to BRIAN EVANS:
Yes, “Good Morning” is a wonderful film—but it’s drastically different from “Tokyo Story.” Then again, I must admit that I identify strongly with the events of TS, and felt relieved that Ozu approached the material so deliberately. It feels like a meditative eulogy, devoid of the “drama” such events incur in most movies. He shows so much respect for the story that he disappears; it’s as though his style is one long low bow, his forehead practically on the ground. I find it profoundly moving.
In terms of your particular criticisms, I think “taste” may be the issue. Much of what you see as detriments—the puppet-show quality, the quiet of the performances, the long takes, the low, level angles—are precisely those elements that make the film both serene and profoundly moving. (By the way, I think there are some perfect exteriors; they remind us that the larger world waits—or moves on unconcerned—while we work out our grief and reconciliation. But it is certainly an internalized world.)
Thanks for responding. And once more: Isn’t “Good morning” a gem? I have a Netflix Instant Play Pick site that features the younger brother as my greeting image: http://netflixinstantplaypicks.blogspot.com/ Everything is A-OK!
Slacker is really the only Criterion that I regret buying. The thing is practically unwatchable, it made me cringe the entire time I sat through it. And I kind of agree with Brian: although I wouldn’t say Tokyo Story is a bad film, I was really disappointed in it. It didn’t do much for me at all and kind of makes me hesitant to check out the other Ozu stuff. But I will probably give Good Morning a shot. Besides those two, I’ve enjoyed every other Criterion I’ve purchased
Ryan, that being said, It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, Linklater’s first film on the second disc in the Slacker Criterion, is pure gold.
And, in the category of “taste is nevertheless eclectic and subjective,” I’d place Slacker in my top 25 Criterion releases; the film’s a talky and perambulatory tour of the avant-garde “conspiracy-a-go-go” milieu of Austin in the early 90s. Of course, I was there at the time, and some of my positive response to the film may be merely nostalgic. But, Ryan, you have to admit: the packaging—the supplements, the booklet—is among the label’s finest.
Besides those two, I’ve enjoyed every other Criterion I’ve purchased
Are you fucking serious? You’re hesitant about Ozu and you enjoyed what, Michael Bay and David Fincher?
(purchases are irrelevant of course)
Would anyone like to comment not on whether the film itself is lame but whether the package leaves something to be desired? After all, half the benefit of a Criterion release is not the title, nor the picture/sound quality, but the extras, both in the packaging and on the disc(s). Or should we keep back-and-forth-ing over a film’s Criterion-worthiness—first, though, we should figure out what that means.
(I write this even though I don’t own any Criterion DVDs and have only a passing interest in most extras—unless they’re films themselves; in fact, I haven’t bought any at all since extended-version LOTR. Netflix works just fine.)
Pmarasa makes a really important point. There is a differentiation to be made here. I mean, on one hand, I really loved The Vanishing, but I don’t see myself buying it with its lack of features. On the other hand, I really disliked This Sporting Life, but, as a Lindsay Anderson fan, I was really tempted to buy it because of the other Anderson films on it. So, it’s not just the film’s quality, then.
I would say The Man Who Fell to Earth was the most disappointing Criterion I ever bought. As interesting as some of the photography was the movie drove me crazy with it’s boring strangeness.
Wow, a lot of different opinions on here.
To address some of the previous posts: I love blind buying and blind watching. I’ll watch most anything once, especially a Criterion release. I guess it helps that I actually like watching the special features and reading all the essays that come with a film. I think it makes the Criterion releases worth the extra money.
One thing I notice is that, while there is some general agreement about which films in the Criterion Collection are “lame”, there is no actual consensus: everyone seems to hold either their own opinion as to whether a particular film is lame or not, or have contrasting explanations regarding why they feel the film is lame. It think it is important to note that the value many Criterion films have is not that they are universally regarded as “great” films, though many of them (most even) are, it is that they are important.
