Archive for the ‘The Criterion Collection’ Category

Pépé le Moko

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #172: Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko. The strange start of this film – all the time spent describing the cosmopolitan melange of the Algerian casbah travelogue-style – is the key to understanding what’s happening inside the typically clever head of notorious jewel-thief Pépé le Moko. The man is […]

Black Orpheus

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #48: Marcel Camus’s Black Orpheus. I tried watching this many years ago, but wasn’t in the right frame of mind to get through it. I’m glad I gave it another shot, because it’s a wonderful movie. The myth of Orpheus & Eurydice is my favorite, and it translates […]

Samurai Spy

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #312: Masahiro Shinoda’s Samurai Spy. Having read Shusaku Endo’s Silence many years ago, the persecution of Catholicism during the Tokugawa shogunate was something that immediately grabbed me here. It came as only a slight surprise to discover that Masahiro Shinoda directed an adaptation of the book six years after […]

The Red Shoes

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #44: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes. I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy this movie, as I haven’t had much luck with Powell & Pressburger in the past, but it was good. The costuming, makeup and other production values were well situated to make the most of […]

Death of a Cyclist

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #427: Juan Antonio Bardem’s Death of a Cyclist. I can’t recall the last time I saw a film where the scene transitions were handled so masterfully. One character blows cigarette smoke to end a scene, a cut, and in a different time and place another character gets smoke blown […]

Taste of Cherry

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #45: Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry. Apparently, the entirety of Iran is a giant gravel-pile construction site. That’s the impression given in this film, and considering how little I know of the country due to my own nation’s sanctions against it, I’m going to choose to assume that Iran […]

The Great Dictator

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #565: Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Not Chaplin’s greatest work, but certainly a strong propaganda film. What struck me most is the ignorance with which the prison camps and Jewish ghettos are betrayed. There are some obvious instances early in the film where it seems as […]

Insomnia

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #47:Erik Skjoldbjærg’s Insomnia. Ever need a good night’s sleep so badly that you just stop caring about anything and everything around you? Your morality foggily disintegrates, your goals become disjointed, your ego shrivels, and even your id is only capable of short bursts of primeval action. That’s what life […]

Henry V

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #41: Laurence Olivier’s Henry V. There’s an awful lot of British “Adieuing” in this play about the Battle of Agincourt. Had to get that out of my system. This is film that is best talked about in terms of its historical context, which Bruce Eder’s Criterion essay does and […]

Empire of Passion

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #467: Nagisa Oshima’s Empire of Passion. What goes around comes around; and in this tale of lust, murder, guilt, and insanity, a circle motif appears time and again as a reminder. Many Japanese period pieces feature characters with the agency & power to change their world; or failing that, […]

Kagemusha

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #267: Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha. This is a very thought-provoking film. The story could have easily been turned into farce but for the unbearable tension that Shingen’s double is forced to shoulder in maintaining the pretense that he actually is the ruler, while the real Shingen molders […]

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #452: Martin Ritt’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. If only all spy movies were along these lines. Expertly acted, with a tight plot and tighter script, the intricacies inexorably unwind throughout the movie. Layers within layers with layers of plotting, no gizmos, no flashbang fight sequences, […]

Boudu Saved From Drowning

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #305: Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved From Drowning. I have relatively large, completely personal issues with old French comedy. À nous la liberté is pretty much the only old French comedy I’ve ever really liked. I think it boils down to a feeling that comedies of this stripe are constantly […]

Sid and Nancy

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #20: Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy. I’m not a fan of this biopic about Sid Vicious, Nancy Spungen and their tragic, drug-fueled, destructive relationship. The series of elliptical, tangential vignettes of key moments in their life together does well to simulate the rare surfacing lucidity of drug addicts, […]

Rebecca

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #135: Alfred Hitchcocks’s Rebecca. There are, specifically, two things I want to write about in regard to this film. The first one is the acting of Joan Fontaine. It was no surprise to me that she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, as […]

Sanjuro

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #53: Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro. At first watch, this film is more comedic and less compelling than Yojimbo. At its essence, this is a buddy flick, but Sanjuro has a double handful of impetuous idiots to wrangle instead of just one. Because of this, Sanjuro’s utmost capability stands out at […]

