As the year draws to an end, we’re turning our gaze toward things to come, with an international, intergalactic program of Afrofuturist visions of Black creativity, resistance, and freedom. That’s just the beginning of our holiday bounty: we’ve also got the greatest hits of Mae West, the pioneering auteur of sexual comedy who incensed the censors, wrote her own scripts, and chose her leading men—including a young Cary Grant, whose dapper charms and gift for pratfalls are on display in a selection of his most beloved comedies. Plus there’s director spotlights on Julie Dash, Terrence Malick, and Barbra Streisand; streaming premieres of Ken Loach’s acclaimed Sorry We Missed You and Mariano Llinás’s bingeable episodic epic La flor; and more.
Now check out the full calendar!
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* indicates programming available January 1
** indicates programming available only in the U.S.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1
Short + Feature: Die Laughing
The Extraordinary Life of Rock and Harold Maude
Two deliciously dark coming-of-age comedies tackle the ultimate taboo—death—with wicked humor. First, don’t get too close to the subject of Kevin Meul’s deadpan short The Extraordinary Life of Rocky, a most unfortunate young man who finds that everyone he loves meets a grisly end. It’s an appropriately macabre companion to Hal Ashby’s counterculture classic Harold and Maude, in which a chance encounter (at a funeral, naturally) leads to a surprising relationship between a suicide-obsessed teenager and a bohemian septuagenarian.
The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)
Criterion Collection Edition #917
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2
Short Films by Julie Dash
Featuring The Cinematic Jazz of Julie Dash, a 1992 interview program
One of the leaders of the now legendary LA Rebellion movement that rumbled forth from the UCLA Film School in the 1970s, Julie Dash became the first Black American woman to have a feature widely released with her stunning, dreamlike Daughters of the Dust. Made between 1975 and 2016, these five remarkable short films—including Illusions, her landmark look at Hollywood’s racial deceptions—encompass a variety of modes including narrative, dance, and performance. Each is a testament to Dash’s visionary artistry and unique ability to give poetic visual expression to the creative, cultural, spiritual, and historical dimensions of Black womanhood.
Featuring: Four Women (1975), Diary of an African Nun (1977), Illusions (1982), Praise House (1991), Standing at the Scratch Line (2016)
Thursday, December 3
Sorry We Missed You
Exclusive streaming premiere
Humanist master Ken Loach turns his empathetic eye once again to the experiences of the British working class in this wrenching family drama that exposes the dark side of the gig economy. Having lost their home in the 2008 financial crash, Ricky (Kris Hitchen), a former laborer, and his home-attendant wife Abby (Debbie Honeywood), are desperate to find their way out from their financial distress. When an opportunity arises for Ricky to work as his own boss as a delivery driver, they trade in their only asset, Abby’s car, for a shiny new van and the dream that Ricky can work his way up to someday owning his own delivery franchise. But the hope of financial autonomy soon reveals itself to be an illusion as an unrelenting schedule, a ruthless supervisor, and the needs of their two teenage children only push the couple further toward the edge.
Three by Terrence Malick
Featuring interviews with actors Richard Gere, Sissy Spacek, and Martin Sheen; production designer Jack Fisk; costume designer Jacqueline West; cinematographers Haskell Wexler and John Bailey; and more
The cosmic rhapsodies of Terrence Malick are spoken of with a hushed reverence. Each of these rarefied masterpieces ruminates profoundly on the connection between humanity and the natural world, seeking out transcendence in the landscapes of America’s past. This trio of touchstone works—his sublime lovers-on-the-run debut Badlands, golden-hour reverie Days of Heaven, and mesmerizing historical epic The New World—are to be savored for their senses-ravishing imagery and rich philosophical resonance.
Featuring: Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The New World (2005)**
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4
Double Feature: The Adventures of Paul Dedalus
My Sex Life . . . or How I Got into an Argument and My Golden Days
French-cinema titan Arnaud Desplechin casts Mathieu Amalric as his on-screen alter ego in two rich, absorbingly novelistic explorations of love, sex, and growing up at different stages of life.
