Blood of the Beasts

Criterion Files

The Criterion Collection is full of great movies, all carefully tabulated and accounted for with spine numbers and easily made accessible through various search means on their website. But besides the 600+ titles (out of print and not) included in The Collection, the extensive variety of special features attended in Criterion discs occasionally incorporate other feature-length and short films not officially enumerated as part of the collection itself. However, several of these films, while “hidden” in special features sections and second discs and placed subserviently to the ostensibly more “significant” featured title, are absolute gems arguably worthy of their own releases. Of course, short films are by no means uncommon in Criterion discs. You can see David Cronenberg’s contemplative short piece Camera (2000) in the annals of Videodrome, or the original short-form Bottle Rocket in Criterion’s release of Wes Anderson’s first feature. But Criterion (a company that has sometimes released short films on their own) also has several notable short and feature-length films in their special features that stand alone as cinematic accomplishments, and serve more a interesting and important purpose than as a supplement of a director’s other, briefer work. Here are four solid films hidden in the supplements of Criterion’s titles…

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Culture Warrior

Warning: Some of the links included in this article depict disturbing real-life violence against animals. When we talk about movies, we often talk about representation. And when we talk about representation, we’re most likely talking about people. How does this character’s personality fit in with my understanding of people in my daily life? What are the roles that men and women of different races, sexualities, and ethnic backgrounds play in a given narrative? What does an old film tell me about people during a different era? Who are the people that made a given film possible, and how did they contribute creatively? Simply put, cinema is a medium made by people, about people, and for people. But we often represent and depict other living beings through our narratives as well. We may be human, but we often identify with things that aren’t. This weekend I co-hosted a repertory screening of F. W. Murnau’s silent American classic Sunrise (1927). One of the film’s most memorable scenes features George O’Brien chasing after a precocious circus pig. The pig stumbles into a quiet kitchen and, through a series of screwball antics, causes a cook to drop a glass of wine onto the ground. It shatters, and the pig drinks the wine. What follows is a brilliant close-up of the pig, its eyes slowly drooping and its snout out-of-focus, which rather effectively conveys the animal’s state of inebriation. Through an intuitive implementation of form, the human audience is permitted to identify with the subjectivity […]

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Criterion Files

I don’t know if you knew this, but it turns out the French have balls. Yes, they’re historically notorious for being risk-takers and innovators in the world of high art, but who knew they could beat Hollywood at its own game? Sure, France has had a great tradition of imitating and building off American genre cinema (look at Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows or Jean-Pierre Melville’s many films noirs), but what was truly surprising was when they proved they could dance toe-to-toe with us on our “lower” genres, that they could make their own B-horror flicks.

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culturewarrior-horror60

1960 changed horror filmmaking forever. Don’t believe me? Read on.

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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
B+

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