Armageddon

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #40: Michael Bay’s Armageddon. Despite the laughable fact that this movie is included in the Criterion Collection; and the almost certain financial & business-tactical reasons for its inclusion, I’m going to try to review this film in good faith. This Michael Bay blockbuster came out in 1998, and […]

Blood For Dracula

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #28: Paul Morrissey’s Blood For Dracula. Blood for Dracula is little different, in essence, from it’s partner, Flesh for Frankenstein. I guess if I had to pick, I’d say I enjoyed this movie better, mainly due to the ridiculously gratuitous nudity, hot lesbian make-out scenes and a scene […]

Flesh for Frankenstein

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #27: Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein. Also known, for obvious marketing reasons, as Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, this film only uses the name “Frankenstein” as a pop culture reference to go along with the other clichéd horror tropes; mad scientists, castle laboratories, sundry chunks of corpses, creepy assistant, etc. […]

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #17: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Chances are you won’t like this movie. Even if you do enjoy it for its cinematic and allegorical value, you won’t like it. If you do like it on anything approaching an emotionally satisfying level, please seek […]

Fishing With John

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #42: John Lurie’s Fishing With John. As a fisherman, watching Fishing with John was quite an experience. Walleye and pike are only mentioned once, by Tom Waits; the rest of the time the fishing was much more exotic than what a Midwesterner like me is used […]

The Hidden Fortress

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #116: Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. Well it has been 9 months since I last reviewed a Criterion Collection film. I suppose having a 7-month old will do that to you. I had a chance to sit down last night and watch The Hidden Fortress. I […]

Le Bonheur

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #420: Agnès Varda’s Le Bonheur. After quite a long hiatus from watching Criterion Collection films [and an abortive reentry with Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming], I got back into the swing of things with this charmingly menacing film by Agnès Varda. Foremost, the film is beautiful […]

Tokyo Drifter

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #39: Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter. While this is another Seijun Suzuki gangster film, it is vastly different from Branded to Kill on just about every point. Most notable is the use of bright swathes of single colors in different scenes; the same set might be yellow, […]

Branded to Kill

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #38: Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill. Watching a Japanese B-movie was a great way to get back into the swing of Criterion reviews. This is the first Seijun Suzuki film I’ve seen, but it reminded me very much of Samuel Fuller, and it is even a […]

The Wages of Fear

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #36: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear. I no longer have any Criterion Collection films queued up at the library. After the inundation I’ve had with them over the last few weeks, I think it is time to take a bit of a break. Thankfully, the […]

Les Diaboliques

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #35: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques. This movie is amazing. I’m not one for horror movies, because I never get scared, but the ending sequence of this film even creeped me out. Pretty much any time you hear anything about this film there will be the inevitable […]

M

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #30: Fritz Lang’s M. Fritz Lang always blows my mind. The precise craftmanship in all of his films, the exactly correct framing for a shot, the inspired, slight, understated camera movements, the chiaroscuro and beauty of the black and white would be worth watching in a […]

Time Bandits

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #37: Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. Woops. This movie totally didn’t do a damn thing for me. And usually I really like Terry Gilliam. I would have preferred something like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen as the Criterion pick, if they were going to go with a […]

Lord of the Flies

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #43: Peter Brook’s Lord of the Flies. It is tough getting children to act well; just ask anyone who’s ever had to get children to act well. A vast majority of the cast in Lord of the Flies couldn’t act their way out of a wet paper […]

The Most Dangerous Game

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #46: Irving Pichel, and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s The Most Dangerous Game. As soon as this film kicked in, I realized that it was an adaptation of Richard Connell’s short story that I’d read years ago, loved and lost. So, I was excited to see how it […]

Oliver Twist

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #32: David Lean’s Oliver Twist. Two years after David Lean’s Great Expectations, Alec Guinness is back in another Dickens adaptation. This time he’s very aged through makeup and a giant prosthetic nose [that got the film denounced as anti-Semitic], but his portrayal of Fagin really shows […]

Great Expectations

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #31: David Lean’s Great Expectations. Upon seeing this version of Great Expectations, I’m fairly sure that I’ve seen it previously. As book-to-movie adaptations go, it suffers from the normal malaise of truncation, but not so much as other stories, since the verbose Dickens is involved. Alec […]

