Film Threat archive logo


By Thom Bennett | June 4, 2001

Coming to a television near you – The Sundance Channel and The Criterion Collection are combining their sizable cinematic clout for a televised festival of some of the greatest films ever made.
It is the stuff of clichés… all of those channels and simply nothing worth watching. Even with myriad specialized individual channels and networks to choose from I still find myself foregoing the whole channel flipping ordeal and just going straight to the video or DVD collection in lieu of being further subjected to the millionth rerun of the same shitty blockbusters.
Well, for at least a few months the Janus Films / Criterion Collection, arguably one of the most impressive film libraries in the world, is opening its vaults and digging deep with The Sundance Channel to show an eclectic gathering of films that is anything but run of the mill television programming. The kind of films for people who a) do not get nervous when they see black and white and b) do not dismiss subtitles by saying “If I wanted to read, I would read a book.”
Cinephiles, film buffs, whatever you choose to call yourselves, this is for you. Beginning on June 7th and billed as “Sundance Channel Presents Classic World Cinema From The Criterion Collection” (don’t let the long title scare you), what we have here is a collection of some of the most interesting and influential films of all time -films from directors such as Bergman, Antonioni, Kurosawa, Tati, Tarkovsky and Fellini to name but a few – and the timing could not be better. As the crappy crop of summer films begins to roll out, why not take the ten-plus bucks you would plunk down at the local metroplex, buy a bunch of scratch-off tickets, sit your a*s down in front of the television with some Kool-Aid or whatnot and watch a handful of great films. Best-case scenario you win millions instantly, worst-case scenario you see some great films and don’t have to madden yourself with ringing cell phones and talkative moviegoers… everybody wins!
For those who get Sundance and do not have a DVD player, it is a chance to sample some of Criterion’s classic titles. For those who do not get Sundance but have a DVD player, it would serve your DVD collection well to pick up a few of these titles. For those who do not get Sundance and do not have a DVD player, well, you are pretty much s**t out of luck on this one. Here is the list of titles for the thirteen-week festival, a different film each Thursday at 9PM.
L’Avventura (The Adventure) (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1960)Antonioni’s ravishing meditation on spiritual and moral emptiness is set in motion by the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy woman during a yachting trip. 6/7, 9pm
High and Low (Tengoku To Jigoku) (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1963) The legendary Toshiro Mifune stars as a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a ruthless kidnapper in Kurosawa’s exemplary film noir, adapted from Ed McBain’s detective novel King’s Ransom. 6/14, 9pm
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot) (Jacques Tati, France, 1953) Director, co-writer and star Tati created one of cinema’s most beloved characters with this magical comedy about a hapless bachelor’s seaside vacation. 6/21, 9pm
Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, Russia, 1966) Tarkovsky’s epic masterpiece is a sweeping medireview tale about Russia’s greatest icon painter. 6/28, 9pm
Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la Peur) (Henri-Georges Clouzot, France, 1953) An American oil company enlists four tough drifters for a high-paying suicide mission: transporting explosives across the rough terrain of Central America. 7/5, 9pm
Wild Strawberries (Smultronstallet) (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1957) An elderly physician, about to receive an honorary degree, is prompted by a dream and by circumstance to revisit key moments in his life. 7/12,9pm
Knife in the Water (Noz w Wodzie) (Roman Polanski, Poland, 1962) Polanski’s brilliant, blackly comic first feature follows a couple whose boating weekend becomes an exercise in tension after they pick up an enigmatic young hitchhiker. 7/19, 9pm
Blood of a Poet (Le Sang d’un Poete) (Jean Cocteau, France, 1930) Cocteau’s dreamlike first film stretches the medium to its limits in an effort to evoke the creative process. 7/26, 9pm
The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet) (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1957) A knight returning from the Crusades tries to outwit Death in Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s apocalyptic search for meaning. 8/2, 9pm
Cleo from 5 to 7 (Cleo de 5 a 7) (Agnès Varda, France, 1961) Visionary of the French New Wave, Varda captures the atmosphere of Paris in the 60s with this portrait of a singer searching for answers as she awaits the results of a biopsy for cancer. 8/9, 9pm
Nights of Cabiria (Le Notti de Cabiria) (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1957) – Oscar® winner for Best Foreign Language Film, this haunting masterpiece stars the great Giulietta Masina as a naive prostitute searching for true love in the seediest sections of Rome. 8/16, 9pm
Grand Illusion (La Grande Illusion) (Jean Renoir, France, 1938) – A moving drama about a group of World War I POW’s trying to escape from a German prison camp, many consider this the greatest antiwar film ever made. 8/23, 9pm
Seven Samurai (Shichi-Nin No Samurai) (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1954) A desperate village hires a group of mercenary samurai to protect it from marauders in this crown jewel of Japanese cinema. 8/30, 9pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon