This April, things are getting steamy on the Criterion Channel: our Erotic Thrillers collection surveys the stylish, R-rated productions that pushed the boundaries of sex on-screen in the ’80s and ’90s. Our David Lynch retrospective dives into a one-of-a-kind creative mind, featuring exclusive new restorations of Inland Empire and Lost Highway, as well as a one-month-only engagement of the cult sci-fi epic Dune. Plus: celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Harold Lloyd’s iconic clockface gag in Safety Last!, check out four long-unavailable gems from Eric Rohmer, and discover the eye-opening short films of Fanta Régina Nacro.
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* indicates programming available only in the U.S.
Sleekly stylish, deliriously plotted, and unabashedly steamy, the erotic thrillers of the 1980s and ’90s are both the ultimate guilty pleasure and an illuminating reflection of an era’s changing attitudes toward sex on-screen. As the ’70s came to a close, with studio filmmaking in decline, home video and cable on the rise, and new X-rated movies ushering in an era of “porno chic,” Hollywood studios and independent filmmakers began pushing boundaries to cash in and create popular films that could never have been made before. Often dismissed as disreputable byproducts of the video-store era, these carnal classics can now be seen as rich cultural texts, laden with tantalizing ideas about gender, the relationship between sex and violence, and the cinematic gaze. Encompassing masterful genre deconstructions by directors such as Brian De Palma (Body Double), Paul Schrader (The Comfort of Strangers), and the Wachowskis (Bound*) as well as lesser-known titles now ripe for reappraisal (Color of Night, Dream Lover, Fleshtone), these late-night cable staples are journeys into our collective fears and fantasies.
FEATURING: Dressed to Kill (1980), Body Heat (1981), Crimes of Passion (1984), Body Double (1984), The Bedroom Window (1987), Sister, Sister (1987), Call Me (1988), The Comfort of Strangers (1990), Poison Ivy (1992), Dream Lover (1993), Color of Night (1994), Criminal Passion (1994), Fleshtone (1994), The Last Seduction (1994), Jade (1995)*, Bound (1996)*; COMING MAY 1: Single White Female (1992); JUNE 1: Basic Instinct (1992)
Directed by David Lynch
A director of such distinctive, overpowering vision that he has inspired his own adjective, David Lynch makes films that seem telegraphed straight from his unconscious to the screen. Now streaming for the first time, Lynch’s newly restored masterpieces Lost Highway and Inland Empire, as well as a one-month-only limited engagement of his sui generis sci-fi epic Dune*, join this retrospective of his mind-altering work. From the unsettling surrealist imagery of his midnight-movie classic Eraserhead to the harrowing suburban nightmare Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me to the Hollywood Dream Factory odyssey Mulholland Dr., Lynch’s labyrinthine puzzle boxes turn the American psyche inside out to reveal its deepest, darkest dimensions.
FEATURING: Eraserhead (1977), Dune (1984)*, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Dr. (2001), Inland Empire (2006); COMING MAY 1: The Elephant Man (1980)
Featuring the documentary Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius
One hundred years ago, Harold Lloyd gave the movies one of their most meme-able moments—the anxious, thrilling, clock-hanging climax of Safety Last!, a film that still stands as a high-water mark of slapstick invention. Though often overlooked in favor of his more famous silent-clown contemporaries Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the bespectacled everyman was easily the equal of those legends in both hilarity and hair-raising derring-do. From the football-field antics of The Freshman to the freewheeling New York odyssey of Speedy, Lloyd’s innovative and endearing classics are packed wall-to-wall with some of the funniest and most unforgettable sight gags ever realized on film.
