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Someday, I would love to be invited to do this by the kind folks at Criterion. Until that day, I will daydream that I have. It would be interesting to compare the lists now and then... Anyway, I am in my last semester at The Santa Fe University of Art and Design, formerly College of Santa Fe, and am on my way to a BA in Moving Image Arts Theory and Production. These are some of the films that either changed my perspective or just became my buddy.
This was the first. I was introduced to what Criterion is with this 2 disc edition, and I took it with me to film school. In one of my first classes, they asked what are favorite film is. I said, The Third Man and needless to say I made friends just fine. Also, upon leaving home for the first time, my dog, sensing my departure, peed on my first copy that I had to replace right before it went out of print. The film itself is a stranger in a strange land story and the viewer, via stark shadows and canted angles, is made to identify with our hapless protagonist. It has such a great sense of humor and remains riveting until the glorious tunnel shot and the deep focus of the cemetery. The idea of lingering on the final shot of the film is something that made an impression on me as a filmmaker.
I saw this for the first time projected on a wall with a good friend I look up to. A tribute to the inventiveness of cinema and also the art of conversation. It begins with the most literal dinner for two and transcends into abstraction and pure emotion. Driving through New York after My Dinner With Andre echoes the notion that after something like this, you don't look at things the same way. It is truly inspiring and emanates through every frame what I love most about storytelling and life as a whole.
Years before Criterion released this film, my father told me about a film he saw in Clarendon, TX when he was a boy about a man being chased across African wilderness by natives. It was one that he always said stuck with him. I mention it because a great deal of film knowledge and passion I have in me is because of his support, encouragement and general willingness to sit down and watch one. As far as this film goes, it is simple and complex with a minimalist vibe and suspense to spare. Truly an exciting picture.
I watched this for the first time in a double feature with Synecdoche, New York. That was a powerful night. This film is emotional. Best way I could describe it. Visually, it is gorgeous. I can't help but fall in love with Gena Rowlands despite her idiosyncrasies.
Ugliness explored through some sort of objective beauty. Long takes and lyrical storytelling coupled with the straight 20 minute priest conversation on an almost docudrama level. Yet it is balanced and artful, confident in every turn and a testament to artistic vision.
Dreyer is an institution in my mind as a filmmaker and a director. His patience is a presence through the entire film and I think that is his lesson. Also, this film has a close connection to another one of my favorites called Silent Light that I saw at an impressionable point, and it's treatment of long takes planted a seed in me as a filmmaker when it comes to duration.
Poetic and weirdly humanist, it taught me to direct focus. It isn't about a moody city, it isn't about a jailbreak, and it isn't about a run from the law. It's about the fondness we feel for people. It's about friends.
Sometimes it is about enjoying the glow of the silver screen and the pleasantness of charm and wit.
Masterfully woven by Renoir, who's treatment of plot and character is genuinely impeccable. Also, Stroheim. Need I say more. The film's relationship to honor and war is compelling, but what steals the show are the actual relationships of the characters. This echoes what I know to be universally true: all things are merely backdrops for our actions and reactions with ourselves and others.
Spalding Gray is a man who has managed to do something that I will always aspire to. He has created a persona that is larger than life and no less emotionally true. He dives into what he does with such passion and fearlessness. And through that, he captivates and embodies the fundamental essence of the storyteller.