My favorite Max Ophuls film. I love the swirling camera that mirrors the circus ring, and the ring of life. The story of Lola Montès (Martine Carol) and her many conquests, reenacted as a circus performance, narrated by ringmaster Peter Ustinov. It concludes with a death-defying plunge into a tub of water to symbolize her ultimate fall from grace.
Although this movie portrays the very real and gritty life on a river barge, there is something so poetic in it. You’ll never forget the contrast between Père Jules (Michel Simon)—who can puff smoke from a cigarette out of the face tattooed around his belly button—and the romantic belief of Juliette (Dita Parlo) that you can see the image of your true love in water.
I love Renoir’s films for the great storytelling in which he always incorporates social commentary. My favorite scene is between Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay) and Captain von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim) as they discuss the gentleman’s code of gentlemen’s honor, and how their time as the elite class is passing.
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
As if the Stones music isn’t enough, the fashions are right up there too! Mick in his omega T-shirt and concho pants, and his black-and-red Ossie Clark “Sympathy for the Devil” shirt, or in his white suit with a red scarf, on his way to Muscle Shoals. And Keith’s Nudie the Tailor red-beaded jacket. Rock-and-roll dreams are made of this!
The Earrings of Madame de . . .
My second-favorite Max Ophuls film. He loved the chain of life, where everything swirls around, just like the beautiful heart-shaped earrings of the title, as they pass from hand to hand. The opulence of the belle époque story is reflected in Madame de’s sumptuous Venetian glass dressing table mirror, and all the opulent settings throughout the film.
Juliet of the Spirits
One of Fellini’s masterpieces. I particularly love the Piero Gherardi sets and Bri-Nylon costumes that add to the fantasy and frivolity of the outlandishly dressed women. The story parodies the marriage of Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina (who plays Juliet).
Caitlin Kuhwald’s Top 10
Caitlin Kuhwald designed the covers for Criterion’s editions of Heaven Can Wait, The Thief of Bagdad, and Amarcord. She lives in Oakland, teaches illustration at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and is a full-time freelance illu…
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.
Martin Scorsese’s Top 10
Martin Scorsese is an Academy Award–winning filmmaker who has directed more than twenty features, including The Last Temptation of Christ, available from the Criterion Collection.