Criterion Collection

20th Century Fox

No matter what anyone says, there’s no real downside to being a film critic. Sure the pay could be better and the commenters could be nicer, but there’s no real negative to being able to write about art you love (or you don’t, depending). But opinions change, and while a review should stand as an educated and informed viewpoint on a certain film that viewpoint can sometimes shift over time. What I’m saying my first viewing of Fantastic Mr. Fox back in 2009 left me unmoved and uninterested. Maybe it’s because I was a big fan of Wes Anderson‘s earlier films up until The Darjeeling Limited — which I still dislike strongly — and was disappointed that he moved away from live action. Maybe it’s because I didn’t understand why some of the animal species talk while others (chickens, the beagle) are just dumb animals. Maybe I just had a bad meal that day. I didn’t review the film, but had I done so it probably wouldn’t have been very positive. What I’m saying — for real this time — is that I’m glad those negative thoughts aren’t captured in a review somewhere, because this movie is a cussing gem. Having re-watched the film in the years since I’ve come to appreciate, enjoy and flat out love it, and since today is the five year anniversary I decided it’d be a great commentary to listen to… and this time I was right. Keep reading to see what I heard on […]

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seconds_09

It’s difficult to imagine what it must have been like to see Seconds in 1966. The third entry in John Frankenheimer’s unofficial “paranoia trilogy” (the other two titles being The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May), this adaptation of David Ely’s novel of the same name saw the director shifting from political conspiracies to a full fledged existential crisis of masculine identity. The dystopian sci-fi/psychedelic noir is easily one of the darkest, loneliest films ever funded by a Hollywood studio. That Seconds also stars Rock Hudson – the handsome, unassuming lead of many successful Technicolor comedies and a man rarely afforded the title of “serious actor” during his time – in a role originally meant for Laurence Olivier likely heightened the disorientation that made Seconds such an un-remarked-upon film (read: total flop) during its original release.

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Year in Review: Best Criterion

It seems like every year we have to begin this particular article with the disclaimer that we aren’t necessarily talking about the best releases Criterion put upon us this calendar year. If one made a list of top 10 home releases in a given year one could conceivably litter that list with nothing but Criterion releases, and still find themselves in the same predicament. Here, our approach to this article has, more often than not, been based on a wow factor in one of many different areas. Either a wow for the presentation of the release, a wow for the personal discovery of something previously unknown, a wow for the collective power of a set, or, occasionally the most fun, a wow for the “I can’t believe Criterion released that….I’m really happy Criterion decided to release that…but seriously can you believe they released that?” This year was no different in any of those respects for Criterion as they continue to put out some of the most impressive releases month in and month out with films that have been in dire need of the Criterion treatment for a long time (Purple Noon), notoriously maligned and controversial artworks that deserve a second chance (Heaven’s Gate), their continuous support for the unique voices of the next generation of filmmakers (Tiny Furniture) while trying to also include the early works of some of modern cinema’s most exciting visionaries (The Game, Being John Malkovich, Shallow Grave); which, on that note, brings us to our first […]

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Got some extra cash laying around? Thinking about starting holiday gift-buying early? Missing a crucial title? The Criterion Collection has got you covered, as every cinephile’s favorite creator of technically and trivia-ly (go with it) superior home video releases has just launched a major flash sale. For just twenty-four hours, every available title on the Criterion list (including both DVDs and Blu-rays) is a big, eye-popping fifty percent off. That’s right, half off. Head on over to the Criterion website to get going on your purchases. Remember, the sale ends tomorrow (Tuesday, September 25th) at noon EST. Stymied by too many choices? Take a look back at some of our Criterion Files to get a handle on all the must-buys.

