The Criterion Channel July Programming

Includes Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, 
Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills, and a series of Ingmar Bergman-inspired
Double Features!
Sunday, July 1
From the Archives: Taxi Driver*

Scripted by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver is a powerful study of a dangerously fractured psyche, as well as a vividly grimy portrait of New York City in the 1970s. Robert De Niro gives one of his most riveting performances as Travis Bickle, a Vietnam vet turned cabbie whose resentments and messianic delusions drive him to take to up arms in a berserk moral crusade against the corruption he sees all around him. This Criterion edition, only ever released on laserdisc, features an illuminating commentary that Scorsese and Schrader recorded in 1986.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Tuesday, July 3
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Pussy* and Fruit of Paradise

Female sexuality runs free in the riotous work of two Eastern European filmmakers. Combining minimalistic line animation with exuberant abstraction, Renata Gasiorowska’s short film Pussy revolves around a young woman whose attempts at masturbation become complicated by an increasingly absurd chain of events. Then, Czech New Wave pioneer Věra Chytilová’s 1970 feature Fruit of Paradise returns to the Garden of Eden for a frenzied exploration of knowledge, sin, and innocence, abundant with imagery of fertility and lush sexuality.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.

Wednesday, July 4
Woman of the Year: Edition #867

George Stevens’s Woman of the Year, conceived to build on the smashing comeback Katharine Hepburn had made in The Philadelphia Story, marked the beginning of the personal and professional union between Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who would go on to make eight more films together. This tale of two newspaper reporters who wed and then discover that their careers aren’t so compatible forges a fresh and realistic vision of what marriage can be. The freewheeling but pinpoint-sharp screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin won an Academy Award, and Hepburn received a nomination for her performance. Woman of the Year is a dazzling, funny, and rueful observation of what it takes for men and women to get along-both in the workplace and outside of it. Supplemental features: a 1967 audio interview with Stevens, feature-length documentaries about Stevens and Hepburn, and more.
Friday, July 6
Friday Night Double Feature: Wild Strawberries and Five Easy Pieces

In celebration of Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday this month, we’re presenting four double features, each of which brings together an essential work by the master and a film that bears its influence. First up are these penetrating character studies, in which two very different protagonists hit the road in search of their souls. Jack Nicholson stars in Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces as an oil rigger and former musical prodigy returning home to visit his ailing father with a pregnant girlfriend (Karen Black) in tow. At one point, they stop to pick up a pair of hitchhikers stranded after a car accident, only to eject them back onto the road soon after. The sequence was designed to echo a similar episode in Ingmar Bergman’s mortality-themed drama Wild Strawberries when a bickering married couple shares a ride with an aging professor (Victor Sjöström), reminding him of his own failings as a husband.
Monday, July 9
Art-House America: The Texas Theatre, Dallas, Texas

All around the country, in big cities and small towns, independent art-house theaters are thriving hubs of moviegoing, each with its own story to tell. With this series, Criterion goes wherever film culture is happening and brings back brief documentary portraits of different local art houses along with a selection of films handpicked by their programmers. The latest episode pays a visit to the Texas Theatre in Dallas, best known as the place where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested after killing President John F. Kennedy. Today, the theater is far more than a historical monument, catering to a diverse local community in the neighborhood of Oak Cliff with wide-ranging repertory programming and popular live events that incorporate music and dance, including an original ballet based on Chris Marker’s La Jetée. Marker’s film also serves as the first selection in what will be an ongoing series that the theater guest-programs exclusively for the Channel.
Tuesday, July 10
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Call of Cuteness* and House

Feline frights abound in these two films that turn cats into the stuff of nightmares. Brenda Lien’s short Call of Cuteness takes aim at the way internet culture uses cat imagery, critiquing the consumption and exploitation of animals through its grotesque animation. Then, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s outrageously psychedelic horror film House features a terrifying, blood-spewing ghost cat, one of the predators (also including a hungry piano) that destroy a group of schoolgirls on vacation at a spooky country house.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Wednesday, July 11
Beyond the Hills*: Edition #923
With this arresting drama based on notorious real-life events, Cristian Mungiu mounts a complex inquiry into faith, fanaticism, and indifference. At a desolate Romanian monastery, a young novice nun, Voichița (Cosmina Stratan), reunites with her former companion Alina (Cristina Flutur), who plans to take her to Germany. But Voichița proves unwilling to abandon her calling, and Alina becomes increasingly desperate to reclaim her devotion, putting the outsider at odds with the monastery’s ascetic priest-and precipitating a painfully misguided, brutal attempt to save her soul. A naturalistic tragedy with the dark force of a folktale, anchored by the fraught dynamic between cinema newcomers Flutur and Stratan (who shared the best actress prize at Cannes), Beyond the Hills bears powerful witness to individuals at cross-purposes and institutions ill-equipped to help those most in need. Supplemental features: an interview with Mungiu, a documentary about the  making of the film, a press conference from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, deleted scenes, and more.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Friday, July 13
Friday Night Double Feature: The Virgin Spring and The Last House on the Left*

Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar-winning The Virgin Spring, a tale of savagery in medieval Sweden, served as a direct influence on Wes Craven’s notoriously nasty debut feature, The Last House on the Left. But despite the similarities in their premises, these harrowing dramas about rape, murder, and revenge showcase the distinct styles of their directors-the earlier film is a powerful interrogation of faith and morality, while Craven’s spin is a shocking piece of exploitation filmmaking that was initially banned for its depiction of sadism and sexual violence.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Saturday, July 14

Bergman Island:

Edition #477

In celebration of Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday, we’re presenting our edition of this illuminating documentary about the great director. Just four years before his death, Bergman sat down with Swedish documentarian Marie Nyreröd at his home on Fårö Island to discuss his work, his fears, his regrets, and his ongoing artistic passion. This resulted in the most breathtakingly candid series of interviews that the famously reclusive director ever took part in, later edited into the feature-length film Bergman Island. In-depth, revealing, and packed with choice anecdotes about Bergman’s oeuvre, as well as his personal life, Nyreröd’s film is an unforgettable final glimpse of a man who transformed cinema.
Tuesday, July 17
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Hairat* and Yeelen

Hyenas skulk through these award-winning works of African cinema. In her meditative experimental documentary Hairat, Jessica Beshir (who introduces the film on the Channel) returns to her childhood home of Ethiopia to create a loving portrait of Yussuf Mume Saleh, a man who has spent the last thirty-five years journeying at night through the city of Harar to feed packs of hyenas. In Souleymane Cissé’s landmark film Yeelen, a young man flees from his sorcerer father at the behest of his mother and embarks on a spiritual odyssey, during which he encounters an oracle in the form of a hyena god.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
Wednesday, July 18
The Breaking Point: Edition #88

Michael Curtiz brings a master skipper’s hand to the helm of this thriller, Hollywood’s second crack at Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not. John Garfield stars as Harry Morgan, an honest charter-boat captain who, facing hard times, takes on dangerous cargo to save his boat, support his family, and preserve his dignity. Left in the lurch by a freeloading passenger, Harry starts to enter­tain the criminal propositions of a sleazy lawyer (Wallace Ford), as well as the playful come-ons of a cheeky blonde (Patricia Neal), making a series of compromises that stretch his morality-and his marriage-further than he’ll admit. Hewing closer to Hemingway’s novel than Howard Hawks’s Bogart-Bacall vehicle does, The Breaking Point charts a course through daylight noir and working-class tragedy, guided by Curtiz’s effortless visual fluency and a stoic, career-capping performance from Garfield. Supplemental features: an interview with critic Alan K. Rode (Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film); a piece featuring actor and acting instructor Julie Garfield on her father, actor John Garfield; a video essay by Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou analyzing Curtiz’s methods; and more.
Thursday, July 19
Adventures in Moviegoing with Mira Nair

Mira Nair, the writer-director of Monsoon Wedding and Mississippi Masala, has inhabited a number of different worlds-the India of her youth, the experimental theater community of her college years, the low-budget documentary scene where she got her start in the film industry. In cinema, she found an art form where her eclectic influences could take shape. She fell in love with movies as a student at Harvard in the late seventies, when she first encountered the work of Satyajit Ray. And before winning acclaim as a filmmaker both in India and in the U.S., she found mentors in Direct Cinema pioneers D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock, who taught her how film could be used for political expression. In the latest episode of our series Adventures in Moviegoing, Nair talks with Criterion’s Peter Becker about movies that have made an indelible impression on her and presents a few in her own Channel-exclusive series, including Ray’s The Music Room, Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table.
Friday, July 20
Friday Night Double Feature: Persona and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
Splintered psyches merge in these intimately observed portraits of women in emotional turmoil. Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 masterpiece Persona explores the bond between a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute (Liv Ullmann) and the young nurse caring for her (Bibi Andersson). Isolated on a remote island, the two undergo a mysterious emotional transference, which Bergman captures in some of the most haunting and boldly experimental images of his career. Matching Persona in its intensity, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant echoes Bergman’s psychological excavations as it dissects the relationship between an unhinged fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and the icy young woman she falls in love with (Hanna Schygulla).
Monday, July 23
Cinéastes de notre temps: Jean Renoir

