The Spirit of the Beehive
This was such a surprise. I had never heard of this film. The premise is original and poignant, and the performance by the little girl is mind-blowing. It is about the power that movies can hold over us. It delivers the wonders of childhood and the saving grace of imagination.
Murmur of the Heart
Malle delivers stories that still resonate for their audacity of subject and unflinching portrayals of sorrowful characters.
Gus Van Sant
My Own Private Idaho
Gus Van Sant
Gus is the best. Idaho was one of the first movies with which I fell in love. I would watch it repeatedly when I was a teenager. River Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime, original and inspiring. As a young actor, I needed nothing more than this performance for inspiration. The film is a collage of techniques, plots, and themes, expertly wound together as only Van Sant is able to do. When Criterion released this DVD with a film-length interview between Todd Haynes and Gus, it was a gold mine for an acolyte like me. There are also great old magazine articles, and an odd conversation with J. T. Leroy, before he was exposed. Mala Noche is Gus’s first film. He financed it with his own money. It’s a great early glimpse into many of the themes that continue to consume him.
A Woman Under the Influence
Not much to add about Cassavetes, except that Criterion has put together an incredible box set, John Cassavetes: Five Films. There are alternate cuts, interviews, and documentaries, as well as the incredible films. Woman and Opening Night show Gena Rowlands at her best. These films contain performances that will never be matched, but are also structural innovations. I wish I could make movies like this.
The Battle of Algiers
I don’t know how he made this movie, except that he used the real people. This is where Soderbergh learned half of his shit (as I’m sure he’ll admit). This is an amazing three-disc set, with hours of documentary footage.
Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
The Maysles are masters. Their philosophy of Direct Cinema is proved in these films. Life is as interesting as fiction. This is not reality TV; it is observational documentation in the purest sense. It is not manipulated; the only filter is the obvious love the filmmakers have for their subjects. Salesman is as deep as Death of a Salesman or The Iceman Cometh, and Gimme Shelter is like Greek tragedy.
Antonioni is still elusive, but these great discs help open an understanding of his work through documentary and illuminating commentaries.
What a beautiful film. Olmi was a documentary filmmaker who then switched to features. He explores young love in very simple, but deeply felt, terms. Even more exciting is the short film included on the disc, La cotta. This is like Rushmore in miniature. A young, imaginative kid in love. So fun and sad.
Altman is another hero. These films are hypnotizing because of their pace. Altman’s cameras swirl around and zoom in on his characters as they reveal themselves slowly. Altman said he let actors do what they became actors to do (meaning: Act! Create!), and these films are two examples of how this freeing process can create indelible performances.
Allan Arkush’s Top 10
Allan Arkush is an Emmy-winning television director and executive producer of NBC’s hit series Heroes. Arkush's directing credits also include the Ramones’ cult classic Rock ’n’ Roll High School, which Rolling Stone magazine named as one of t…
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Top 10
Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn is the director of the Pusher Trilogy, Fear X, Bronson, Valhalla Rising, and Drive, for which he won the best director prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Alison Maclean’s Top 10
Canadian-born director Alison Maclean’s films include Jesus’ Son (1999) and the newly released The Rehearsal, an official selection of Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival.
Al Reinert’s Top 10
Writes Al Reinert, director of For All Mankind: “Having your film in the Criterion Collection is like marrying your daughter into an old distinguished family that intimidates and humbles you. She might feel at home there, but I am inclined to stand…