For those of you in the United States, I have both good news and bad news. The bad news is that Criterion films will be removed from your beloved Netflix service by the end of 2011. The good news is that those titles will be available from the competing video streaming service Hulu. Criterion has explained their decision in a Facebook posting.
As of now, eight Akira Kurosawa films are already available for streaming from Hulu: Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low and Madadayo. The Criterion collection can be accessed from Hulu’s special Criterion page. Of course, due to licensing reasons, this doesn’t really make any difference to those outside of the US, as neither service is available outside of North America. The only ones affected could be Canadians, where Netflix operates but Hulu doesn’t (but I’m not sure if Neflix Canada ever actually included Criterion titles?).
In other and totally unrelated news, there are two recent films that are kind of Kurosawa related. One is the Mexican Oscar nominated film Biutiful, which tells the story of a man who, after being diagnosed with cancer, tries to find meaning for his life. The film, which has obvious connections to Kurosawa’s Ikiru, was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who has been critically highly acclaimed for such films as Amores perros, 21 Grams and Babel.
The other recent Kurosawa related film is The Destiny of Lesser Animals, which is a Ghanian-American co-production. The film has not yet been released, but according to reports it was conceived as an homage to Kurosawa’s Stray Dog. The IMDb storyline reads: “When a Ghanaian police officer, desperate to return to America, loses his newly minted counterfeit passport, he embarks on a dangerous odyssey through urban Ghana in order to find it.”
Let us know your thoughts if you have seen either!