This July, step into the mind of a machine: our AI series gathers rogue robots, uncannily human software, and thinking, feeling androids for a survey of one of science fiction’s favorite themes. Elvis Presley turns up the summer heat with burning love in our retrospective of the rock-and-roll icon’s greatest film roles. The best of midcentury pulp from across the Atlantic is on display in our British Noir collection. And Isabella Rossellini selects the films that get at the essence of cinema for her in the latest installment of Adventures in Moviegoing—accompanied by a look back at the monumentally influential films of her father, Roberto Rossellini. There’s so much more to choose from this month, including the complete Once Upon a Time in China series, the early films of Stanley Kubrick, a newly restored Finnish masterpiece, and Stanley Kwan’s brilliant melodramas.
* indicates programming available only in the U.S.
At a moment when artificial intelligence is moving from the realm of science fiction into everyday life, we look back across fifty years of cinema history—from 1970s paranoia (Demon Seed) to 1990s cyberpunk (Ghost in the Shell, Johnny Mnemonic) and post-Y2K visions of our inescapably digital new millennium (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Her, After Yang)—to see how this brave new world has been envisioned, in all its wonder and dread. The uncanny concept of AI has inspired some of the most dazzlingly imaginative films ever made, stoking philosophical questions about the possibilities and perils of technology, the relationship between the mechanical and the biological, and the very essence of what makes us human.
FEATURES: Dark Star (1974), Zardoz (1974), Demon Seed (1977), Electric Dreams (1984), Making Mr. Right (1987), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Johnny Mnemonic (1995)*, A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Teknolust (2002), 2046 (2004), Computer Chess (2013), Her (2013), After Yang (2021)*, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study (2021)
SHORTS: All Is Full of Love (Björk music video) (1999), Ennui ennui (2013), Os humores artificiais (2016)
Elvis Presley’s music lit a fire at the heart of American pop culture, and his electrifying screen presence—including his controversial televised gyrations—helped make him a legend. Elvis carried his natural magnetism into film acting, transmitting a brooding sexiness, sincerity, and rebel cool in the mold of James Dean and Marlon Brando. Highlights like the landmark rock musical Jailhouse Rock (featuring the singer’s iconic rendition of the title song), Michael Curtiz’s noirish musical drama King Creole (in which Elvis stepped into a role originally written for Dean), and the Clifford Odets–penned Wild in the Country show off his astonishing star charisma and raw dramatic ability.
FEATURING: Love Me Tender (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957), King Creole (1958), Wild in the Country (1961), Blue Hawaii (1961), Viva Las Vegas (1964); COMING SEPTEMBER 1: Flaming Star (1960)
Featuring a new introduction by critic Imogen Sara Smith
In the aftermath of World War II, Britain cultivated its own form of film noir with a distinctly English accent. Marked by fatalistic wit, visual lyricism, and a pronounced concern for working-class lives, British crime dramas reflected an era of turbulent change, as generational and class conflict, the growing racial diversity of the postcolonial era, and ambivalence toward the U.S.’s new global dominance reshaped English society. Heavily influenced by the arrival of blacklisted Hollywood directors like Jules Dassin (Night and the City), Edward Dmytryk (Obsession), and Cy Endfield (Hell Drivers) working alongside homegrown talent like Carol Reed (Odd Man Out) and Basil Dearden (Pool of London), these stylish and suspenseful films are enlivened by the flamboyant panache of Cockney gangsters, the feisty grit of barmaids and truck drivers, and the diabolical politeness of gentleman murderers, all set against a gorgeously chiaroscuro backdrop of weeping skies, cozy pubs, industrial docks, soot-blackened alleys, and bomb-ravaged but unbreakable cities.
FEATURING: Green for Danger (1946), It Always Rains on Sunday (1947), Odd Man Out (1947), Obsession (1948), The Small Back Room (1949), Night and the City (1950), The Woman in Question (1950), Pool of London (1951), Yield to the Night (1956), Hell Drivers (1957), Time Without Pity (1957), All Night Long (1962)
Isabella Rossellini’s Adventures in Moviegoing
As the daughter of two legendary film artists, Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, Isabella Rossellini grew up immersed in cinema before making her own indelible mark on the medium through her brilliant performances for auteurs like David Lynch and Guy Maddin and her own acclaimed projects like the Green Porno series. For this edition of Adventures in Moviegoing, she has selected bittersweet, deeply personal films that represent the essence of cinema for her: silent-cinema grace notes from Charlie Chaplin (The Circus) and Buster Keaton (One Week), elementally inventive works made at home with limited resources (Italianamerican, Jane B. par Agnès V.), and dizzying flights of imagination (The Thief of Bagdad, A Trip to the Moon).
