So Long FilmStruck, Hello Criterion Channel; What Criterion Collection Films Are Must Sees?

So, I have been watching a bunch of stuff lately!

I watched Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

This was my first Herzog film and wow, what a great first impression. It was one of those films you can tell was a complete NIGHTMARE to shoot. Kinski dominated the whole film with his eyes and tone. I really liked it.

Hitchcock’s Sabotage

This one I choose on a whim. It was cool to see Hitchcock start making creative choices in his films well before he was distinct for it. Started slow, but then built up in intensity. I was actually kind of shocked they actually let the bomb go off where it did. It was also one of those films I was yelling at the screen, “YES, DO IT. Stab that bastard!”

Tokyo Drifter

This one is kind of mixed for me. It’s overflowing with style and color, but the pacing is just absolutely dreadful in the first half of the film. It was a real struggle to try and keep up with what was going on and what Yakuza group was which. I wish the film has a more ‘drifting’ nature to it, like the later half, where the protagonist is actually wandering around from town to town. Instead, we’re stuck with Yakuza politics for the first 45 minutes.

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One thing I’ve been kind of frustrated with on Criterion Channel is that it seems to be taking things on and off the service on kind of an arbitrary basis. Maybe there’s some licensing stuff going on behind the scenes, but it’s a little disappointing to lose access randomly. I end up checking the “Leaving on [End of the Month]” list consistently to make sure I don’t miss anything, and I usually miss something, anyway. Already missed a bunch of Apichatpong Weerasethakul movies!

Can’t remember if it was Aguirre or Nosferatu that I watched first of Herzog, but Wrath of God knocked the breath out of me. The opening scene has stuck with me since and my mind keeps getting pulled to it. Movies sure as hell shouldn’t be made like that, though. German cinema from that era put out some great movies, fortunately not all of them filmed in those conditions.

It’s a big reason I don’t like streaming in general. I prefer some permanence in my watching and it frustrates me to no end that it’s difficult to just buy digital films and series. Get a nice .mp4 file. Stick it on your hard drive for better or worse days.

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Last month I did a Criterion Channel free trial because I really wanted to watch a lot of movies referenced on Binging With Babish, a show that’s been largely responsible for me getting into cooking this past year. I wasn’t sold enough to actually pay money for it (sorry), but I did see some good movies.

Best of these was definitely Big Night (1996) starring Stanley Tucci (who also co-directed), Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm, a smoking hot Minnie Driver, and Isabella Rosalini, and before I forget, Allison Janey. It is one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen, I loved every damn second of it. Two Italian brothers have a struggling restaurant on the Jersey Shore in the Fifties or Sixties, and try to save the business with one giant meal. Great food, great atmosphere, insanely good acting, just superb.

I’d also strongly recommend Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) from Ang Lee, back when he just made movies about human beings and not idiotic tech experiments. It’s kinda drive but has a gripping power to it if you stick with it.

And of course, Eating Raoul, which is just a movie about murdering sexist swingers in the early 80s.

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So, I tried my hand at Youtube Video Reviews thanks to the Criterion Channel. I wanna do a channel focused specifically on these films. Maybe branch out to more later. I’d appreciate if ya’ll gave it a shot and gave me some critique.

I reviewed the films Tokyo Drifter and Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

Earlier in the week I watched Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a movie probably known for the trivia more than anything. It stars David Bowie as a British WW2 prisoner of the Japanese army, and has a stellar OST by Ryuichi Sakamoto (who acts in the movie as well). It’s bleak, angry, and pretty gay. Not super gay, but pretty gay nonetheless.

At the end of the day, it’s about cultural differences, how learned toxicity can boil over into mass cruelty, but also how Bowie’s twink energy can enrapture anyone if they aren’t careful. It comes recommended.

edit: I SOMEHOW forgot the best part: the vocal theme!

Nagisa Oshima might have been the only man capable of making a good MGS movie. Oh well.

The more I come back to Michael Mann’s Thief, the more I am convinced this scene is the best dialogue scene ever filmed in cinema. I know that’s hyperbolic, but there’s just something about the realism, the intimacy, the building music, the acting… Everything in this scene is just absolutely perfect.

(CW Sexual Assault Talk)

And the ending makes it even more heartbreaking.

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