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The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of 
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Post The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Any Criterion packages out there delighted you no end? Any of their titles seem a bit nonsensical to you? Any titles you'd like to see given the double-disc worship?

Quickly:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has an outstanding set of discs associated with it despite the movie being (in my opinion) largely awful. Brazil, on the other hand, got an even better treatment and that movie is largely incredible.

I was a little disappointed with My Dinner with André's lack of interesting special features but pleased one of my favorite movies got such a lovely transfer.

I was confused by The Last Days of Disco's inclusion in their catalog but have to figure there must be someone out there that would call the film 'important' or 'classic' without meaning it ironically.

What have you to add?


Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:54 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
majoraphasia wrote:
I was confused by The Last Days of Disco's inclusion in their catalog but have to figure there must be someone out there that would call the film 'important' or 'classic' without meaning it ironically.



Well, I'm out.


Armageddon was a Criterion release. Ugh. Nevertheless, they have some modern jewels in their collection. 'In The Mood For Love' and 'Yi Yi', in particular, have excellent transfers and have more than enough extras to satisfy the film enthusiast while a film such as 'Tokyo Story' indeed gets Wim Wenders' exemplary doc 'Tokyo Ga' as an extra, which is easily a value of another film essentially as a bonus.


I'm usually a huge fan of Criterion, and although I doubt 'Naked Lunch' will ever be considered a great film, it is a superb Criterion.


P.S. - Agreed on Fear And Loathing. Another 'smarter than thou' parable that serves to show how dramatically shallow Terry Gilliam's creative resources had become by even the late 90's.


Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:40 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Rules of the Game and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters both have really awesome Criterion sets. Those are the only two coming to the top of my head at the moment, though I do have to go to work in a few minutes and I really have to pee.


Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:28 pm
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
In between bouts of light-headedness, stabbing kidney pain, and nausea (not of the existential variety) I've looked through Criterion's list a few times and found more than a couple of titles I should see. Films I've never even heard of.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
- It sounds both tedious and fascinating.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters - For shame! And I've previously claimed to worship at Paul Schrader's alter.

F For Fake - Another film that sounds like it would be right up my alley. And Orson Welles, no less.

I'm forced to guess that Criterion knows that funding a big project like Classic Film Preservation means releasing some safe bets. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one such safe bet. The package looks like a great one for those who loved the film but, alas, I don't see how this one represents anything more than a crowd pleaser with great technical skill. While it could be argued that The Rock or Armageddon have both been major contributors to film as visceral, loud experience it doesn't seem like either film is meaningful enough on their own to warrant a second look. It's odd seeing those titles listed alongside Amarcord, The Seven Samurai, and The Thief of Baghdad.

The real misfires (for inclusion) that I'd missed on earlier perusal were Kicking and Screaming, Noah Baumbach's dreadful freshman effort. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou seems to be part of the catalog for the sake of Wes Anderson completion. I'm not sure what to make of the Beastie Boys Video Anthology, exactly. It's available for less than $25 but, strangely, the jaw-droppingly terrible Schizopolis (a Soderbergh film that demands to be missed) can be all yours for over $30. I'm sure it has to do with rights and so forth but why Schizopolis over, say, sex, lies, and videotape or King of the Hill? I understand De Palma's Sisters seeing a good DVD release but I don't feel quite as enthusiastic about films like Hopscotch, Lars Von Trier's The Element of Crime (at least while a true classic like Breaking The Waves could stand some rightful celebrating), or Equinox.

Still, they have several hundred great films on catalog so a few confusing eggs don't make for a necessary rewrite.


Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:42 pm
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
majoraphasia wrote:
The Seven Samurai


2 for the price of 1. I was fortunate enough to borrow the newer Criterion edition of Seven Samurai and was astounded. It's really really fantastic. I haven't seen the previous release of Seven Samurai but I hear that it pales in comparison.

http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/sevensamuraise.php


Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:16 pm
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
majoraphasia wrote:
I was confused by The Last Days of Disco's inclusion in their catalog but have to figure there must be someone out there that would call the film 'important' or 'classic' without meaning it ironically.


Well, it's not like that release came out of nowhere. They released Metropolitan (also by Whit Stillman) some time ago, and are supposedly attempting to license the rights from Warner Bros. for Barcelona, so they can release the whole "trilogy".

