My Two Cents
Monday, 08 April 2019 19:14

The Criterion Channel is here (and it’s pretty great)!

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Today is a day many of us in the cinephile community have been eagerly awaiting: Criterion has finally launched their streaming replacement for FilmStruck, better known as The Criterion Channel.

It officially launched this morning with apps on AppleTV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS and Android. You can also view it via web browser.

The good news is, the launch seems to have gone nearly flawlessly. I checked for the Roku download shortly after midnight. Finding it not yet available, I figured it was more likely to launch early AM on the East Coast, where Criterion’s offices are located. So I went to bed and checked again when I woke up here in California. [Read on here...]

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Sure enough, the Roku app was ready. So a quick download later, I gave it a try. Start-up was easy – you simply launch the app and run the sign-in feature. I’d already become a Charter subscriber, so the app asked me to visit an activation page (via web browser) and enter a 4-digit code. That activated the app on my Roku device and added it to my account. And that was it. Painless.

The even better news is, The Criterion Channel’s launch library is fantastic. This app appears to be stacked with content. Criterion says it has more than 1,000 titles from the Janus Films and Criterion Collection libraries, plus special features and regularly-curated content too. And I believe them.

The first thing that caught my eye when I began browsing the app, is a newly-assembled collection dedicated to the recently departed French director Agnès Varda, including 14 of her films and interviews too.

Agnes Varda

Then I spotted Al Reinert’s great spaceflight documentary, For All Mankind. So I watched that in its entirety. The HD quality video was excellent. I experienced fast response times and not a glitch. Note that the content is available in a mix of HD and SD (for some older extras), but most is HD.

For All Mankind

When that was done, I searched “Akira Kurosawa” and was delighted to see 45 entries! That included most of his films and extras too. I was thrilled to see Dersu Uzala and had to watch a few minutes of that.

Then I searched “Godzilla” and found 23 entries. A search of “Godard” brings up 51 entries. “Zatoichi” finds 30 entries. “Fellini” brings up 29 entries. “New wave” shows 45 entries. “Noir” 44 entries.

Kurosawa search

Any way you slice it, this content library is terrific. And it’s only likely to get better with time. Color me impressed.

I’ve said before that Criterion’s told me you can have four streams at once under your account, so you can share your membership with family members.

Over time, Criterion does hope to launch internationally as well, though that will be more complicated given licensing issues. And I’m told that they plan to add select 4K content in the future as well.

Bottom line: If you’re a cinephile The Criterion Channel is worth every penny. Don’t hesitate to subscribe. And if you’re on the fence, try it for free for 14 days and see if you like it.

Stay tuned...

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