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As the host of a podcast centered around bad movies, a lot of my screening time is spent doing "show research." So when I have an off-night to sit down with something better than rancid action films from the 80s, I like to take a cue from Criterion. Here are ten of their titles I've geeked out to.
This was my first encounter with Rainer Fassbinder and I was lucky enough to first see it in glorious 35mm. Fassbinder's films are filled with complicated characters that hate themselves, but want to be loved by the people around them. The guy had some issues and the result was a huge body of work filled with great films like this one.
Having produced dozens of shorts with the Private Cabin comedy collective, I know how it feels to try and make a video more than just a video. To me, that's what the Beasties did with every video they put out - they made classic, hilarious, short films disguised as simple music videos.
My first encounter with Stan Brakhage was CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL. But my second encounter was much more fulfilling when I discovered his work in college. This anthology highlights (some of) the work of one of the twentieth century's greatest, most prolific artists.
Alex Cox, to me, is one of cinema's most underrated directors. Between this, WALKER, REPO MAN and STRAIGHT TO HELL, you could program yourself one damn entertaining weekend. And let's not forget Gary Oldman who gives a performance so amazing, he didn't match it until TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY twenty-five years later.
This was the first De Palma film I saw and I was completely floored. Career-defining performances from Travolta and Lithgow. The transition from the fireworks display back into the editing room blew me away.
The middle entry of Kieślowski's THREE COLORS TRILOGY, this is the darkest and funniest. Zbigniew Zamachowski is great as Karol Karol and Julie Delpy shines as his eager ex-wife-to-be. I consider it the best of the trilogy.
Improvisation. Raw emotion. Loose script. Casual camera. Under the supervision of John Cassavetes these things came together to make some incredible films. What Cassavetes started in the 1970s would be copied time and again with varied results but one thing is clear, the man fathered a movement. Sometimes it worked out (Linklater), and sometimes it didn't (most of the Mumblecore wave). Rowlands and Falk are incredible as always.
Screening this at a theater downtown in the middle of the afternoon, I kept slapping myself saying, "What is happening?! What are you watching?!" That's all I can really say. I promise you won't react like George C. Scott in HARDCORE.
Surreal science fiction mixed with a pulp detective story. Godard's genre mash-up is gritty, dark and super-hilarious.
Don't get me wrong, Christopher Nolan is an insanely courageous talent. Having said that, his Al Pacino/Robin Williams remake doesn't hold a candle to Erik Skjoldbjærg's original with Stellan Skarsgård in the lead role. Maybe it's the grim, Norwegian town, or Skarsgård's Swedish brooding, but the atmosphere created in this movie is downright palpable. You feel what it's like to be there, and it doesn't feel good.