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Continuing with my review of the most interesting Criterion discs I saw for the first time - this the latter half of 2011.
Watched "The League of Gentlemen" 1/2 July 2011. Watched "All Night Long" 4/5 July. Watched "Victim" 13/14 July. Watched "Sapphire" 5 August. This was the climax of my interest in British movies of the 1940s to the early 1960s that I began in spring. I didn't know much about Dearden before, but I was very impressed after watching this Eclipse series.
Watched 6/7 July 2011. I can't believe it took me this long to finally see this world cinema classic, probably the most famous of the Czech New Wave movies. I think I prefer Menzel (who seems to have a international hit every 20 years or so, such as "Closely...," "My Sweet LIttle Village" and "I Served the King of England") over his more famous contemporary countryman Milos Forman - and I'm happy that Criterion/Eclipse has released the wonderful "Capricious Summer." More Menzel please!
Watched 8/9 July 2011. This is the film that turned me into a Wenders fan this summer. I had long avoided this movie because I've never been an admirer of Sam Shepard's writings, but I was knocked out by this masterpiece. Great cast headed by the dazzling Harry Dean Stanton, ace collaboration between Wenders and Shepard, and gorgeous and achingly perfect cinematography by Robby Muller. I ended up watching his similar work for Friedkin's "To Live and Die in L.A." afterwards. How he did not get Oscar nominations for either of these works, or for "Down By Law" never ceases to astonish me.
Watched 11/12 July 11 Not one of Kurosawa's most celebrated films, but one that I keep returning to in my thoughts more than many of his other more well-known works.
Watched 19 July 2011 Unlike many of the other films on this list, Tarkovsky's "Solaris" is not a new discovery as it's been one of my all-time favorites for nearly 20 years. But this was my first time watching the Criterion disc. Truly one of the most visionary and haunting movies ever made. The scene of Chris and his wife floating for a minute's time as that Bach prelude plays on the soundtrack is certainly one of my top 10 movie sequences.
Watched 22 July 2011 I don't care what the conventional wisdom says. I much prefer "Trafic" to Tati's "Playtime."
Watched "Mumur of the Heart" 23 July 2011. Watched "Lacombe Lucien" 4 August. Watched "Au revoir les enfants" 9 September. Unbelievably, I have NEVER seen a Louis Malle film until this summer. I have quickly righted that oversight over the last twelve months by watching as many of his works as I can. "Murmur" is outrageous - taking a tale of a boy's sexual initiation to an absurd degree. Wonderful recreation of 1954 France as well. "Lacombe" and "Au revoir" are devastating looks at how ordinary people can be both corrupted or find their humanity during wartime.
Watched 24 July 2011. More Malle. And the delicious Jeanne Moreau in one of the earliest films to truly explore eroticism.
Watched 27 July 2011. I don't think Greaves accomplished anything significant here. I just simple enjoyed the documentary shots of late 1960s NYC.
Watched "Wings" 27/28 July 2011. Watched "The Ascent" 2 August. What a great pity that this fascinating filmmaker died so young!
Watched 17 August 2011. It seems that practically every German and Austrian director who later became hugely famous in America worked on this film. A very charming piece.
Watched 21 August 2011. Hardly a new discovery for me as I first saw this film 30 years ago. But I remain dazzled by Peckinpah's craft. When one compares this to the execrable remake that came out a month after I saw this, one can only weep at what's become of the whole film industry.
Watched 22 August 2011. Malle! No real narrative here. Just some great evocative imagery.
Watched 23 August 2011. Utter craziness! I love it! OK, I admit it - I'm a sucker for broad comedy and I laughed out loud way more than I should have.
Watched 31 August/1 September 2011. A real beaut from Ray. Interestingly, it was the chat between Wes Anderson and James Ivory on Criterion's "The Darjeeling Limited" that got me interested in Ray's works.
Watched 5 September 2011. Probably my favorite of the Australian Renaissance of the 1970s. Poetic and chillingly haunting and lovely.
Watched 14 September 2011. I admire how Malle's style changes from film to film. The director of the zany "Zazie," the sensual "The Lovers," the surreal "Black Moon" etc. triumphs with this entrancing chat between Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn.
Watched 15 September 2011. I long assumed that "The River" was Renoir's best, but this one easily rivals it.
Watched 6 October 2011. Wow, here is the successor to the best of Orson Welles. Too bad actor Laughton made only this atmospheric, bizarre, terrific thriller.
Watched 13 October 2011. A Sturges classic that I had missed until now.
Watched 16/17 November 2011. With this, I have now seen all of Antonioni's "alienation" films of the early 1960s. They are contemporary with some of Fellini's masterpieces, but MA's films are more like a sober Fellini, but no less gripping.
Watched 12 December 2011. My first time seeing the Criterion edition. But I still want to see this Malick masterpiece on the big screen!
Watched 29 December 2011. Thanks to Criterion for bringing this obscure film noir to the attention of the cinephile world. I still can't shake the mood of this movie.
Watched 29 December 2011. I didn't like every aspect of this film, but parts of it stay with me: The use of Gershwin's "Lullaby," the contrast between the family members who venture out for midnight mass with the son who says that Jesus wasn't real, the feeling of having spent time with an actual family.