Whether or not you liked Michael Bay’s “The Rock” and “Armageddon”, like the pre-Hollywood films of John Woo (also in the Criterion Collection), Bay’s films have had an indelible mark on the Sci-fi and action genres. Let’s not forget, after all, that these films did not make it into the Criterion Collection because they had an overwhelming impact on critics or the judges at films festivals, but because they had a great impact on the films that are made today.
Likewise, the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, which, while I feel is not one of David Fincher’s best films, deserves more recognition that it gets, is not so much notable for it acting, directing, or script as much as it is acclaimed for its innovations in the use of special effects. In this regard the film is truly revolutionary.
Go watch the Swedish films “I am Blue” and “I am Yellow”. You will find that they are mundane by todays standards, but, in their time, they challenged the notion of censorship and decency in Swedish (and world) cinema. The films are know for this, and the fact that they are an interesting “document” of the political world of the 1960s, not for their power as works of narrative fiction, or art-house masterpieces. Despite this, they are still valuable additions to a collection that seeks to preserve the value and diversity of the world’s cinema, as well as feature landmarks films that actually had an impact on are larger scale than box-office returns.
Take Wes Anderson, for example. If I am not mistaken, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was the first film of his that actually made back what was spent to make it. He is unique, talented, and makes movies that reflect an important interpretation of the post-modern struggles of (particularly) white, middle-class males. Like his style of humor or not, it is missing the point to dismiss him as irrelevant.
The films are know for this, and the fact that they are an interesting “document” of the political world of the 1960s, not for their power as works of narrative fiction, or art-house masterpieces.
Please tell me that you didn’t just now reject the masterfulness of the I Am Curious films by calling them “interesting documents” and yet you “praised” the…what did you say again…special effects of Benjamin Button…and, what, the indelible mark of Bay’s two pseudo-camp films? Laughable, utterly laughable…Impact on the films made today? Have you heard of Enzo Castellari or how the hack Tarantino stole from King Hu? So these two directors haven’t left a bigger mark on how slick adventure films are made today?
…and yes, Wes Anderson is a bit of an irrelevant copy-cat. Can you really admit that this is the best possible way for Criterion to promote its “art-house stature”? By releasing all of Anderson’s films in its catalogue? For real?
^ It seems Roeg isn’t very popular.
I think the criticisms of his early film are rubbish as everyone I have seen is a Great Film.
As for Caligula’s trashing of Walkabout on another thread. I feel sorry that the topic of sexuality is too much for you.
BEN – the topic of sexuality is never too much for me. I welcome a director who can handle it in a mature manner (i.e. Bunuel, Antonioni, Dumont). Roeg was not handling the “topic of sexuality” in Walkabout. He was exposing how immaturely inept he is at filming women, inadvertently exposing how pathetically shallow and one-dimensional his view of female sexuality truly is.
Walkabout is a good movie. But it is not without its glaring flaws – this chiefly among them: my conviction is that anyone who refuses to acknowledge how perverse the cinematography of shots of the teenage girl is, is probably blinded by their own attraction to said female, and cannot see beyond their own guilty pleasure at seeing such blatantly unecessary shots. And I’ve heard the bullshit defense arguments – “the human body is a beautiful thing”, “roeg is simply showing humanity, be it prepubescent boy or pubescent girl, in all its glory”, or “he is capturing her youth”.
it’s all bullshit. any sensible feminist who has seen this movie would agree.
Walkabout is about many things. Overt Perversion is not one of them.
Walkabout is a meditation on society, both modern and ancient. It is also about the inability to recapture the past in a physical sense.
The poem at the end of the film sums the film up entirely.
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
I welcome a director who can handle it in a mature manner
Yeah, Dumont sees it as a horndog and Bunuel is openly mocking it. (unless of course you’ve seen his French films and only)
any sensible feminist who has seen this movie would agree.