FEATURES: The Circus (1928), The Thief of Bagdad (1940), La strada (1954), Yoyo (1965), Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), The Tramp and the Dictator (2002)
SHORTS: A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Scarecrow (1920), One Week (1920), Italianamerican (1974), The Heart of the World (2000)
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
A founder of Italian neorealism, Roberto Rossellini brought to filmmaking a documentary-like authenticity and philosophical stringency that changed the course of film history. Rossellini broke out with Rome Open City, a shattering and vivid chronicle of the Nazi occupation of Italy’s capital, followed by Paisan and Germany Year Zero, which round out his celebrated War Trilogy. His adulterous affair with Ingrid Bergman led to the biggest controversy of his career (they were both condemned by the United States Senate) but also to another extraordinary trilogy—Stromboli, Europe ’51, and Journey to Italy, all starring Bergman. From then on, Rossellini experimented with different forms, including an ascetic religious film (The Flowers of St. Francis), a documentary about India (India: Matri Bhumi), and a series of historical television dramas made with a rational, almost scientific approach. Throughout his evolutions, he yearned to show life’s minutiae unadorned, bare and pure. Echoes of Rossellini’s approach to filmmaking are still felt in movements around the world, from China to Iran to South America to the United States. It’s fair to say modern cinema wouldn’t exist as we know it without him.
FEATURING: Rome Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), Germany Year Zero (1948), L’amore (1948), The Flowers of St. Francis (1950), Stromboli (1950), Europe ’51 (1952), The Machine That Kills Bad People (1952), Fear (1954), Journey to Italy (1954), India: Matri Bhumi (1959), The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (1966), Socrates (1971), Blaise Pascal (1972), The Age of the Medici (1973), Cartesius (1974)
Johnny Mnemonic: In Black and White*
It’s 1995’s vision of 2021 and “mnemonic courier” Johnny (Keanu Reeves)—a human hard drive with a computer chip implanted in his brain—has twenty-four hours to unload highly valuable information or his head will explode. Oh, and he’s also being chased through a dystopian Newark by the yakuza and a deranged Jesus-freak hitman (Dolph Lundgren). Scripted by cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson and featuring an absolutely unhinged cast that includes Takeshi Kitano, Ice-T, Henry Rollins, and Udo Kier, this audacious cult favorite is a rapid-fire roller coaster of action and high-impact imagery. As part of the AI collection, the Criterion Channel presents the exclusive streaming premiere of a black-and-white version of the film released in 2021.
Featuring a new introduction by director Hlynur Pálmason
The struggle between the strictures of religion and our own brute animal nature plays out amid the beautifully forbidding landscapes of remote Iceland in this stunning psychological epic from director Hlynur Pálmason. In the late nineteenth century, Danish priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) makes the perilous trek to Iceland’s southeastern coast with the intention of establishing a church. There, the arrogant man of God finds his resolve tested as he confronts the harsh terrain, temptations of the flesh, and the reality of being an intruder in an unforgiving land. What unfolds is a transfixing journey into the heart of colonial darkness attuned to both the majesty and terrifying power of the natural world.
A rapturously queer, ecologically minded, antiroyalist musical fantasia, Will-o’-the-Wisp finds the ever-audacious João Pedro Rodrigues (The Ornithologist) at his most playfully and pleasurably subversive. It’s the year 2069 (nice), and, on his deathbed, his royal highness Alfredo (Joel Branco/Mauro Costa), king without a crown, is taken back to his distant youth via euphorically erotic memories of his time as a fireman. Dismayed by the ever-more-frequent forest fires caused by climate change, the young king-to-be joins a brigade of blaze-extinguishing beefcakes with a penchant for sexy art-historical role-play. An encounter with veteran firefighter Afonso (André Cabral) opens a new chapter in the lives of the two young men, igniting both burning desire and a determination to change the status quo.
