Cancel your weekend plans. Hulu.com is letting anyone in the U.S. watch their Criterion Collection of films now through Monday, February 18 at this link. Free. I’ve just watched the first 20 minutes of Akira Kurasawa’s Seven Samurai for the umpteenth time. The only limitation is how many movies you can watch in the next 72 hours.
The selection includes all the big Criterion films you would expect. You can watch Kurasawa’s Hidden Fortress, which along with Seven Samurai, were two of George Lucas’s major influences for Star Wars. There’s also Kurasawa’s Rashomon, Sanjuro, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, Stray Dog, Scandal, Drunken Angel… The list goes on. And if classic Japanese Samurai films aren’t your thing, you might try what we at borg.com listed as the number one Western of all time in our top 10 list back in 2011–John Ford’s 1939 classic Stagecoach. Or try something totally different, Steve McQueen in The Blob? Or a comedy–Walter Matthau in Hopscotch?
How about Fritz Lang’s M or Charlie Chaplin in The Kid or Modern Times? Leslie Howard in the espionage thriller The Scarlet Pimpernel?
If you like a good creepy tale with a classic soundtrack, try William Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, or if strange is your thing David Lynch’s flick Eraserhead.
The free Criterion Collection movies also include Ingmar Bergman’s notable films, including a film that consistently makes movie critics’ “best of” lists–the eerie The Seventh Seal.
The 1993 popular hit political documentary The War Room is available, too.
You’ll find dozens of arthouse films from the sophisticated to the oddball and just plain quirky. You will also find several classic romance films, a wide variety of critically acclaimed foreign language films including the films of Francois Truffaut, and even niche films like World War II aviation films. And if you’re a fan of filmmaker Wes Anderson, there is a list of his recommendations at hulu.com, too.
Not every Criterion Collection film is available at hulu.com this weekend. For example, I couldn’t find one of my favorite Criterion films there–John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda. But I found all the others there I was looking for. And the great documentary The Times of Harvey Milk is a Criterion film but it is only available with Hulu Plus.
So with three days, that’s 36 2-hour movies you can watch for free if you don’t sleep. Or just watch a few. It’s like a free cable pay channel for the weekend. Have fun!