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Fav. Criterion Discoveries: Jan-June '12

by Mark R. Young

Created 07/06/12

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I've been watching as many Criterion DVDs as possible the last couple of years. These are the best I discovered during the first half of 2012.

  • Watched 7/8 January 2012.

    This, along with "Paris, Texas" which I first saw last year, really shows Wenders to be the king of modern German cinema now that Fassbinder is gone. I hope Criterion gets to "The American Friend" eventually!

  • Watched 19 January 2012.

    Malle has been one of my latest discoveries during the last twelve months. How did I miss out on his work for so long? This is a superb study of a young man who is already burnt out - what more is left for him to do but to visit his friends one last time and then kill himself?

  • Watched 4 February 2012.

    I've had a tough time getting interested in many of the non-Kurosawa Japanese films on Criterion, but I found this film very lovely and moving.

  • Watched 12 February 2012.

    Uhm, why is this Antonioni film never talked about? I hope this new Criterion release changes that. This is probably his most delightful movie - a real pleasant surprise as I long assumed that "The Passenger" was his last work of merit.

  • Watched 14 February 2012.

    February turned out to be "Italian Movie" month for me - and this tremendous film was the masterpiece. Certainly Visconti's best. (Speaking of Italian films, will Criterion ever release any Taviani brothers?)

  • Watched 15 February 2012.

    One of the best depictions of piety and devotion ever.

  • Watched 17 February 2012.

    I love Ritchie's series of films about competition. Why isn't he as exalted as Altman, Friedkin, Coppola, and other directors of that era?

  • Watched 28 February 2012.

    My favorite of Bergman's "God's silence" trilogy.

  • Watched 3 March 2012.

    Very rich texture to the images. Best as a quasi-documentary, less so with the melodrama.

  • Watched 22/23 March 2012.

    Wow! Wonderfully eccentric. Now I understand why one author compared Ken Russell to Sternberg.

  • Watched 28 March 2012.

    Devastating. Certainly De Sica's best. A painfully honest depiction of reaching the end of the line, yet finding a sliver of hope at the very last moment.

  • Watched 29 March 2012.

    Sort of like a berserk Technicolor widescreen "Leave It To Beaver" movie. James Mason is fabulous.

  • Watched 4/5 April 2012.

    I generally do NOT like Godard, but this one is very entertaining. A bit of a throwback to the early days of the Nouvelle Vague from five years earlier.

  • Watched "The Marriage of Maria Braun" 16 April 2012.
    Watched "Veronika Voss" 17/18 April 2012.
    Watched "Lola" 19/20 April 2012.

    Fassbinder was my big discovery in April - I not only saw all of the Criterion releases, but anything else of his I could find. And there's still so many more of his for me to see - and to be released.

    The BRD Trilogy is his masterpiece. I find it heartbreaking that Fassbinder was reaching a true genius level right before his very premature death

  • Watched 25 April 2012.

    I have a difficult time enjoying Polanski's work considering his insouciant attitude toward his rape charge. But he has made some fine movies. I didn't like "Cul-de-sac" when I first saw it over 20 years ago, but I very much liked this Criterion release.

  • Watched 3 May 2012.

    Nicely done, realistic look at young workers in Italy of 50 years ago.

  • Watched 27 May 2012.

    Ah, Louis, why did you have to leave us too soon? (By the way, is there a curse against great directors born in 1932? Malle, Truffaut and Tarkovsky all died way too young.)

  • Watched 12/13 June 2012.

    I've been studying Bresson this spring, including seeing an archival print of "Four Nights of a Dreamer" here in Seattle. I hope Criterion can release that one as well as some of Bresson's other later films.

  • Watched 27 June 2012.

    Stunning courtroom drama with some rather sophisticated ambiguity at the end.

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