The best new movies on The Criterion Channel in September 2022
September brings autumn, which means cooler weather for many and always fresh programming from The criterion channel. There are collections in homage to the British New Wave, art film distributor Cinema 5, cinematographer James Wong Howe, and more. Here are seven of the best picks.
Available: September 1 | Realized by: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark, Buck Henry
This sci-fi drama is the directorial debut of david bowie (you may have heard of him). Until now, he was primarily known as a genre-pushing rock star and a server of timeless looks. By 1976, Bowie had already dropped his bizarre Ziggy Stardust persona, but he hadn’t given up drug-fueled character jumping in general, and so the role of a fallen alien destined for greatness undoubtedly felt like a logical next step. The film is about this humanoid alien in the form of Bowie whose planet is besieged by nuclear misfortunes and therefore urgently needs water. He comes to Earth armed with the means to make himself rich and powerful enough to ship water home and perhaps reunite with his wife and child. He becomes a famous musician. He is building a spaceship. The novel on which the film is based is more concerned with these aspects of the plot, the Why that’s to say. The film, meanwhile, is a surreal and satirical look at the What, to life on Earth in the 1970s, life in a competitive and chaotic western culture that our alien is drawn to, mission be damned. Above all, it comments on fame and values, presented in the stylish and rich visuals of the best productions of the time.
Available: September 1 | Realized by: Ken Loach
Cast: David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie
Kes is a very uniquely British history used to discuss themes that might seem universal in 2022, and possibly even 1969, when it was released. It’s about how Britain’s now defunct tripartite education system underestimates working-class young people, especially those with poor tests. If they were imaginative, sensitive or creative, these tendencies were encouraged. To better do what their country needed: under-qualified workers filling the ranks of low-wage jobs. For Billy, the boy at the center of this story, that doesn’t seem like enough.
Victim of bullying at home and at school, he comes into possession of a kestrel, a sort of commoner falcon. Commoner or not, he becomes the falconer, and the bird his friend. The story that plays out is touching and funny, enjoyable and thoughtful. It’s a movie that’s entertaining at first, none of its underlying points ever obviously having been hit. It’s shot beautifully, with images of the countryside juxtaposed against the dark industrial plumes that serve as specters of our lead’s inevitable future.
Death in Venice (1971)
Available: September 1 | Realized by: Luchino Visconti
Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Björn Andrésen, Mark Burns, Romolo Valli, Nora Ricci
Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti transforms a short story about an all-consuming holiday fixation into a film steeped in nihilistic existentialism. He is Death in Venice. It is about Gustav, an aging German composer who spends his holidays in Venice, around 1911. What he does not know until he arrives in his seaside resort is that a plague is ravaging the city. One by one, those around him begin to disappear, falling prey to this disease that was not in the brochures. What makes him forget this unstoppable flu and his own susceptibility is Tadzio, a handsome young man with whom Gustav becomes absolutely obsessed. It follows Tadzio and his family around the city, never interacting with them, but being pulled through the film by them.
There is a documentary about the actor who plays the young man (Bjorn Andresenwho, as an adult, is in by Ari Aster Midsommar). This documentary is called The most beautiful boy in the world, and it also arrives on Criterion Channel, September 19. Gustav’s obsession is self-destructive, frightening even. We watch with strained hope that our Gustav never comes into successful contact with this stranger and his family; this plague cannot move fast enough. It all leads to a dark climax, sure (dark for Gustav, at least) but the journey is gripping in its artistry and a good entry into the work of its director.
Push Hands (1991)
Available: September 1 | Realized by: Ang Lee
Cast: Sihung Lung, Lai Wang, Bo Z. Wang, Deb Snyder
September on the Criterion Channel isn’t big in the way of modern classics, leaning heavily on historical works. A major entry from the 1990s will have to do the trick. Ang Lee would become an artist capable of observing essential Americanness with unfailing poetic acuity. The ice storm and Brokeback Mountain see him take a measured approach to dissecting suburban and rural malaise, respectively. push hands is his first feature film. It doesn’t quite have the subtlety and ease that it would manage to bring to some of his stronger later works, but it has its charms. The topics that Lee seems most interested in discussing in the future are particularly exposed in this story of an elderly Chinese father moving in with his son. Colliding customs, suffocating expectations, inner disappointments. His follow-up, The wedding banquetwould feature the star of this movie and cover some of his territory, but push hands is a great insight into an important storyteller flexing his artistic muscles and an example of what can be accomplished on a shoestring budget.
