Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld in Christian Petzold's 'Phoenix'

‘Phoenix’ – from the ashes on The Criterion Channel

Just as the title suggests, Phoenix (Germany, 2014) is about rising from the ashes, but filmmaker Christian Petzold is more interested than the smudged moral world in the ashes of Germany after World War II than in the promise of the rise. Nina Hoss, one of the great actresses of our time and star of […]

Anna Magnani stars in Jean Renoir's adaptation of the Prosper Merimee play

Jean Renoir’s ‘The Golden Coach’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

Anna Magnani stars as the earthy, vivacious diva of The Golden Coach (France/Italy, 1952), an adaptation of a Prosper Merimee play about a traveling troupe of Italian commedia dell’arte players in a Peruvian backwater where three men (a viceroy, a bullfighter, and a fellow performer) vie for the affections of the company’s leading lady. An […]

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 'World on a Wire'

‘World on a Wire’ – the first virtual reality thriller on The Criterion Channel

World on a Wire (Germany, 1973), made by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973 for German television, is to the best of my knowledge the first film to explore virtual reality. And this from a director who never made a science film before or since. There are no Matrix visuals here—you might say that Fassbinder suggests his […]

Arletty, Marcel Herrand, Pierre Brasseur, and Jean-Louis Barrault star in Marcel Carné's classic of French cinema

‘Children of Paradise’ – The theatre of love and crime on The Criterion Channel

Children of Paradise (France, 1945), Marcel Carné’s legendary drama of love, theater, and crime in 19th Century Paris, is an epic in every sense of the word. It opens and ends on a stage curtain, which rises to reveal the Boulevard of Crime, the theater district of 1830s Paris, where street performers and pickpockets alike ply […]

Marie Bell and Fernandel in the French classic by Julien Duvivier

Julien Duvivier’s ‘Un Carnet du Bal’ on Criterion Channel

Un Carnet du Bal (1937), the story of Christine (Marie Bell), a recently widowed heiress who tracks down the young men who courted her 20 years ago at her first society ball, is one Julien of Duvivier’s most celebrated and beloved films, a melancholy meditation on memory and loss and disappointment. The title translates to […]

Julien Duvivier’s ‘Poil de Carotte’ on Criterion Channel

Poil de Carotte (1932), which translates to “Carrot Top,” is Julien Duvivier’s remake of his 1925 silent success, a mix of comedy and near-tragedy in the story of a sweet, spirited kid (Robert Lynen, superb) bullied by his mother, who favors the boy’s teenage brother and sister, and ignored by his disconnected father, who has […]