Eight Deadly Shots
Newly restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project, this long-unsung Finnish classic has been hailed by Aki Kaurismäki as “one of the masterpieces of European Cinema.” A relentlessly gripping drama inspired by actual events, Eight Deadly Shots is the magnum opus of writer-producer-director-actor Mikko Niskanen. He delivers a shattering performance as Pasi, a farmer who struggles to support his family through hard labor and who seeks release in alcohol—creating turmoil at home, bringing him into conflict with the law, and leading him on a slow slide toward self-destruction. Presented here in its original four-part format, as made for Finnish television, this monumental vision of everyday human endurance is the rare epic woven from the fabric of ordinary life.
Two Films by Masashi Yamamoto
Celebrating the drop-outs, slackers, bohemians, and misfits who live in opposition to the mainstream, the freewheeling, blissfully batty films of punk auteur Masashi Yamamoto are gonzo transmissions from the fringes of the Japanese underground. Defiantly DIY rebukes to the capitalist excesses of Japan in the 1980s and early ’90s, the newly restored revelations Robinson’s Garden and What’s Up Connection—the former lensed by frequent Jim Jarmusch collaborator Tom DiCillo; the latter a rare bilingual Japan–Hong Kong coproduction—are a perfect introduction to Yamamoto’s cinema of outsiders.
FEATURING: Robinson’s Garden (1987), What’s Up Connection (1990)
CRITERION COLLECTION EDITIONS
Once Upon a Time in China: The Complete Films
Criterion Collection Edition #1103
Superhuman kung fu, goofball comedy, grand romance, and operatic melodrama come together in a sprawling vision of a changing nineteenth-century China.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with director Tsui Hark, actor Jet Li, Film Workshop cofounder Nansun Shi, editor Marco Mak, and critic Tony Rayns; behind-the-scenes footage; deleted scenes; and more.
Featuring an introduction to Paths of Glory by writer David Simon
The first decade of Stanley Kubrick’s filmmaking career marked his swift ascent to international acclaim and laid the foundation for one of the most visionary and uncompromising creative runs in cinema history. Hypnotized by the possibilities of moviemaking as practiced by auteurs like Sergei Eisenstein and Max Ophuls, the young Kubrick honed his striking visual sensibility through his work as a street photographer, developing a dynamic, Weegee-like eye that he deployed in two independently produced features: the impressive antiwar allegory Fear and Desire, made when he was just twenty-five, and the punchy pulp noir Killer’s Kiss. He arrived in Hollywood as perhaps the greatest boy genius since Orson Welles, immediately producing a pair of masterpieces—the crackerjack caper The Killing and the searing World War I drama Paths of Glory—that found him further sharpening both his famed stylistic precision and the themes (of the absurdity of war, violence, and human nature) that he would explore over the next four decades.
FEATURING: Fear and Desire (1953), Killer’s Kiss (1955), The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957)
Directed by Susan Seidelman
Featuring an introduction by the filmmaker
In 1982, Susan Seidelman instantly established herself as one of the decade’s freshest cinematic voices when her debut feature, Smithereens, became the first American independent film to screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. A vividly gritty time capsule of downtown New York’s postpunk underground, the film caught the attention of Hollywood and led to her bigger-budget follow-up, Desperately Seeking Susan, starring Madonna in a screwball romp through bohemian Manhattan. With subsequent gems like the clever sci-fi rom-com Making Mr. Right and the black-comic revenge fantasy She-Devil, starring Meryl Streep, Seidelman confirmed her flair for crafting offbeat comedies built around memorably messy, idiosyncratic women.
FEATURING: Smithereens (1982), Making Mr. Right (1987), She-Devil (1989); COMING AUGUST 1: Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Stanley Kwan’s New Wave Melodramas
The exquisitely stylized, richly emotional films of Hong Kong New Wave auteur Stanley Kwan employ the conventions of melodrama with a rare sensitivity and sincerity. Empathetically attuned to the longings and struggles of women, his masterpieces—the sumptuous ghost story Rouge and the kaleidoscopic meta-biography Center Stage—offer tour-de-force showcases for Hong Kong cinema greats Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung, while his own identity as a gay man is given aching expression in the landmark queer romance Lan Yu. Awash in gorgeous mise-en-scène, these films entwine majestic melancholy with complex reflections on history, society, and politics.
FEATURING: Love unto Waste (1986), Rouge (1987), Center Stage (1991), Lan Yu (2001)
Mother of George
A woman makes a shocking decision that could either save her family or destroy it in this heartrending, ravishingly shot immigrant’s tale set amid Brooklyn’s Nigerian community.
