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Criterion recommendations

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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   Ari


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Posted September 04 2005 - 06:34 PM

It's been a long while since I was on acquisition mode for Criterion titles (got married, bought a house, new baby, new business, etc.). I'm looking to get updated on Criterion releases that I missed and am looking for recommendations. I'm not a Criterion "fan" per se...there are certainly some titles that still boggle me but in general I like 'em. Aside from the entertainment value of the film itself, I enjoy watching movies that are considered milestones and enjoy the whys and wherefors answered by the extras. I'm looking for recommendations on what to get and the significance of the title recommended. Here are the titles that I have: Brazil Chasing Amy Hard Boiled Ikiru The Killer Life of Brian Nights of Cabiria The Passion of Joan of Arc Rashomon Rebecca The Red Shoes Seven Samurai The Seventh Seal Silence of the Lambs Spartacus The Third Man Yojimbo

#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Dane Marvin

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Posted September 04 2005 - 07:04 PM

You have three of my favorite Criterions in "Rebecca", "The Third Man" and "Spartacus"...

That said, I would have to give my highest recommendation to the 1941 film "Sullivan's Travels". It's a multi-faceted story about a wealthy Hollywood director who decides to experiment with living life as a forgotten man (hobo). It runs the gamut from sophisticated comedy to slapstick to melodrama and back again, but is ultimately a remarkable film from Preston Sturges (one of the first directors to write all of his own scripts) with an excellent message and equal parts homages and jabs at Hollywood and the film industry. The dialogue -- including it's payoff closing line -- sparkles in a way that was rarely seen again until Paddy Chayefsky ("Network") started writing for the silver screen. The cast, from lead Joel McCrea to the stunningly cute Veronica Lake to the supporting cast of Sturges' signature players is top-notch.

The Criterion includes a feature-length doc/biography of Sturges, which is part of PBS' "American Masters" series. Highly enjoyable. There are also many other great extras on here, including a multi-participant commentary (all of whom were recorded separately and then spliced in equally) with historians and Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, who are both big Sturges fans. Overall, I'd have to think it's one of most extras-packed Criterions for a single-disc release.

I did this one as a blind buy, and it instantly found its way into my top 15 or so films. It's that good.

If you like it, that opens the door for two other Sturges Criterions, "The Lady Eve" and "Unfaithfully Yours". If you like to the enjoy the occasional vintage indie drive-in film, "The Blob" Criterion looks gorgeous. Has a nice little commentary, too. Criterion has also rescued the slapstick classic "My Man Godfrey" from "cheapo public domain release" Hell. If you like slapstick, I'd have to recommend it. Carole Lombard and William Powell are exceptional and the film has the distinction of being the first to garner Oscar noms for all four major acting categories. Rounding out my recommendations for now would be David Lean's "Brief Encounter" (1946). If you enjoyed Trevor Howard in "The Third Man", you might like him here as well in this highly-interesting drama which broaches the subject of infidelity.

#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Alan_H


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Posted September 04 2005 - 08:21 PM

I see you already have The Seventh Seal. I just saw "Wild Strawberries" for the first time a few nights ago. I thought it was outstanding! Highly recommended!

#4 of 13 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted September 05 2005 - 12:18 AM

Here are (in no particular order), the best films in the Criterion collection that you don't have IMO.

The 39 Steps - great early Hitchcock
Alexander Nevsky - underrated Eisenstein (his best IMO)
Charade - great Hithcockian film
Closely Watched Trains - hilarious Czechoslovakina comedy
Diabolique - another great Hitchcockian film
Hopscotch - underrated comedy
The Horse's Mouth - underrated comedy
The Killers - great film noir
The Lady Vanishes - more great early Hitchcock
The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp - one of Powell/Pressburger's best
M - Lang's best
M. Hulot's Holiday - first of an amazing comedy trilogy
Mon Oncle - second in the Hulot trilogy
The Most Dangerous Game - better than the better-known Kong IMO
My Man Godfrey - great comedy
Notorious - great Hithcock
Playtime - third in the Hulot trilogy
Rififi - first of the great caper films
The Rock - underrated action film
Sanjuro - great Kurosawa comedy
Spellbound - not top tier Hitchcock, but still excellent
Sullivan's Travels - great comedy
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse - sort of a follow-up to M
Throne of Blood - best Kurosawa you don't already have
Trouble in Paradise - great Lubitsch comedy
"Movies should be like amusement parks. People should go to them to have fun." - Billy Wilder

"Subtitles good. Hollywood bad." - Tarzan, Sight & Sound 2012 voter.

