Our favorite Finn didn’t have an easy time picking his ten favorite titles in the Criterion Collection. On the eve of Janus Films’ 2011 release of his Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki had this to say: “I didn’t really concentrate for this selection, since all my energy from now on will be solely used for suing Criterion, accusation being torture. It can’t be anything less when a disoriented young mind is put in a situation where he has to leave Chaplin, Renoir, Tati, Clouzot, Malle, Truffaut, Godard . . . outside of a minimal-sized list, the size controlled by these Janus-faced Criterion people, who don’t seem to understand the laws of any reason.”
Here we find two versions of the same story, both unique.
It is almost impossible to find sharp prints of these films. But your tears are the ones to blame.
This double bill gives an excellent chance to compare the acting of Takeshi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune. Neither is anything but perfect. It is a mystery how Kurosawa, who always refused to make a film without a social statement, manages at the same time to be one of the most entertaining of all filmmakers.
The shot with Dorothy Malone walking down the stairs makes all rock videos ever after resemble forgotten, anemic nuns.
With his small masterpiece, Fassbinder shows us the basic tenderness of his heart, this time not hidden behind his cinematic skills.
There would be no sense in trying to select one of John Cassavetes’ films, since they are all one expression of a genial and exceptionally generous mind.
I have always considered Jean Vigo and Robert Flaherty close relatives. Between Nanook and L’Atalante, you can place practically all cinema except Bunuel’s L’age d’or.
Both of these films can be considered B movies in the standards of Powell and Pressburger, but maybe partly because of that they seem to remain extraordinarily fresh, even if the first one (made in 1941) is clearly made partly for war propaganda reasons. All films made by the Archers are among the most beautiful.
Jean-Pierre Melville is once more a director from whom one could pick any film for this kind (cruelly controlled by the Criterion criminals) of list. With this double bill there comes a chance to study twice the work of two great actors, Lino Ventura and Paul Meurisse.
As clearly as there is only one Lino Ventura, there is a sole Jean Gabin. Neither have I seen a replica of Michèle Morgan nor Michel Simon (one of the reasons why Renoir’s Boudu should be in this list, but . . .). Port of Shadows is a pure actor-based melodrama full of prewar pessimism.
Bicycle Thieves proves that even the tiniest dreams can be torn to pieces. Never in the history of cinema has hope been served in so minimalistic but heartbreaking a way as in the last shot of this masterpiece.
These wonderful films are tied together in thousands of hardly visible ways.