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The Lens: Auteur, Auteur

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 7, 2008 - Everyone's getting into the online viewing game: Criterion, the company that has already transformed DVDs into fetish-objects, has just launched a new website called "The Auteurs " which offers streams of films from around the world - and not exclusively from their own collection. Most are $5 per view, but there's also a wide selection of free films. And this isn't just a motley assortment of unknown and public-domain titles, either.

Browse the library and you'll find films by Antonioni, Wenders, Cronenberg, Wong Kar-Wai, Altman, Jarmusch, Michael Powell, Takeshi Kitano, Bunuel, Herzog - even recent art-house fare like "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and "Patti Smith: Dream of Life." Sign up, browse around.

And if you don't mind a few commercial breaks, there's always Hulu , which recently added "Lawrence of Arabia" (minus the overture) and Billy Wilder's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" to its collection. The latter can also be found on IMDB .

For a hard-core fix of avant-garde, UbuWeb  remains a great resource for the most difficult and obscure films, from Dulac, Dali and Brecht to Michael Snow, Guy Debord, Yukio Mishima and Godard in his Dziga Vertov Group phase.

Even YouTube senses a change and has expanded the aspect ratio of its windows.

The Internet. It's not just for the Star Wars Kid  and the Numa Numa song any more.

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