. Recent global circumstances may have conspired to make a fad of this eccentric approach to moviemaking, but it’s nothing new. From cinema’s earliest days, filmmakers have shot close to home—capturing their babies at the dining table or their partners in the garden—out of economic necessity, the desire to make something more immediately personal, or simply because their outsider visions were too weird to be realized anywhere else. Selected by guest programmers Nellie Killian and C. Mason Wells, this series offers a diverse array of examples of this endlessly fascinating subgenre, exploring how shooting at home can affect everything from performance to composition to mood, creating new cinematic spaces where personal truths and imaginative fictions mingle in an often uneasy coexistence. Seen together, they offer a very different notion of what constitutes a “home movie.”

Features: Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), Portrait of Jason (1967), Faces (1968), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Narcissus (1971), Italianamerican (1974), That’s Life! (1986), The Garden (1990), Oxhide (2005), Momma’s Man (2008), Oxhide II (2009), This Is Not a Film (2011)**, The Mend (2014), The Big Trim (2020)

Shorts: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Saute ma ville (1968), La chambre (1972), A Loft (2010), And Nothing Happened (2016), Words, Planets (2018)

Shadow Play: The Animated Films of Lotte Reiniger

The foremost pioneer of silhouette animation, German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger brought enchanting storybook worlds to life through her intricate cutouts and groundbreaking use of a proto-multiplane camera that she developed a decade before the technique was made famous by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Her gorgeous One Thousand and One Nights–inspired adventure The Adventures of Prince Achmed—thought to be the oldest surviving feature-length animated film—is presented alongside a selection of her more than sixty shorts. Drawing inspiration from fairy tales, classic children’s books, operas, and biblical stories, these dazzling jewels transport viewers to fantastical realms of the imagination as only animation can.

Features: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Shorts: The Secret of the Marquise (1922), The Flying Coffer (1922), Dr. Dolittle: A Trip to Africa (1923), Dr. Dolittle: The Lion’s Den (1923), Harlequin (1931), The Stolen Heart (1934), Papageno (1935), The Magic Horse (1953), Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (1954), The Caliph Stork (1954), The Star of Bethlehem (1956), The Lost Son (1974)

The Best of the Marx Brothers

Having honed their whirlwind brand of anarchic absurdity on the vaudeville stage, the Marx Brothers exploded onto the screen in the late 1920s and proceeded to wreak mayhem bordering on the surreal for the next two decades. The quip-spouting eyebrow-waggler Groucho, skirt-chasing silent clown (and harp virtuoso) Harpo, and ivory-tickling swindler Chico—joined in their earliest films by resident straight man Zeppo—combined genius wordplay, antic slapstick, and outlandish musical numbers to create barely controlled comic chaos that blew any semblance of narrative logic to smithereens. Poking irreverent fun at the pomposities of politics, academia, and high society in classics like Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and A Night at the Opera, the Marx Brothers brought an improvisatory, anything-goes invention to screen comedy that remains as close to pure Dada as mainstream entertainment has ever come.

Featuring: Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Duck Soup (1933), A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), Room Service (1938), At the Circus (1939), Go West (1940), The Big Store (1941)

The Gamblers

Place your bets on some of the greatest films ever made about the pulse-racing highs and gutter-dwelling lows of the gambling world. Rife with high-stakes drama—in which fortunes and lives can be made or broken by a single roll of the dice, turn of the cards, or spin of the roulette wheel—the gambling film has long been a potent vehicle for filmmakers to explore the seductively seedy edges of society and the riskiest extremes of human behavior. Featuring hard-boiled noir gems (Dark City, The Las Vegas Story), gritty New Hollywood character studies (The Hustler, The Gambler), and 1990s indie sleepers (Hard Eight, Croupier), this winning hand of gambling classics is royal flush.

Featuring: Gilda (1946), Any Number Can Play (1949), Dark City (1950), The Las Vegas Story (1952), Bob le flambeur (1956), The Hustler (1961), Bay of Angels (1963), Pale Flower (1964), 5 Card Stud (1968), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), California Split (1974), The Gambler (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Atlantic City (1980)**, House of Games (1987), Queen of Diamonds (1991), Hard Eight (1996), Croupier (1998)

Criterion Collection Editions
Premiering April 1

Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948)

Criterion Collection Edition #921

A lyrical small-town fable about violence and redemption, Moonrise is the final triumph of Frank Borzage, one of Hollywood’s most neglected masters.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: A new conversation between author Hervé Dumont and film historian Peter Cowie.

Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders, 1999)

Criterion Collection Edition #866

Traveling from the streets of Havana to the stage of Carnegie Hall, Wim Wenders’ revelatory documentary captures a forgotten generation of Cuban musicians as they enjoy an unexpected encounter with world fame.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Wenders, an interview with musician Compay Segundo, additional scenes, and more.

To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)

Criterion Collection Edition #963

Charles Burnett’s 1990 masterpiece is a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: A program featuring interviews with the cast and crew, a conversation between Burnett and filmmaker Robert Townsend, and more.

Man Push Cart (Ramin Bahrani, 2005)

Criterion Collection Edition #1066

A modest miracle of twenty-first-century neorealism, the acclaimed debut feature by Ramin Bahrani speaks quietly but profoundly to the experiences of those living on the margins of the American dream.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary featuring Bahrani; a conversation on the making of the film; Backgammon, a 1998 short film by Bahrani; and more.

Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, 2007)

Criterion Collection Edition #1067

A deeply human story of a fierce but fragile sibling bond tested by hardscrabble reality, Ramin Bahrani’s Chop Shop tempers its sobering authenticity with flights of lyricism and hope.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary featuring Bahrani, a conversation between Bahrani and writer and scholar Suketu Mehta, rehearsal footage, and more.

The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963)

Criterion Collection Edition #235

Luchino Visconti’s ravishing period masterpiece stars Burt Lancaster as an aging Sicilian prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of the Risorgimento.

SUPPLEMENTARY FEATURES: The 161-minute U.S.-release version; audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie; the documentary A Dying Breed: The Making of The Leopard; and more.

Exclusive Streaming Premieres

A Girl Missing


Koji Fukada’s follow-up to his prize-winning Harmonium is an arresting thriller that unfolds as a time-shifting puzzle to be pieced together, bit by tantalizing bit. Ichiko (Mariko Tsutsui) is an in-home nurse who has worked for the elder matriarch of the Oishi family for years and regards them as her own kin. When a teenage daughter of the Oishi clan is kidnapped—and the perpetrator is revealed to be none other than Ichiko’s nephew—Ichiko’s life begins to unravel. Built around a riveting performance from Tsutsui, A Girl Missing is a gripping tale of guilt, revenge, and a woman coming undone from one of Japan’s leading filmmakers.

Raining in the Mountain


This dazzling blend of caper intrigue, spectacular pageantry, and stunningly choreographed action from legendary director King Hu (A Touch of Zen) represents the peak of the wuxia specialist’s infusion of Buddhist principles into martial-arts cinema. During the Ming dynasty, a Buddhist abbot charged with protecting a sacred scroll prepares to name his successor. An aristocrat and a general arrive at his secluded mountaintop monastery promising to help in his search, but are in fact scheming to secure the scroll for themselves. As they set about recommending corrupt successors, rival bands of martial artists lie in wait to steal the precious artifact, and the monastery is soon transformed into an epic battleground, with each player caught in a web of conspiracy and betrayal.

True Stories



How do you run a city when you don’t have a country? This portrait of the mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah captures one man’s dignity amidst the absurdity of endless occupation.

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?


Director Travis Wilkerson reckons with the ugly truth of his own family’s history in this shattering journey into the heart of American racial violence.

The World of Gilbert & George


See Thatcher-era Britain through the beautiful, humorous, shocking, and absurd lens of art-star provocateurs Gilbert & George.



Margot Benacerraf’s breathtaking portrait of everyday life on the coast of Venezuela is a landmark of both neorealist and feminist South American cinema.

More documentaries featured in this month’s programming:

Chef Flynn (2018)**, Winged Migration (2001)**, New Homeland (2018), Portrait of Jason (1967), Italianamerican (1974), This Is Not a Film (2011)**, Buena Vista Social Club (1999)


Smooth Talk


Starring Laura Dern in her breakout role, Joyce Chopra’s narrative debut captures the thrill and terror of adolescent sexual exploration in a coming-of-age story that morphs into something altogether more troubling and profound.

