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Here is my list of top ten criterion collection films
My favorite film of all time, next to George Washington. For a war film, I found this film to be strangely ambient and relaxing, I think that is one of the reasons I fell in love with this movie. Terrence Malick is one of my favorite film directors of all time, and I consider this is magnum opus. The cinematography by John Toll is just breathtaking. Where most war films are shot with shaky cameras and always ask why does war happen, the camera in this film floats in the breeze and acknowledges that war is just a part of life and we shouldn't be afraid of death. I could go on about this film forever so I'll just say this maybe as close to perfection as a film can get in my opinion.
Next to The Thin Red Line, this is my favorite film of all time. I remember when I first saw this a couple of years ago. I was in complete awe of what I had seen. The cinematography is some of the greatest I've ever seen in my life. The performances, the music, everything was just done right. To me this raised the bar of what independent films are capable of.
My favorite film for a little while, and still one of my favorites is Jean-Pierre Melville's spectacular Le Samourai. Alain Delon gives the performance of his career which such intense subtlety that's it's impossible to forget. Everything in this film: every shot, line of dialogue, every movement, was done for a purpose and this film just will remain one of my favorite films for as long as I live.
This is one of those films that gets better every time I see it. Every time I watch it I notice something I didn't see before. The cinematography, lighting, and editing help bring out all those amazing details: like the bead of sweat on juror 4's forehead when juror 8 proves that emotional stress can make people forget things (in this case the boys alibi). Even in the opening scene in the courtroom when the camera pans across the jurymen, you get an early glimpse of each jurymen's personality (juror 3 looking stubborn, juror 4 watching coldly, juror 5 looking nervous, juror 7 getting restless and ready to leave, juror 8 paying close attention and giving the case a lot of thought,etc.).
For a film that came out in the 50's the acting, cinematography, and story are so ahead of its time. Most acting in that period is just typical 50's acting that didn't require much effort, but this was just some of the greatest acting ever caught on film. J.J. Hunsucker (brought to life by Burt Lancaster) is one of the most diabolical villains on the big screen. Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis showing us what he could really do) isn't any better I might add. James Wong Howe's shots of 1950's New York City in all of it's black and white film noir glory couldn't have been better. The music by Elmer Bernstein, especially the jazz tunes, are just great. Everything in this film is just great.
Fritz Lang is one of my favorite film directors of all time. For a film that was shot in the 30's I was blown away by the cinematography. Where most films in those days just put a camera on a tripod and just rotated it, this film actually had a moving camera and every shot was filled with wonder and terror. I couldn't not put this on my top ten criterion films if I tried.
The film that gave Alfred Hitchcock a run for his money, and with good reason. The set up is great, the actors are great, the tension is great, and the ending which I refuse to tell you about is one of the most terrifying things I've ever seen in a film. Henri-Georges Clouzot is one of the greatest film directors of all time.
Jim Jarmusch is one of the few directors to really capture the feel of a city. In this case its my hometown of Memphis. This film came out a year after I was born and showed Memphis how it was back then, and how it still is to this day: a faded city. Somehow this film really captured the feel of Memphis, a faded city occupied by wandering souls.
After watching Hunger, I immediately became a big fan of both Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender. I had seen Fassbender in a few other films before this, but after this I said "I want to see where this guy goes." The same thing could be said about Steve McQueen as well. This film about the I.R.A. hunger strikes is both haunting and beautiful with it's cinematography. Michael Fassbender is one of the greatest actors of our time. I will admit that my one criticism of the film is the 15 minute shot which can really test your patience and your attention span, otherwise I have no other complaints for this masterpiece.
Jules Dassin is another one of my favorite directors. When it comes to film noir, he is the master. All his films on this collection are great, but Rififi is the best of the bunch in my opinion. Hollywood blacklisted Dassin during the 50's and surprisingly he received the best reviews of his career when he started working in Europe. That is honestly the greatest heist scene I've ever seen in my life, it was directed with sheer perfection. Everything Jules Dassin did in this film was great. He deserved the Best Director award at Cannes Film festival fair and square.
I watched Charlie Chaplin films first before I watched Harold Lloyd films, but I watch Harold Lloyd films a lot more than Charlie Chaplin. So in the end I kind of prefer Harold Lloyd, I always connected with his character more. I didn't know which Harold Lloyd film to put on so I cheated and put on my two favorite films of his which are both incidentally on the Criterion Collection. I also have the Harold Lloyd collection released from New Line, and this is one of the ones I watched the most out. Like I said I connected with the glasses character more than Chaplin's tramp or Keaton's stone face character both of them who I feel are just as great as Harold Lloyd. But I liked this film because it's definitely one of his funniest (the look on his face when he realizes he slapped the dean of his college is one of my favorite moments), and one of his sweetest. Like I said I connected with his character a lot and with this film being about a newly college kid trying to find his place I really liked the film. Also I think Jobyna Ralston was my favorite leading lady in his films. The new 4k transfer looks fantastic, it preserves the beautiful black and white imagery wonderfully. The scores are fantastic too, perfect accompaniment.
I am a big fan of silent film and one image I never forgot seeing as a kid was the iconic moment of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock high above the city. As I mentioned with The Freshman I always connected with Harold Lloyd's character, he frequently plays characters trying to find their way in the world which is something I am still working on. Just as with The Freshman, a wonderful brand-new 4K transfer, which helped preserve the films timeless imagery. In fact it's films like this that make me realize why I love silent film in general, it's wonderfully framed moments caught in black and white just gives it this artistic quality that most films haven't captured.