Best New Movies on Criterion Channel in May 2022
A new month means new features, shorts and collections on The Criterion Channel. May is the gracious host of Mother’s Day, and so there are plenty of movies to honor the occasion. There are also films honoring acclaimed actors (like Ida Lupino) and administrators (such as Richard Linklater). Here are seven not to be missed.
Available: May, the 1st
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Cast: Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke
One of this month’s collections is dedicated to Richard Linklater, the celebrated director from a Gen X author class who made home movies that proved to be equally entertaining on a conventional basis. Some of his best movies won’t be on the Criterion Channel (no Dazed and confused or Everyone wants it!!). Some of his best films will be on the Criterion Channel, but not until this summer (his excellent Before romance trilogy won’t be available until July 1). Luckily, he’s made plenty of great movies, and May’s options include Childhood.
Famously filmed intermittently for over a decade, Childhood is a beautiful showcase for both Patricia Arquette and its director. It tells the life of its characters, but also the dwelling of the actors of these characters. It also recounts the refinement of the skills of directors during these years. Production started in 2002, so Linklater wasn’t exactly a freshman performer, and the opening section of the film feels like a room he has full control over, although he has no real control on the spiral of his story. (What if something happened to one of its actors? What if a filming turn produced unusable footage?) Like TV shows with multi-season series, part of the fun is watching human beings (and their characters) growing up and aging on screen. Childhood is one of the only contained narrative films capable of offering this experience.
The Last Waltz (1978)
Available: May, the 1st
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel
The last Waltz is a concert film starring The Band. Who is the group? They are post-Bob Dylan roots-rock outfit that helped write the classic rock playbook. This documentary of their “final” concert is often considered the culmination of concert cinema. Shot on Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco in 1976, the film is an animated journey through The Band’s catalog (until then), interspersed with interviews and photographs of its host city. Martin Scorsese seems to have an innate understanding of how to film these musicians to look as cool as possible, pre-MTV. Shot on film (naturally), there is the photographic warmth that the director is known for. His eye elevates not only the clichés of the artists who bless the scene, but also the metropolitan decadence of San Francisco in the late 1970s. The group is joined by Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Neil YoungBob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Watersand more, which also makes it a jaw-dropping opportunity to see many artists of historic talent making influential music like it’s no big deal.
Smooth Talk (1985)
Available: February 1st
Directed by: Joyce Chopra
Written by: Tom Cole (Screenplay), Joyce Carol Oates (Novel)
Cast: Treat Williams, Laura Dern, Mary Kay Place, Elizabeth Berridge, Levon Helm
In a collection called “Films of Endearment,” critic Michael Koresky creates a list of 1980s films inspired by Mother’s Day. These films feature female roles. The idea is to do a little cultural counter-programming of movies from that era, the most famous of which tend to be more testosterone-driven. We choose two. The first one, speak softlywas originally a TV movie, although it was nominated for Best Director at the 1985 Independent Spirit Awards. Based on an allegorical short story by the author Joyce Carol Oates, speak softly stars Laura Dern like an adolescent anxious about entanglement in love, and who finds it, for better or for worse, in the distant threat of a James Dean hard test named Arnold. We never learn what happens between them, but the implications of their meeting are meant to be read in how Connie (Dern) changes as a person from the start of the film to its conclusion. Remastered in 4K by Criterion, it’s another entry in Dern’s filmography of suburban dysfunction, as well as an interesting psychological drama and fine entry into Oates’ work.
Something Wild (1986)
Available: May, the 1st
Directed by: Jonathan Deme
Written by: E. Max Frye
Cast: Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels, Ray Liotta
Another from the Mother’s Day collection, this one is on the (mostly) lighter side. something wild starts out as a romantic comedy (of sorts). Charles, a man of the cinematic “yuppie” archetype (Jeff Daniels), accepts a ride home from Lulu, a woman from the “free spirit” character mold (Melanie Griffith). But Lulu does not take him home. She takes him on a road trip involving sex, crime, and meeting his mother. When he’s tasked with impersonating her husband at his high school reunion and a dangerous Ray Liotta appears, the film goes from comedy to thriller. The film’s director would go on to direct both Married to the Mafia and Thesilenceofthelambs, and his ability to juggle disparate tones is well employed here, with the storyline specific perhaps being the MVP, keeping things afloat. That is to say, the comedic bits are leaned with viscous abandon, but the shift to more tense material isn’t treated as a shade of farce, but a bloody, suspenseful new level of the odyssey. Charles’ gonzo, one he has to fight to get across in a room.
Real Mothers (2020)
Available: May 4
Directed by: Naomi Kawase
Written by: Izumi Takahashi
Cast: Arata Iura, Aju Makita, Miyoko Asada
real mothers is a slow-burning Japanese family drama, which made its world debut at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of a young couple who cannot conceive and therefore adopt a son. The idea only occurs to them after seeing a TV ad for a special facility that houses pregnant women who don’t want their impending children. Many of them are trafficked, runaways or otherwise abandoned. But their son is awesome and they love him. After six years with him, a woman arrives at the couple’s home, claiming to be their son’s biological mother. But this woman says a lot of things that aren’t true, and soon after they first meet, the parents begin to suspect that she isn’t who she claims to be. It’s an inherently compelling premise, in service of a character-driven movie that has plenty of plot pivots up its sleeve, its debt being more drama than genre.
The Parallax View (1974)
Available: May, the 1st
Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
Written by: David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Robert Towne, Loren Singer
Cast: Warren Beatty, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels, Paula Prentiss
Alan J. Pakula is a director of famous works who himself does not have a famous name. All the President’s Men and Sophia’s Choice are among his most recognized titles, the first being part of his “paranoid trilogy” of thrillers. This trilogy also includes a neo-noir crime story Klute (1971), and political conspiracy thriller The parallax view.
Parallax stars Warren Beatty as a provocative journalist investigating a mystery. A senator has been killed at Seattle’s Space Needle, and all witnesses to that crime – a group that includes his occasional love interest – are murdered. The world seems to be treating this as usual, but this reporter wants answers, and this journey sends him and the public down a rabbit hole of shady corporations, amoral politics and psychological warfare. A remastered ’70s thriller shot on film will always look great, and Pakula’s consistent, no-nonsense shooting and editing style makes this a great opportunity to see a cleverly composed – and somewhat overlooked – film of a Hollywood moment. where nifty major studio dramas were released at a reliable pace. Which means they didn’t all get their due.
Time Bandits (1984)
Available: May 21st
Directed by: terry gilliam
Written by: Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin
Cast: John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm
terry gilliam made and published bandits of time before the release of The Neverending Story, AND the Extra-Terrestrial, Return of the Jedior fragglerock. That means he released a wildly imaginative, endearingly absurd science-fantasy movie aimed at kids before it was proven that such a thing would do business. It features a boy who teams up with a group of dwarfs to travel through time, encountering many historical figures, disturbing creatures, and an antagonist simply named Evil Genius. The thing is shown from the height of a child, the camera looking at the adults, allowing the dwarves to present themselves as our hero’s peers. Apple TV Plus is making it a series, and so it’s a chance to get in before the potential hype and enjoy one of the great family fantasy adventures of the past.
What’s New on Criterion Channel in May 2022
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