From the Archive: Bad Day at Black Rock**
Featuring the original John Sturges commentary from Criterion’s 1991 laserdisc edition
Ace genre craftsman John Sturges directs Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan in this taut western noir. Tracy is the one-armed war veteran John J. Macreedy, who arrives in the remote desert outpost of Black Rock in search of a Japanese American man. As the mysterious Macreedy’s presence in the town stirs up hostility and suspicion among the locals, he becomes increasingly convinced that they may be covering up a dark secret. The striking CinemaScope compositions, expertly handled action (witness Tracy’s karate technique), and impassioned anti-racist message come together in one of the finest and most morally courageous thrillers of the 1950s.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5
Saturday Matinee: National Velvet**
Elizabeth Taylor delivers a star-is-born performance opposite Mickey Rooney in one of the most beloved films ever made about the bond between children and animals.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6
The Best of Mae West
Queen of the risqué double entendre Mae West said it best herself: “When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.” The singular performer, playwright, sex symbol, and all-around star had brass and brilliance to burn in her ascent from vaudeville vamp to scandal-inciting Broadway sensation to Hollywood’s biggest box-office draw of the early 1930s, when she kept censors on their toes with her bawdy one-liners and liberated approach to sexuality in pre-Code jaw-droppers like She Done Him Wrong (the success of which almost singlehandedly saved Paramount from bankruptcy) and I’m No Angel. An icon of emancipated womanhood, West always more than held her own in a man’s world, both on- and off-screen—she wrote or cowrote every screenplay featured here.
Featuring: She Done Him Wrong (1933), I’m No Angel (1933), Belle of the Nineties (1934), Goin’ to Town (1935), Klondike Annie (1936), Go West Young Man (1936), Every Day’s a Holiday (1937), My Little Chickadee (1940)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7
Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)
Criterion Collection Edition #1018
Uncovering “The Naked City”
In this original short documentary and personal essay, Bruce Goldstein, founder of Rialto Pictures and repertory director at New York’s FIlm Forum, tracks down many of the 100+ New York City locations—from the Bronx to the Lower East Side—used in his friend Jules Dassin’s classic police procedural The Naked City, while also spotlighting the contributions of producer Mark Hellinger and cinematographer William Daniels.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8
Short + Feature: Release the Hounds
Mutts and White God
The dogs have their day in two totally-unleashed visions of canine chaos that double as searing political allegories.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9
Three by Barbra Streisand
Featuring a new interview with Streisand
There are legends . . . and then there is Barbra Streisand. A trailblazing triple threat, Streisand not only left her mark on the countless films she starred in, she has also directed three acclaimed features, all of which she produced as well. It took fifteen years to bring her passion project, the acclaimed musical Yentl, to the screen, with Streisand cowriting the screenplay as well as producing, directing, and starring. The film garnered five Academy Award nominations and one win, for best music/original song score—and Streisand took home the Golden Globe for best director, the only woman to do so to this day (Yentl also won the Golden Globe for best picture – musical or comedy). More accolades followed for her second feature, The Prince of Tides, which was nominated for a whopping seven Academy Awards, and which netted Nick Nolte a Golden Globe for best actor. For the unconventional romantic comedy The Mirror Has Two Faces, she assembled a formidable cast led by Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, and Lauren Bacall, with Bacall winning the Golden Globe and SAG Award for best supporting actress. The three films Streisand directed garnered fourteen Academy Award nominations, and are sensational showcases for the larger-than-life talents of an icon who shines both in front of and behind the camera.
Featuring: Yentl (1983), The Prince of Tides (1991), The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)**
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10
Observations on Film Art #40: Telling Details in Hunger
Professor Kristin Thompson explores how Steve McQueen’s stunning debut “speaks” through its accumulation of seemingly small, often elusive visual details.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11
Double Feature: Against the Grain
Days of Heaven and The Reflecting Skin
Magic hour meets black magic in two visually stunning slices of American Gothic set amidst rippling wheat fields and bathed in sunset’s golden glow.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12
Saturday Matinee: The Railway Children
Edwardian-era charm and nostalgia abound in this heartwarming adaptation of the British children’s classic.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13
Art-House America: The Doris Duke
Located in the heart of Honolulu, Hawaii, the Doris Duke Theatre began operating out of the Honolulu Museum of Art in 1977 and has become a fixture of Hawaiian film culture. Through their annual Surf Film Festival and series that highlight the perspectives of Hawaii’s Native, Asian, and Black communities, the Doris Duke has dedicated itself to championing films that reflect the diversity, complexity, and cultural richness of the island and which challenge longstanding cinematic depictions of Hawaii as an exoticized paradise. The theater’s commitment to showcasing homegrown stories and amplifying marginalized voices is on display in the Hawaiian-focused lineup of films they have selected.