Anyway, outside of the typical movies brought up in these discussions (The Rock, Armageddon), I'd say Border Radio is one I wouldn't have picked to release, if I were a part of such things. I get that it was part of the whole late 80's/early 90's indie film movement, with one of the directors becoming known in that field herself (Allison Anders), but the movie itself just isn't that great. I own it, having blind bought it fairly cheap, and I don't regret buying it and watching it once (alas, I think most all the movies Criterion releases are worth watching at least once), but it's not something I'm in a hurry to watch again.


Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:58 pm
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress needs a double disc edition. The current edition has the film, an interview with George Lucas on Kurosawa, and the theatrical trailer. It's pretty underwhelming for such a fantastic movie.

Also, while perusing the Criterion site, I came upon this little diddy coming out in December:

http://www.criterion.com/boxsets/678

For $319 I won't be purchasing this, but I sure as shit will be coveting this marvel.


Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:49 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
MTRodaba2468 wrote:
majoraphasia wrote:
I was confused by The Last Days of Disco's inclusion in their catalog but have to figure there must be someone out there that would call the film 'important' or 'classic' without meaning it ironically.


Well, it's not like that release came out of nowhere. They released Metropolitan (also by Whit Stillman) some time ago, and are supposedly attempting to license the rights from Warner Bros. for Barcelona, so they can release the whole "trilogy".


I don't know, man. While I understand the motivation for including the movie out of some sense of completion I don't think anyone, anywhere believes The Last Days of Disco is an important contribution to filmmaking. It's an unbelievably boring film and was completely ignored by audiences after it was given a pass by the critics. Metropolitan? I get it. Kind of a "Class of 1990's Filmmakers: Whit Stillman" entry. Like Swoon by Tom Kalin (albeit in 1992's class). It's a weird entry, at least in my book.


Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:49 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
PeachyPete wrote:
Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress needs a double disc edition. The current edition has the film, an interview with George Lucas on Kurosawa, and the theatrical trailer. It's pretty underwhelming for such a fantastic movie.

Also, while perusing the Criterion site, I came upon this little diddy coming out in December:

http://www.criterion.com/boxsets/678

For $319 I won't be purchasing this, but I sure as shit will be coveting this marvel.


You and me both. Those guys are even including 4 heretofore unreleased films (on DVD) in the set. It's times like this that I wish I had the superpower of invisibility. For, if I had such a power, I'd steal the box set from Barnes and Noble and make it sound as if the box set were "escaping" while terrified onlookers looked for some semblance of sanity. After all: box sets just don't get up and walk out of the book store. But that one? It did. It just got up and walked out! Where's it gonna go? Who knows! It wanted a taste of freedom and nothing was going to stand in its way. Nothing.

Sometimes my posts make me feel a little bit sad. Where did it all go wrong?


Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:54 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
I am a fan of the Criterion boxed set. I love the Criterion boxed sets for Carl Dreyer (Day of Wrath, Ordet, Gertrud) and Teshigahara (Pitfall, Woman in the Dunes, the Face of Another.)

As for The Rock and Armageddon... well, Roger Ebert posited that perhaps they were included in the catalogue because they are perfect examples of their type. That's as nice a way as I have found to put it.


Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:51 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
I read somewhere that Criterion agreed to put out Armaggedeon and The Rock in exchange for full rights to the current and future films of Wes Anderson. I have no proof at all to back this up, but it does make sense.

I can't really proclaim my love of any out there Criterion choices, although I can sing the praises of their Andrei Rublev, Au Hasard Balthazar, Tokyo Story, Naked, Last Year at Marienbad, and Seven Samurai sets, all of which are fantastic.


Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:15 pm
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Zeppelin wrote:
I read somewhere that Criterion agreed to put out Armaggedeon and The Rock in exchange for full rights to the current and future films of Wes Anderson. I have no proof at all to back this up, but it does make sense.



They're a business like any other. Years ago, when Criterion was in the business of laserdiscs alone, they made a deal with New Line to distribute both Menace II Society as well as whatever Allen and Albert Hughes would end up making after that particular film. They wanted Menace and I suppose fingers were crossed when the Hughes Brothers wrapped filming on Dead Presidents, a movie they had promised to release on laserdisc. The Hughes made it easy for Criterion to pad out their laserdisc (they were the first company to make 'special features' a standard for home video) by filming a documentary alongside the feature.

