Charlie Chaplin riding the gears of a massive machine.
Photo: Roy Export S.A.S

What We’re Watching on the Criterion Collection’s New Streaming Service

December 21, 2019
2 minute read

The Criterion Collection recently launched its on-demand streaming service, the Criterion Channel, which means that you can now stream a majority of the titles from its vast library of art-house essentials. From classic to contemporary, the global selection counts more than 1,000 films in all. Time to upgrade your Netflix-and-chill game. Here, we pick a few of our personal favorites:

Modern Times (1936)

Modern Times is Charlie Chaplin’s comedic take on the human condition in the wake of technological advancement. Within the current context of economic disparity and the threat of A.I., the film is as relevant today as it was in 1936. This is the original man-versus-machine story that ultimately resolves itself with a sense of hope for humanity.” —Andrew Zuckerman

Surface Tension (1968)

“The title of this arresting short work by Hollis Frampton says it all. An experimental three-part film, it’s fascinating and beautiful, and, at times, also frenetic and nauseatingly choppy. My favorite part is the speedy, peripatetic tour of New York City. Imagine Google Maps circa 1968—it’s a rare glimpse into the life of a city that, more than 50 years later, is now an entirely different world. Watching it today, there’s a  then-and-now contrast that creates an interesting tension, one the filmmaker couldn’t have imagined.” —Spencer Bailey

Chungking Express (1994)

“In this dreamy Wong Kar-wai classic set in 1990s Hong Kong, love, heartbreak, and chance encounters intersect at a late-night Midnight Express deli, where the storyline of one jilted policeman emerges against the background of another, and people go about their daily routines and strange obsessions. Gorgeous cinematography and Wong’s portrayal of time—frantic and passing by in a color-smeared flash one moment, and languorously slowed down the next—evocatively capture the feeling of loneliness, longing, and living in a bustling city.” —Aileen Kwun