Angus MacLachlan is a playwright and screenwriter from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His screen credits include Junebug (2005), directed by Phil Morrison and starring Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, and Alessandro Nivola, and Stone (2010), starring Robert De Niro. In selecting his favorite Criterion titles, MacLachlan says, he wondered, “Should one be cool or be honest? That is the question. And how can one actually say these are, ultimately, the top ten? I decided to pick films that I love. What else is important, finally?”
The mystery, the compositions, the island rocks, and, most of all, Monica Vitti, standing against a wall, biting her lower lip, with that hair, and eyes, and nose.
Renoir’s humanity. The depth of his characters: who is that behind the large woman who plays the piano? Even he has a story. The miraculous way Renoir captures the sky in black and white. The breadth of what he’s truly portraying; the world on the edge of the volcano.
The people, the love of theater, the red room at Christmas, the terror of Bishop Vergerus, the mystery of Ismael. And the documentaries! Seeing Bergman quietly direct and set blocking: a master class.
The style, the cutting. Gene Hackman, Dabney Coleman. Once he hit his stride, did Redford ever give a bad performance? And what choices Redford made—to make films showing the dark side of competitive America.
So exquisite in every way. The waltzing camera, the costumes, performances, Darrieux, De Sica, Boyer. A 1953 creation that has a nineteenth-century novel’s sensibilities.
Again, Renoir’s humor and compassion, and the way he captures the streets of Paris. Michel Simon is a real, bizarre, challenging genius—like a French Brando in his anarchic, charismatic danger.
The COLOR. The passion. The radiance of that blue room. The Archers’ hermetic creation of the Himalayas in a studio and garden in England.
Okay—the wit. Hopkins and Marshall in the taxi at the end. The staircases. The portrayal of people in their twenties and thirties who were adults. And enjoyed being adults.
The angles, story, humor, dialogue, music, eloquence, Trevor Howard, Valli, Cotten. Smart fun.
His spiritual explorations: Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, all in Nykvist’s black and white. Plus Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie. This is everything art should be. Struggling for something ineffable, entertaining, illuminating, and beautiful.