Hafsia Herzi and Habib Boufares in Abdellatif Kechiche's Cesar-winning film

‘The Secret of the Grain’ on Criterion Channel

The Secret of the Grain (France, 2007) – Tunisian-French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche’s rich drama of an aging French-Arab shipwright who, with the help of his extended family, transforms an abandoned ship left for scrap into a floating restaurant, is a magnificent journey through culture and family and community. The old man Slimane (Habib Boufares), divorced […]

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe star in Lars von Trier's horror film / psychodrama

Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

I’m not sure how I manage to keep my simultaneous fascination with /repulsion for Lars von Trier in balance, but it’s back with a vengeance in Antichrist (2009), a provocation that is at once beautiful and perverse, personal and cynical, and filled with his sour vision of the emotional small-mindedness (small-heartedness?) of the human animal. […]

Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet in the Blake Edwards comedy

Peter Sellers joins ‘The Party’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

The Party (1968) reunited Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers after a falling out during the second Pink Panther movie for a different kind of comedy: a modern sound version of a silent movie comedy. They don’t pretend it’s a silent film, mind you, but rather build a series of visual gags on a basic premise—Peter […]

František Vláčil directs this epic from Czechoslovakia

‘Marketa Lazarova’ – Czech epic on Criterion Channel

Marketa Lazarova (Czechoslovakia, 1967), an epic based on one of the revered masterpieces of Czech literature (considered unfilmmable by many), was voted the greatest Czech film ever made in a 1998 poll of Czechoslovakian film critics and professionals. Yet it is all but unknown in the U.S., rarely revived and never on home video before […]

What to stream: 2017 Oscars and new arrivals for March

So, did you catch the drama at the Oscars on Sunday? You can relive the moment or watch the entire 89th Annual Academy Awards (not rated) on Hulu. If you just want to see the winners, these are on VOD and disc and at Redbox: Moonlight (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, R), Manchester by the […]

Juliette Binoche and William Shimell star in Abbas Kiarostami's first European production

‘Certified Copy’ on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

The Certified Copy (2010) of Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s first European production refers to artworks—Why do we value a reproduction less than an original and what does authenticity even mean?—but resonates just as effectively with the art of filmmaking and its relationship to reproduction and recreation. “It’s our perception that gives it value,” to quote […]

Jean Gabin stars in Julien Divivier’s poetic French film noir

‘Pépé le Moko’ – The romance of French noir on FilmStruck

Jean Gabin was a brooding, rough working class anti-hero in France when his role as cool master criminal Pépé le Moko (France, 1937) made him an international star. Set in the Casbah of French Morroco, a labyrinth of alleys and termite-hole dwellings in an underworld slum that creates its own bustling, self-contained society within Algiers, […]

Kim Jin-kyu and Lee Eun-shim in Kim Ki-young's original "The Housemaid" from South Korea

‘The Housemaid’ – The 1960 Korean classic on FilmStruck

Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid (South Korea, 1960) is a classic of South Korean cinema but until Criterion released the film on disc in 2013 it was largely unknown (or at least unseen) to even the most dedicated cinephile apart from its inspiration for Im Sang-soo’s 2010 remake. As I discovered, the two films couldn’t be […]

King Hu directs this classic of Chinese cinema

‘A Touch of Zen’ on Criterion Channel and Blu-ray/DVD

A Touch of Zen (Taiwan, 1967), King Hu’s romantic chivalry adventure, is a masterpiece of Chinese cinema, a magnificent epic with grand battles fought with the grace of a ballet with swords, and the most significant cinematic inspiration for Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The three-hour film took the uniquely Chinese genre of wuxia […]