Andrei Rublev

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #34: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev. For a film named after and about a single man, Rublev is remarkably absent. Instead Tarkovsky exposes and lingers on specific events that intertwine and illuminate the life of Russia’s most famous icon painter. A chance encounter with a jester, the […]

The Long Good Friday

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #26: John Mackenzie’s The Long Good Friday. The Long Good Friday stars Bob Hoskins and contains a Gayish Pierce Brosnan. It was made before I was born, but having seen it, I believe that Guy Ritchie loves this movie. Maybe because the film is argotful of […]

Picnic at Hanging Rock

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #29: Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. Despite the fact that Gheorghe Zamfir smears his panflute are all over the the score for this film, it isn’t a bad movie. It seems to be Weir’s Australian interpretation of the Lady of the Wood mythos, with liberal […]

High and Low

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #24: Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low. Almost the entire first hour of High and Low takes place in one room, but there is no lack of activity despite this fact. Just synchronizing the blocking must have taken a ton of work. The room is spacious because […]

Alphaville

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #25: Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville. Watching this film, one of the first things I realized is that Jean-Luc Godard has no idea how to make convincing science fiction. The next thing I realized was that Godard was merely using enough of the science fiction idiom to display […]

Dead Ringers

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #21: David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. Dead Ringers is based on a true story about identical twin gynecologist drug addicts; both played by Jeremy Irons. The film is a psychological thriller deeply concerned with obsession, sexuality and co-dependence. Cronenberg doesn’t overdo the shots that contain both Mantle […]

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #360: William Greaves’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm is most interesting to me because it is a experiment in which, for the most part, the people in the film know they are being experimented upon and then become participants in the experiment themselves. It is uncontrolled metafilmmaking that defies […]

Summertime

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #22: David Lean’s Summertime. I didn’t like this movie. Sure, David Lean, sure Katharine Hepburn, sure Technicolor, sure boring. I think this is one of those films that doesn’t age well in terms of its accessibility to audiences. It plays pitch-perfect to pre-sexual revolution morality for […]

The Naked Kiss

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #18: Samuel Fuller’s The Naked Kiss. Sam Fuller is widely regarded as a very masculine filmmaker; his works associated with violence, bravado, exploitation, primitiveness and vulgarity. And while those associations are correct, the masculine label is misplaced. A film like The Naked Kiss illustrates Fuller’s claim […]

The Vanishing

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #133: George Sluizer’s The Vanishing. The Vanishing is a very 80s movie with a very 80s score. It is a pretty good thriller/horror, especially because of its unorthodox methodology. Much of the film is spent with detailed views of a sociopath’s life; the man who kidnaps […]

By Brakhage: an anthology

THIS POST CONTAINS A PICTURE OF AN EVISCERATED CORPSE, IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE IT, DON’T READ THIS POST. A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #184: Stanley Brakhage’s By Brakhage: an anthology. I’d forgotten how good Stan Brakhage is at the avant-garde filmmaking gig. It has been 5 years since my […]

The Burmese Harp

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #379: Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp. The Burmese Harp seems less the anti-war film it is often billed as, and more of a post-war re-evaluation of Japanese nationalism. For practical purposes there are two characters in this film, the deserter Mizushima and the rest of his […]

The Naked City

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #380: Jules Dassin’s The Naked City. Even without the ridiculously annoying narrator, The Naked City would still be a mediocre film. It is basically an episode of CSI without any of the technology. A police procedure film about the murder of a young model that takes […]

Vengeance is Mine

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #384: Shohei Imamura’s Vengeance is Mine. This film was much more graphic than I expected it to be. It also has some great sex scenes. I’ll get into what I mean by great a bit later. The film is based around an actual Japanese serial killer […]

The Fallen Idol

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #357: Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol. Carol Reed and Graham Greene, what a combo. I think a large part of the reason I don’t read much modern fiction is that Graham Greene’s work is so fully satisfying that I can’t fathom a reason to try anything […]

Beastie Boys Video Anthology

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #100: Beastie Boys Video Anthology. I have a distinct memory of dancing Intergalactic stop-motion style at some dance or other with my high school buddies senior year. I was never a huge Beastie Boys fan, though I certainly got down to their music. For a person […]

