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Here is my list of top ten criterion collection films
My favorite film of all time, next to George Washington. For a war film, I found this film to be strangely ambient and relaxing, I think that is one of the reasons I fell in love with this movie. Terrence Malick is one of my favorite film directors of all time, and I consider this is magnum opus. The cinematography by John Toll is just breathtaking. Where most war films are shot with shaky cameras and always ask why does war happen, the camera in this film floats in the breeze and acknowledges that war is just a part of life and we shouldn't be afraid of death. I could go on about this film forever so I'll just say this maybe as close to perfection as a film can get in my opinion.
Next to The Thin Red Line, this is my favorite film of all time. I remember when I first saw this a couple of years ago. I was in complete awe of what I had seen. The cinematography is some of the greatest I've ever seen in my life. The performances, the music, everything was just done right. To me this raised the bar of what independent films are capable of.
My favorite film for a little while, and still one of my favorites is Jean-Pierre Melville's spectacular Le Samourai. Alain Delon gives the performance of his career which such intense subtlety that's it's impossible to forget. Everything in this film: every shot, line of dialogue, every movement, was done for a purpose and this film just will remain one of my favorite films for as long as I live.
This is one of those films that gets better every time I see it. Every time I watch it I notice something I didn't see before. The cinematography, lighting, and editing help bring out all those amazing details: like the bead of sweat on juror 4's forehead when juror 8 proves that emotional stress can make people forget things (in this case the boys alibi). Even in the opening scene in the courtroom when the camera pans across the jurymen, you get an early glimpse of each jurymen's personality (juror 3 looking stubborn, juror 4 watching coldly, juror 5 looking nervous, juror 7 getting restless and ready to leave, juror 8 paying close attention and giving the case a lot of thought,etc.).
Fritz Lang is one of my favorite film directors of all time. For a film that was shot in the 30's I was blown away by the cinematography. Where most films in those days just put a camera on a tripod and just rotated it, this film actually had a moving camera and every shot was filled with wonder and terror. I couldn't not put this on my top ten criterion films if I tried.
For a film that came out in the 50's the acting, cinematography, and story are so ahead of its time. Most acting in that period is just typical 50's acting that didn't require much effort, but this was just some of the greatest acting ever caught on film. J.J. Hunsucker (brought to life by Burt Lancaster) is one of the most diabolical villains on the big screen. Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis showing us what he could really do) isn't any better I might add. James Wong Howe's shots of 1950's New York City in all of it's black and white film noir glory couldn't have been better. The music by Elmer Bernstein, especially the jazz tunes, are just great. Everything in this film is just great.
I watched Charlie Chaplin films first before I watched Harold Lloyd films, but I watch Harold Lloyd films a lot more than Charlie Chaplin. So in the end I kind of prefer Harold Lloyd, I always connected with his character more. I didn't know which Harold Lloyd film to put on so I cheated and put on my two favorite films of his which are both incidentally on the Criterion Collection. I also have the Harold Lloyd collection released from New Line, and this is one of the ones I watched the most out. Like I said I connected with the glasses character more than Chaplin's tramp or Keaton's stone face character both of them who I feel are just as great as Harold Lloyd. But I liked this film because it's definitely one of his funniest (the look on his face when he realizes he slapped the dean of his college is one of my favorite moments), and one of his sweetest. Like I said I connected with his character a lot and with this film being about a newly college kid trying to find his place I really liked the film. Also I think Jobyna Ralston was my favorite leading lady in his films. The new 4k transfer looks fantastic, it preserves the beautiful black and white imagery wonderfully. The scores are fantastic too, perfect accompaniment.
I am a big fan of silent film and one image I never forgot seeing as a kid was the iconic moment of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock high above the city. As I mentioned with The Freshman I always connected with Harold Lloyd's character, he frequently plays characters trying to find their way in the world which is something I am still working on. Just as with The Freshman, a wonderful brand-new 4K transfer, which helped preserve the films timeless imagery. In fact it's films like this that make me realize why I love silent film in general, it's wonderfully framed moments caught in black and white just gives it this artistic quality that most films haven't captured.
This is a film I have been watching a lot lately, ever since the sad passing of Robin Willliams. This is probably my favorite film that he did. Unlike most of his films where Robin Williams is often just playing Robin Williams, this time his comedy routine is used to good effect, for his performance as a deranged man who lost his wife in a terrible massacre. When he finally shows up in the film he brings a lot of comedy relief to the film despite the films tragic story. Seeing Robin go into really dark places here is sad to watch especially after his death.
Jim Jarmusch is one of the few directors to really capture the feel of a city. In this case its my hometown of Memphis. This film came out a year after I was born and showed Memphis how it was back then, and how it still is to this day: a faded city. Somehow this film really captured the feel of Memphis, a faded city occupied by wandering souls.
After watching Hunger, I immediately became a big fan of both Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender. I had seen Fassbender in a few other films before this, but after this I said "I want to see where this guy goes." The same thing could be said about Steve McQueen as well. This film about the I.R.A. hunger strikes is both haunting and beautiful with it's cinematography. Michael Fassbender is one of the greatest actors of our time. I will admit that my one criticism of the film is the 15 minute shot which can really test your patience and your attention span, otherwise I have no other complaints for this masterpiece.