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Foreign Objects - Large

The Wages of Fear is screening at the SF Film Society Cinema from June 8th-14th with a new print from a recent HD digital restoration completed by the Criterion Collection. I once drove a U-Haul truck from New York to Florida, and it was easily one of the most tension-filled, large vehicle-related experiences anyone has ever experienced ever. Part way through Tennessee, as I took a mildly tight on-ramp in a light rain, the truck began to fishtail. If you’ve ever been in a car when this happens you know how frightening it can be, but now imagine that sensation in a large truck with your girlfriend by your side and all of your earthly belongings packed into the back. I recovered control after what felt like several minutes (but was actually less than ten seconds) and calmly exited the freeway in search of a parking lot…at which point my fingers had to be pried away from the steering wheel. Friends who were driving behind us came running over excitedly to let us know that at one point during the event the left-side tires were all off the ground. I think about that experience occasionally, but watching Henri-Georges Clouzet‘s The Wages of Fear recently marked the first time I actually felt those memories again. The film spends its first half introducing a fairly unlikeable group of unemployed immigrants in a small South American town before devoting the second hour to a treacherous 300-mile drive across rough terrain in trucks loaded […]

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Criterion Files

The Criterion Collection’s motto makes explicit its devotion to “important classic and contemporary films,” but it’s also clear that the Collection has dedicated itself to the careers of a select group of important classic and contemporary directors. Several prestigious directors have a prominent portion of their careers represented by the collection. Between the Criterion spine numbers and Eclipse box sets, 21 Ingmar Bergman films are represented (and multiple versions of two of these films), ranging from his 1940s work to Fanny and Alexander (and 3 documentaries about him). 26 Akira Kurosawa films have been given the Criterion/Eclipse treatment, and Yashujiro Ozu has 17 films in the collection. Though many factors go into forming the collection, including the ever-shifting issue of rights and ownership over certain titles, it’s hard to argue against the criticism (or, perhaps more accurately, obvious observation) that the films in the Collection represent certain preferences of taste which makes its omissions suspect and its occasionally-puzzling choices fodder for investigation or too predictable to be interesting (two Kurosawa Eclipse sets?). And while the Collection has recently upped its game on the “contemporary” portion of its claim by highlighting modern-day masterpieces like Olivier Assayas’s Carlos and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, for the most part attempts at forming a complete directorial filmography via within the Collection has typically been reserved for directors whose filmographies have completed. Except, of course, for the case of Wes Anderson.

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The Royal Tenenbaums Wes Anderson Commentary Track

Wes Anderson loves family dramas dressed as fantasies, and this notion is no less palpable with The Royal Tenenbaums, the film that essentially set him on the map. A lot of us remember finding Bottle Rocket in video stores or trekking out with friends to see Rushmore, but that was mostly because of Bill Murray. The Royal Tenenbaums was the movie that made people realize this voice in the world of independent film making had arrived. 11 years later, and Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, another light-hearted drama made to look like a fable, is upon us. However, we felt it was time to go back and see exactly what the writer/director had to say about his pinnacle film, The Royal Tenenbaums. There’s sure to be references of French movies and anecdotes about writing with Owen Wilson, but that’s the obvious stuff. We’ve got 28 more items beyond that. So help yourselves with what we learned from the commentary for The Royal Tenenbaums. Cue the Elliott Smith.

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Anyone who follows the Criterion Collection will note that just about every month of releases is exciting for collectors of classic and important cinema. But some months are just a little bit more special than others. This coming June is going to be even more special. With titles from Alfred Hitchcock, Toshiro Mifune, Charlie Chaplin, Steven Soderbergh (on Spalding Gray) and Danny Boyle, Criterion may have on their hands one of the most exciting months of releases in years. You might as well start saving now. Seriously, just check out the line-up after the jump.

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Beastie!

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s candy-colored hearts, bright-blooming flowers, lovable links, rainbows just doing whatever the hell it is rainbows do, heartwarming stories, woods-dwelling beasties, and pink-frosted movie news with a woman’s touch. At least, that’s what it is tonight. Leading off with some greats news, congratulations are in order for the Internet’s own Alison Willmore, as IndieWire has just announced that they have hired the very talented writer to head up their expanded television coverage as their brand new TV Editor. Between her scribblings over at Movieline, the AV Club, and Time Out New York, and of course her new podcast with constant collaborator Matt Singer, Filmspotting: SVU, I’m not entirely sure when Willmore will be sleeping, but it does mean the rest of us will be treated to still more of her brilliant insights into entertainment. As someone who struggles to love television as much as I love film, I suspect Willmore’s new work might finally get me invested in the small screen. It’s not often that you can mark the precise moment a feature film grabs your interest, but tonight I’m able to pinpoint the second that Snow White and the Huntsman finally spoke to me. At The Playlist, they’ve posted some new photos from the film’s Facebook page, including that one up top, with Kristen Stewart going eye-to-eye with some kind of beastie. The picture’s caption teases “friend or foe?” I don’t care which one it is, I’m just excited that one of the […]

