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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