Paul Verhoeven’s delirious star-is-born satire goes farther than any other film of the 1990s in its orgiastic depiction of consumerism, crass spectacle, and the dark side of the American Dream.
Harvey Keitel and a never-better Madonna star in one of Abel Ferrara’s most daring, emotionally raw forays into the depths of human torment—a fascinatingly fractured, self-reflexive vision of moviemaking as a kind of personal exorcism.
The Barefoot Contessa
Joseph L. Mankiewicz brings his gift for crafting cutting dialogue and memorably drawn characters to a witty look behind the glamour of the Hollywood studio system starring Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner.
A dirtbag car thief (Richard Gere) and his French lover (Valérie Kaprisky) embark on a sexed-up crime spree in this audacious postmodern remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic.
Carla Simón’s touching, autobiographical coming-of-age drama balances youthful exuberance with mature rumination to create a moving snapshot of a childhood interrupted by tragedy.
Acclaimed director Josephine Decker employs a dense, expressionistic layering of sound and image to evoke a young actor’s fractured inner world.
Short Films by Leah Shore
Featuring an introduction by the filmmaker
Whether working in animation, live action, or a no-holds-barred blend of the two, underground creative force Leah Shore makes raunchy, hilarious, neon-blasted cinematic transgressions that explode with a feverish, mad-scientist visual energy. Expect shape-shifting surrealism, Day-Glo delirium, and filthy-fun kink calibrated to keep your eyeballs spinning.
FEATURING: Old Man (2012), I Love You So Much (2014), Hallway (2015), Funeral (2018), Launch (2021), Puss (2021)
First, Negative Two, 38: A Trilogy by Micaela Durand and Daniel Chew
What does it mean to grow up, to live, to love, to lust in a perpetually online world, one in which the promise of human connection is both tantalizingly ever-present and seemingly more elusive than ever before? Replete—like the internet itself—with shimmering, illusory surfaces, this sensorially immersive, boldly shot and soundtracked trilogy of thematically linked shorts from New York City–based collaborators Micaela Durand and Daniel Chew takes up the great existential paradox of the social-media age, capturing, with disquieting unease, the ambient alienation of our hyper-connected world.
FEATURING: First (2019), Negative Two (2019), 38 (2021)
Georges Méliès: Fairy Tales in Color
The inexhaustibly imaginative magician of early cinema, Georges Méliès created some of the medium’s very first fantasies through his revolutionary use of trick photography, special effects, and exquisite hand-painted color. Beautifully restored by Lobster Films, these whimsical wonders—including science-fiction landmark A Trip to the Moon, gorgeous dreamscape The Kingdom of Fairies, and the Jules Verne–inspired The Impossible Voyage—continue to delight and enchant more than one hundred years after their creation.
FEATURING: The Pillar of Fire (1899), Joan of Arc (1900), A Trip to the Moon (1902), Robinson Crusoe (1903), The Kingdom of Fairies (1903), The Infernal Cauldron (1903), The Impossible Voyage (1904), Rip’s Dream (1905), The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship (1905), The Merry Frolics of Satan (1906), The Witch (1906), The Diabolic Tenant (1906), Whimsical Illusions (1910)
This graceful, deeply atmospheric short follows Booker (Barrington Darius) as he returns to South Central LA after several years away. Confined to the interior of his car, we watch as he interacts with the people and places he once knew, floating between moments of nostalgia and the subtle realities of a subconscious search for identity. Drawing visual and tonal inspiration from the work of Chantal Akerman, director Dwayne LeBlanc crafts a tender and tactile snapshot of a life in transition.
A darkly psychedelic blend of animation and live action evokes a man’s memories of his sociopathic “best friend.”
NEW ADDITIONS TO PREVIOUS PROGRAMS
Now Playing in Method Acting: Mean Streets
Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel star in Martin Scorsese’s breakout film, a wrenchingly personal vision of life and death on the streets of New York’s Little Italy.
Now Playing in Starring Jackie Chan: Miracles
Jackie Chan plays a naive country boy who inadvertently rises to become the leader of a Hong Kong underworld empire in this blend of action-comedy thrills and heartfelt sentiment, often cited by the director-star as a favorite among his own films.
Back by Popular Demand
Don’t miss these viewer favorites, returning to the Channel in July!
FEATURING: The Last Picture Show (1971), California Split (1974), Cutter’s Way (1981), Thief (1981), Something Wild (1986), Ghost World (2001)