Harold and Maude

Criterion Files

Over the years, we’ve been more than just a little interested in the work of The Criterion Collection. Their mission since 1984, has simply been “gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements.” Their focus has been on important films, both classic and contemporary. And they are so good at it that we have dedicated a regular feature to it, this thing known as Criterion Files. A column that I’m hijacking this week because I wanted to talk about a few things. Notably a slew of recent Blu-ray releases, perfect examples of the ongoing work that Criterion is doing to preserve, highlight, celebrate and archive some of the most significant accomplishments in film history. Today we take a look at some of these things that Criterion does very well, in the context of their recent Blu-ray release. All of these are available in stores now and are certainly recommended. All that’s left is to talk about why.

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Over Under - Large

When thinking about which films I consider to be overrated, I keep coming back to two different categories. First there are the art films that get embraced by the movie geek community and praised to high heaven for their crafting, whether they really makes for an exceptional overall movie-going experience or not. And then there are the movies that get overrated by the mainstream. They’re mostly sentimental movies that tug on the heartstrings, with characters that hit low lows, but then achieve some new victory. Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is definitely the latter. It’s a movie that seems designed solely to make parents and grandparents nod knowingly at historical incidents they remember and then tear up when a sad part rolls around; but they love it for it. Being There was nominated for the Palme d’Or and even won Melvyn Douglas an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor back when it came out, but it’s a movie I never hear mentioned these days. As a matter of fact, other than the little bit of nostalgia that remains for Harold and Maude, I would say that Hal Ashby is a director whose career has been kind of forgotten by my generation of film fans. That’s a shame, because the man did some great work, and this film in particular has one of the last great performances by the legendary Peter Sellers.

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