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The Criterion Channel’s June 2024 Lineup

On the Channel

May 13, 2024

The Criterion Channel’s June 2024 Lineup
The Royal Tenenbaums

The Criterion Channel’s June 2024 Lineup

On the Channel

May 13, 2024

This June, everyone’s invited to the Channel for our Ensemble Casts collection, a bustling summer barbecue of amply peopled movies full of unforgettable performances. And you’re going to love the playlist, selected from some of the all-time greatest synth soundtracks. For those who prefer some time to themselves, there’s the gripping “man in a room” films of Paul Schrader, who’s also the subject of our latest Adventures in Moviegoing. There’s so much more to choose from this month, including a selection of essential queer films from the past fifteen years, retrospectives dedicated to Ingmar Bergman and Jean Grémillon, newly restored gems from Bob Odenkirk and Jacques Rivette, and a kaleidoscopic glimpse into the mind of jazz visionary Milford Graves.

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* indicates programming available only in the U.S.

TOP STORIES

Synth Soundtracks

Once the sound of the future, now awesomely retro, synth soundtracks add a splash of otherworldly atmosphere to some of the coolest movies ever made. Using state-of-the-art analog and digital technologies, pioneering musicians like Bebe and Louis Barron (Forbidden Planet), Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange), Sun Ra (Space Is the Place), Tangerine Dream (Thief), Vangelis (Missing), and Ryuichi Sakamoto (Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) created immersive soundscapes that expanded cinematic storytelling and forever changed the art of movie soundtracking. Alternately eerie, icy, pulse-pounding, and thrillingly emotional, these scores tunnel into your eardrums at ecstatic frequencies hitherto unexplored.

Coprogrammed by Synth History/Danz CM

FEATURING: Forbidden Planet (1956), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Solaris (1972), The Legend of Hell House (1973), Messiah of Evil (1973), Space Is the Place (1974), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), The Last Wave (1977), Stalker (1979), Shogun Assassin (1980), Scanners (1981), Thief (1981), Liquid Sky (1982), Missing (1982)*, Next of Kin (1982), Tenebrae (1982), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), Delta Space Mission (1984), Manhunter (1986)*, For All Mankind (1989)

Directed by Paul Schrader

In anticipation of his latest opus, Oh, Canada, we’re revisiting the films of one of American cinema’s most provocative moral philosophers. For over forty years, Paul Schrader has probed the guilty soul of the modern world in a relentless search for existential meaning. Raised in a strict Calvinist household—a rigorous upbringing that would influence his cinematic philosophy and his study of the “transcendental” styles of directors like Yasujiro Ozu and Robert Bresson—Schrader exploded onto the scene with his screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, an anguished howl of urban alienation that established him as one of the leading figures of the 1970s New American Cinema. Specializing in explorations of damaged souls driven to shocking extremes in their search for salvation, he has experimented with a range of styles, genres, and tones—ranging from the profoundly serious to the coolly ironic to the self-consciously sleazy—in daring works like Hardcore, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and Auto Focus. Grappling with weighty themes of faith, violence, sin, and redemption, Schrader’s films are fascinating windows into his personal obsessions.

FEATURING: Blue Collar (1978), Hardcore (1979), Cat People (1982), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), Patty Hearst (1988), The Comfort of Strangers (1990), Light Sleeper (1992), Affliction (1997), Touch (1997), Auto Focus (2002), The Canyons (2013)

Ensemble Casts

The best ensemble cast movies feature virtuosic performers inhabiting dynamic and complex characters who play off one another like a great band at the height of their chemistry. Under the deft direction of filmmakers like George Cukor (The Women), Spike Lee (School Daze), Mike Nichols (The Birdcage), and Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums), these sprawling showcases command our attention with multidimensional storylines that keep us engaged and engrossed in each well-hewn dramatic arc.

Coprogrammed by Isaac Butler

FEATURING: The Women (1939), The Big Chill (1983), School Daze (1988), Noises Off (1992), Dazed and Confused (1993)*, The Birdcage (1996), Can’t Hardly Wait (1998), State and Main (2000), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Barbarian Invasions (2003)*, Another Round (2020)*

Paul Schrader’s Adventures in Moviegoing

A legendary screenwriter, director, critic, and cinephile whose work searches for spiritual salvation in the modern world, Paul Schrader did not in fact see a movie until he was a teenager—a result of his being raised in a strict Calvinist household that forbade filmgoing. In this edition of Adventures in Moviegoing, he sits down with Criterion Channel programmer Aliza Ma to discuss how he came to worship at the altar of cinema—a journey that began with the discovery of the films of Ingmar Bergman and his life-changing association with the critic Pauline Kael. As he explains, each movie he has selected proved a revelation in his understanding of the medium, including masterpieces by Carl Theodor Dreyer (Ordet) and Yasujiro Ozu (An Autumn Afternoon) that reflect his interest in what he famously dubbed “transcendental” film style.

