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Here's my current top ten Eclipse releases (subject to change).
The first time I saw Daisies, I was stunned by its creativity and humor - with little plot other than the idea of screwing with the world like the world has screwed with them, the two Maries wreck havoc, and I support them fully in every way. Daisies reminds me a bit of the Comedy Central sitcom Broad City; both works feature two strong female leads who live excessively in matters of fashion, food, and romantic partners, while having a ball. More Vera Chytilova in the Collection, please!
Oscar Wilde once wrote that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. This notion is gorgeously explored in Carlos Saura's Carmen, which fizzes with energy and sexuality. I enjoy films where reality and fiction are blurred; here, a flamenco version of Bizet's opera Carmen begins to reflect itself into the lives of its dancers. A mesmerizing work. What a shame that the Eclipse set Carmen is in, along with two other films, is currently out-of-print.
All four films in the Eclipse set Lubitsch Musicals are wonderful, but Monte Carlo is my favorite. Jeanette MacDonald (as runaway bride Countess Helene Mara) shines; her singing is beautiful and her attitude is equal parts sappy and sassy. While male lead Jack Buchanan is no Maurice Chevalier (who stars in The Love Parade with MacDonald, the first film in this set), the irony of Countess Mara leaving her dandy, fop fiancee for an unintentionally foppish Buchanan is not lost on me! Despite this odd pairing, MacDonald and Buchanan make it all work.
This film is, in a word, bonkers. Vampires, aliens, the apocalypse, terrorists, politicians....every kind of horror can be found here. Immensely creative and accessible as well as politically-charged, I'd say that Goke is an excellent choice if anyone wants to introduce their friends to Criterion or Eclipse.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of my favorite directors, so I was eager to get my hands on the Early Fassbinder Eclipse set. While every film in it is solid, there's something special about Beware of a Holy Whore. Perhaps it's because this film is a departure from Fassbinder's very first style; instead of intentionally obtuse, Beware of a Holy Whore is engaging and funny. Knowing that this film is semi-autobiographical is additionally fascinating, because the Fassbinder stand-in played by Lou Castel is a real jerk. And, of course, Fassbinder's trusty group of regulars is great - Hanna Schygulla, Kurt Raab, Ulli Lommel, and Magdalena Montezuma, to name a few.
Perhaps the nuttiest film in its Eclipse set, Madonna of the Seven Moons is a tale of repression and escape. The bleak premise (a woman who was raped in her teens has a breakdown and reverts to a second identity unknown to her family) is expressed through a romantic, drama-filled lens. Definitely worth checking out.
To the passive viewer, this short film (only 11 minutes long) is nothing more than a spinning camera, capturing images of a messy apartment and the filmmaker, Akerman herself, writhing on a bed. However, I think of La Chambre as painting in motion. The first time I watched it, I was on the edge of my seat: would something jump out at me? Would Akerman suddenly NOT be on her bed? The reactions that I got from this film make it memorable. Short, and sweet.
A quirky monster flick that's as much about the relationships between the astronauts and scientists who trek through space in the name of discovery as the giant chicken monster. Guilala ain't no Godzilla, that's for sure, but is deserving of attention nonetheless!
Part whodunit and part meditation on English race relations, Sapphire keeps the audience guessing until the end. Who could have taken the life of Sapphire, a black girl passing for white? Was it race-related, or not? A thoughtful film that doesn't shirk from touchy subjects,
Check out the cover art for Janelle Monae's 2013 neo-funk album The Electric Lady - it's an homage to this weird, hip film. I adore Dorothy MacGowan as Polly, a wide-eyed American model is thrust into the turbulent Parisian realms of media and fashion. Warning: the ending credits song will get stuck in your head.