The gold standard of cinephile TV shows, Cinéastes de notre temps is a series of intimate profiles of legendary auteurs that emerged in the 1960s. One of the most captivating of the early episodes finds Jacques Rivette, fresh off his tenure as editor of Cahiers du cinéma, training his lens on Jean Renoir. Featuring footage of Renoir chatting with one of his most iconic collaborators, actor Michel Simon, and analyzing scenes from masterpieces like The Rules of the Game, this ninety-five-minute film is a magnificent portrait of an artist whom Orson Welles once called “very probably the greatest of all directors.” The program is accompanied by the Criterion editions of La chienne and Boudu Saved from Drowning.
Tuesday, July 24
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: A Gentle Night* and A Brighter Summer Day

These haunting works of Chinese-language cinema take inspiration from real-life events. Set in an unnamed city, Qiu Yang’s 2017 A Gentle Night-the first Chinese production to win the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes-follows a mother’s desperate search for her missing teenage daughter. Set against a simmering backdrop of rock and roll and youthful rebellion, Edward Yang’s sprawling epic A Brighter Summer Day evokes the political unrest of 1960s Taiwan through the story of a teenager’s descent into delinquency.
Wednesday, July 25
Bob le flambeur: Edition #150

Suffused with wry humor, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob le flambeur melds the toughness of American gangster films with Gallic sophistication to lay the road map for the French New Wave. As the neon is extinguished for another dawn, an aging gambler navigates the treacherous world of pimps, moneymen, and naive associates while plotting one last score-the heist of the Deauville casino. This underworld comedy of manners possesses all the formal beauty, finesse, and treacherous allure of green baize. Supplemental features: a radio interview with Jean-Pierre Melville, a video interview with actor Daniel Cauchy, and more.
Thursday, July 26
Creative Marriages: Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann

When the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman cast the twenty-six-year-old Norwegian actor Liv Ullmann in his 1966 film Persona, he initiated one of the most remarkable collaborations in cinema history, a creative partnership that would last for four decades, well beyond the passionate, years-long affair that also blossomed between them. (“Liv, you are my Stradivarius,” Bergman once told Ullmann.) This new installment of the series Creative Marriages features Shame (1968) and The Passion of Anna (1969), two films shot on Fårö, a remote and windswept Swedish island where the two also lived together for a time. Critic Michael Sragow introduces the program, examining how Bergman and Ullmann’s legendary offscreen relationship intertwined with their work.
Friday, July 27
Friday Night Double Feature: The Seventh Seal and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey*

There’s no more fearsome opponent than the Grim Reaper, no matter what the game. In Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, one of the most iconic art-house films of the 1950s, a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) challenges the hooded figure of Death to a round of chess, setting off a profound inquiry into the nature of mortality and faith. Sending up Bergman’s film, Peter Hewitt’s 1991 comedy Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey-a sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure-follows its two slacker protagonists (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) to hell, where they face off with Death in Battleship, Clue, and Twister, learning along the way that he’s a very sore loser.
*Premiering on the Channel this month
Monday, July 30
Observations on Film Art #21: The Restless Cinematography of Breaking the Waves

Rarely does the camera come to a rest in Lars von Trier’s international breakthrough, Breaking the Waves (1996), a raw fable about a pious Scottish woman (an Oscar-nominated Emily Watson) whose husband, a Norwegian oil-rig worker (Stellan Skarsgård), encourages her to be unfaithful after he’s badly injured in a work accident. The dominant visual mode of this intimate drama, shot by Robby Müller,is handheld naturalism. But as Professor Jeff Smith shows in this month’s episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that examines great auteurs’ use of individual cinematic devices and techniques, Müller and von Trier also make calculated use of more stylized camera work throughout. Rapid pans and long takes periodically disrupt the film’s choppier realism, allowing von Trier to underscore the fascinating contradictions of his scenario, a study in the spirit and the flesh.
Tuesday, July 31
Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Möbius* and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
The kids aren’t all right in these two surreal mysteries set in the misty environs of the Pacific Northwest. In the 2017 gothic neonoir Möbius, an atmospheric spin on the Orpheus-and-Eurydice myth, a teen poet navigates the disorienting days following the disappearance of her boyfriend. The short (which is introduced on the Channel by its director Sam Kuhn) bears the eerie influence of David Lynch, whose 1992 film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me-a cinematic prequel to his recently revived television serial-revolves around the enigmatic and thoroughly disquieting events leading up to the murder of troubled homecoming queen Laura Palmer.
Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:
July 1
Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese, 1976
July 3
Pussy, Renata Gasiorowska, 2016
July 10
Call of Cuteness, Brenda Lien, 2017
July 11
Beyond the Hills, Cristian Mungiu, 2012
July 13
The Last House on the Left, Wes Craven, 1972
July 14
Hairat, Jessica Beshir, 2017
July 24
A Gentle Night, Qiu Yang, 2017
July 27
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Pete Hewitt, 1991
July 31
Möbius, Sam Kuhn, 2017

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