FEATURING: Journey to Italy (1954), Ordet (1955), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), An Autumn Afternoon (1962), Red Desert (1964), Masculin féminin (1966), Claire’s Knee (1970), In the Mood for Love (2000)

Queersighted: The Queer and Now

Queerness has come to mean so much more than identity or sexuality—it’s a way of living, being, existing in the world. And queer artistry in contemporary cinema is similarly impossible to reduce, and tricky to define. In this latest edition of Queersighted, series curator Michael Koresky and his special guest Dennis Lim (artistic director of the New York Film Festival) sit down to discuss a selection of titles from the 2010s and ’20s that both stretch and elucidate the meaning of queerness on-screen. These are sense-heightening films whose radical approaches to cinematic narrative, form, and character speak to the shifting boundaries of our experience.

FEATURES: Weekend (2011), Fort Buchanan (2014), End of the Century (2019), Lingua Franca (2019), Days (2020), If from Every Tongue It Drips (2021), Trenque Lauquen (2022)

SHORTS: Flores (2017), Parsi (2018)

Directed by Ingmar Bergman

One of the most revelatory voices to emerge from the postwar explosion of international art-house cinema, Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman was a master storyteller who startled the world with his stark intensity and naked pursuit of the most profound metaphysical and spiritual questions. The struggles of faith and morality, the nature of dreams, and the agonies and ecstasies of human relationships—Bergman explored these subjects in films ranging from comedies whose lightness and complexity belie their brooding hearts to groundbreaking formal experiments and excruciatingly intimate explorations of family life.

FEATURING: Crisis (1946), A Ship to India (1947), Port of Call (1948), Thirst (1949), To Joy (1950), Summer Interlude (1951), Waiting Women (1952), Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Summer with Monika (1953), A Lesson in Love (1954), Dreams (1955), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Brink of Life (1958), The Magician (1958), The Devil’s Eye (1960), The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), The Silence (1963), Winter Light (1963), All These Women (1964), Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Shame (1968), The Passion of Anna (1969), The Rite (1969), The Touch (1971), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), The Magic Flute (1975), Autumn Sonata (1978), Fårö Document 1979 (1979), From the Life of the Marionettes (1980), Fanny and Alexander (1982), After the Rehearsal (1984)

LGBTQ+ Favorites

Proud, rebellious, colorful, intimate, and frank, these visions of LGBTQ+ life include beloved modern classics as well as hidden gems. From staples of the art-house canon (Je tu il elle, Querelle) to highlights of the New Queer Cinema explosion (Paris Is Burning) and contemporary showstoppers from emerging talents (Shakedown), these films represent just a sample of the wide world of queer cinema, but they offer a taste of its breadth, creativity, and defiance in the face of adversity.

FEATURING: Portrait of Jason (1967), Je tu il elle (1975), Jubilee (1978), Greetings from Washington, D.C. (1981), Querelle (1982), Born in Flames (1983), The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), Desert Hearts (1985), Mala Noche (1985), Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt (1989), Tongues Untied (1989), Paris Is Burning (1990), A Place of Rage (1991), Young Soul Rebels (1991), Flaming Ears (1992), The Watermelon Woman (1996), Trick (1999), Lan Yu (2001), Weekend (2011), Shakedown (2018)

STREAMING PREMIERES

A Prince

Winner of the Cannes Queer Palm award, this subtly surreal pastoral from ever-fascinating outsider auteur Pierre Creton is a strange and sensuous saga of botany and sex that unfolds across generations. Told almost entirely through voice-over narration by Gallic luminaries Mathieu Amalric, Françoise Lebrun, and Grégory Gadebois, A Prince follows the journey of a young man (Antoine Pirotte) as he begins an apprenticeship in the French countryside to train as a gardener. There he encounters a trio of men who will prove decisive in both his nascent career as a horticulturist and in unleashing his sexuality.

REDISCOVERIES AND RESTORATIONS

Melvin Goes to Dinner

Perhaps the finest conversation movie this side of My Dinner with André, Bob Odenkirk’s directorial debut invites you along for a stimulating evening of hilarious, engrossing, and disarmingly honest talk, talk, talk. The simple premise—four thirtysomethings convene for a wine-fueled dinner party that turns increasingly intimate as they discuss everything from religion and ghosts to relationships and sexual fetishes—is rendered, in Odenkirk’s deft hands, consistently insightful and surprising, while a host of cameos (look out for everyone from David Cross to Jenna Fischer) keeps things lively.