From programmer Taylour Chang: “Tourism and Hollywood have shaped the perception of Hawai‘i as a paradise destination since the early twentieth century. A rising tide of Native Hawaiian and Hawai‘i-based filmmakers challenge those colonial stereotypes and present a worldview of Hawai‘i that is rooted in the land and its people. This slate is a snapshot of a genealogy of filmmakers who express Hawai‘i’s spirit and resilience. Pioneers like Victoria Keith (The Sand Island Story) and Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina (Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege) captured an awakening of Native Hawaiian political consciousness and set a foundation for current generations—from Ty Sanga (Stones), who inspired a wave of Native Hawaiian filmmakers to embrace narrative fiction, to talents like Ciara Lacy (Out of State). These storytellers, among many others, provoke an innovative understanding of a Hawai‘i-specific visual language.”
Features: Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2005), Out of State (2017), August at Akiko’s (2018)
Shorts: The Sand Island Story (1981), Stones (2009), Like a Mighty Wave (2019), Kapaemahu (2020), Standing Above the Clouds (2020)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 14
Documentaries by Alan Berliner
With a rare genius for rendering the personal universal, Alan Berliner has quietly established himself as one of the premier film essayists of our time. Drawing his subjects from his immediate life—his grandfather in Intimate Stranger, his father in Nobody’s Business, and his own name in The Sweetest Sound—he excavates the mysteries and mythologies embedded within family histories, using found footage, photographs, voice-over, interviews, and ephemera to construct intricate cinematic collages that are revealing, humorous, wise, and totally unique.
Featuring: The Family Album (1988), Intimate Stranger (1991), Nobody’s Business (1996), The Sweetest Sound (2001)
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15
Short + Feature: Bad Santas
Santa, the Fascist Years and The Silent Partner
Jolly Old St. Nick goes rogue in two dark tales of anti-Yuletide cheer that will leave you wondering: what evil lurks behind that snow-white beard and red cap?
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16
Films by Marie Losier
Featuring a new interview with the filmmaker
New York City–based French filmmaker Marie Losier captures the freewheeling energy of the avant-garde underground through her playful, lovingly handmade 16 mm portraits of boundary-pushing musicians, artists, and performers. Her acclaimed feature documentaries The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, about the gender-bending journey of industrial-music pioneer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and Cassandro, the Exotico!, an intimate snapshot of a drag-queen luchador, reflect Losier’s ability to achieve an almost symbiotic creative rapport with her larger-than-life subjects. They are presented alongside a selection of the filmmaker’s exuberantly inventive experimental shorts, which feature such counterculture luminaries as George Kuchar, Guy Maddin, Alan Vega, and Tony Conrad.
Features: The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011), Cassandro, the Exotico! (2018)
Shorts: The Passion of Joan Arc (2002), The Touch Retouched (2002), Bird, Bath and Beyond (2003), Electrocute Your Stars (2004), Eat My Makeup! (2005), The Ontological Cowboy (2005), Flying Saucey! (2006), Manuelle Labor (2007), Tony Conrad, DreaMinimalist (2008), Papal Broken-Dance (2009), Cet Air La (2010), Byun, objet trouvé (2012), Alan Vega: Just a Million Dreams (2013), Bim, Bam, Boom, Las Luchas Morenas (2014), Draw Me Now (2018)
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17
Three by Rick Alverson
Featuring a new interview with the filmmaker
Watching a film by Rick Alverson can be a singularly uncomfortable experience—but just try to look away. Refusing to conform to tidy narrative arcs and conventional notions of “likable” characters, Alverson creates transgressive, confrontational, tragicomic portraits of masculinity in crisis that dare viewers to stare into the existential void. Following the journeys of a foundering Afghanistan veteran (New Jerusalem), a relentlessly nihilistic Brooklyn hipster (Tim Heidecker in The Comedy), and a repellent stand-up comedian (Gregg Turkington, a.k.a. Neil Hamburger, in Entertainment), Alverson’s films reckon unflinchingly with the loneliness at the heart of modern American life.
