My Criterion Top 10

by Jonathan Lack

Created 07/18/17

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  • The greatest of all Criterion releases - a heroic restoration of three films that were in desperate need of it, accompanied by a wonderful, insightful slate of bonus features and lovely packaging. Perhaps the most vital, essential release in the collection to date.

  • And at #2, the most significant Eclipse Series release - a collection of five Ozu films, each incredible, mature works by the greatest of Japanese directors. All would be deserving of individual Criterion releases, but not every film can get the solo treatment, of course. Having access to five films this excellent and important in one box, all in very good condition considering the DVD-only treatment, is an absolute treasure.

  • The first Criterion I ever bought, and I imagine the same is true for many others. For Spine #2 - the earliest spine number still in print - Criterion went all out on the Blu-ray, with a terrific video restoration, two audio tracks (including a reconstruction of an early Surround mix), two separate commentaries, an entire disc of supplements (some feature length), and a book with no less than eight essays and an interview with Toshiro Mifune himself. You cannot do better by a classic film than Criterion has done here. It is, simply put, definitive.

  • The greatest surprise of the Eclipse series, a box of buried treasures of early Japanese cinema. All four films are wonderful, and Mr. Thank-You might be a masterpiece. Shimizu's gorgeous, lucid photography of pre-war Japan is a wonder to behold. Where else would we have access to such rare treats of world cinema other than the Eclipse line? This box is essential - it establishes Shimizu, essentially unknown to most audiences today, as a major force of Japan's golden age of cinema.

  • One of the greatest films ever made, presented here in a beautiful restoration. The extras are somewhat sparse but dense with information and insight, and the accompanying book, which includes two complete versions of the folk tale, is essential. One of the highlights of the collection.

  • As definite a single-film release as Criterion has ever crafted - all three versions of the film, with an incredible restoration for the Extended Cut, which looks as good as any Blu-ray ever made. A deep and immersive slate of extras. A dense and informative book. Beautiful packaging. And an all-time great film, too.

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