Give Me Shelter (1970)
Available: September 12 | Realized by: Albert and David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Molding: The Rolling Stones, Ike and Tina Turner, Jefferson Airplane
Intended to embody the factual, guerrilla documentary style of the direct-to-cinema era (think truth but non-fiction), give me shelter evolves from a film-concert onto a rolling stones concert at Madison Square Garden in New York on a document of the Stones’ Altamont Speedway Free Festival. Altamont was a one-day concert featuring santana, Grateful Dead, and more. It was meant to be a celebration of counterculture — the anti-establishment cultural movement that grew alongside the civil rights movement — and took place just weeks after Woodstock. This free concert was supposed to be the West Coast Woodstock, a free love party in the sun, but this one had the sad misfortune to have its security duties taken over, on purpose, by the Hells Angels, a motorcycle club whose members are notable. to ride gnarly Harley Davidsons and not be hippies. Carnage ensued. People have died. Young people. Artists have been attacked—Mick Jagger was punched in the face by a fan moments after appearing on the pitch. A Hells Angel attacked a member of Jefferson Plane. If you had insured the event, this would all be bad news. But if you watch a film made by a team (including george lucas!) who had no idea this was all going to happen, so the film is a near-wonder. The Rolling Stones are in fighting shape, just like Tina Turner and Jefferson Airplane, so, you know, there’s also music.
Iron Pumping (1977)
Available: September 12 | Realized by: George Butler, Robert Fiore
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbus, Mike Katz
Before gym-centric influencers could beam body dysmorphia straight to our cellphones and even our dreams, there was pump iron. Filmed in 1975 but completed and released in 1977, it made a decorated bodybuilder star Arnold Schwarzenegger years before his acting role in Conan the Barbarian. It was originally intended to follow the journey of a different, smaller player from lightweight to Herculean in the niche world of bodybuilding. The filmmakers were forced to shift gears when the actor decided the lifestyle change wasn’t for him. What rose in its place was the story of Schwarzenegger’s rivalry with his peers Lou Ferrigno (who would play in The Incredible Hulk 1975 series and voice of Hulk in the 2008 film adaptation). It also became the story of their dueling preparations for the Mr. Olympia physique contest. pump iron is a landmark in the subculture it represents. It cannot be overstated how influential Schwarzenegger’s looks and attitude have become in the sport. Watching the film, he often comes across as a ruthless bully, degrading the sanity of his contestants to the point that no one feels confident alongside him once on stage. It’s not the stuff of a big best friend, but obviously a starter pack for one of Hollywood’s most legendary action careers of the blockbuster era, and an inspiration to dudes who are posing on TikTok to date.
Available: September 21 | Realized by: Sarah Maldoror
Cast: Domingos de Oliveira, Elisa Andrade
From 1961 to 1974, Angola (the African country) was locked in a the independance War against the Portuguese dictatorial regime, which forced them to cultivate cotton, with all the harshness that characterizes dictatorial regimes. Sambizanga takes place in the year of the opening of this conflict. It tells the story of a working-class Angolan accused of being a dissident and therefore arrested, imprisoned and threatened with torture unless he renounces his accomplices. We follow his harsh treatment in prison, the search for his wife to find out which prison, exactly, is holding him, and the struggle of the liberation movement for independence.
Franco/Caribbean director Sarah Maldoror broke boundaries with this film, which was only released legally in Portugal years after its release. Above all, she was among the first women to direct a film in Africa and was to have a prolific career. Martin Scorsese included it in its Criterion Collection World Cinema Project, physical copies of which will be released on September 27.
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