On Criterion's laserdisc of Dead Presidents the special features had the curious line "Featuring documentary footage shot exclusively for Criterion" which de-mystified whatever selection process was though to be. It's a minimally sobering thing, I suppose, to realize that exclusive footage shot just for Criterion means that the Hughes could have produced just about any film and had it releaed on the elite line. Whatever Dead Presidents is, a classic or important contemporary film it is not.

On Criterion's forum you'll also find that the thread for Benjamin Button features an announcement for the DVD double-disc set written in May of 2008. That's a fairly long while before the film hit theatres.


Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:08 am
Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
I have three Criterions: "Life Of Brian", "Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas" and "Benjamin Button".

At the time the 2000 "Life Of Brian" Criterion was a safe bet until Sony released the two-disc "Immaculate Edition" in 2007. Except for "The Pythons" documentary on the Criterion the Sony edition caries over the rest of the features.

"Fear & Loathing" is okay for the inclusion of the booklet of essays, and extra footage (the commentary with Hunter Thompson was largely a waste). There are some extra documentary extras which are nice if only to detail the making of this movie. It may not be a great movie but, when one is in a twisted mood, sometimes a bit of self-indulgent depravity is necessary. For comparison I would never respect anyone who claimed "Freddy Got Fingered" was a movie "so bad it's good" and was worth watching.

But "Benjamin Button" was purchased since I'm a fan of David Fincher's work. Compared to the geeky extras that accompany his multi-disc releases this Criterion-sanctioned release seems a bit light. That and out of his filmography I think this was by far his weakest effort. I can't blame him for Alien3 since it was rushed without a script.

So while I enjoy quality cinema I don't necessarily see any release with Criterion's seal of approval as a stamp of quality in regards to DVD versus their past laserdisc products.

--RB|!R|


Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:02 pm
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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Resurrecting this thread because of a new release coming out on the 20th:

Image

I've never seen the film, but I had always assumed it was terrible, what with its reputation as being the film that essentially killed United Artists and torched Michael Cimino's career. Not that Criterion hasn't ever released bad films in the past, but its inclusion in their collection has admittedly piqued my curiosity. Is the film some sort of severely misunderstood classic that deserves reevaluation? Does the film have any merit beyond its historical importance? Or is this just a misguided attempt at revisionist history for a film that is generally viewed as one of the biggest cinematic disasters ever of all time? It's currently available on Netflix Instant, but I'm not sure if what you get there is acceptable quality in terms of video and audio presentation.

Concerning the thread topic, I was incredibly irritated by Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl the first and only time I watched it, which features an absolutely terrible deus ex machina ending that destroys any goodwill built before it, which admittedly wasn't very much.

I also couldn't get into The Ruling Class. Despite a memorably manic performance from Peter O'Toole, the material clearly belongs on the stage where it originated. On film, it's absolutely lifeless.

On the other side of the coin, if I had to pick my favorite Criterion package, for the film and the supplements and the overall design of the product itself, it'd probably be The Battle Of Algiers. Mishima is right up there too, as is The Seven Samurai. With only a couple exception, Criterion packages are where it's at. Time to include some animated titles though, which are curiously absent from their collection.

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:09 pm
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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Blonde Almond wrote:

Concerning the thread topic, I was incredibly irritated by Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl the first and only time I watched it, which features an absolutely terrible deus ex machina ending that destroys any goodwill built before it, which admittedly wasn't very much.


The ending doesn't feature an "absolutely terrible" deus ex machina, exactly. It features a shock that leaves 2/3 of the cast dead, the lead brutally raped and the same girl exonerating the rapist/murderer in an act of defiance meant to function as a pilgrimage into adulthood. The entire damned movie, a movie I don't even like yet find myself defending, is about strictures placed on this person and the freedom she finds in the worst possible turn of events. What with virtually 100% of the movie being a metaphor for a diseased coming-of-age, the end not only fits but is no more a contrived deus ex machina than the raining frogs in Magnolia. They both serve to offer congruence between the characters and the situations they find themselves in. You just didn't like the movie and have conveniently used the shock ending in order to further damn it. I totally can't blame you for that. I kind of wish I had done the same.

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:35 pm
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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Mark III wrote:
Blonde Almond wrote:

Concerning the thread topic, I was incredibly irritated by Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl the first and only time I watched it, which features an absolutely terrible deus ex machina ending that destroys any goodwill built before it, which admittedly wasn't very much.