Solaris

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #164: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. My Dostoevsky professor once said that Russians are more Oriental than Occidental in temperament, and the contemplative pacing and constant importance of the unimportant throughout Tarkovsky’s Solaris seems to support this assertion fairly well. For those used to Stanislaw Lem’s whimsical cybernetic […]

Bicycle Thieves

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #374: Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. Bicycle Thieves is one of those films that ends up on every Film History syllabus. It shouldn’t be avoided, but I think that it appreciates to a viewer who has actually had to live and scrounge to make ends meet […]

Samurai Spy

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #312: Masahiro Shinoda’s Samurai Spy. Like any good spy movie, most of the time in Samurai Spy the viewer doesn’t know who is who, who is what and who is where. This is good. The film also has a bit of an Ian Fleming flair to […]

Charade

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #57: Stanley Donen’s Charade. What struck me most about Charade was the way in which it could show callous and sometimes vicious murders in such a carefree way that you felt free to not care about the dead schmucks. That is a feeling that lasts throughout […]

Fanny och Alexander [Theatrical Version]

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #263: Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny och Alexander [Theatrical Version]. Although I’ve yet to see the five hour television version of this film, Fanny and Alexander seems an odd title for a film in which Fanny is little more than an afterthought foil to her brother Alexander. There […]

Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #82: Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet. Laurence Olivier did remarkably well in his transplant of Hamlet to the silver screen. Although the transplant involved a gastric bypass of much of the play’s text, Olivier mitigated this omission by inspired camerawork. Terrence Rafferty’s Criterion essay suggest that the camera […]

Overlord

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #382: Stuart Cooper’s Overlord. I was contacted by a NYC marketing firm to review Overlord, which was released on the 17th. So hey, free DVD. This is the second time that someone has happened along my movie reviews and asked me to do one for them. […]

Paul Robeson: Outsider – Body & Soul/Borderline

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #371: Oscar Micheaux’s Body & Soul and Kenneth MacPherson’s Borderline. Body & Soul Paul Robeson and Oscar Micheaux are legendary, so I was eager to see what they could do in collaboration. Body & Soul is Robeson’s first screen appearance, and quite an opening act. The […]

Pandora’s Box

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #358: G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box. I said I’d finished watching all of the films that I’d seen before, but Pandora’s Box showed up at the Library recently, and I’ve currently got Bicycle Thieves in the queue. Watching Pandora’s Box this time around was much more fulfilling […]

The Blood of a Poet

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #67: Jean Cocteau’s The Blood of A Poet. At first, this film seemed impenetrable to me. It only clocks in at 50 minutes, but the film is so filled with a need for interpretation that “pregnant” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Jean Cocteau explicitly states […]

The Killers

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #176: Robert Siodmak’s The Killers; Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Killers; Don Siegal’s The Killers. Here’s another example where The Criterion folks are in a position to provide a unique cinematic experience. In addition to Robert Siodmak’s classic noir, they’ve also provided Andrei Tarkovsky’s first student film and […]

Bande à part

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #174: Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande à part. Bande à part is only loosely a gangster film, only loosely a noir, and a very unconventional film in just about all other respects. It is also one of the most influential of the French New Wave and is still […]

The Last Temptation of Christ

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #70: Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. Ever since I first saw this movie, I’ve loved it. There was a controversial screening of it at Notre Dame when I was an undergrad. But instead of talking about how everything that differs from dogma is controversial […]

The Rock

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #108: Michael Bay’s The Rock. Oh God. I can’t really believe that The Rock [and Armageddon] are on the Criterion Collection list. But then, Michael Bay has a contract with them. Anyway, their eccentricity as films on this list is a good opportunity to apply critical […]

Down By Law

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #166: Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. Jim Jarmusch knows how to shoot in black and white. I always forget this until I rewatch something of his. I own Dead Man, and I should probably get my hands on this film as well. Shot in New Orleans, […]

The Importance of Being Earnest

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #158: Anthony Asquith’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I have a queer affection for this film. It isn’t my type of film at all, in fact. But it is so deliberately smarmy and the dialogue so witty and refreshing that I quickly forget that I’d want […]

Rashômon

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #138: Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon. There isn’t a whole lot to say in critical terms about Rashômon that hasn’t been said before, and better than I could say it. So instead of talking about it in terms of its examination of truth, its cultural context, or its […]