Featuring: New Jerusalem (2011), The Comedy (2012), Entertainment (2015)
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
Double Feature: I Put a Spell on You
Bell, Book and Candle and I Married a Witch
Modern-day witches Kim Novak and Veronica Lake work their magic in two utterly enchanting romantic comedies.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
Saturday Matinee: 20 Million Miles to Earth
Featuring an alternate color version of the film
An outer-space menace romps its way across Rome in this creature feature classic boasting dazzling special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20
Featuring an introduction by programmer Ashley Clark
Coined in 1994 by critic Mark Dery, the term “afrofuturism” has become an essential framework for art about imagined and alternative global Black experiences. As the author Ytasha Womack writes, “Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.” Afrofuturist ideas have found fertile ground in film, and this expansive series takes viewers on an international, intergalactic journey that stretches back long before the term existed, and far into the future. Spanning animation, documentary, and genre spectacle, these exuberant visions of Black creativity, resistance, and freedom zigzag across the African diaspora from New York to Brasilia to Kinshasa to worlds unknown. Curated by Ashley Clark, the series draws together films from Space is the Place: Afrofuturism on Film, which took place at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2015; a sequel planned for 2020 that was canceled due to the pandemic; and a selection of all-new titles, many of them available for streaming for the first time.
Features: Space Is the Place (1974), Born in Flames (1983), The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Ornette: Made in America (1985), Yeelen (1987), Welcome II the Terrordome (1995), The Last Angel of History (1996), An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012), White Out, Black In (2014), Crumbs (2015), Once There Was Brasilia (2017), Supa Modo (2018)
Shorts: The Changing Same (2001), Dark Matters (2010), The Becoming Box (2011), Hasaki Ya Suda (2011), Native Sun (2011), Robots of Brixton (2011), Jonah (2013), Touch (2013), Twaaga (2013), Afronauts (2014), You and I and You (2015), The Golden Chain (2016), 1968 < 2018 > 2068 (2018), I Snuck Off the Slave Ship (2019), T (2019), Zombies (2019)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21
The People United and Black and Blue
In the midst of a historic reckoning over police brutality and systemic racism, two essential documentaries from the mid-1980s offer timely lessons on the power of protest. Alonzo Speight’s The People United is a crucial snapshot of a decisive moment in Boston history when the city’s predominately Black Roxbury neighborhood took unified action against escalating incidents of police brutality. Its galvanizing portrait of organized resistance is echoed in Hugh King and Lamar Williams’s Black and Blue, which chronicles an impassioned community response to decades of police violence against people of color in Philadelphia through a hard-hitting mix of archival materials, news clips, and documentary footage.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22
Short + Feature: It’s a Mad, Mad Christmas
A Christmas Inventory and A Christmas Tale
There’s no place like home for the holidays as two singularly imaginative auteurs capture the comedy and chaos of Christmastime family gatherings.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23
Directed by Margarethe von Trotta
One of cinema’s foremost feminist artists, German auteur Margarethe von Trotta engages fearlessly with political, historical, and social issues to redefine the representation of women onscreen. Emerging from the New German Cinema movement that launched her early collaborators Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff (with whom she codirected The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum), von Trotta went on to become the first woman to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival with Marianne and Juliane. She’s remained one of contemporary European cinema’s leading voices ever since, bringing searing stories of courageous, visionary women—including Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, twelfth-century mystic Hildegard von Bingen, and philosopher Hannah Arendt—to the screen with complexity and conviction.
