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Matt Hanson's Top Ten

by maha1

Created 03/28/17

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I'm an avid fan of the Criterion top ten feature on this website, and I'm always interested in who they get to participate. If I ever got famous, I'd know that I really made it if Criterion ever asked me to do a list like that- or let me run wild in their closet. But I'm not famous (not yet!) so really I can only pretend to be that cool...thus, in my quixotic effort to be that cool, I've listed what I think might be my top ten fave titles. Using an unconscious algorithm between quality and exposure and personal value, and without too much regard for order, here be my Criterion Top Ten...with one extra.

  • This one will always be special to me because it popped my cherry on so many levels. It's the first Criterion movie I can remember ever watching (thereby making me aware of the brand), the first Bunuel, and my first riveting, alluring, disconcerting peek into the wonders of European movies.

  • An incredible movie that doesn't get the same attention as something from the mighty Kurosawa. Dreamlike storytelling, profound moral insight, ineffable cinematic poetry. Mizoguchi should be more of a household name outside of Japan. Masterful.

  • Did Fellini dream up the stuff of his childhood and adolescence? Did he remember it? Do we? Does it even matter?

  • My first foray into the fire, fury and fucking fantastic filmmaking of Sam Fuller, who was named after my 16x great grandfather, a fact of which I am absurdly proud. Class analysis and cold war paranoia wrapped in a snappily paced streetwise noir filled with great performances.

  • I couldn't stop talking about this movie for maybe six months after I first saw it, late at night, in a house by the beach. Mesmerizing. Staggering. It's all about the final sequence.

  • I first saw the poster for this movie in a local video store (remember them?) when I was like, 12 or something. Thewlis's glowering face suspended over two black stocking-clad legs. The tagline was "one man's existential shriek at the world" or something. All of which was very alluring, especially at such a tender age. When I finally saw it, I hated it for the first 20 minutes until I caught on to the humor and ended up laughing my ass off. I've seen it maybe 5-6 times since...

  • One of my favorite movies. For me, it works precisely because it's a New Wave film that tries to be a widescreen epic- the tropes of each genre are constantly playing off of each other. Godard is dealing with so much stuff- the ends and means of cinema, his recent divorce (check out the wig Bardot puts on during the fight- remind you of anyone?), the need to make a buck, the need to be free. Plus it's sexy, and somehow bittersweet.

  • Never gets old. Everything is on point here- the world Lee creates, the people in it, their struggles, their joys, their hates. Very misunderstood. Entertainment that STAYS news. And that's the truth, Ruth!

  • Never loses its political relevance, its style, its pace, its knowing and subtle immersion into the slums of Paris. A masterpiece, through and through.

  • It all comes together- the source material by the magnificent Chekhov, the adaptation by David Mamet, the directing by Louis Malle (his last film), the acting (so many splendid character actors it's wrong to name only a couple), the semi-improvised setting, and the way your heart is in your throat by the last moment.

  • Gut-churning, exquisitely hopeless, minutely observed little gem. Poor Umberto is everywhere, just look around. The sad old man doesn't even shuffle into the top ten.

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