Playtime

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #112: Jacques Tati’s Playtime. M. Hulot is back, at least part-time, for his last appearance in cinema. Playtime continues Tati’s tradition of satirizing the mundane, but unlike M. Hulot’s Holiday, this time the focus is on modernity rather than leisure time. Filmed nearly 15 years after […]

Shoot The Piano Player

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #315: François Truffaut’s Shoot The Piano Player. I only have ten more films to rewatch in The Criterion Collection before I can start watching stuff I haven’t seen before again. I’m looking forward to that day. Here’s a little context about Shoot the Piano Player. It […]

Dazed and Confused

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #336: Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. -Peter De Vries The screencaps are crummy in this review because the library sent me the Full Screen version instead of the Criterion Collection version. I had to grab screencaps from elsewhere. Dazed […]

Hiroshima mon amour

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #196: Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour. Rien is, perhaps, the most beautiful word in French. In Hiroshima mon amour such words of emptiness and loss echo throughout. The opening sequence in particular is stunning for its evocation and dialogue; it is so full of implication that […]

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #175: Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. America is the first country to have gone from barbarism to decadence without the usual intervening period of civilization. —Oscar Wilde I’ve never used any sort of illegal drug, so offering an examination of the verisimilitude of […]

Faces

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #252: John Cassavetes’ Faces. I think, maybe, that the correct reaction [at least in terms of the reaction Cassavetes was aiming for] to Faces is supposed to be loathing. It is a long, torturous journey through the darkest parts of married adult life, and there are […]

Shadows

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #251: John Cassavetes’ Shadows. I said I was dreading the Cassavetes films that I was going to have to watch as a part of my somewhat manic determination to watch all of the films in the Criterion Collection, so, of course, I ordered the two I’ve […]

Brazil

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #51: Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this film and this time it gave me the creepy crawlies. This is satire done right, and the fact that after 20 years reality has nearly caught up with its prescience is what makes me feel […]

M. Hulot’s Holiday

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #110: Jacques Tati’s M. Hulot’s Holiday. I have a theory that the quality of a country’s comedy is inversely proportionate to the quality of its cuisine. Thus, the genius of Monty Python and the horrid dish known as Toad in the Hole have the same sort […]

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #16: Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island. Unintentional Mifunefest concludes with Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island. Most folks say that this is the best of the three films, and I have to agree at least in terms of plot and characterization. I think […]

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #15: Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple. Unintentional Mifunefest continues with the crepuscularly spectacular Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple. Even as a middle portion of a trilogy this film is strong enough to stand on its own. The lack of firm resolution might […]

Yojimbo

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #52: Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. You might know the remake of this film better than Yojimbo itself. Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone retold it as A Fistful of Dollars. I’ve not actually seen A Fistful of Dollars, but this is the second time I’ve seen Yojimbo. While […]

The Royal Tenenbaums

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #157: Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. As I pointed out in my review of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I don’t like Wes Anderson’s films. This creates a slight problem for me, since he’s got a contract with Criterion Co. to have his films [the […]

Samurai I: Miyamoto Musashi

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #14: Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai I: Miyamoto Musashi. Miyamoto Musashi is the first installment of Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy, an action-packed series of films that follows the life of Japan’s greatest warrior as he grows into his legend. This initial film shows a very different Musashi from […]

À nous la liberté

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #160: René Clair’s À nous la liberté. Ever since I first saw this film a few years ago its cheery theme song comes back as an earworm at least once a month. “À nous, à nous, la li-ber-té!” While it is no longer roll-on-the-floor hilarious, it […]

The 39 Steps

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #56: Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. I would like to preface this review by saying that Marian Keane’s Criterion Essay linked at the end is going to be much better than anything I will write here. The 39 Steps is my favorite Hitchcock film, made when […]

Do The Right Thing

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #97: Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. It might be a bit reductive to compare Spike Lee and Jane Campion [An Angel at My Table] in terms of minority filmmaking, but it is interesting to see how their films exert themselves in that sort of space. […]

Hoop Dreams

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #289: Peter Gilbert’s, Steve James’s, and Frederick Marx’s Hoop Dreams. I never really wanted to watch this movie again. I saw it twice in college during my History of Documentary Film class [along with Nanook of the North] and as it is nearly 3 hours long, […]

