Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on Criterion Channel

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

David Bradley stars in the 1969 drama by Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s ‘Kes’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

The story of a boy and his bird, Kes (1969) is something of a small cinematic treasure in Britain. Set and shot in the North of England and cast overwhelming with non-professional locals from the area, it cast its lens on the dreary life and hopeless future of a scrawny, fatherless teenager, Billy Casper (David […]

Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 acid flashback horror fantasy 'House'

‘House’/’Hausu’ – Japanese madness on Criterion Channel

I can’t begin to find the words to describe House (1977), aka Hausu, an unclassifiable Japanese haunted house/high school romp/demon killer/surreal fantasy film from Nobuhiko Obayashi. Made in 1977 and recently revived and released to the rest of the world, it’s the archival cult find of the decade: a candy-colored style bomb of horror movie […]

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ on Criterion Channel

Before Hellboy, Pan’t Labyrinth, and his Academy Award winning The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro directed the elegant and harrowing ghost story The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, 2001). Set in the collapsing days of the Spanish Civil War, in a makeshift orphanage where the sons of fallen Republican soldiers are protected by a war widow […]

Vera Clouzot in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Hitchcockian thriller with Simone Signoret

The original ‘Diabolique’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Henri-Georges Clouzot was called the Hitchcock of France for his shadowy thrillers and the atmosphere of distrust and suspicion that ran through so many of his films. Diabolique (France, 1955, not rated, with subtitles), his 1955 thriller about a plot to commit a perfect murder and the wrenching tension when the corpse disappears, plays like […]

Simone Simon and Kent Smith star in Jacques Tourneur's classic horror film for producer Val Lewton

The original ‘Cat People’ on Criterion Channel

The original Cat People (1942) was made on a low budget for RKO’s B-movie unit, the first in an amazing series of B-horror films from producer Val Lewton that transcended its origins. It’s a masterpiece of mood and psychological ambiguity masquerading as a cheap exploitation knock-off. Cheap it is, but Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur […]

‘Le Doulos’ – the French criminal code on Criterion Channel

If classic French cinema is any indication, then gangsters were the great Gallic underground hero. Where the prototypical American gangsters are invariably cultural outsiders and immigrants who muscle their way to power in sprays of bullets, their French counterparts are dapper men with a code of loyalty who walk the tightrope between respect and disrepute. […]

Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Che’ on The Criterion Channel

Steven Soderbergh’s Che (2008) is both two features and one work, a 4 ½-hour production that carves out what Soderbergh, producer/star Benicio Del Toro, and screenwriter Peter Buchman see as the two defining periods in the life of Ernesto Che Guevara: the Cuban Revolution and the Bolivian expedition. Except for a brief scene where Guevara […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Amazon Prime Video and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

‘For All Mankind’ – To the moon and back on The Criterion Channel

For All Mankind (1989), Al Reinert’s celebration of the nine manned space flights between 1968 and 1972, was released to theaters in 1989, twenty years after first manned moon landing. It’s a stunning tribute composed entirely of the film documentation shot and archived by NASA, not a documentary of an Apollo mission but the story […]