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10 Questionably Criterion Films

by Dan D'Agostino

Created 07/15/12

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A list of 10 films that I question the presence of on the Criterion Collection.
#10 being the most questionable.

  • Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some "RoboCop." And I can appreciate the fact that Paul Verhoeven makes intentionally "bad" films. I mean, c'mon ... he was the first person to ever receive a Golden Raspberry in person. But Criterion? Really?

  • I have seen nearly every Jim Jarmusch film. "Down By Law" is easily in the tops of my list. I even LIKE "Stranger Than Paradise," but admittedly only because I like Jarmusch's work. It is for the most part dull and boring, although it has some memorable moments. Nevertheless, Questionably Criterion.

  • "Darjeeling Limited" is probably Wes Anderson's worst film. Does that mean it's a bad film? Not at all. Does that mean it should be included in the Criterion Collection? The jury is still out on that one ...

  • Michael Bay? I can get behind an action movie as much as the next guy. But I am strongly suspicious that this addition to the collection may have been a pay off. I just wonder if Michael had as much of a budget for bribes as he did for this film.

  • Hey! What's a "hater" list without one film you haven't even seen! That's right Criterionites, I've never even SEEN this film! What? You think that disqualifies my ability to question what seems to be a lavish butchering of one of the greatest short stories? Haterz gon hate.

  • I cannot think of a more bizarrely mediocre film for the Criterion Collection. Just strange more than anything. Demme, who has a career of equal parts brilliance and baloney, serves up an incredibly forgettable romp of schlock.

  • I could write this review as an insanely pretentious monologue of monotony, but you would probably get just as bored as I get when watching most of Richard Linklater's films, particularly "Slacker."

  • Back to back Linklaters! What's worse than a Linklater script of babbling drivel? Oh yeah, one that instead seeks to be a more mainstream film.

  • 'Nuff said.

  • And finally, #10 of the Top 10 Questionably Criterion Films...
    ARMAGEDDON!
    I need only mention one thing ... A Liv Tyler performance will now be forever emblazoned on Criterion's resume. And with that, I bid you good night!

39 comments

  • By Jack Yarbrough
    July 30, 2012
    04:39 PM

    Where is the Beastie Boys?
    Reply
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      August 01, 2012
      01:10 PM

      I actually LIKE the Beastie Boys DVD, so not on my list! I love Spike Jonze's work, so I am happy to see them release some of the creative videos that both he and the Beasties have put together.
  • By Drew Phillips
    August 05, 2012
    11:02 PM

    Thank God SOME ONE agrees with Something Wild. I was really looking forward to that (great cover art, great director, what could go wrong?) and it was just...ugh. Melanie Griffith was the root of the problem I think
    Reply
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      August 07, 2012
      07:16 PM

      I was also quite let down when I first saw it. I had just watched "Swimming to Cambodia" and was a long-time fan of "Stop Making Sense," so when I found out Demme did a film between those two, I was sure it couldn't miss. But it did. I was equally shocked when it later came out on Criterion!
  • By coolhand
    August 09, 2012
    01:06 AM

    i think that the films that they choose all have good reason to be in the collection. while some of them may not be to your standard, they represent something important to cinema. kevin smith's dialogue and human interaction between characters works, micheal bay makes an awesome blockbuster movie (when its put in the criterion people seem to question the intelligence of the film since its very stupid dumbed down humor and obvious plot, but thats exactly what its supposed to be and therein lies the appeal: big dumb fast paced action), i could go on and on for each of these movies.. but i think that if you are saying that something doesn't belong in the collection you are probably missing the point behind why it was chosen. they don't just pull names from a hat, there is careful deliberation for each film chosen. also i dont think that marketing films like armageddon and the rock to an audience (criterion buyers) made up mostly of cinephiles is a way to make major money for criterion. i think that they genuinely think that the movies they choose are important and worthwhile. and while i disagree with you about this, i still respect your interest in the criterion collection and how they decide what films go into the collection in the first place. i wish that was a job that i had.
    Reply
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      August 09, 2012
      03:39 PM

      Great response! I agree with a large majority of what you said. I don't doubt that for each film they had good reason, the list is mostly just to express either my confusion or disagreement with their choices.
  • By coolhand
    August 10, 2012
    12:35 AM

    gotcha. still, always good to see other peoples opinions
    Reply
  • By Wesley
    August 13, 2012
    07:04 PM

    I would have to include Walker and the Makioka Sisters
    Reply
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      August 28, 2012
      03:12 PM

      Really? I haven't seen Walker, but I tend to love anything by Alex Cox. It's on my to-watch list for that reason, but I may approach it slightly more apprehensively now. Hahaha!
  • By ggfanjase
    September 24, 2012
    09:58 PM

    The two Michael Bays and The Darjeeling Limited are one of the ones I've always side-eyed for their inclusion in the collection. Especially Darjeeling, which is one of the phoniest I've ever seen and Anderson's worst by a country mile.
    Reply
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      October 09, 2012
      12:15 PM

      I actually like Darjeeling but I don't feel the level of auteurism is as high as some of his other films. Even not as great as Bottle Rocket.
  • By jerryjuiceteria
    November 01, 2012
    11:33 PM