Le Passion de Jeanne d’Arc

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #62: Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. I must admit that the first time I saw this, I slept through the majority. I was fresh from fencing practice in the womblike screening room of O’Shaughnessy Hall and there was no accompaniment to the […]

Pickup on South Street

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #224: Samuel Fuller’s Pickup on South Street. I first saw this in a film noir class I took in college, That same week we watched Kiss Me Deadly, so I got a bit confused and thought this film involved Mike Hammer and ended with a nuclear […]

Le Corbeau

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #227: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le Corbeau. Le Corbeau was made in occupied France in 1943. It was denounced by the Vichy government, denounced by the French Resistance and denounced by the Vatican. For a film that seems rather innocuous in 2006 America there must be a lot […]

The Silence of the Lambs

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #13: Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. “Nothing is so frightening as what’s behind the closed door. The audience holds its breath along with the protagonist as she/he (more often she) approaches that door…” Stephen King in Danse Macabre and before that Val Lewton The […]

Shock Corridor

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #19: Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor. It was nice seeing this film again. Samuel Fuller has that peculiar position that only seems possible in the world of film; a master of cinema, but also a producer of schlock. Shock Corridor is a perfect example of this sort […]

Det sjunde inseglet [The Seventh Seal]

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #11: Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Rev. 8:1 There is little I can say about The Seventh Seal that has not been said before. I will […]

Nanook of the North

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #33: Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North. This is the third time now that I’ve seen Nanook of the North. I’m currently rewatching films I’ve already seen but not reviewed that are on the Criterion list. Despite the fact that Nanook of the North is filled […]

RoboCop

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #23: Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. This is a good time to explore the Criterion Collection’s mission statement, since I know plenty of people think that having RoboCop on a list with The 400 Blows and 8½ is an abomination. The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important […]

The Sword of Doom

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #280: Kihachi Okamoto’s The Sword of Doom. As I watched this, I kept thinking that if Samuel Fuller had been Japanese, he would have made The Sword of Doom. This film has the curious mix of shlock and art, brutality and grace that Fuller was known […]

Viridiana

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #332: Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana. Viridian comes from the Latin viridis, meaning green, but color has little to do with Buñuel’s Viridiana. He took the name from the life of a St. Viridiana [Feb 1st], but that is tangential to the action of the film. It is […]

The Browning Version

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #294: Anthony Asquith’s The Browning Version. Summer is over and since all the children are heading back to school I thought I’d better pick up where I left off 4 months ago and start watching Criterion Collection films again. This film happens to take place at […]

Life of Brian

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #61: Monty Python’s Life of Brian. I’m taking a bit of a break from watching Criterion films I’ve not seen before and doing a little catch-up by writing reviews for films I’d seen before I decided to work on this list. Appropriately, Monty Python’s Life of […]

8 ½

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #140: Federico Fellini’s 8 ½. Cinema is the art form that lends itself most easily to postmodernism and 8 ½ is the most snugly postmodern film I’ve seen in a long time. Self-reflexivity is its bread and butter, and while that may be gimmicky now, it […]

Le Souffle au coeur

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #328: Louis Malle’s Murmur of the Heart. In the Criterion-associated strange synergies of my life I’ve had two separate works in two separate days that replay the story of Oedipus and his mother in new fashions. First, Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, in which the 15 […]

Bakushû [Early Summer]

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #240: Yasujiro Ozu’s Early Summer. As contemporary dramas go, Ozu’s Early Summer manages to select issues that are both timeless and practical in the instant of their genesis. It is at once a story of post-war Japan and family crisis, and a chance to examine both […]

Lacombe, Lucien

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #329: Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien. Lacombe, Lucien is a film intentionally filled with symbols, almost allegorical in effect, pertaining to issues about the loyalty and responsibility of French civilians during the German occupation in World War II. Lucien is necessarily the most nuanced character, since the […]

Metropolitan

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #326: Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. Metropolitan is a movie about the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie, debutantes and their escorts, people who read literary criticism but not the actual books, and kids who obsessively worry about their own downfall, debate theoretical political systems and don’t know how to drive […]

Spartacus

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #105: Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus. The first time I saw this film I was about ten. Therefore I missed all the political criticism, sexual undertones [there should totally be a lounge band called The Sexual Undertones] and pathos contained in the film. I also knew jack about […]

