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Eclipse is a terrific extension of Criterions aim, to provide film lovers around the world with timeless cinema as well as films and directors we may of never heard of otherwise. With 35 sets and soon to be more, I figure I might as well do a personal list of my 10 Favourite Eclipse Sets.
This collection of films from Kurosawa's superb and grossly overlooked Post-war period is without a doubt the best Eclipse Set yet. You get 5 films each of them a unique experience and cinematic gem unto their own. Highlights include Kurosawa's rendition of The Idiot which remains one of my top 5 favourite Kurosawa films as well as two other highly overlooked Kurosawa gems No Regrets for Youth and One Wonderful Sunday. The other two films are also great works by Kurosawa. Kurosawa gets a ton of praise for the period of cinema following his Post-war career and its a shame when his post-war repertoire remains one of his most diverse, humanist and overall great bodies of work.
Hiroshi Teshigahara and Seijun Suzuki may be the most popular names associated with Japanese New Wave but the body of work that I feel comes closest to their own, perhaps even exceeding their own is that of Koreyoshi Kurahara. This wonderful set brings us 5 terrific films from this overlooked great of Japanese New Wave. Key highlights include Black Sun, The Warped Ones and I Hate But Love all of which remain testaments to Kurahara's unique style and Japanese new wave. The other films are also top notch watches. Kurahara's films are not for everyone but for some reason their spontaneity, energy, content and killer soundtracks make them irresistible to me.
I don't know much about Belgian film makers in fact my knowledge on the subject would be non-existant if it weren't for Chantal Akerman and her one of a kind body of filmic work. This set gives you pretty much every quintessential film from this relatively unheard of director. Highlights include La Chambre, Hotel Monterey and News From Home. Akerman's body of work is incredibly personal and unique, comprising of architectural studies as well as experiments with ambience, lighting and mood. Her work is cinema not only as good films we can turn on and watch but great art we can sit and marvel at.
Japanese New Wave yielded some great films and many of them were the famous Nikkatsu Noirs. The japanese directors on display here Koreyoshi Kurahara, Seijun Suzuki, Takumi Furkawa, Toshio Masuda and Takashi Nomura weave and craft a style of noir strangely familiar yet entirely their own, characterized by their bold visuals, edgy subject matter, superb pacing and wonderful energy. Key highlights include I Am Waiting, Take Aim at the Police Van and A Colt is my Passport but the other films are not without their charms. This is essential viewing for any fan of Film Noir or Japanese New Wave
Many of these early work sets seem underwhelming for many directors including my favourite Kurosawa, these early filmic works seem mediocre or only provide glimpses of the artist they would become. This is however not the case with the first ever Eclipse Set: Early Bergman. For whatever reason this early body of work by one of the all-time greats is incredibly accessible, utterly refreshing and demonstrates an understanding of film one would not think Bergman could possess at these early phases. Key highlights include Torment a glimpse into Bergman's writing talents executed perfectly by another Swedish master Alf Sjoberg, Crisis and Thirst, two films that demonstrate that even early Bergman had a knack for imagery and pace. This is the best of the early work collections.
I love Dusan Makavejev. When a friend of the family who was Yugoslavian in descent told me that there was a Yugoslavian New Wave movement of film I had to look it up. My search yielded the work of this one of a kind film maker. All three films here are terrific my personal favourites and the key highlights being Man Is Not a Bird his bold debut film and Innocence Unprotected for which Makavejev picked up the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Fest. One of a kind and in league with the new wave movements of France and Japan this is not only an essential set for Makavejev fans but for anyone curious about Yugoslavian new wave.
If there was ever an unsung hero of Classic Japanese Cinema it would be Mikio Naruse. Stylistically similar to and often overlooked in favour of Yasujiro Ozu, not quite as bold as Kurosawa, Naruse's career was full of successes and interesting trajectory. His silent body of work is astounding. Though lacking the feel of his later talkies, these silent works are essential for getting to know this lesser known Japanese master. Key highlights include Flunky Work Hard, No Blood Relation, Every Night Dreams and Street Without End. All of these works are superb in their black and white cinematography to their many subtleties and nuances. Naruse is right up there with the likes of Ozu and Kurosawa, this set is further proof.
There was French New Wave, Japanese New Wave, American New Wave and even to my knowledge Yugoslavian New Wave but Czech New Wave. There is not a large plethora of information about this particular realm of new wave cinema outside of Milos Forman's early works so this set serves as a treasure trove for any fan of the various New Wave Cinema scenes. Key highlights include Daisies an essential for understanding and full realizing what Czech New Wave had to offer as well as The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Joke. This is a highly overlooked stream of New Wave cinema but one bold, refreshing and unique when compared to the others.
I like Aki Kaurismaki, I truly do. While Le Havre was my main introduction to the Finnish film maker (and boy what an introduction) i was absolutely driven to find out more about him. I saw what I could online and I watched the Lenningrad Cowboys films, they were good but not quite what I was wanting after seeing Le Havre, then I found this set. Comprising of what has become known as the Proletariat Trilogy this set shows us Kaurimaki's earlier works and provides a great introduction to his style. Key highlights include Shadows in Paradise and The Match Factory Girl both of which provide sufficient glimpses of the director he would become. Le Havre is still my favourite Kaurismaki film but these three are not far behind.
If you have ever wondered what the father of one of the more consistent actors of this generation Robert Downey Jr. was like then pick up this box of Robert Downey Sr. films. A key figure in New York Underground cinema his body of work is both funny and challenging as it experiments with and flat out breaks all the rules. Key Highlights include Putney Swope his best feature length effort, the Waiting for Godot-esque Two Tons of Turquoise and his best short Chafed Elbows that I feel should be inducted by the Hall of Congress as being culturally or aesthetically significant. His films are one of a kind and some of the more fun films belonging to the New York Underground film scene.