“Better Luck Tomorrow” (dir. Justin Lin, 2002)
The Criterion Collection has always prided itself on presenting essential classic and contemporary cinema, and its streaming platform’s April slate makes good on that promise on both fronts. Of course, that’s true of most months on the Criterion Channel, but rarely is the programming roster so evenly balanced across both sides of the 21st-century divide.
The vast array of vintage selections are highlighted by an 18-film retrospective devoted to the great actress and filmmaker Delphine Seyrig, whose iconic performance in “Jeanne Dielman” is joined here by her equally memorable work in everything from William Klein’s bonkers satire “Mr. Freedom” to Chantal Akerman’s effervescent musical “Golden Eighties.” The “Beyond Blaxploitation” series ranges from canonical classics like “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” to more under-the-radar treasures like the Max Julien Western “Thomasine & Bushrod” (a near-constant fixture on the Channel), while the latest installment of the “Adventures in Moviegoing” series invites Ethan Hawke to walk us through some of his personal favorites (a very on-brand selection that includes Cassavetes, Chaplin, and Les Blank’s “The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins”).
But the biggest draw of the Channel’s April slate belongs to more recent fare, particularly as it’s framed by Brian Hu and Chi-hui Yang’s diverse and robust package devoted to the Asian-American cinema of 2000–2009. It’s a thrill to see Justin Lin’s “Better Luck Tomorrow” placed in a more illuminating context than just “the indie movie he made before steering the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise out of oblivion,” and that scrappy thriller is joined by the likes of So Yong Kim’s poetically drifting “In Between Days,” Alice Wu’s delightful lesbian rom-com “Saving Face,” and a host of other movies that recast (and transform) familiar genre tropes through the multi-faceted prisms of the Asian-American experience.
Available to stream April 1
– “Golden Eighties” (4/1)
– “The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins” (4/1)
– “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” (4/1)