Criterion

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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Channel Guide - Large

In 2010, after the release of the largely panned Cop Out, Kevin Smith tweeted a short but passionate polemic against movie critics (that most loathsome subsect of the human species who sit up in their ivory towers and pass judgments), writing, “From now on, any flick I’m ever involved with, I conduct screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free [?] Why’s their opinion more valid?” In the interest of full disclosure, I have attended free press screenings, but I still think that Smith’s gripe had merit. Spoilers with Kevin Smith, a new Hulu original series that debuted on the site Monday, is the director’s attempt to fix the “backwards system” that perturbed him so. The web talk show’s mission? As Smith puts it on his blog, “we don’t review movies on Spoilers; we revere them.”

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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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Back in the late 1990s, you only had two options for discussing movies. You could hang out with friends in the parking lot or late night waffle hut afterward, complaining about nipples on Batman, or you could go online to sites like Aint It Cool and Movie Poop Shoot to give unbridled, anonymous opinions slathered with as much cursing vitriol as you pleased. That’s what the internet has given us. A tool to help social uprisings, and a forum for hiding your identity while calling Joel Schumacher a “douchenozzle.” That wide-ranging usefulness is a thing of beauty, and Kevin Smith is seeking to tap into it with his new show, Spoilers. The set up is simple: Smith will amass a crowd of 50 movie fans to watch a film and then discuss it afterward. Smith will play ringmaster, and members of the opinion-loaded audience will get to share to their heart’s content. In short? It’s the comments section come to life. Of course, that’s not all the show has up its sleeves.

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Have no fear, internet. April Fool’s Day is over, and (probably since it fell on a Sunday) the laundry list of fake casting announcements and crap development deals was relatively short. You can still check out our Print Edition of Film School Rejects, but here are a few good, bad and grotesque fakes that might need some clarification alongside a few geek products that should be real in a fair universe.

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South By Southwest means never having to say you’re sorry or having to wipe the frothy mixture of Drafthouse Guinness Milkshake and Barbecue sauce from your lips. By the way, we’re looking for a nickname for that mixture. I’m thinking, “South By Santorum.” Feel free to send in suggestions, but know that you don’t even have to put in that much effort to win a movie from the Criterion Collection (winner’s choice) or a sweet Derek Eads Bill Murray Print. We’ve teamed up with The Stash Box to give away some movie swag in honor of SXSW and the pop culture explosion it represents. So how does it work? Simple. You sign up, let your opinion be known, and then get your shot at free stuff. It’s as easy as lifting a finger 10-15 times. Depending on how long your name is. Head on over to our special Versus on the Stash Box site, and try your luck. Sign up with the code “tsblovesfsr” (which is true), and get to it!

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This was a hell of a year in The Criterion Collection. Between films about phantom carriages, angry jurors, beasts and beauties, stranded astronauts, international revolutionaries, and great dictators, Adam Charles and Landon Palmer found their wallets empty and their cinephilic obsessions sated. Here are their eleven favorite releases and upgrades of the year…

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Criterion Files

The emergence of Pedro Costa’s films into American cinematic consciousness remains something of a conundrum that discerning audiences continue to wrestle with. On the one hand, for those who desire for a radically unconventional cinema as far from Hollywood (geographically, aesthetically, ideologically) as one can get, for those who seek respite from the increasingly conventional American “independent” cinema, and for those tired of “global cinema” and its associated mandate of universal accessibility, Costa seems to be the pill to quell cinematic frustration.

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What is Movie News After Dark? For tonight, it’s simply a movie news column working on a very, very slow news day. So it has opted for fun instead of informative. It’s betting you won’t mind. We begin tonight with the thought of big, badass robots killing the whole of humanity in Robopocalypse, a film that director Steven Spielberg will now direct for July 3, 2013. Fox and Dreamworks were announced as the studios putting up the money today, which means that Daniel H. Wilson’s excellent book will finally get some big screen love. If done right, it could be massive.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Usually it’s a nightly movie news column that finds a way to be verbose. Tonight, not so much. But it’s still going to do the news. We begin tonight with a look at Rooney Mara’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meeting with what we can only assume is her parole officer. Those familiar with the original film or the books know how that relationship turns out. It makes my skin crawl — Rooney Mara is exactly the right amount of creepy.

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Criterion Files

I had the privilege of seeing the surviving Maysles brother, Albert, do a Q&A after a public screening of Grey Gardens (1976). During the discussion, somebody asked him the inevitable question regarding how the presence of the camera changed the very subject he was documenting. It’s an interesting and essential question for any documentary filmmaker to consider, especially when one is engaging in the direct verite style rather than a traditional retrospective style, because it’s simplistic for the filmmaker to consider themselves “objective” or “invisible” when putting a camera on their subject: the presence of the camera changes things. Albert Maylsles responded with an amusing story about how the conversations the brothers heard between “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” outside the house when not filming were exactly the same as when they were inside. While this is no doubt the case as the eccentric Beales would certainly “be themselves” no matter the occasion or circumstance, with all due respect Mr. Maysles’s assessment of the question was a bit too narrow. Putting cameras within the aging walls of Grey Gardens did, in fact, change everything.

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Criterion Files

In 1950 Akira Kurosawa released what many consider to be his first true masterpiece, which started two decades full of multiple masterpieces, in the pioneering and uniquely structured Rashomon. That film told the story of an unsolved murder in feudal Japan causing a series of conflicting stories and falsely witnessed accounts as told by the survivors (and even the murdered himself from beyond the grave) of the incident. Each participant had their own side of the story to tell and each had their own personal motivations for blatantly lying about what really happened.