Beijing Watermelon

Overflowing with warmth and unpredictable cinematic invention, this humanist gem from Nobuhiko Obayashi unfolds on the outskirts of Tokyo, where a Japanese grocer (Bengal) becomes a kind of benefactor to a succession of struggling Chinese exchange students, extending a compulsive generosity that crosses cultural boundaries, but which may go too far when he begins putting others before his own health and livelihood. As always, Obayashi stuffs each frame to the max with incident and eccentric experimentation, here in the service of creating a rich, vivid sense of a bustling multiethnic community.

Lilies

A visually intoxicating queer rhapsody of desire and repression, revenge and redemption unfolds as a deliriously stylized play-within-a-film in this sumptuous cinematic pageant adapted from the stage work by Michel Marc Bouchard. In a Quebec prison in 1952, an aging priest (Marcel Sabourin) sits down to hear the confession of a convict (Aubert Pallascio)—only to have the tables turned on him as the prisoner, aided by his fellow inmates, stages a time- and space-collapsing play that takes them both back to 1912, when they were young men engaged in a tragic love triangle with another boy (Danny Gilmore). Described by director John Greyson as a “strange, Genet-inflected-via-Fellini fable,” this entrancingly beautiful, gender-bending fantasia stands as one of the rapturous peaks of the New Queer Cinema.

Duelle

Jacques Rivette’s overlooked—though no less mesmerizing—follow-up to his beloved Celine and Julie Go Boating plays like the dark, noir-tinged flip side to that film’s sunny fantasy. Juliet Berto and Bulle Ogier return to Rivette’s troupe as the Queen of the Night and the Queen of the Sun, respectively, two deities locked in a battle for control of a magic diamond in a modern-day Paris that glows with the otherworldly mystery of an Edward Hopper nightscape. Fusing 1940s American genre cinema (spot the references to everything from Val Lewton to The Big Sleep) with myth, Rivette weaves a moody, shape-shifting cinematic séance that casts a lingering spell.

CRITERION COLLECTION EDITIONS

I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964)

Criterion Collection Edition #1214

A landmark of radical political cinema—and, frame for ecstatic frame, one of the most visually ravishing films ever made—this legendary hymn to revolution shimmers across the screen like a fever dream of rebellion.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: A documentary on the making of the film and appreciations by filmmaker Martin Scorsese and cinematographer Bradford Young.

Girlfight (Karyn Kusama, 2000)

Criterion Collection Edition #1219

Michelle Rodriguez commands the screen with tightly coiled intensity as a boxer making her mark in an old-school macho world.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Karyn Kusama; interviews with Kusama, editor Plummy Tucker, and composer Theodore Shapiro; and more.

The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)

Criterion Collection Edition #157

Wes Anderson’s ensemble portrait of a family of disappointed prodigies is one of his funniest, tenderest, and most beloved films.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Anderson, interviews with the actors, behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes, and more.

Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)*

Criterion Collection Edition #336

America, 1976. The last day of school. Richard Linklater’s high-school classic captures the boredom, angst, and excitement of teenagers waiting . . . for something to happen.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Linklater, a documentary on the making of the film, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, and more.

DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHTS

Three by Céline Sciamma

Forming a loose trilogy centered around the experiences of young people grappling with issues of sexual, gender, and social identity, the revelatory first three features by French auteur Céline Sciamma—Water Lilies, Tomboy, and Girlhood—ache and soar with the pain, confusion, and exhilaration of adolescence. Graced with an evocative, impressionistic visual style and remarkable performances from their nonprofessional leads, these intimate coming-of-age tales are lit from within by a raw, heart-pounding emotional honesty.

FEATURING: Water Lilies (2007), Tomboy (2011), Girlhood (2014)

Also playing this month: My Life as a Zucchini (Claude Barras, 2016), an animated film cowritten by Sciamma

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi

The language of cinema is limitless in the ecstatically inspired universe of Japanese avant-pop visionary Nobuhiko Obayashi, who gleefully bridged the experimental and the mainstream over the course of a wildly prolific career. From his debut feature—the eyeball-zapping cult-horror freakout House—to his deeply personal, career-capping Antiwar Trilogy (Casting Blossoms to the Sky, Seven Weeks, Hanagatami), Obayashi remained restlessly inventive, injecting even the most commercial of projects with moments of startling subversion and unexpected blasts of experimental lunacy.

FEATURES: House (1977), Beijing Watermelon (1989), Sada (1998), Casting Blossoms to the Sky (2012), Seven Weeks (2014), Hanagatami (2017)

SHORTS: Emotion (1966)

Directed by Miryam Charles

As if conjured from a distant dream or a faded memory, the films of Haitian-Canadian director Miryam Charles are hushed, ghostly meditations on family, memory, trauma, colonization, and migration. Employing richly evocative sound design and tactile 16 mm texture, her impressionistic shorts and her stunning feature documentary Cette maison approach the diasporic experience from oblique, deeply personal angles, with each frame haunted by the landscapes and sounds of an ancestral Haiti that is at once far away and ever present.

