Saturday Night Special

by Michael Gildea

Created 12/08/12

Edit List

I work late to begin with but having to work late on a Saturday night is some cold trash. To help deal with it, I watch only Criterion titles when I get home. This is what I've been using to cope...

  • Magnificently gaudy, overblown and highly entertaining. The cinematography is so hypnotic I don't even mind the fact that I'm watching what is essentially a trashy chick flick from the 50s.

  • Unapologetic and magnificently brutal. For some reason the style in which it jumps around would drive me nuts were I watching an American film do this, but it works very well in a Japanese one. Beautifully nasty to the point where it won't allow you to root for the bad guy, despite my trying desperately to.

  • A genius of a B-movie. So seedy and shocking you almost can't believe it was made when it was made. The flashbacks mixed with the color footage are inspired even if you can see the ending coming a mile away. Not exactly without flaws, but seriously underrated.

  • Not exactly the fright fest the title would lead you to believe. More of a drama with the occasional horror element than anything else. For the 50s B-movie this it is, this is pretty well done. Besides, pairing Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee isn't exactly a deterrent.

  • While Notorious isn't in my Top 5 favorites as far as Hitchcock's movies are concerned, I will say its easily one of his best. The camerawork makes me feel like I'm in trouble the entire time and Hitchcock makes likable actors play unlikable characters brilliantly. An accomplishment for everyone involved.

  • One of the most underrated movies ever. Proof positive that The Monkees were capable of so much more than just walking down the street. Featuring the band's best music ever, Head is a work of unsung genius that was unfortunately too little, too late. An impressive, nonsensical ride that's so worth the time.

  • Kind of meandering, but not bad at all. The title sequence had me completely intrigued by the time it was done but the ending was sort of anticlimactic. Worth watching once...

  • It would be easy and dismissive to call Eating Raoul a trashy and raunchy comedy that doubles as a social commentary. I've seen this movie before and when I heard it was getting the Criterion treatment I had no idea as to why. After watching it again its subtle and creeping genius became more apparent to me and I got my answer -- deafeningly so by the time the credits rolled.

  • There are many points in Cronos where it feels more like a fairy tale than a subtle, low-key horror movie. I loved the random moments (mostly involving Ron Perlman's character) and the imagery of Jesus and Aurora breaking into the factory towards the end. Cronos was a very pleasant surprise.

  • Surreal and wonderfully ridiculous with Lionel Stander stealing the whole goddamn show. The photography, direction and editing were breathtaking. Between this and Repulsion, I think I'm finally in love with early Polanski.

  • What started off as an ignorable stock-footage Frankenstein turned into a reasonably brainy monster movie. It was nothing astonishing but a pretty good B-movie. If nothing else, First Man info Space is worth the watch for its impressive monster alone.

  • The Game is a viewing paradox for me. Like the game in the movie itself I'm envious of anyone getting to experience it for the first time and will remain tight-lipped about its finale. Unfortunately David Fincher does such a great job of building such tension that no possible ending could've satisfied or fed that beast he created the first time I saw it. Its only upon subsequent viewings after knowing how things play out and several years later that I get it. The Game isn't as great as I remember but its still great.

  • One of Jarmusch's finest. Tom Waits and John Lurie played amazingly off each other. Throw in Roberto Benigni to trigger some truly hilarious moments ("I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!") and you've got a beautiful, grimy, black and white pile of style and smoothness.

  • On the Waterfront is such a masterpiece that it doesn't even feel like you're watching a movie, let alone one of the greatest ever made. The amazing cast, superb direction and seemingly effortless writing all make for a textbook example of a timeless classic.

  • Brilliant, bizarre, random and hilarious. A gonzo fishing show if ever I saw one with the most inspired narration ever.

  • Fritz Lang gives a Nazi espionage thriller first rate film noir treatment. The seance scene is brilliant as is the final rooftop shootout. Ministry of Fear is so underrated it pisses me off. Maybe if it weren't for its strong anti-cake stance more people would know about it.