I know plenty of ladies who have seen this and have not even thought of the despicable argument you’re suggesting it exists…as a feminist myself, I’ll have to also disapprove of your “claims” of such cinematographic “purposive” scenes.
^^A Greek male claiming to be a feminist.
now i’ve heard it all ;-)
Please tell me that you didn’t just now reject the masterfulness of the I Am Curious films by calling them “interesting documents” and yet you “praised” the…what did you say again…special effects of Benjamin Button…
Sorry I do not know how to make the text bold—
And, no, I was not rejecting the masterfulness of the I Am Curious Films by calling them Documents, I was merely pointing out their value as a document of the political atmosphere of the time. The films themselves, remain captivating and certainly are not merely documents. I enjoyed the films, however, as notorious as they are for their taboo-breaking scenes of sex and sexuality, are not something that I find most people would call shocking today. I actually agree that the films are great, but was trying to illustrate that others might dismiss them as irrelevant (the wrong decision) because they might have trouble relating to them today.
Michael Bay and Quentin Tarantino are both know for pastiche and have been copied, just as they have copied others. You might say, “So what?” and you would be right. Maybe it isn’t important that a film or filmmaker has influenced others, but I think you would be hard put to dismiss their influence, good or bad, and irregardless of how respected or despised they are.
I guess I am highlighting an apologetics, of sorts, for explaining why certain films make it into the Criterion Collection, but definitely not to make an argument that these films are on equal level. Equinox -aforementioned above- utterly fails as a serious narrative film, but, considering the budget, and inexperience of the filmmakers, does seem impressive in its scope of special effects. Not that special effects are the end-all-be-all, they aren’t, it is that Equinox was an important precursor to Dennis Muren’s meteoric and influential career. I wouldn’t place this film anywhere near the level of the films by Pasolini, Truffaut, Goddard, Bergman, Briellat, Varda, Bunuel (tilda missing), etc. I mention these directors because they are some of my favorites (I am noticeably missing the Japanese greats like Kurosawa, but I can’t name them all!), but I still think is has a place in the, if you allow me to use the term, “Criterion Cannon”.
Sorry for posting twice, I am new at this.
BEN: how does that poem justify or explain the shameless crotch/panty shots of the teenage girl?
and to the bullshit arguments that Roeg is trying to show us her sexual maturation or perhaps the beauty of female pubescence or whatever the fuck the fanboys conjecture:
if nicholas roeg really wanted to accurately portray teenage female sexuality as a theme of the movie (and that’s what the proponents of this movie say he’s doing), why does he conveniently neglect to show her getting her period at all? A woman’s cycle is every 28 days – her having her period during their time in the Outback would have been inevitable at some point. In the company of the Aboriginal boy, this, for the girl in the movie, would have been a big deal. Yet it was conspicuously omitted from the movie. This is why: because the movie was directed by a man that doesn’t understand the first thing about female sexuality.
If i want to see a portrayal of female pubescence, it had better be as directed by a female or a gay man (they seem to have a sensitivity for these topics that straight male directors lack). Roeg is neither. He clearly delineates himself as a leering, salacious pervert.
I’m sure I’m in the minority on some of these, but to me these are real head scratchers:
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
F For Fake
Roeg is neither. He clearly delineates himself as a leering, salacious pervert.
Slandering of the highest order. So he’s a pedophile AND a necrophiliac too? (concerning Bad Timing)
You’re also being a prejudiced buffoon. Why do gay males and females (can I assume you’re letting lesbians aside and solely mentioning straight women?) are privileged on that issue? I see, so it’s OK for gay men to film a teenage girl galloping naked but let’s be “objective” about the boys’ nakedness?
why does he conveniently neglect to show her getting her period at all?
Well, if you want to see a a National geographic film, do so in your privacy, no one’s preventing you. Why didn’t he show the boys peeing at some point? Why are you specifically targeting the girl? Are you perhaps one of those screamo, pseudo-feminists who give feminism a bad name?
the fanboys conjecture
You have no idea what a fanboy is and for what purpose it should be used. Shut your mouth little boy / girl and learn more about cinema’s themes.
