The Battle of Algiers
I remember it as a strong anticolonialist film, with parallels with the American civil rights movement. In fact, a scene you won’t see in Medium Cool, of black militants going into a theater where The Battle of Algiers was playing, was deleted as a concession to Paramount’s concerns that it would provoke violence against Paramount executives. Paramount argued that if audience members came out of Medium Cool and committed a violent act, Paramount would be liable.
The Cranes Are Flying
A Soviet film, it came out when the Cold War was going full blast. American films celebrated victory without displaying the true extent of the cruelty of warfare, and the damages it inflicts on our humanity. Of particular technical interest to me was a combination handheld crane shot, which I duplicated in Bound for Glory with a new device called the Steadicam.
I remember the story of Lacombe, Lucien, who was seduced by the German occupiers to be a quisling. They made him feel he was “somebody.” The film, being after the war, dealt with his psychic examination of who he was; many of his contemporaries would not forgive him. I knew director Louis Malle personally, and I know that attracted me to see his film, which was somewhat autobiographical.
Long, long takes of traffic accidents. Fascinating characters along the way. Many frustrated drivers and passengers unable to deal with matters of a complex world. The film delves into their personal dramas, and how the delay affects their plans. Cameraman Raoul Coutard is a friend of mine, and the long takes were considered a tour de force.
Early on, surprisingly enough, Italian cinema broke the Hollywood barrier by making simple, down-to-earth stories. Most of the films were made without live sound but dubbed later by experts. It meant that noisy, unblimped cameras would give flexibility to image-making. Stories like Bicycle Thieves, Rome Open City, and Paisan all fell into that category.
Troy Miller’s Top 10
Troy Miller is a director and producer whose credits include the hit television comedies Mr. Show, Arrested Development, The Office, Flight of the Conchords, and Parks and Recreation.
Georgia Hubley’s Top 10
Georgia Hubley is one of the founding members of the Hoboken, New Jersey, band Yo La Tengo, whose The Sounds of Science, a score to eight Jean Painlevé shorts, is available on Criterion’s DVD set Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé.
Jeremy Workman’s Top 10
A frequent Criterion collaborator who has edited many of our trailers, the director of The World Before Your Feet charts the evolution of his movie love through multiple formats and new technologies.
William Friedkin’s Top 10
“I discovered Criterion in the late eighties with the laserdisc of Citizen Kane, which I still watch,” writes director William Friedkin, whose films include The French Connection, The Exorcist, Sorcerer, and 2011’s Killer Joe.