The Night Porter

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #59: Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter. There is a picture of a naked woman at the end of this review. If you or your workplace has a problem with that, you should probably not read this or wait until you get home. The Night Porter is […]

The Tales of Hoffman

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #317: Powell and Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffmann. This is another Criterion film that didn’t do so much for me. I’m not too keen on musicals and there are some very large hurdles to surmount in turning a musical into a musical on film. The Tales […]

Young Mr. Lincoln

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #320: John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln. Young Mr. Lincoln is a film by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda, about Abraham Lincoln when he was just a greenhorn lawyer in Springfield, Illinois. The Geoffrey O’Brien essay linked at the end of this review is so well done […]

Elena and Her Men

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #244: Jean Renoir’s Elena and Her Men. I’ve had plenty of strange coincidences in my Criterion viewings so far. I’ve not been picking films with any rhyme or reason, but stuff like this has been happening all too often: The last movie I reviewed was by […]

Jungfrukällan [The Virgin Spring]

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #321: Ingmar Bergman’s Jungfrukällan [The Virgin Spring]. The Virgin Spring is based on a Swedish ballad called “Töre’s Daughter in Vänge” that, for the life of me, I cannot find online [although it is available as part of the liner notes for the Criterion edition of […]

A Night to Remember

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #7: Roy Baker’s A Night to Remember. This is a film where I’m going to talk nearly as much about the Criterion DVD as much as the film itself. Or maybe not. But it bears mentioning that the commentary on this release comes from two Titanic […]

F for Fake

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #288: Orson Welles’s F for Fake. This is a movie about charlatans and hanky-panky men, charismatic liars and magicians. It is something like a documentary but one in which a con man tells you he is a con man and is so good that he cons […]

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #300: Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I don’t like Wes Anderson films for the same reason I don’t like Quentin Tarantino films and the same reason I don’t like most of my poetry. It is all too referential. Yet, The Life Aquatic with […]

The Man Who Fell To Earth

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #304: Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth. Musee des Beaux Arts About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters: how well they understood Its human position; how it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully […]

Hard-Boiled

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #9: John Woo’s Hard-Boiled. John Woo must like Jazz clubs, because both The Killer and Hard-Boiled feature them, with Woo making a cameo as the club bartender in Hard-Boiled. Rarely have I seen a film with a body count as high as Hard-Boiled. The influence of […]

The Killer

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #8: John Woo’s The Killer. There is something of a directorial dialogue between Eastern and Western filmmakers. Few things so appropriately evince this tendency than the relationship between Jean Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï and John Woo’s The Killer. Woo readily states that Melville is a great […]

Le Samouraï

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #306: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. In a film like Le Samouraï, “never” means “always”. When the police inspector says that he never thinks, we know he is always thinking and when hit man Jef Costello [Alain Delon] says he never loses we know he’s already lost […]

Au hasard Balthazar

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #297: Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar. One would expect a painter-turned-filmmaker to have an eye for composition, and Bresson definitely exceeds that expectation. Throughout Au hasard Balthazar “shots as paintings” abound. This is the first film I’ve seen by Bresson, and before I watched it, I […]

Kedamono no ken

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #311: Hideo Gosha’s Sword of the Beast. It just happens to be coincidence that I was reading the Hagakure when this movie came in on my hold list at the library. Naoshige once said, “The Bushido signifies desperate death. Several tens of sane samurais could not […]

Walkabout

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #10: Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout. It is probably just me, but it seems like the 1970s were filled with films featuring nubile and naked young Australian women in Edenic settings. Walkabout is one of those films. I could put a full frontal picture of Jenny Agutter’s character […]

La Belle et la Bête

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #6: Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête. At the present moment, a film that goes against average taste gets few bookings in France, and outside of some ambitious pictures undertaken to maintain prestige, production is almost at a standstill and the studios deserted. A poet […]

Straw Dogs

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #182: Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs If ever there is a movie that fulfills the maxim “Beware the wrath of a quiet man” Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs [1971] [don’t miss the essay from a real film critic] is it. One of the many things Peckinpah does well […]

The Third Man

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #64: Carol Reed’s The Third Man. With the likes of Carol Reed directing, a Graham Greene screenplay and Orson Welles, The Third Man, [1949] which I recently watched, is a very good movie. And since it was a Criterion Collection DVD, the goodies are just as […]