That film paints a very pessimistic picture on the psychological side of the human condition. We will lie and we will do it, generally, for reasons as superficial as maintaining a perceived public image. We will do this willingly and with conviction to the point that the human word becomes about as reliable as a thumbtack holding up a mirror. We must either hope the mirror is small and unimportant, or get ourselves a lot of thumbtacks to support the one.

Two years following this first masterpiece (already eleven pictures into his career) Kurosawa would create a film that not only portrays us at our worst – in almost the exact same way as Rashomon no less, accompanied by other character flaws – he would also offer us the antithesis and he would do it using some of the same individuals he characterized earlier in the film as weak and/or fake.

Ikiru, while not cut of the same piece of wood as the samurai epics Kurosawa would later become most known for, may be his most dense picture and truly indicative of what it is to be human.

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Upon discussion and deliberation between Landon Palmer and Adam Charles (the two primary authors of the Criterion Files column) it was decided that due to the column’s state of near infancy and a small number of articles to choose from they would not reflect upon each other’s incisive works throughout the year of what was considered, or what they felt to be, the articles each were either most impressed by from the other, or considered the most indicative of what the column represents – and instead opted to choose 10 releases of the Criterion company in 2010 they felt most noteworthy of attention.

Delving into each other’s works even if the output was extended to 26 articles each over the course of a full year to choose the favorites from would actually prove to be a much simpler task than what was done for this year’s Year in Review. Trying to narrow down a list of the most significant Criterion Collection releases of any given year to a list of 10 is like…well, trying to list the 10 best of anything of which everything deserves attention. So, take these not as a slight against any of the other releases by any means (please, see every film they include in the library because they’ve selected it for a reason), these just happen to be a consolidation of releases Landon and Adam considered either significant for the availability on home video, marked a trend of the company’s direction of material to include in the library, personal affections, or were simply just incredible works in presentation of the picture previously not able to be experienced from prior releases.

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Whether they are hitting shelves This Week in DVD or This Week in Blu-ray, chances are slim that a great home video release gets by either Rob Hunter or Neil Miller. Together, they provide some of the blogosphere’s most consistent (ok, mostly Rob, but you get the idea) coverage of the best take-homes from week to week. Whether you’re using them to help you fill your shopping cart or your Netflix queue, surveys have shown that you are using them. And with 2010 coming to a close, we thought it only fitting to give these two shut-ins a shot at listing their favorite home video releases of the year. From the fun to the feature-filled, there were plenty of great releases from which to choose. So prepare yourself, as you always do, to sacrifice the weight of your pocketbook in exchange for in-home cinematic bliss.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we have 1st Lt. Travon Boykins – massive film geek and fightin’ force for the US Army – calling in live from the (un)active war zone of Iraq. Advisin’ and assistin’, baby. Shunning our usual format, we ramble on coherently for a while, give a one-sentence review of True Grit and figure out what Californication looks like without any sex. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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If you’re like me, you want your visual comedy to make fun of everybody. A shotgun blast that sprays all involved in a certain undertaking with at least a few pellets that will sting later. From the filmmakers, to the films, to the audience, to Criterion itself (and its high falutin’ collection), that’s exactly what this new Tumblr blog Fake Criterions achieves. Plus, the photoshop ain’t half bad. The art is pitch-perfect in showcasing the Criterion cover design style. Plus, there are some great cinematic gems here that seem to have been overlooked by Criterion. When will we finally see Ernest Goes to Jail get the deluxe disc treatment it deserves? When, Criterion, when? Check out some of our favorite fake Criterion DVD covers:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we have a surprise visit from FSR publisher and beard enthusiast Neil Miller who reminds everyone why he’s really a big softie beneath that rugged exterior. Instead of the usual news and reviews, the show is one large Segment Three where we give thanks for the cinematic wonders of 2010 (and the fact that the year is almost over). If you’re heartbroken that we didn’t review Burlesque, please pick up your consolation prize on your way out. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Criterion Files

Landon and Adam usually have the lock down on all things Criterion, but lately I’ve been inundated by the important films of old times and new. First it was the package I received from my good friend Travon who took advantage of the Barnes and Noble 50% off sale and his last few days before heading back to Iraq to fight for our freedoms to send The Red Shoes, Paths of Glory and House my way. And, no, there’s nothing ironic about an American soldier sending me movies from the UK and Japan. That’s what this country is all about. In addition to that bountiful harvest, I was also invited to blather on inanely for the Criterion Cast – the podcast whose title is incredibly self-descriptive. That Criterion Cast gang and I were talking Videodrome – one of the best films of all time featuring a chest vagina. Of course, the conversation covered our fears of technology, the future-casting from Cronenberg, and the likelihood that we’ll all grow new VHS-compatible sex organs (hint: we will). Even with my inclusion, the episode is a fascinating one, and I highly encourage you to check it out over at the Criterion Cast site. Then bookmark the site to further bask yourself in the warm glow of film love with future episodes.

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This week brings us two new releases from Criterion. One is a beautiful period piece featuring some very familiar actors, and the other is a film that most consider forgotten treasure.

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The Criterion Collection released the latest film in their catalog this week, Steven Soderbergh’s Che. We take a look under the hood and see what’s what with that guy on your t-shirt.

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