Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random Top 10: Should-Be Criterions

A couple of days ago, Barnes & Noble announced their regular Criterion 50% Off Sale, sending a legion of cinema nerds into a buying frenzy. I'm pacing myself throughout the sale, buying only a couple at a time so I don't go into massive debt. Today I picked up A Christmas Tale and Chungking Express, expanding my Criterion family from four to six:

My first born, and, not surprisingly, my favorite. This is the first thing I would grab if my house was on fire.

The rest of my children.

Anyways, with this sale going on, everyone is in a Criterion frenzy, so what better time than to start talking suggestions for future releases? I know that Criterion has been hit hard by the recession, forced to release a large amount of "mainstream" foreign arthouse flicks just to get by. But once things start to turn around, and they don't have to worry so much about trying to maintain a proper cashflow, here are some films I really hope they can get their hands on and give the Criterion treatment.

10. David Fincher Music Videos
Criterion is known for releasing unusual "speciality" collections--most notably two collections of avant garde works by Stan Brakhage--so why not music videos, an artform in its own right, this go-around? During his height in the late 80's/early 90's, David Fincher was the indisputable master of the artform. With Madonna's 'Vogue' and 'Express Yourself,' George Michael's 'Freedom' and Paula Abdul's 'Cold Hearted Snake' under his belt, among many other masterpiece I'm sure, this collection would be fascinating to say the least.

09. Saratoga Trunk
I've already said my piece about the film, now if only everyone could see it besides the occasional showing on TCM. This is the sort of divisive film Criterion should be taking a chance on every once in awhile.

08. [Safe]

I don't know if this me being oblivious or what, but I simply can't find a DVD of this to see. And watching Julianne Moore suffer under some harsh auteur's guiding hand is always a pleasure.

07. King Vidor Silents
The most consistently interesting director working at any of the studios during the silent era was, without a doubt, King Vidor. He wasn't exactly an artistic visionary, but no one could craft a smart, entertaining crowd pleaser like he could. My dream collection would contain three of his masterpieces currently unavailable anywhere on DVD: the epic WWI romance The Big Parade, the "experimental" look at the life of one ordinary couple The Crowd and his playful jab at the movie industry of the silent era Show People. All three of these are exceptional, underseen films that would vastly benefit from a Criterion release (as opposed to an eventual release somewhere down the road, if ever, from MGM that will receive absolutely no fanfare).

06. The Green Room
Truffaut already has a massive amount of his filmography available through Criterion, but this title has alluded release in America and it's the one film of his I haven't seen I'm most curious about. The plot--a journalist is so obsessed with his long dead wife he dedicates a room in his house as a shrine to her--sounds so completely atypical from anything Truffaut ever did. A great curiosity indeed.

05. Family Diary

While Criterion makes most of their money off releasing films by BergmanGodardFelliniTruffaut, this also affords them the opportunity to highlight smaller, more idiosyncratic directors. Case in point: Valerio Zurlini, who made this positively fascinating melodrama with Criterion favorite Marcello Mastroianni and Jacques Perrin. The plot isn't exactly earth shattering, but I think it's one of the finest studies of sibling relationships I've ever seen.

04. The Servant
This male version of Persona with even more homoeroticism is sadly out of print on DVD. And the world needs more Dirk Bogarde being über gay and über creepy.

03. Buster Keaton Collection
With Criterion releasing their own collection of Charlie Chaplin's film, just a few years after another fine set was released with a multitude of extras, I think it's fitting that they soon honor the other king of silent comedy with his own collection. A Buster Keaton collection is perhaps even more urgent since the only box set with all his films isn't very good. The prints are scratchy and in obvious need of restoration and there are no extras to speak of. I would love for a whole disc of documentaries about his legacy and interviews with him talking about his work (if they even exist).

02. The Mother and the Whore
According to legend, this post-New Wave film contains Jean-Pierre Léaud's best performance. Enough said, yes?

01. Face to Face
According to legend, this little seen Bergman contains the greatest performance from Liv Ullmann as a psychologist who goes gloriously off the deep end. And considering this is the same woman who brought us Persona, Scenes from a Marriage and Autumn Sonata, this must be one hell of a feat. Depriving us Ullmann devotees of this (supposed) treasure is a crime against humanity. We want Liv and we want her now!


MrJeffery said...

you are awesome.

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