As France prepares to hold the deciding round of a Presidential election of enormous stakes on Sunday, the Criterion Channel of the new streaming site FilmStruck is in the midst of a festival celebrating Jean Renoir. The heart of the French cinema has always been political, and Renoir, its great classical filmmaker, is also a political modernist who found history on the wing where you’d both most and least expect it. On FilmStruck, alongside such nineteen-thirties films of express social conflict as “The Crime of Monsieur Lange,” “Grand Illusion,” and “The Rules of the Game,” is a rare postwar treasure, one that hasn’t been shown onscreen here in many years and has never been available on American home video: “Picnic in the Grass,” from 1959. It’s Renoir’s most idiosyncratically imaginative film; its protagonist, a biologist with utopian plans to reform the realm of human reproduction, is also planning to run for an office that didn’t exist at the time and remains a utopian dream: the Presidency of Europe.
-Richard Brody on what to stream this weekend The New Yorker