Beat the heat with the Criterion Channel
Movies here! Get your movies here! Pardon me, kid. You like movies? You signed up for the Criterion Channel yet? Great! Here are some flicks currently on offer!
Newly added: The Last House on the Left (1972)
No, I didn’t click on the wrong link. This one isn’t streaming on Shudder (right now). I know it might seem odd that Wes Craven‘s debut film, the gut-churning grindhouse classic Last House on the Left, is appearing on a streaming service normally associated with arty fare. But — obvious trivia! — Craven took inspiration for his tale of a father out for revenge against the miscreants who raped and murdered his daughter from a world cinema classic. The end products are wildly different in tone, but Last House is an unauthorized remake of Ingmar Bergman‘s poetic drama The Virgin Spring (also streaming currently on Criterion Channel). It would make a terribly traumatic double feature, that’s for sure.
Leaving July 31st: West Side Story (1961)
Steven Spielberg‘s remake is still currently scheduled for a Christmas release this year… which… I guess might happen. While you wait to see how that pans out, you could tide yourself over with the first film version of this classic musical. Prolific director Robert Wise (he also did The Haunting AND The Sound of Music AND Star Trek: The Motion Picture, among dozens of others) teams with choreographer Jerome Robbins to turn a stage hit into a cinematic treat. Sure, folks have been giggling about the incongruity of dancing street gangs for decades — and Natalie Wood is decidedly not Latina. But it’s hard to deny the songs by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, or the dancing performances by the likes of Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn.
Criterion Edition #1030: Scorsese Shorts (1963-1978)
It’s a nice treat when Criterion is able to reproduce one of their disc releases on the streaming site, with all of the bonus features intact. The company released a collection of shorts by Martin Scorsese a month and a half ago. I wrote a lengthy review of the collection right here. The collection includes Scorsese’s award-winning student films from back in his NYU days, which are so inventive and stylish that they put almost all other film school efforts to shame. There are also two discussion-driven documentaries: Italianamerican, where Scorsese interviews his charming parents to find out about the immigrant experience in New York; and American Boy, where he interviews former junkie and Taxi Driver character actor Steven Prince. Two great interviews with Scorsese are also included: one from the past year and one recorded for New York public radio in 1970. A featurette where Ari Aster (Midsommar) and the Safdie brothers (Uncut Gems) break down the films is also a motor-mouthed delight.
More Pop Culture Beast – Movies:
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 9, 2020: Contemporary Color & More
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 2, 2020: But I’m a Cheerleader & More
*The Truth, starring Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve
*Now on Blu-ray and Hulu: Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Justin Remer makes movies, directs music videos, and plays in the bands Duck the Piano Wire and Elastic No-No Band when he is not writing movie reviews. His folk-rock documentary MAKING LOVERS & DOLLARS is currently streaming on Amazon.