The Rules of the Game

naked gun nothing to see

This week was the third anniversary of Leslie Nielsen‘s death, which also marked the definite end of the most brilliant eras in movie spoof history. The period didn’t begin with his induction into the genre, and he certainly helped usher in a wave of weak entries (he even starred in the first movie written by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer), but he is still the actor most associated with these kinds of comedies, mainly due to his collaborations with the trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker. Following his scene-stealing work in their classic Airplane!, they cast him as the lead on a short-lived TV series called Police Squad!. After it was quickly canceled, Nielsen spent time with serious parts in films and TV series before being brought back for the movie spin-off, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!. Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the movie’s theatrical release, when it opened at #1 before going on to be among the top-ten grossers that debuted in 1988 (about half its take came following the new year). The success of this action movie parody led to sequels of diminishing quality, but the brand is in its entirety still one of the more celebrated comedy franchises. And this initial installment is still considered one of the top three favorite spoof movies of all time. To adequately honor all its hilarity would be difficult here, as the gags and jokes in The Naked Gun are so abundant, not […]

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Mud Hunter

There are many reasons to compare and contrast current films with historical ones. One is to attempt to explain why some films have been spotlighted in place of a possible litany similar films. Another is to show the machinations of cinematic influence, or explore the persistence of repeated narratives throughout film history. And yet another is because it’s damn fun. Here at Criterion Files, we have (on a not-at-all-regular basis) compared recent films with relevant counterparts canonized in the cinephilic annals of the Criterion collection, including two Lincoln biopics, two iconic exercises of the close-up, and the overwhelming similarities between Pierrot le Fou and a certain beloved Wes Anderson film. But rarely has a crop of films released in a single season echoed the specific work of classic counterparts than the summer of 2013.

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The Rules of the Game

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius are using the Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the greatest movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they celebrate the anti-war film that came right before war and successfully caused a riot with satire alone. What rules for life can we learn from Jean Renoir‘s The Rules of the Game?

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Criterion Files

First is a precarious position to be in, for in retrospect you stand in for the entire legacy (or, at least, for inaugurating the legacy) of the thing itself. It’s tough being the first, and can be burdensome. And of the first ten movies that were admitted into the Criterion Collection, there are some confounding choices. The Lady Vanishes (Spine #3), for instance, is a great film, but hardly amongst Hitchcock’s best (or even his best British work). It’s an…interesting choice for the first Hitchcock film in the DVD collection that would come to define 21st century cinephilia. But then again, way back in 1998, whose to say that the Criterion Collection had any idea the reputation it would cultivate? Criterion’s choices for its first two releases, however, are pitch-perfect. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, the film that defined his legacy and had a greater influence on world cinema than even his Rashomon, sits prominently at Spine #2. And Jean Renoir’s anti-war, prewar masterpiece, Grand Illusion, sits deservedly in Criterion’s #1 spot, with the weight of important classic and contemporary cinema resting comfortably on its shoulders. Grand Illusion may admittedly not have the empirical evidence of definitive influence of Seven Samurai (in other words, it has yet to be remade into a Western). But that is perhaps to its benefit. While Kurosawa made tens of samurai films, Renoir never made another movie quite like Grand Illusion, and the film still occupies a singular place in the history of war cinema – […]

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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