The Criterion Channel is the perfect movie-streaming service you’ve by no means heard of. A subscription prices about the identical as Netflix or Hulu: $10.99 per 30 days, or $99.99 if paid yearly (about $8.33 per 30 days). Instead of providing new films which have completed their theater runs, unique flicks produced in home, or binge-worthy TV collection, the Criterion Channel’s library consists of about 2,000 rigorously chosen movies, a lot of them offered as curated collections accompanied by the additional supplies usually discovered solely on DVD or Blu-ray disc releases.
Not each movie on provide is a masterpiece, however the overwhelming majority are least good. The web site They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? maintains what I take into account to be the most reliable list of the 100 best films ever made, and you may watch no less than half of these films on The Criterion Channel.
That mentioned, this service could be very positively geared towards the adventurous viewer. Many of the titles are in languages apart from English (so, you may must learn subtitles), and the newer titles on rotation after I wrote this evaluate are, to place it politely, fairly obscure. A number of of the much less obscure ones are Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt’s Diamantino, from Portugal; Jafar Panahi’s 3 Faces, from Iran; Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, from France; and Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still, from China.
Geared for the fanatic
The cineaste, then again, will discover the Criterion Channel important. You’ll discover almost full—and in some instances, full—collections of movies by masters like Chantal Akerman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrea Arnold, Olivier Assayas, Ingmar Bergman, Les Blank, Robert Bresson, Luis Bunuel, Jane Campion, Charles Chaplin, Rene Clair, Jacques Demy, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Sergei Eisenstein, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Federico Fellini, Hollis Frampton, Jean-Luc Godard, Aki Kaurismaki, Abbas Kiarostami, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Masaki Kobayashi, Akira Kurosawa, Louis Malle, Jean-Pierre Melville, Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse, Yasujro Ozu, Satyajit Ray, Jean Renoir, Eric Rohmer, Roberto Rossellini, Seijun Suzuki, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jacques Tati, Francois Truffaut, Agnes Varda, Jean Vigo, Wim Wenders, Lina Wertmuller, Wong Kar-wai, William Wyler, and lots of others.
Hidden treasures await your discovery, too. Are you a Christopher Nolan fan? You received’t discover The Dark Knight or Interstellar right here, however you may watch Nolan’s fascinating micro-budget debut function Following, and his early quick movie Doodlebug. Did you want Josh & Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler? That’s not right here, both, however there’s a complete collection of the brothers’ early quick movies and their 2009 function Daddy Longlegs.
Did you swoon over Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water? His Mexican horror movie Cronos is right here. The channel doesn’t provide any Quentin Tarantino movies, however it does provide Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood (1973), a serious inspiration for Kill Bill. Odd gems like Leos Carax’s The Lovers on the Bridge (1991), Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color (2013), Louis Malle’s Vanya on 42nd Street, and Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) are price discovering.
There’s enjoyable stuff, too
Not each movie is ponderous arthouse seriousness—all berets and cigarette smoking and existential disaster. The website provides fairly a couple of enjoyable issues as nicely, from a handful of Hitchcock titles to monster films, samurai films, horror films (each black-and-white traditional and bloody shade), movies noir, midnight cult movies (plenty of David Lynch and John Waters), comedies, rock music films, sci-fi films, fantasy films, kung-fu films, English crime tales, and “B” films from the 1950s. A latest assortment showcases the ground-breaking, low-budget drive-in movies by the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis, director of Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964).
While little or no on the service is technically new, the inventive minds on the Criterion Channel work arduous at making previous stuff appear new and thrilling once more. A curated batch of movies arrives every month, reminiscent of February’s Sidney Poitier assortment, which incorporates at least 17 movies, plus a video introduction to the collection. Earlier collections included a Burt Lancaster collection, “Film Plays Itself” (i.e. movies concerning the film enterprise), a Bette Davis collection, and movies about canine.
The channel additionally suggests double options that viewers can choose and bookmark. These embody brainy crime movies, reminiscent of Stephen Frears’s The Grifters (1990) paired with David Mamet’s House of Games (1987); or two movies tailored from the identical play: Jean Renoir’s The Lower Depths (1936) and Akira Kurosawa’s The Lower Depths (1957), for instance. The website additionally curates “Saturday Matinees,” or films which might be thought of no less than considerably child pleasant: Oliver!, The Court Jester, The Black Stallion, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, et al).
The channel doesn’t provide any TV collection to binge, except you rely auteur-friendly choices reminiscent of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982), Robert Altman’s Tanner ‘88 (1988), or John Lurie’s Fishing with John (1992) that initially debuted on tv.
Some particular administrators have their very own collections, and sure Criterion titles which have been launched on DVD and Blu-ray can be found to stream, full with all their bonus options and even commentary tracks. The service provides a commentary monitor for Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader, recorded method again in 1990 for the Criterion LaserDisc version. There are many quick featurettes unique to the location, with administrators speaking about their favourite films. Recent Oscar-winner Bong Joon-ho paid a go to to the Criterion places of work for certainly one of these. A collection known as “Observations on Film Art” takes an in-depth take a look at a few of the titles after (or earlier than) you watch the precise movie. And one other collection means that you can watch a brief movie paired with a equally themed function movie.
It’s not good
Sadly, as with most different streaming companies, movies expire now and again. In October, 2019, for Halloween, the service added all 9 of the sensible “B”-level horror movies produced by Val Lewton between 1942 and 1946, and people are already gone. The Criterion Channel web site lists the flicks that might be expiring on the finish of the month, so it’s simple to maintain monitor of need to see earlier than it’s gone.
Another draw back is that the Criterion Channel app isn’t broadly accessible on good TVs apart from fashions that use the Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, or Roku working programs. There are additionally apps for Android and iOS cellular gadgets, and for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku media streamers. But if you need to handle your queue or change your account settings, it’s a lot better to log into your account utilizing an online browser. You can type the service’s complete assortment by style, 12 months, title, director, or nation, and there’s a “filter” button that permits for even deeper sorting. If you’re within the temper for a comedy, a children’ movie, an animated quick, a Western, or a film from Argentina or India, the web site is the place to go. Add a film to you watch record, after which convey up the app in your TV.
On a usability degree, the channel is each bit nearly as good as the highest three streaming companies, with robust, clear image high quality, crisp sound, legible subtitles, and intuitive controls. The cellular app works nice, too, and you may obtain content material for offline viewing. The solely barely complicated ingredient is that the Roku model comes up with three choices, Search, Explore, and Library. It defaults to Explore, which primarily provides a lot of the new content material and curated lists. Library is the place you’ll discover your queue and just lately watched titles, however “library” looks as if the unsuitable phrase for it.
The backside line
With the demise of such streaming companies as FilmStruck and We Are Colony, the Criterion Channel is likely one of the few video-on-demand companies to supply a deep library of traditional movies, and it does so with a watch on movie preservation and historical past (Fandor is one other, although it’s extra centered on indie movies and its future is cloudy). If you like films, or should you miss the times of DVD and Blu-ray discs and all of the extras that include them (however don’t need to cope with the price or storage necessities related to that media), you’ll love the Criterion Channel.