Fashion designers from Pasadena, California, sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, together named Rodarte after their mother’s maiden name, first showed their clothing line during fashion week in spring 2005. Criterion asked the sisters, who’ve since become fixtures of the New York fashion world and whose clothes have been inspired by films in the Criterion Collection (from Late Spring to The Double Life of Véronique) to pick their ten favorite Criterion releases, and they happily obliged.
1. Beauty and the Beast serves as a metaphor for the artistic process, exploring the creative through mythology and the arc of the fairy tale. One must travel to dark and mysterious places in order to be saved. Diamond tears, spilled for those brief and elusive moments in life, offer a glimpse of universal clarity. This movie, in its own way, displays a sense of perfection . . . but it is fleeting, as if seen in a rearview mirror. Ultimately, it is an instruction manual on how to fall in love with another, with oneself, and with true beauty. Cocteau never suggests that all fairy tales end happily ever after, and maybe it is better this way.
2. Epic. Wagnerian. A love story told in vibrant colors, sound, chinoiseries, wallpaper, and sheets of rain.
3. Hiroshima mon amour has possibly the best opening of any film, ever. History unfolds in a dreamlike narrative; love and passion intersect with violence, beauty, and the foreign. The notion of romantic love is blinding, intoxicating, horrifying, and breathtaking . . . like the afterglow of a nuclear holocaust.
4. Bergman’s intended swan song offers amazing insight into the vision of one of the world’s greatest auteurs. Fanny and Alexander is a meditation on art, beauty, religion, and family. Personal history is both truth and fairy tale; it unfolds like a dream or a Swedish summer night where darkness never comes. In the end, Bergman asserts that one’s past has the power to both save and destroy. This idea is profoundly hopeful, and yet terribly devastating.
5. The first time I watched this film, I felt truly alone and isolated. The juxtaposition of European society and civility with the untamed landscape results in vast and expansive mystery. There is a desperation that comes from watching this film. Of course, this could only end in one way: the cannibalism of Victorian sensibilities.
6. I love the moment in French cinema this film captures: the height of the French new wave, when Truffaut honestly believed he could lead a revolution against the bourgeois establishment with a camera and impeccable taste. It is funny, however, that any truly brilliant piece of political artistry eventually becomes seen as established taste. No matter how you view the film, as a feat of aestheticism or a revolution of sorts, it is incredibly stunning and thought provoking.
7. This is one of our all-time favorite films. The Silence of the Lambs is a truly brilliant and uniquely American horror film. It exists as a fragile spiderweb: at the heart of this web a strange and delicate truth remains trapped, always with the hope of escape . . . The intimacy that develops and exists between the characters can be destroyed at any moment, and that is the true terror that propels the action. Ultimately, these fragile relationships are used to explore the most perverted aspects of the American dream: excess, greed, and violence.
8. This film makes me glad that we are from Northern California, raised by two dreamers, but secretly jealous that we’re not Rockefellers or Vanderbilts. Sometimes we can’t tell if we love these characters or despise them . . . you know, sort of like your old stuffed animals.
9. This movie is almost a complete inversion of Louis Malle’s Au revoir les enfants, where the horrors of Vichy France are made all the more terrible juxtaposed to the innocence and ideal of youth. Here, you have the violence of Mussolini and terror of Fascist Italy completely erased by the antics of a bunch of horny teenagers. This film is visually gorgeous; the scene where the peacock flies in the snow always stays in mind. What makes this film so interesting is the notion that idealized beauty is not enough—visual beauty is grounded by the humanity and sometimes fallibility of the characters.
10. Eric Rohmer is one of our all-time favorite directors. All of the “Six Moral Tales” contained in the box set are brilliant. La collectionneuse is our favorite. It is sparse and dreamlike. Every second moves languidly; every detail revealed with warmth . . . Time unfolds in this film just like summer.