Directed by Isabel Sandoval


Featuring a new introduction by the filmmaker

“I’m drawn to women with secrets,” says Filipina director Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca), a rising star of independent filmmaking who toys with genre conventions in her subversive portraits of women whose personal journeys are tangled up in complex sociopolitical realities. A true auteur, Sandoval wrote, produced, directed, and starred in her feature debut, Señorita, the gripping, noir-tinged story of a trans woman’s struggles to quit sex work and start a new life. Individual and social crises again collide in Apparition, an intense psychological drama set in a Filipino convent being gradually consumed by the encroaching political unrest of the Marcos era.

Featuring: Señorita (2011), Apparition (2012)

Yellow Fever


Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii’s innovative, visually arresting short explores the insidious impact of Western beauty standards on African women’s self-perceptions.

More women filmmakers featured in this month’s programming:

Shadow Play: The Animated Films of Lotte Reiniger (14 films), Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Araya (1959), Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), Portrait of Jason (1967), Saute ma ville (1968), La chambre (1972), Queen of Diamonds (1991), Little Women (1994), Ripley’s Game (2002), Oxhide (2005), Oxhide II (2009), And Nothing Happened (2016), Rupture (2017), New Homeland (2018), Hair Wolf (2018), Words, Planets (2018)

Saturday Matinees

Little Women


Australian New Wave luminary Gillian Armstrong comes to Hollywood with an all-star cast for this beloved adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s evergreen classic.

Chef Flynn**


A teenage chef takes the culinary world by storm in this inside look at a young man’s fearless pursuit of his passion.

Winged Migration**


Jacques Perrin’s awe-inspiring documentary captures the wonders and mysteries of birds in flight as never before.

Androcles and the Lion


George Bernard Shaw pens this breezy, delightful dramatization of a classic fable about a Christian slave who pulls a thorn from a lion’s paw and is spared from death in the Colosseum as a result of his kind act.


Short + Feature: From the Salon to the Boardroom
Hair Wolf and Putney Swope


A pair of fiendishly subversive racial satires tackle anti-Blackness and white privilege with audacious imagination.

Short + Feature: Water Worlds
Tabula Rasa and L’Atalante


Let your imagination swim in the waters of two aqueous odysseys set in magical floating worlds.

Short + Feature: Childhood Interrupted
Rupture and New Homeland


The impact of the global refugee crisis on children hits home in these affecting studies of trauma, displacement, and assimilation by Yassmina Karajah and Barbara Kopple.

Short + Feature: Manic Killer Nightmare Girls
Ramona and Dementia


Two women embark on violent journeys through mysterious nocturnal worlds in a pair of disturbing, noir-tinged odysseys.

Double Features

Double Feature: Feelin’ Feisty
The Man Who Cheated Himself and Tomorrow Is Another Day


Felix E. Feist, one of the unsung masters of the B noir, brings a slam-bang stylistic punch to this pair of evocatively gritty crime thrillers.

Double Feature: Can You Dig It?
Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score!


Richard Roundtree swaggers onto the screen as private eye John Shaft in the groundbreaking first two entries in the genre-defining Blaxploitation series.

Double Feature: Stranger Danger
Picnic and To Sleep with Anger


Mysterious strangers cast beguiling spells—and cause disturbing disruptions—in the lives of everyone they encounter in these simmering dramas.

Double Feature: East Meets West Texas
Blood Simple and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop**


The Coen brothers’ crackerjack debut gets an audacious period remake courtesy of Chinese master Zhang Yimou.

Double Feature: Addiction and Anxiety in Fog City
Days of Wine and Roses and Experiment in Terror


Director Blake Edwards, star Lee Remick, composer Henry Mancini, and the city of San Francisco make for a cinematic dream team in a pair of films—both released in 1962—that showcase the best of each.

Now Playing in 30 Years of The Film Foundation

In November, we kicked off our thirtieth-anniversary celebration for film-preservation powerhouse The Film Foundation, founded by Martin Scorsese in 1990. The stunning restorations joining the lineup this month include classics by John Ford and Luchino Visconti, noir discoveries from Max Ophüls and Abraham Polonsky, and one of Laurel and Hardy’s most uproarious comedies.

Featuring: Sons of the Desert (1933)**, How Green Was My Valley (1941), Force of Evil (1948)**, Caught (1949)**, The Leopard (1963)

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