  • Were this story in the hands of anyone other than Charlie Chaplin, Verdoux would've been a loathsome bastard and this film would've been a very hard watch. While Monsieur Verdoux isn't exactly Chaplin's masterpiece, its still highly entertaining despite being an almost complete departure from his previous work.

  • The Haunted Strangler starts off like a clone of Corridors of Blood that takes forever to get off the ground. The good news is it gets pretty good once it does. Unfortunately the low budget imposes a claustrophobic itch you can't really scratch before the end but Boris Karloff's killer was pretty clever.

  • I heard a description of Repo Man which was something to the effect of a punk rock sci-fi film that took place at Ronald Reagan's house and I can't say I disagree with this. Repo Man at times feels like a bunch of entertaining and off-the-wall parts more than a great story but there's a great soundtrack and enough great lines to help you get past it. Great, great stuff.

  • I didn't love this and I didn't hate it. I was mostly just sad for Hana Brejchová's character, even when she finally got to do the deed. But for as lukewarm as I felt about Loves of a Blonde I was howling by the time that interrogation scene with Milda's mother was over. Overall, I kind of felt like I was watching an episode of Girls that time travelled 50 years into the past and to another country.

  • A pretty solid movie that kind of had me scratching my head towards the end despite an entertaining stage sequence. Gena Rowlands is slowly becoming my dream woman and the entire cast was great. Not exactly my favorite of Cassavetes' work but still a worthwhile watch and a bit more accessible than his other movies.

  • House is the closest thing to a live-action anime movie I can imagine. Some of what goes on in House is flat-out brilliant (namely when Gorgeous recounts her aunt's history and would-be marriage) but is then followed by completely overstimulating ridiculousness. The Mario Bava directing an episode of Scooby-Doo description isn't too far off, but I think a live-action adaptation of a Sailor Moon episode on PCP feels more accurate.

  • Because my DVR skipped the first half hour*, I can't help but feel I missed out on some essential piece of R. Crumb that may bring all this heartbreak and random perverted mad genius into a greater context for me. At the same time I felt I saw what I needed to see. Having little exposure to him, I feel that Crumb was a great introduction to both the man and his work and I'm dying to see that first half hour.

    *Finally saw the first half hour. While I feel my viewing experience of Crumb is finally complete, aside from Robert Crumb's recounting of his need to hump his mother's cowboy boots I don't feel I missed a hell of a lot. Well, maybe Sheena...

  • Despite the crazy-for-its time imagery and butter churning as code for something else, I just couldn't get into Haxan. Its certainly not awful, but it just kind of reminded me I'm not really into silent films and slid into the dreaded I-Only-Need-To-See-This-Once-In-My-Lifetime category. (I'm guessing the 20 minutes I slept through didn't help or hurt my opinion on this one...)

  • The Living Skeleton is a fun, creepy and atmospheric revenge tale that seemed to change tone with every act. Despite some of the hokey effects the imagery was pretty wild and gorgeously shot. It felt like a horror movie version of a Godzilla flick but that's not exactly a bad thing. And Kikko Matsuoka isn't exactly hard on the eyes either...

  • Pan's Labyrinth's older brother. Despite some beautifully haunting imagery that with the exception of one or two of his other movies doesn't feel as Del Toro. (Maybe that's my Pacific Rim buzz talking.) Fantastic nonetheless, The Devil's Backbone is astonishing & Santi is not only the greatest ghost ever but an achievement in character design. The final 45 minutes are painfully sad & justify the slow buildup.


  • By futurestar
    May 02, 2013
    06:47 PM

    a wealth of variation in consideration of what a saturday night special can be. I like this list a lot for just those reasons. thanks for sharing your well watched background and offering up a unique perspective. well done.
  • By Scott_DAgostino
    May 04, 2013
    06:43 PM

    The narration for Fishing With John is hilarious.
    • By Michael Gildea
      May 20, 2013
      07:06 PM

      What I wouldn't give to have been a fly on the wall to see Robb Webb's face when that was recorded. "This is a real Husker Du town."