The 7 best new movies on the Criterion Channel in January 2023

Hitchcock and Kurosawa are headed to the Criterion channel this month.

If you haven't joined The Criterion Channel party yet, this is going to be a great month. The show is full of heavyweights, full of the features that make the Criterion so appealing to fans. There are series commemorating film-true documentaries, Mike Leigh's work on the BBC, and films starring early Hollywood actress Joan Bennet. Of particular note, however, is the bounty of films representing Sight & Sound's 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. Each one is a classic, and this series alone makes up the majority of subsequent recommendations.

Read More About What's on The Criterion Channel:

The Birds (1963)/Psycho (1960)

Released: January 1 | Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Writers: Evan Hunter/ Joseph Stefano

If the Tomatometer existed in the early 1960s, neither film's soundtrack would likely have given potential Audiences bring confidence. Both have received mixed reviews, as has positioned itself as relatively deviant art for commercial consumption. Just ask John Lennon or Black Sabbath. It wasn't until time passed that "The Birds" and "Psycho" achieved a reputation as masterpieces, or close to them. Birds is an impossible story to replicate, well, some pretty violent, angry birds. but It begins as a dramatic depiction of a very human love triangle. Once the human drama is interrupted, it stays that way. If there was something in particular that triggered this avian disaster, the birds were in no mood to discuss it.

Psycho is easier to imitate, but still one of a kind, a story of a hotel owner and some demons. This movie alone planted a million seeds in the public's imagination, and many of its scenes go on to become cult favorites in modern horror. At the same time, they're a double-punch of imaginative horror filmmaking that takes decades to digest. Between their works, Alfred Hitchcock participated in an extensive interview with the French critic-turned-director François Truffaut. The resulting book, Hitchcock/Truffaut (Hitchcock/Truffaut) is an excellent read for both films, as Hitchcock provides an account of this very prolific period of his filmmaking career. An astonishing insight.

Watch Psycho on the Criterion Channel

Watch The Birds on the Criterion Channel

Beau Travail (1999)

Availability: January 1 | Director: Claire Denis | Writers: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau

Cast: Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin

Beau Travail is a French play based on an unfinished novella by American author Herman Melville Billy Budd, sailor. Directed by Claire Danes (most recently High Life starring Robert Pattinson), this elegiac ditty casts aside Melville's seafaring setting of the 1700s, when East Africa was occupied by soldiers of the French Foreign Legion. The story—a sergeant who develops a hatred for a charming young recruit and vows to destroy him—is told through flashback vignettes. Dialogue is minimal. The shot composition is amazing. The tragic plot unfolds as if it were a dream in itself. Dennis claimed that the shooting was fast and the editing was painstaking, and it proved to be so. The Beau Travail is fast but not in a rush. The film has few major dramatic beats, but the visuals are so compelling—and the music so tense—that a shot of a face, a horse, or a soldier carrying a dead body is imbued with enough meaning to keep the audience engrossed.

Watch it on Criterion Channel

The 400 Blows (1959)

Availability: August 1 | Director: François Truffaut | Screenwriters: François Truffaut, Marcel Mussy

Cast: Jean-Pierre Leo Leo, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier^ The Four Hundred Blows, the powerful story of a troubled Parisian youth, was the inspiration for director François Truffaut's debut novel by the author of the above-mentioned Alfred Hitchcock. In Blows, our main character is preteen Antoine. when he Not playing truant, he was a destructive student. At home, his parents just don't seem to understand him. The film is presented with an Antoine-level perspective, making it a perfect example of the New Wave of French cinema. One tenant of this directorial genre is that movies can rival novels in honesty and artistic potency (and effectiveness). A year before the film was released and triumphed at Cannes, the director was banned from the festival for lamenting Cannes' commercialism. The French New Wave—and, by extension, the 400 hits—attempted to lead by example, elevating cinema as a literary vehicle. It's noble stuff, their intentions, but the result is a great coming-of-age drama that feels honest rather than pompous, complete with beautiful Parisian cinematography.

Watch on Criterion Channel

Available: January 1 | Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Writers: Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

Stalker (1979)

Cast: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Alisa Freindlich . This is the plot of the psychedelic science fiction drama "Stalker". this The movie starts off in a washed out sepia. We learn of the grim reality of our travelers as they lead a life of dull, routine industrial labor. Once they break through the blockade around the area and reach the otherworldly woods, the full color kicks in and strange things begin. Stalkers lead scientists and writers into a world that isn't their own, but that's exactly what they want, for better or worse. Time shifts, orthodox religious imagery, twisted realities, and danger await you. The tone is dejected, the power is extraordinary, and the less details are spoiled, the better. From the opening credits, a hypnotic atmosphere is established, but manages to keep its strangeness throughout.

Watch it on the Criterion Channel^ Available: January 1 | Director: Akira Kurosawa | Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni / Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryuzo Kikushima, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Koguni^ One adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth and one original. Both proclaim themselves high-stakes historical allegories in the opening credits, combining an almost operatic militaristic soundtrack with iconic samurai figures. The Seven Samurai is a village shop, bandits are infested, you must rely on a group of Samurai both defend themselves and teach them how to defend themselves. Like the director's own Rashomon, the morality in the game is a little nihilistic. The samurai isn't portrayed as an inherently heroic figure, but rather as a type of villain who you need to take down other villains. Not the kind of guy you want. At just over three hours, it's an epic, full of action, thoughtful writing, and three-dimensional characters.

The Blood Throne expresses itself in almost the same language, but with a more immediate tragedy. As a story, Macbeth's beats and narrative hooks are such a powerful engine, Kurosawa's direction soars along. He's gifted with atmosphere, and the gravitas he creates makes it clear that our ambitious hero and his equally ambitious wife are getting into trouble. No matter what that ethereal female spirit tells our hero, things don't seem to be going well. These two films in tandem don't sum up Kurosawa, but they speak volumes about what he's capable of.

Watch Seven Samurai on Standard Channel

Seven Samurai (1954)/Throne of Blood (1957)

Watch Bloody Throne on Standard Channel

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