A Sailor-Made Man (1921), Dr. Jack (1922), Grandma’s Boy (1922), Safety Last! (1923), Why Worry? (1923), Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925), For Heaven’s Sake (1926), The Kid Brother (1927), Speedy (1928), Welcome Danger (1929), Feet First (1930), Movie Crazy (1932), The Cat’s Paw (1934), The Milky Way (1936), Harold Lloyd’s Funny Side of Life (1963)
Bashful (1917), The Big Idea (1917), By the Sad Sea Waves (1917), Lonesome Luke, Messenger (1917), Over the Fence (1917), A Gasoline Wedding (1918), Look Pleasant, Please (1918), Take a Chance (1918), That’s Him (1918), Ask Father (1919), Billy Blazes, Esq. (1919), Bumping into Broadway (1919), Captain Kidd’s Kids (1919), Just Neighbors (1919), The Marathon (1919), Next Aisle Over (1919), A Sammy in Siberia (1919), Spring Fever (1919), Young Mr. Jazz (1919), An Eastern Westerner (1920), Get Out and Get Under (1920), Haunted Spooks (1920), High and Dizzy (1920), His Royal Slyness (1920), Number, Please? (1920), Never Weaken (1921)
Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons
The seasons may change, but the folly of the human heart is constant in this ineffably lovely quartet by one of cinema’s most perceptive chroniclers of the pangs and perils of romance, Eric Rohmer. By turns comic and melancholic, breezy and richly philosophical, these bittersweet tales of love, longing, and the inevitable misunderstandings that shape human relationships probe the most complex of emotions with the utmost grace. Never before available on streaming or home video, this cycle of newly restored wonders marks a major rediscovery.
FEATURING: A Tale of Springtime (1990), A Tale of Winter (1992), A Tale of Summer (1996), A Tale of Autumn (1998)
Short Films by Fanta Régina Nacro
The first woman from Burkina Faso to direct a narrative film, Fanta Régina Nacro addresses complex social issues with a gently subversive, lightly comic touch. Tackling everything from AIDS and sexual health to gender roles and relations to the evolving place of tradition within the modern world, her engaging, playfully eye-opening films both reflect and critique the realities of a patriarchal society in which bold women gradually push change forward.
FEATURING: A Certain Morning (1992), Puk nini (1995), Konate’s Gift (1997), Bintou (2001)
EXCLUSIVE STREAMING PREMIERES
ear for eye
With this riveting adaptation of her acclaimed play, debbie tucker green pushes the boundaries of stage and screen alike. Dynamic, absorbing, and visually inventive, ear for eye traces racial injustice across time and continents, detailing stories of struggle and triumph, oppression and uprising. This powerful, astonishingly realized film explores questions of demonstration vs. direct action, violence vs. nonviolence, the personal vs. the structural, boasting a brilliant soundtrack from artists including Run the Jewels, FKA twigs, and Kano.
CRITERION COLLECTION EDITIONS
Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997)
Criterion Collection Edition #1152
A mesmerizing meditation on the mysterious nature of identity, David Lynch’s postmodern noir is one of the filmmaker’s most potent cinematic dreamscapes.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: The feature-length documentary Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch (1997); interviews with Lynch and actors Patricia Arquette, Bill Pullman, and Robert Loggia; new director-supervised picture and sound restoration; and more.
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Criterion Collection Edition #1175
The role of a lifetime, a Hollywood mystery, a woman in trouble . . . David Lynch weaves a vast meditation on the enigmas of time, identity, and cinema itself.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: A conversation between actors Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan; seventy-five minutes of extra scenes; LYNCH (one) and LYNCH2, two documentaries by blackANDwhite, the makers of David Lynch: The Art Life; new director-supervised picture and sound restoration; and more.
Faya dayi (Jessica Beshir, 2021)
Criterion Collection Edition #1141
Jessica Beshir’s trancelike documentary is a ravishing sensory experience that hovers between consciousness and dreaming.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Three short films by Beshir and a selected-scene commentary featuring Beshir and poet Ladan Osman.
Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma, 1980)
Criterion Collection Edition #770
Brian De Palma ascended to the highest ranks of American suspense filmmaking with this virtuoso, explicit erotic thriller.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: A conversation between De Palma and Noah Baumbach, a documentary on the making of the film, interviews with cast and crew members, and more.
The Comfort of Strangers (Paul Schrader, 1990)
Criterion Collection Edition #1041
An unsettling, sadomasochistic seduction plays out under the carefully controlled direction of Paul Schrader in this elegant thriller.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with Schrader, cinematographer Dante Spinotti, actors Christopher Walken and Natasha Richardson, novelist Ian McEwan, and editor Bill Pankow.
Spotlight on Kwaidan
In the latest installment of our Spotlight series, critic and author Grady Hendrix explores Masaki Kobayashi’s rapturous anthology of ghost stories, a meticulously crafted, existentially frightening tribute to Japanese folklore.
Prismatic Ground Presents
One of the most creative and galvanizing venues for film exhibition to emerge during the pandemic, Prismatic Ground is a festival centered on the intersection between experimental and documentary film. This selection of shorts from its first two editions, in April 2021 and May 2022, offer an eclectic cross section of aesthetically and politically radical work. Highlighting filmmakers whose approach to image-making eschews traditional narrative in favor of abstraction and sensation—and whose techniques span animation, archival collage, 16 mm photography, and digital technology—Prismatic Ground shows how avant-garde techniques can be deployed to confront violent histories of colonialism, genocide, and capitalism, introducing audiences to a cinema of radical potential. The additions from year two confront topics as varied as addiction, ritual, family, and loss with rigorous attention to form and breathtaking emotional power.
2022 SHORTS: Home When You Return (2021), Madness Remixed (2021), Squish! (2021), Strangers (2022), Declarations of Love (2022), Heron 1954–2002 (2022), Maman Brigitte (2022), Oliver Sees Indigo (2022), Three Songs Without Z. (2022), We Knew How Beautiful They Were, These Islands (2022)
2021 SHORTS: Loose Corner (1986), Reckless Eyeballing (2004), Maat (2020), A New England Document (2020), Letter From Your Far-Off Country (2020), A Demonstration (2020), my favorite software is being here (2021), Two Sons and a River of Blood (2021), Melting Snow (2021), Bodies in Dissent (2021)
Short Films by David Lynch
Delve deeper into the labyrinthine psyche of surrealist nightmare-weaver David Lynch with these unsettling, hallucinatory shorts that reflect the origins and evolution of his singular style. Spanning the early experimental and painterly works that laid the foundation for his cult sensation Eraserhead through his darkly absurdist web animation series DumbLand, these films are replete with the sinister, uncanny imagery that could have emerged only from an artist so deeply in tune with his subconscious.
FEATURING: Six Men Getting Sick (1967), The Alphabet (1968), The Grandmother (1970), The Amputee (Version 1) (1974), The Amputee (Version 2) (1974), Premonitions Following an Evil Deed (1995), DumbLand (Episodes 1–8) (2002)
The self-contained cosmos of a country-club golf course serves as a microcosm of Filipino society in this sharply observed miniature. New “tee-girl” Isabel still has to learn the rules—but she is already looking for loopholes to subvert the system.
So We Live
In this claustrophobic study of life during wartime, a family in a conflict-ravaged country spends what seems to be a normal evening together. Their conversations shift between casual matters of daily life and survival, a contrast that highlights the fragility of existence and our time together.
Good Morning, Miss Dove
Jennifer Jones plays the titular New England schoolmarm in this slice of unabashedly nostalgic Americana at its most endearing.
NEW ADDITIONS TO PREVIOUS PROGRAMS
Now Playing in Ari Aster’s Adventures in Moviegoing: Songs from the Second Floor
Acclaimed director Ari Aster—whose latest film, Beau Is Afraid, comes out April 21—introduces this modern classic, a singular, mordantly funny series of vignettes from Swedish existentialist Roy Andersson.
Back by Popular Demand
Don’t miss these viewer favorites, returning to the Channel in April!
FEATURING: In a Lonely Place (1950), Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), The Harder They Come (1973), The Wicker Man (1973), Manhunter (1986)*