Best New Movies on The Criterion Channel in April 2022

A new month means new programming on The Criterion Channel. April sports fresh collections and the Criterion Edition debuts for several legendary filmmakers, kicking off a festival of digital blaxploitation, along with other film compilations. Here are seven of the best deals.

Across 110th Street (1972)

across the street 110_mLHjay

Available: April 1

Directed by: barry shear

Written by: luther davis

To emit: Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Franciosa

Providing a satisfactory definition of “blaxploitation” requires squaring the definition of “exploitation” when it comes to movie subgenres. Not everyone agrees on what the definition of the latter is, but there is a lot of overlapping of opinions when it comes to its elements. They are usually made cheaply (some might even say cheap) and involve the dramatization of visceral impulses, often adult in nature, with a free pass when it comes to indulgence. Violence, sex-but-maybe-not-romance, revenge of a bloody nature, foul language. By the 1970s, many more films were being made to serve African-American (and globally black) audiences, and many of them were exploitation films. The president of the NAACP, in 1972, coined the term blaxploitation to smear the practice, but that term stuck, and is now what those tense, gleefully confrontational movies, often set in cities, are fondly called.


Across 110th Street is one of the most expert entries in that canon. Quentin Tarantino completists will recognize his famous theme song as a prominent needle drop in that director’s homage to the time, jackie brown. 110 it has all the makings of a solid crime thriller and the 1970s commitment to no beating around the bush. It’s about two cops, a white, jaded veteran of the force, and an African-American rookie, who track down a group of criminals who have stolen six figures from the mob. Of course the mafia boss is ruthlessly evil and of course he is also chasing after those crooks. This film has a procedural structure, dabbles in social commentary, but above all, it’s a convincingly gritty action-noir. Well shot, well paced and well edited.

Blue Velvet: Criterion Collection Edition (1986)

Image via De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Available: April 1

Directed by: David Lynch

Written by: David Lynch

To emit: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern

April may just be a noir-ish month. A slice of art like David Lynch‘s blue velvet it’s so versatile in its mental and sensory probing that ten viewers can walk away from it with ten different gender classifications in mind, and some can walk on without bothering to classify at all. To be reductive about it, blue velvet it’s psychedelic film noir, with an energy so unsettling it might register to the anxious as a horror movie. At this point, it’s taken for granted that Lynch can create haunting narrative dreamscapes, but by 1986 he was dating Dune, a big-budget sci-fi adaptation that didn’t make much money. In that commercial sense, the man felt that he had failed. That movie itself wasn’t quite his own vision either, for all the studio tent reasons, so he felt like he’d failed twice. In the future, he vowed never again to fail this last artistic test.

blue velvet it’s his debut under that new determination, and it earned him an Oscar nomination for directing and a wave of mind-boggling influence he still rides. So much ink has been spilled on this movie, but the only logical thing to do with it is watch it.

The Last Picture Show (1971)

Image via Columbia Pictures

Available: April 1

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

Written by: Larry McMurtry Peter Bogdanovich

To emit: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Shepherd

Many of director John Ford’s great films are on the Criterion Channel’s lineup this month, but this space is dedicated to one of his acolytes, Peter Bogdanovich. fans of The sopranos you will meet the late director as an actor, as he played Dr. Kupferberg, Dr. Melfi’s therapist. The Ultimate Picture Show it’s his fourth directing credit, and clearly the one that caught the industry’s attention. He was nominated for eight Oscars and many other awards. Based on the homonymous novel by its co-writer, author Larry McMurtry (worth Googling for the host of other great movies his books have spawned), tells the coming-of-age story of two high school friends in a lonely, fictional Texas town. It has the energy of a western, but worries about the seed of this town, its oil boom days behind it, and any semblance of a future that only exists outside its borders. Bogdanovich imbues it with the boisterous, excited energy of youth and the sadness of an important moment in history coming to an end.

4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (2007)

4 months 3 weeks 2 days

Available: April 1

Directed by: Christian Munguiu

Written by: Christian Munguiu

To emit: Adi Cărăuleanu, Luminița Gheorghiu, Mădălina Ghițescu, Vlad Ivanov

Set in the 1980s, the location of this Palme d’Or winner is Romania, in the last days of that country’s communist dictatorial rule. Its protagonists are two university students who must traverse the abandoned and half-dark streets of Bucharest in search of an illegal abortion. At the time, in the country they call home, all abortions were illegal, which meant there was no medical oversight to ensure a safe procedure. The sanctions were possible mutilations, but also additional punishment for both girls by the communist government. filmed in a truthWith a documentary style, the film is a thriller that tells the story of a dangerous journey, with the necessary interesting and menacing characters that a hero tends to encounter in such missions, which is a descent into darkness, with a palpable threat, art and drama. to spare, along with the audacity to pull off all of his emotional acts.

Last Year at Marienbad: Criterion Collection Edition (1961)

last year in marienbad_NGzLkj

Available: April 1

Directed by: Alain Resnais

Written by: Alain Resnais

To emit: Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff

Often described as a puzzle, this film deconstructs the idea of ​​the middle ground and offers an enigmatic French New Wave drama. It is surreal, serving events both present and past. This past, however, could be entirely made up. His characters dress impeccably and hang out in an equally luxurious European hotel. They don’t have names. The man wants the woman to believe that they have met before, but right? The movie never settles on one answer. It contains elements of parody without being technically fully parodic. Its wonderful composition of shots, music, sense of flow, and playful narrative pieces land it on many lists of the greatest films ever made. His refusal to provide answers makes him highly reassessable and highly dissectable.

Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)

better luck tomorrow

Available: April 1

Directed by: justin lin

Written by: Ernesto Foronda, Justin Lin, Fabian Marquez

To emit: Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang, Roger Fan, John Cho

This coming-of-age crime drama premiering at Sundance is the second feature film from justin linwho, four years later, would lead Fast and Furious: Tokyo Driftthat he would start his way to be the godfather of that franchise. better luck tomorrow tells the story of a group of Asian-American teenagers (who are doing great things with their lives in every way) who become bored with the baggage of expectations and stagnant achievement, and trade it in for a life of criminal misadventures. . Far from being a feel-good story about high school life in sunny California, it delves into the dark Scorsese-influenced degradation and stylish violence of independent cinema. It caused a bit of controversy for Lin, but found supporters in roger ebert (who vocally enjoyed it) and, interestingly, MC Hammer (whose cash injection would help make the picture in the first place). viewer of the Fast and Furious Movies know that Lin directs with style and energy, and both are on display here. It’s a movie that deals with serious topics and hard stuff, but it’s a Justin Lin movie, so it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Ministry of Fear (1944)


Available: April 1

Directed by: Fritz Lang

Written by: Seton I Miller

To emit: Ray Milland Marjorie Reynolds

Another Criterion-approved noir for the road. Based on the novel of the same name, ministry of fear it has the whole premise: an innocent man, fresh out of a mental institution, wins a delicious cake, by accident. Inside this cake is a roll of microfilm. On this microfilm are incriminating Nazi secrets. As expected, these evil Nazis must hunt down our hero in search of this valuable MacGuffin. World War II was not over yet, and here was this image, competing with his iconography to tell not a propaganda story, but one of tension and fear so well executed that the coen brothers would pay homage to one of its key scenes in his masterful plain blood. Fritz Lang was a prolific director: his offer in German SUBWAY An early entry into the serial killer subgenre should also be sought, and the air of doom he brought to his early German films is throughout this Hollywood output.


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