"My films are not slices of life, they are pieces of cake." - Alfred Hitchcock"My great humility is just one of the many reasons that I...

#5 of 13 OFFLINE   eric tengren

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Posted September 05 2005 - 12:50 AM

discreet charm of the bourgeoise knife in the water wages of fear sid and nancy the harder they come robocop sisters battle of algiers kwaidan gimme shelter rushmore life aquatic life of brian short cuts the man who fell to earth naked

#6 of 13 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted September 05 2005 - 05:25 AM

Hiroshima, Mon Amour
Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast

I imagine the entire Criterion collection will eventually be mentioned in this thread. Posted Image They rarely screw up.

#7 of 13 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 05 2005 - 06:06 AM

With respect, this is an almost impossible question to answer, because although nearly all Criterions are critically acclaimed, not every title will suit every person (and why should it? different strokes, etc). Looking at what you've already got, I'd say that any of the Kurosawa titles you haven't already got are worth getting. I suspect you'd also like the Ozu titles - start with Tokyo Story and work on from there. Ozu is radically different from Kurosawa, but the profundity of vision is just as great (indeed, most Japanese critics would rate Ozu higher). At the risk of sounding trite, Kurosawa saw basic human themes in great events, whilst Ozu found great events in basic human themes. Just see Tokyo Story and you'll get what I mean. You also would probably like some of the great Italian films of the 50s/60s - start with Fellini's 8 1/2. Pushing my neck out, I suspect you might also like some of the Ingmar Bergman films. Probably the most accessible is Fanny and Alexander (the TV version) but I would personally plunge in at the deep end and get The Seventh Seal. The reaction of 'what the **** is going on' is normal on first seeing Bergman, but repeated viewings (especially with the excellent commentary on the Criterion DVD) introduce you to a far richer and more profound world. [If you get hooked on Bergman and can play R2 discs, there's an excellent issue of his more obscure films on the Brit Tartan label]. Hope this helps.

#8 of 13 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted September 05 2005 - 06:48 AM

As I was making the list below, I began to wonder how helpful it would be, since there are so many must-have titles (IMHO). A lot of it depends on what you look for in a movie, and how much you want to be challenged by directors who chose to work outside of most viewers' comfort zones. Given what you already own, I've underlined the titles that you might want to start with:

My recommemdations:

Wes Anderson: Rushmore
Jacques Becker: Le Trou; Casque d'or
Ingmar Bergman: Smiles of a Summer Night; Wild Strawberries; A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman: Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence; Cries and Whispers; Fanny and Alexander
Robert Bresson: Diary of a Country Priest; Au Hasard Balthazar
Luis Buñuel: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Marcel Carné: Children of Paradise
Henri-Georges Clouzot: The Wages of Fear [wait for re-release in October]; Quai des orfèvres; Le Corbeau
Jules Dassin: Night and the City; Rififi
William Dieterle: The Devil and Daniel Webster
Carl Theodor Dreyer: Dreyer Box Set: Day of Wrath, Ordet, Gertrud
Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul; Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy: The Marriage of Maria Braun; Veronika Voss, Lola
Federico Fellini: I Vitelloni; 8½; La Strada
Samuel Fuller: Pickup on South Street
Jean-Luc Godard: Contempt
Wong Kar-wai: In the Mood for Love
Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress
Fritz Lang: M
Jean-Pierre Melville: Le cercle rouge; Le Samouraï [October]
Maysles brothers, et al: Grey Gardens
Ermanno Olmi: Il Posto, I Fidanzati
Yasujiro Ozu: Tokyo Story, Good Morning, Early Summer
Gillo Pontecorvo: The Battle of Algiers
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger: Black Narcissus; The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
Jean Renoir: Grand Illusion; The Rules of the Game
Preston Sturges: The Lady Eve; Sullivan's Travels
Jacques Tati: Mon Oncle
Andrzej Wajda: Three War Films: A Generation, Ashes and Diamonds, Kanal

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   Scott Temple

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Posted September 05 2005 - 09:17 AM

Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Ebert's review

Beautiful transfer, letterboxed at 1.66:1. The only disappointment is that it's non-anamorphic. Hopefully, a 16x9 SE will make it to R1, complete with that "Dream Within a Dream" documentary, the seven minutes of deleted footage, and a commentary with Peter Weir.
Lacey Chabert is so fetch!
My DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc library

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted September 05 2005 - 09:26 AM

Just from what I have... Brazil - Essential film. Terrific, despite somewhat soft non-anamorphic video. The 2.0 surround audio is excellent, as are the supplements. Highly recommended, with exception of the video quality. Universal supposedly has a totally remastered 16x9 master that looks stunning... but it doesn't look like any plan to SE-ize Brazil will happen. M (special edition) - Essential film. Nearly flawless video/audio, even for a 1931 film. Most of the audio sounds like it was recorded in the last 10 years! Wonderful. The extras are excellent, too, especially the featurette on the many versions of M. The Passion of Joan of Arc - Essential film. Very good video quality for an almost lost film. Keep in mind that it's very damaged in a few spots, but the photographic quality really shines through. However, they used a really tiny bitrate (roughly 4.5 mbps) and it shows on some shots... macroblocking. But the 5.1 score, supplements, are terrific. F for Fake - Great film, even if it's not for everyone. Excellent video (possibly the best it can look, due to the nature of the film), terrific audio. The supplements are terrific, especially the Welles documentary about his abandoned projects. One of my favorite films now. 8 1/2 - Essential film. Flawless video/audio quality. Great supplements, especially the documentaries on disc 2. Notorious - Great film, even if it's an early Hitchcock. Skip the Marion Keane commentary and listen to the Rudy Behler one. Lots of great supplements, especially the radio adaptation, music-only track, and others. The Hidden Fortress - I didn't really like this film, but it had terrific a/v. Ended up selling it. by Brakhage - Great DVD set, but it's a real niche title. I love the hand-painted films. Window Water Baby Moving can be tough to sit through, but it's quite a beautiful film. Flawless video, though. Rushmore - I liked it, even if it's not great. Somewhat filtered video, but still terrific. The Royal Tenenbaums - Essential film. Excellent DVD set, even if the video is filtered (thank you Disney). The Third Man - Essential film and one of my favorite films, period. Great video, even if somewhat flawed (given how awful the source looked, they worked miracles). The audio is flawless, though. Great supplemental material, especially the radio shows and the newsreel segments. This belongs in every DVD collection. The Life Aquatic - Good film, great DVD set. Again, video is somewhat filtered. Disney needs to fire their video technicians.

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Ari


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Posted September 05 2005 - 01:45 PM

Thanks for the recommendations. I realize that ALL of the Criterion films are critically acclaimed...I'm looking for the ones that are considered milestones or must-haves for the genre, hence the need for an explanation on why that recommendation is being made....

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Ralph Jenkins

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Posted September 05 2005 - 02:30 PM

I don't know if I would call Armageddon critically acclaimed. Posted Image

Kidding aside, I'd strongly recommend picking up Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast and Franju's Eyes Without a Face. Those are probably my two personal favorites. The upcoming release of Kurosawa's Ran will probably be golden as well.

Edit: Both of those films proved to be highly influential for other directors. Eyes Without a Face is a must if you're a horror fan; it's one of the unsung classics of the genre.

#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Jeff Newcomb

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Posted September 06 2005 - 12:58 PM

If you are looking for milestones (i.e. "cannonized" films), it wouldn't hurt to start with the Sight & Sound poll. Here are the top 25 films from the 2002 list, with Criterion titles in bold.

Citizen Kane (Welles)
Vertigo (Hitchcock)
La Régle du jeu (Renoir)
The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (Coppola)
Tokyo Story (Ozu)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
Sunrise (Murnau)
8 1/2 (Fellini)
Singin' in the Rain (Kelly, Donen)
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
The Searchers (Ford)
Rashomon (Kurosawa)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
A bout de souffle (Godard)
L'Atalante (Vigo)
The General (Keaton)
Touch of Evil (Welles)
Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson)
Jules et Jim (Truffaut)
L'avventura (Antonioni)
Le Mépris (Godard)
Pather Panchali (Ray)
La dolce vita (Fellini)
M (Lang)

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