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Criterion Files

Editor’s note: This week, your tireless Criterion Warrior (oh, idea for a new column!) requested a week off to pursue something literary and intelligent and, well, big-wordy. With Mr. Palmer out, our own J.L. Sosa stepped up to the plate to file his very own Criterion, um, File. Be nice, bloodsuckers! When I first saw Paul Morrissey‘s Blood for Dracula, I definitely felt like I was partaking of an illicit pleasure. A friend of mine with an encyclopedic knowledge (and equally impressive collection) of B-movies was moving to new digs and bequeathed to me, along with many other obscure relics, his VHS dub of the Criterion Collection’s unedited laserdisc edition of the film (LD spine #287, for the digit-obsessed). Based on the rumors I’d long heard, I was expecting copious over-the-top gore. The film delivered on that promise, but also unexpectedly unfolded with the langorous pace of a high-falutin’ costume drama. You know, just like Sense and Sensibility, except with more extended scenes of softcore grinding and vomiting of blood. I later caught a midnight showing of the film at the beloved St. Anthony Main theater, just across the Mississippi from downtown Minneapolis. This time, the salacious tale of Count Dracula (Udo Kier) and his quest for the blood of a “wirgin” was screened from an authentically scratchy print, and curiously retitled Young Dracula. Although the R-rated Young Dracula had most of its eroticism trimmed, there was still enough suggestive content and bloodletting to draw whoops of approval (and sometimes […]

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The Dark Knight Occupies Wall Street

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s not the nightly news column you want right now, but it’s the one you need. Because you need a nightly news column that will be strong in the face of adversity, cover the things you care about, and publish videos of Ryan Gosling being sexy without words. We begin tonight with a shot from the set of The Dark Knight Rises, something we’ve refrained from covering too much. However, I found this particular photo — one of a batch from Mail Online — that shows a tender moment between our hero, as played by Christian Bale, and his new foe Bane, as played by Tom Hardy. Just a little hug as Chris Nolan’s production occupies Occupy Wall Street in New York.

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According to an article in the LA Times from January 2011 movie ticket prices reached an all time high. Here in New York, the average ticket price is $11 with higher prices for movies in 3D or IMAX. This is a reality that’s constantly on our minds, but it was brought even more into focus by a simple, 8-word question delivered on the official Criterion Collection Twitter Feed: Have you ever walked out of a movie? It got us thinking, in a time when a movie ticket is no small expense what would it take to get you out of your seat and out of the theater? Is boredom enough? Do you have a sliding scale of one to ten, one being slight ennui and ten being excruciating mind numbing boredom? Can a movie be too terrifyingly bad or just plain terrifying? Will terrible dialogue send you running for the exits? And who among you not only leave but demand a refund? Have you gotten a refund simply because you hated a movie? Have you been videotaped railing against the movie you left? We want to know what would make you walk out of a movie. Do you have stories to share about that movie you wanted to see and just couldn’t sit through? What movie made you decide your time was worth more than toughing it out?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s not messing about. Just doin’ the news. We begin tonight with one of many new images from The Adventures of Tintin. For one of those motion capture, lost in the shadow of the uncanny valley movies, this looks pretty slick. Finally we get to see Andy Serkis act in a movie. Or not.

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Criterion Files

To this point in our subjection of the films of BBS Productions we’ve been privy to a handful of boundary-pushing films that we now recognize today as landmark pictures in the furthering progress of New Hollywood from the late 1960’s onward. They were films dealing with contemporary cultural changes and a youthful revolutionary attitude to not necessarily show things as we dream them to be, but more as they are. Life isn’t like the movies, so maybe make some movies that are a reflection of life. Life is imperfect, rough around the edges and occasionally a little disorienting. Thus far, the films in the BBS library discussed these past four weeks have shown us just how the mindset of the transitioning American lifestyle and interest was during that time period with timely and current stories.