Moreover, what’s the big deal against Naked Prey, Equinox and Robinson Crusoe? Do Criterion fans have issues with masterful b-movies?
…and no, I cannot accept Armageddon and Broadcast News in the same sentence with a Welles film, one of the most significant swan songs of all time.
@Dimitris Psahos: Calm down. I disagree with Caligula’s comments, but I was hoping we could use them as a way to talk about the issues, not slap someone around. If I want humorless exasperation I’ll glance at YouTube comments.
Caligula: I’m not sure if any film-maker—even the good folks at Nat’l Geographic—can “accurately” convey anything—if by that word you mean with clinical precision/objectivity. That’s what psychology and biology textbooks are for. In a film, we’re always going to get an imitation of objective reality, an impression, an interpretation. And of course that’s a good thing: At it’s best, we are given a “truth” (that is, a reasonable argument) about human experience—and part of such a truth involves seeing how humans experience other humans and accepting that those truths come at us via the inevitable subjectivity of the film-making process.
Again, science is good for facts; in art, you get truths—and even in science, human subjectivity bustles around a lot; only computers deal exclusively with facts. Perfect for creaming us at Jeopardy, lousy for deciding which Criterion films are lame.
Nonetheless, Caligula, naturally some truths are truer than others—some points-of-view are more useful/illuminating. But I’m not sure sexual orientation should be the acid text. (Although I’m willing to consider whether "Walkabout"’s depiction of female sexuality is less true than others’.)
I wish it wasn’t too late to edit posts – I admit I was raging drunk the past two mornings when I posted in this topic, and I would like to redact several inflammatory statements I made
Caligula: I think you crafted the perfect conclusion to that particular series of posts. I admire your honesty, and respect your repentance!
Otherwise, I have nothing to add. Criterion is in a class by itself, and any missteps can simply be stepped around. Whatever your opinion of Wes Anderson, those Amazon sales signify: if Wes’ Criterions help provide capital for that upcoming Blu Ray of “The Music Room,” I’m all for them whatever my mixed emotions about “Life Aquatic.” Smalltime video outlets around here had copies of “Benjamin Button”—where’s the harm?
For me, Criterion has been the best reason for upgrading to newer video technology since that long-lusted-after “Raging Bull” came out on laserdisc. I never got it, but once DVD came down in price I bought my player and started building my own Criterion Collection. I bought blu-ray for the same reason. My kids watched “Red Shoes” mainly out of curiosity, as “Black Swan” fans. It was fun to watch the beauty of the film suck them in….
We all have our blind spots. That’s the most interesting thing about this thread. I always feel like I ought to like some of the pantheon directors more than I do. But when I feel like taking a second or third look, man am I grateful that Criterion presents them in the way they do.
Why didn’t he show the boys peeing at some point?
Peeing is not an important part of puberty and sexual maturity. Menstruation is.
I’m sad Caligula was shouted down, s/he had a valid criticism.
T.J. Royal: Belatedly (really really belatedly) thanking you for sharing your thoughts about WHITE DOG. As someone who grew up in a racist southern household, I guess the message seemed elementary and obtuse to me. But I can see how it would be genuinely effective and disturbing to someone who didn’t grow up immersed in that kind of thing.
De Palma’s Sisters is awful
Agreed, Matthew! I forgot about that one. Hated it. I like how the director essentially explains in the commentary how he was explicitly ripping off Hitchcock.
Though I’m sure there are supporters out there, I’m really surprised that Walker hasn’t been mentioned yet. That is by far my least favorite Criterion that I’ve seen. And though I have not seen the Michael Bay films, I am fairly sure that I would rather watch them than Walker. I only made it through about 20-25 minutes or so of Last Year at Marienbad and would much rather take another go at that.