The ending doesn't feature an "absolutely terrible" deus ex machina, exactly. It features a shock that leaves 2/3 of the cast dead, the lead brutally raped and the same girl exonerating the rapist/murderer in an act of defiance meant to function as a pilgrimage into adulthood. The entire damned movie, a movie I don't even like yet find myself defending, is about strictures placed on this person and the freedom she finds in the worst possible turn of events. What with virtually 100% of the movie being a metaphor for a diseased coming-of-age, the end not only fits but is no more a contrived deus ex machina than the raining frogs in Magnolia. They both serve to offer congruence between the characters and the situations they find themselves in. You just didn't like the movie and have conveniently used the shock ending in order to further damn it. I totally can't blame you for that. I kind of wish I had done the same.


Yes, in retrospect, the ending makes thematic sense within the film. The girl remarks that she would prefer to lose her virginity to a complete stranger, she has to bear witness to her sister's negative experience with losing her virginity for most of the film, and in the end she ends up in a situation that fulfills her viewpoint she expressed earlier. I do get that. For the record, my problem with the film is not just the ending, although that was the point when I went from mild indifference to active annoyance. Breillat is a confrontational director who has no problem pushing boundaries, especially when it comes to sexuality, but I think her script in Fat Girl comes across many times as obvious and shallow (at least from what I remember from my only viewing of the film a few years back). The representation of male characters as either manipulators, workaholics, or murderers/rapists in particular is something that I just find obnoxious. With that said, my feeling is that the film for most of its running length features a fairly understated and honest, albeit a little trite, portrayal of the conflicting emotions of an overweight young girl, and in the closing moments the film turns her into a psychopath and loses any previous sense of reality.

But even with the acknowledgement that the ending ultimately does make thematic sense in relation to the rest of the film, I still think the mechanics of the closing moments are lazy and cheap. Apart from just the general clumsiness of the scene itself (Why is there little to no reaction from the daughter as the man breaks through the car window? Why is there little to no reaction from the mother when her daughter gets an axe to the head?), it changes the film from a sexually frank but fairly honest look at female adolescence, budding sexual desire, and sibling rivalry , into just a platform for Catherine Breillat's ugly and negative view of sexuality. Magnolia at least hinted at the fantastical turn of the ending in the opening sequence and the scene where all the characters join together in song. Fat Girl is a naturalistic coming-of-age tale for 90% of its running length before 5 minutes of uneasy suspense on their road trip and the abrupt and gruesome turn in the closing moments. Maybe if you interpret the entire closing sequence as imaginary, a fantasy scenario that the girl cooks up because of her general disdain for her family, then I could somewhat forgive it, but there's nothing in Fat Girl to suggest that what we're seeing in the end isn't reality. Admittedly, this could be just a gigantic misreading of the film on my part, or a misinterpretation on my only viewing of what the film was all about, but I do think Breillat's use of that "shock ending" undermines a lot of what came before in favor of something that I feel is much less meaningful.

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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Heaven's Gate was...

...ehhhh.

The category-five shitstorm its reputation suggests? Not even close; there's a good deal of merit here, be it the gob-smackingly gorgeous photography and fine performances. But overtly-prolonged, aimless, and prone to not getting to the goddamned point? Absolutely.

Black Moon, on the other hand, can sit and spin. A Safe Place can join it, too. Some of the worst Criterion-sponsored offerings I've ever watched.

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Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:26 am
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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
"The Magic Flute" has always struck me as an odd choice. I mean, it's a very minor Bergman film - that was strictly made for Swedish TV, no less - of a staged performance of the Mozart opera. And it was released before the likes of "Cries and Whispers," "Wild Strawberries," "The Virgin Spring," "Scenes from a Marriage," "Autumn Sonata," etc. :?


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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
The Naked Kiss. I get its feminist statement which was more admirable during the films release but god if this isn't one of the most obnoxiously dated releases in Criterion's catalogue.

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Post Re: The Criterion Collection: Best and Worst Of
Here's a list of their upcoming releases through March:http://www.criterion.com/library/expanded_view?f=1&s=release_date

I'll for sure be getting Badlands and The Blob at some point (probably their next 1/2 off sale). The Malick film has something fans of the collection have been clamoring for for literally years, so it's good to see it finally get a release.

Has anyone seen Lang's Ministry of Fear (fantastic cover, btw) or Two-Lane Blacktop? Both of those look particularly interesting to me. I'll also be checking out Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux because, well, it's Chaplin and he's great.

I think their March slate of releases, in particular, are pretty exciting. I'm interested in all of those movies.


Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:49 am
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