Featuring: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975), Marianne and Juliane (1981), Rosa Luxemburg (1986), Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen (2009)**, Hannah Arendt (2012)
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 24
A decade in the making, Argentine filmmaker Mariano Llinás’s La flor is an audacious, unrepeatable labor of love and madness that redefines the concept of binge viewing. Filmed around the world, this landmark of marathon cinema is composed of six distinct episodes—including a monster movie, a musical, a spy thriller, and a remake of a French classic—each starring the same four women. A delirious plunge down a seemingly endless array of narrative rabbit holes, La flor is an epic adventure in scale and imagination, a wildly entertaining and addictive ode to the power of storytelling.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25
Double Feature: And to All a Good Fright
Cronos and Black Christmas
Have yourself a scary little Christmas with a twisted Yuletide vampire fable and a groundbreaking slasher slay ride.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26
Saturday Matinee: City Lights
City Lights, the most cherished film by Charlie Chaplin, is also his ultimate Little Tramp chronicle. The writer-director-star achieved new levels of grace, in both physical comedy and dramatic poignancy, with this silent tale of a lovable vagrant falling for a young blind woman who sells flowers on the street (a magical Virginia Cherrill) and mistakes him for a millionaire. Though this Depression-era smash was made after the advent of sound, Chaplin remained steadfast in his love for the expressive beauty of the pre-talkie form. The result was the epitome of his art and the crowning achievement of silent comedy.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27
Cary Grant Comedies
Cary Grant may have been classic Hollywood’s ultimate embodiment of suave sophistication, but thankfully he never took himself too seriously, as seen in these comedy classics that showcase his inimitable flair for farce. A former acrobat who was as adept at delivering sparkling banter as he was at taking a slapstick pratfall, Grant imbued his comic performances with a slyly winking charm and breezy joie de vivre that feels at once effortless and virtuosic. The perfect antidote to the winter blues, these slices of golden-age heaven pair Grant with some of the studio era’s most legendary leading ladies—including Katharine Hepburn (Holiday), Irene Dunne (The Awful Truth), Myrna Loy (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House), and Ingrid Bergman (Indiscreet)—and let the screwball sparks fly.
Featuring: I’m No Angel (1933), She Done Him Wrong (1933), The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938)*, Holiday (1938), My Favorite Wife (1940)**, The Talk of the Town (1942)*, Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)*, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Indiscreet (1958), Operation Petticoat (1959), The Grass Is Greener (1960), That Touch of Mink (1962), Father Goose (1964)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 28
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Cinema’s past flickers to mesmerizing life in Bill Morrison’s chronicle of a singular film collection’s exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29
Short + Feature: Altitude Adjustment
Snow Canon and Clouds of Sils Maria
Intense relationships between women play out amidst the dramatic landscapes of the Alps in these multilayered explorations of power dynamics and female intimacy.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30
Films by Camille Billops and James Hatch
Trailblazing artist and polymath Camille Billops (1933–2019) and her partner in life and work, James Hatch (1928–2020), left behind invaluable legacies as archivists who worked tirelessly to preserve records of Black cultural life and as filmmakers who turned their unflinching camera on Billops’s own, often painful personal experiences. The films they made together, while grounded in documentary, use a range of techniques including reenactments, dramatization, and satire to illuminate the ways in which race, gender, and class shape everyday life. In their Family Trilogy—Suzanne, Suzanne; Finding Christa; and A String of Pearls—the pair cover more than thirty years of troubling truths from Billops’s own family, tackling issues of drug addiction, abuse, unwanted pregnancy, and motherhood with fearless honesty.
Features: Finding Christa (1991), The KKK Boutique Ain’t Just Rednecks (1994), A String of Pearls (2002)
Shorts: Suzanne, Suzanne (1982), Older Women and Love (1987), Take Your Bags (1998)
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31
The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström, 1921)Criterion Collection Edition #579
Thirty Years of the Film Foundation—New Titles Added!
In November, we kicked off our thirtieth-anniversary celebration for film-preservation powerhouse The Film Foundation, founded by Martin Scorsese in 1990. This month, the initial thirty-title line-up is joined by four restored films directed by an array of Hollywood-pantheon auteurs: a jewel of pre-Code horror from Michael Curtiz, Nicholas Ray’s poetic rodeo tale, Charles Laughton’s legendary sole feature, and an antiwar classic by Stanley Kubrick.
Featuring: Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), The Lusty Men (1952), Night of the Hunter (1955), Paths of Glory (1957)