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Criterion Files

As a relatively young person, far too young to speak meaningfully about an important era of American culture, it’s difficult for me to ascribe any sense of value even unto my own words about a picture that encapsulates and represents an alternate ideology of real American freedom than what we consider as being truly “free.” When we think of freedom we think of rights and when we think of American we think of the dream. We have the right to be happy and we have the freedoms to pursue it.

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Criterion Files

Some films represent to many the indefinable expression of a dream. Often times it’s nightmarish, as that’s what we can easily discern as being particularly dream-like because those are the dreams we tend to never forget. They haunt us, indefinitely, and some filmmakers are keen to capture that sense of uncomfortable fear of the odd, or non-understandable. Filmmakers like David Lynch and David Cronenberg seem to know it and are willing to explore and share it.

Then, there are some films that don’t necessarily look a dream, but feel like a familiar one that you don’t fully remember; because it’s too grounded to feel fantastic, but too gorgeously free so as to feel slightly detached from reality. It’s dramatic, but not “dramatic.” It’s not void of human emotional expression, but not entirely engagingly emotional. It’s both wonderful and disturbed. It’s affectingly confusing to your senses. Like a dream.

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Criterion Files

“Think they pay you to drive? They pay you to be terrified.”

It’s the line that inspires the title. Four men behind the wheel of two trucks without shock absorbers or any special balancing mechanics and driving across unpaved terrain for hundreds of miles with everything in their path from two-ton boulders in the middle of the road to rotten wood acting as their road extension to pivot over a precipice…all while each truck lugs enough nitroglycerine to reduce mountains to piles of pebble. With the prevention of that much destruction contingent on such undisturbed sensitivity a boulder in the middle of the road is the least of their concern to stay alive. In a case like that a large rock is no match for an invisible pothole that need only be inches deep to separate all of you from the rest of you.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the ever-changing late night addiction that you just can’t seem to quit, no matter how hard you try. Tonight it features pieces that will make you think, art that will blow your mind, and a minimum amount of talking about Transformers 3 and Doctor Who. That stuff will be back tomorrow, don’t you worry. In the very near future, Stargate Universe will go off the air. And for the first time in 15-years, there are no more planned Stargate projects in the works. It will create a big whole for the fans who have made the sci-fi property one of the most popular since Star Trek. With that in mind, io9 has dispatched a list of 10 lessons about life after cancellation that Stargate can learn from the likes of Trek and Firefly.

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Criterion Files

Why?

In a sea of some of the most important pictures the world has known to date – why? In a collection spanning nearly one-hundred years of film history and inclusive of a large portion of the greatest filmmakers we’ve ever known…why? With a library containing movies which focus heavily on visual artistry and emotional complexities and probably have a combined budget *possibly* equal to that of this film…why? With another picture released the same year about pretty much the same thing made by a studio from the same country garnering stronger critical reception and sporting an [in]arguably more plausible solution and execution to the prevention of the end of the world via meteors the size of really, really big things…WHY? Why is this mammoth-sized summer blockbuster which is a masterpiece of the color orange alongside some of the most revered pictures of the last (nearly) 100 years?

The answer is simple, concrete, and indisputable:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we celebrate April Fool’s Day by talking seriously about great movies, director’s cuts and movies about people cutting other people up. Our very own Criterion Files writer Adam Charles teams up with Criterion Cast co-host Ryan Gallagher to convince me to become a member of the Criterion Cult. Junkfood Cinema specialist Brian Salisbury gets together with Gordon and the Whale editor (and VHS enthusiast) Brian Kelley as we all rejoice in the 25th anniversary of the ridiculous teen slasher flick April Fool’s Day and bathe in the acid bath of a few others. Plus, Jordan Hoffman of UGO and Jeremy Smith from Aint it Cool go mano y mano in our Movie News Pop Quiz in an epic battle to save the world from impending destruction (and to talk about director’s cuts, when they work, and when they don’t). Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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