FEATURES: Cette maison (2022)

SHORTS: Fly, Fly Sadness (2015), Towards the Colonies (2016), A Fortress (2018), Three Atlas (2018), Second Generation (2019), Song for the New World (2021), All the Days of May (2023)

Directed by Jean Grémillon

Though little-known outside of France, Jean Grémillon was a consummate filmmaker from his country’s golden age. A classical violinist who turned to directing, he went on to make almost fifty films—from documentaries to avant-garde works to melodramas with major stars—in a thirty-year career. Some of his richest came during a dire period in French history: the apprehensive years leading up to World War II, and the time of the German occupation. These character-driven dramas—including collaborations with screenwriter Jacques Prévert and acting legend Jean Gabin, as well as two newly restored classics (Lady Killer, Strange M. Victor)—are humane, entertaining, and technically brilliant, proving Grémillon to be one of cinema’s true hidden masters.

FEATURING: Lady Killer (1937), Strange M. Victor (1938), Remorques (1941), Lumière d’été (1943), Le ciel est à vous (1944)

Two by Joe Swanberg

A wildly prolific pioneer of the early-2000s microbudget filmmaking boom, writer, director, and sometimes actor Joe Swanberg brought a startlingly relatable naturalism to his intimate, warts-and-all portraits of twentysomething millennial discontent with his early features Hannah Takes the Stairs and Nights and Weekends. Featuring breakout performances from DIY-scene stars like Greta Gerwig and Mark Duplass, these raw and resourceful looks at the awkward realities of postcollege romance jolted American independent filmmaking to new life, while practically defining the movement that would come to be known (for better or worse) as mumblecore.

FEATURING: Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007), Nights and Weekends (2008)

MUSIC FILMS

The Magic of Milford Graves

A rhythm-shattering avant-jazz percussionist and a sui generis martial artist, sculptor, herbalist, and all-around cosmic Renaissance man, the late free-jazz shaman Milford Graves lived a life as liberated and unclassifiable as his music. Including the appropriately kaleidoscopic feature documentary Milford Graves Full Mantis, these films by Graves’s former student Jake Meginsky capture the legendary artist talking, thinking, performing, and philosophizing—offering an intimate immersion into his singular visual, sonic, and metaphysical world.

FEATURES: Milford Graves Full Mantis (2018)

SHORTS: Earthquake Clips (2011), Milford Graves Live at Jamaica Arts Center (2019), Graves in the Garden (2020), Bata Wormhole (2020), Prof at Home Painting 2021 (2021)

TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY CINEMA

Piaffe

Ravishingly shot on lush 16 mm, the audaciously erotic, playfully surreal debut feature from Ann Oren crosses lines of gender and species on a visceral journey into sexuality, control, and artifice.

Falcon Lake*

This sensitive, eerily atmospheric end-of-innocence tale unfolds within a world quivering with menace and mystery.

AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS

Old Boyfriends

Featuring an interview with director Joan Tewkesbury

A Los Angeles psychiatrist (Talia Shire) goes in search of three of her exes to figure out where things went wrong in this emotionally intricate road-movie gem, the sole theatrical feature directed by Nashville screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury.

HOLLYWOOD HITS

L.A. Confidential

Perhaps the finest neonoir since Chinatown, Curtis Hanson’s masterful adaptation of the novel by James Ellroy brings the sleazy underbelly of 1950s Los Angeles to the screen with sizzle and punch.

SHORT FILMS

Queer Futures

Transcending the rigidity and oppressions of the current moment, this program, produced by Multitude Films and inspired by queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz, taps into joy and dares to imagine radical, emancipated visions of queer life. Four short films explore fat beauty and liberation, gender-affirming healthcare, nonbinary siblinghood in ballroom culture, and the anonymous connections of a decades-old LGBTQ hotline. Just as queer lives subvert normative expectations of behavior, identity, and expression, these films expand the boundaries of nonfiction forms to present new ways of seeing the queer experience.

FEATURING: How to Carry Water (2023), MnM (2023), The Script (2023), The Callers (2024)

It’s Always Something

In just ten minutes, eight wry, deadpan, and macabrely humorous vignettes portray the tragicomic absurdity of modern existence, from Sylvia Plath–assisted suicide to crossword-puzzle-induced despair to climate-denier rage turned fatal.

NEW ADDITIONS TO PREVIOUS PROGRAMS

Premiering June 1 in Starring Shirley MacLaine: Terms of Endearment*

James L. Brooks’s tragicomic debut is a classic tearjerker buoyed by winning performances—including an Oscar-winning turn from Shirley MacLaine.

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