    'stranger than paradise' might be worth another look, or another look from another angle. i find myself occasionally thinking that non-jarmusch fans may find it boring, but i'm not sure that's true, and everyone i know who's seen it even if they're not necessarily a film geek has liked it. i think it was made with a point and a fully formed style. it may in some ways be a film about boredom--and i know that whether or not the film itself's boring or not is subjective, but if you claim to like and understand it i don't understand why you don't think it has a place in the collection
    Reply
    • By jerryjuiceteria
      November 01, 2012
      11:35 PM

      i know you said this list was just for fun, and i get that, but this question of the film's style and what could be called its dullness interests me
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      November 08, 2012
      02:29 PM

      I think you're right that it deserves another viewing. I've watched it twice, but admittedly not for YEARS (before it was on Criterion). I actually DID (and still do) like it. Thinking of the main girl walk around with her Screaming Jay Hawkins tape is something that I think about, strangely, quite often. So it's not that I don't like the film, I just wonder if it has enough going for it to be considered in the collection. But you may be right, and of all the films on this list, I am quite certain this is my favorite. I could watch John Lurie and Richard Edson interact for hours. Those two crack me up.
  • By reeCe
    January 23, 2013
    05:00 AM

    Nice list.- All the titles that came to my mind when I heard "ten questionable releases"
    Reply
  • By reeCe
    January 28, 2013
    09:42 PM

    I don't want to admit it, but sadly, I'd probably add some of the films from the Monsters and Madmen box set, like the Atomic Submarine, and The First Man into Space. I understand they're B films- but there were better Bs made.
    Reply
  • By thoakun
    March 08, 2013
    10:19 AM

    Great choices. I wonder what Jim Jarmusch film should a beginner watch first. Stranger than Paradise is the first film by Jarmusch I've watched and although there were great moments, humorous interactions, I find the film to be boring and dull in general.
    Reply
    • By Dan D'Agostino
      October 16, 2013
      06:54 PM

      You know what? It was my first as well. And to be honest, though it wasn't amazing, it did make me interested in more. Night on Earth followed that, then Dead Man and Down By Law. So, to be fair, Strangers was actually my Jarmusch gate way. For that reason, I might reconsider its placement on this list.
  • By Stevewa
    March 31, 2013
    11:51 PM

    I liked Something Wild although I don't think it's up to Criterion standards. I thought the Curious Case of Benjamin Button was pretty lousy. Chasing Amy definitely doesn't belong. Another that I thought was particularly bad was The Honeymoon Killers.
    Reply
  • By FilmJunkie
    June 28, 2013
    12:12 AM

    The idea behind Criterion Films is that they pick influential and important films in classic and contemporary cinema. Robocop is a criterion film not only because its good, but because it ushered in an important new voice in american sci-fi and action cinema with director Paul Verhoeven. The same goes for Michael Bays films, although most would agree that his films aren't great, he greatly influenced Hollywood films, particularly action films (albeit imo for the worse). Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy is an important work because it tackles big themes of sexuality and identity in the Romantic-Comedy genre. Linklater's films are incredibly influential on the Teen-Comedy genre and Dazed and Confused is just plain great. Its not whether they are great or even good films, but more about their importance in film history.
    Reply
  • By JL_Born
    September 04, 2013
    02:31 PM

    How do you list Wes Anderson as one of your favorite directors and you put Darjeeling up there? at least explain why you think it's his "worst" film? it's certainly not as edgy as his other flicks, and may be his slowest, but certainly not worse than any of his other films. Aside from his use of color and set design being awesome, and his character development superb, even if they develop laterally, I find little to hate about this movie.
    Reply
  • By 120FILM
    December 04, 2013
    07:01 PM

    Insignificance should be on this list.
    Reply
  • By NidorC
    July 09, 2014
    04:22 PM

    This is a pretty good list of Questionably Criterion. When my friend and I discuss the Criterions that seem ridiculous it is all the ones you mentioned here. I'm really glad you included Benjamin Button. (gross). The only one I liked that you didn't was Something Wild. I can see why that's questionable though. Still, I love Ray Liotta in that movie too much. Still, a great list and don't let the Linklater fans get ya down!
    Reply
  • By Kim
    July 18, 2014
    09:22 AM

    It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, The Big Chill, Scanners
    Reply
  • By Kim
    July 18, 2014
    10:31 AM

    A Hard Dy's Night, Broadcast News, Shallow Grave, Being John Malkovich, Devil's Backbone, Francis Ha, Fantastic Mr Fox, Godzilla, Repo Man, La Cage Aux Folles, All That Jazz, Eraserhead
    Reply
  • By Kim
    July 18, 2014
    10:39 AM

    With so many masterpieces still unavailable (Bunuel's Los Olvidados, Misoguchi's Story of Late Chrysanthemum, Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight to name just a few) I wonder why Criterion brings out so many movies already available & often of questionable quality. Why focus on directors like Nolan rather than say Sokurov? Companies like Cinema Guild & Cohen Media seems to be making better decisions recently. Come back, Criterion! PS: the upcoming Demy collection -- that's more like it!
    Reply
  • By Kim
    August 16, 2014
    05:38 PM

    Here we go again. Good choices: Les Blank, Monte Hellman's westerns. Questionable: Tootsie.
    Reply
  • By Josh
    October 28, 2014
    06:45 PM

    Really? REALLY? You're not even going to WATCH the movie you crap all over? You call yourself a critic? Worst, list, ever. By the worst, reviewer, ever. This is dripping of being pretentious.
    Reply