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criterion collection

Review: Ugetsu

Mar 03 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221341:43446:0[/embed] Ugetsu (Ugetsu Monogatari, 雨月物語)Director: Kenji MizoguchiRating: NRRelease Date: March 3, 2017 (limited)Country: Japan  Watching Ugetsu felt like walking into an austere room where an ancient handscroll has been unrolled, spread out, and hung up to observe. Its meters and meters of period narrative are told along the four walls. The scroll starts in one corner, traces the length of the room, and ends in the corner it began. Ugetsu is wonderfully looped and completed, wrapped neatly like an old-fashioned fable or tale. The return to the starting point of the story, that initial tableau, is marked by change, much like the lives of characters in the film. Ugetsu is an adaptation of two braided plots from Ueda Akinar's 1776 book of ghost stories of the same name. One story follows Tobei (Eitaro Ozawa), a bumbling peasant who dreams of becoming a samurai. The other story follows Genjuro (Masayuki Mori), a potter who is seduced and waylaid by a mysterious noblewoman called Lady Wakasa (Machiko Kyo). In the backdrop is a senseless war that ravages the countryside, with samurais pillaging and looting from peasants. In a tense moment early in the film, Genjuro risks his life waiting at a kiln as samurai approach on a rampage. His wife tells him to wise up and flee, yet Genjuro knows that the only future he and his family has are those pots that are firing away, just not fast enough. Throughout the film, the gentry and the warrior classes disregard the people beneath them, while Tobei and Genjuro dream of wealth and status. Both will risk everything for armor and kimonos. Ugetsu contains those perennial critiques of greed and vanity, sins for which the wives of the two men suffer. Even before researching Mizoguchi's background, I could sense his love of kabuki and painting in the visual style and rhythms of the Ugetsu. The film ushers itself in with traditional song, and there's a measured theatricality to the blocking, staging, and performances of this period ghost story. The first time Lady Wakasa appears on screen, she is an otherworldly presence. It's not just the manner of dress, but a manner of being. Her servant follows to her side slowly, and she approaches Genjuro at a pace of her own that defies the bustle of the market. She is not one of these people, that much is clear. Mizoguchi's extended takes are marvels of deliberation. Contemporary filmmakers tend to use long takes as a sort of spectacle, calling attention to ballsy filmmaking craft (i.e., the long-takeness of the long-take) while paradoxically aiming at audience immersion (i.e., this unfolds continuously like real life). There's little sense of how form and content are wed in the contradictory presentation. For Mizoguchi, the extended take is part of the period storytelling. I mentioned the wall scroll idea earlier, which is a fitting way to depict a period tale. The story is fantasy touched by reality; its form and content are rooted in a time and a place and an art tradition that is tied to said time and said place. The 4K restoration of Ugetsu looks excellent, and I was actually thrown by it for a moment. It may have been the digital projection, but there was an uncanny sense of movement about some objects in the frame. They moved a little too smooth, a little too fast, sort of like when watching a new movie on a new TV with the settings just a little off. I don't know if that's a flaw since I eventually adjusted to it, but maybe it speaks to the film being so much an evocation of a period centuries ago that a contemporary presentation made uncanny movement more apparent. But hey, a classic is a classic.
Review: Ugetsu photo
A wall scroll on ghosts, war, and class
The films of Kenji Mizoguchi have been a major blind spot in my life as a filmgoer. I've seen plenty of Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu films, but for some reason Mizoguchi had always hovered on my to-watch list, always put o...

Trailer: The Lure photo
Trailer: The Lure

Trailer: The Lure looks like the sexy cannibal mermaid musical the world needs (NSFW)

But is it the one Gotham deserves?
Jan 06
// Hubert Vigilla
I had no idea about The Lure until last night even though it played at Sundance last year. The Lure is now one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. The debut film from Agnieszka Smoczynska, The Lure is a horror/fantasy musi...

Review: Tampopo

Oct 21 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220968:43157:0[/embed] TampopoDirector: Juzo ItamiRating: NRRelease Date: October 21, 2016 (limited)Country: Japan  There's a familiar old west tale in Tampopo, with variations on cowboys and saloons and pretty schoolmarms. Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) are a pair of truck-driving gourmands that mosey into town. They stop by a noddle shop in a sorry state run by a widow named Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto). She's quaint, mousy, often dressed in gingham, demure to a fault. Also, her ramen just plain sucks. Since they're good cowboys, Goro and Gun help Tampopo improve her shop, sort of like working the farm or rebuilding this here schoolhouse. Tampopo spends the the film perfecting her ramen and in the process attempts to perfect herself. It's not just a western but, philosophically, a martial arts movie. This is a story about the discipline of mastery. Think Jiro Dreams of Sushi, except ramen: self-improvement through a process of trial and error and practice. It's a familiar narrative, but when filtered through an unexpected intermediary, it achieves remarkable existential heft. Even in a decidedly lighthearted comedy like Tampopo, it's moving to witness someone try and try again until they achieve some ennobling dignity, no matter how small. All that effort for a good bowl of soup. But that's just part of the oddball/heartfelt appeal of Tampopo. Soba isn't the only noodle. The movie starts with a gangster in white (Koji Yakusho) and his moll (Fukumi Kuroda) entering a movie theater, ostensibly to watch the main story of Tampopo described above. The gangster waxes philosophical about life, death, and the movies, and then roughs up a guy crinkling a bag of chips in the row behind him. Later in the film, the gangster and his moll reappear periodically, using food as foreplay. By comparison, these scenes make 9 1/2 Weeks seem like the missionary position in Mormon underwear. Swirling around these two recurring narratives are a series of one-off skits on the role of food in people's lives. So many rituals, roles, and social codes are built around food and propriety, and we take a break from our gal at the noodle shop to get a survey of food culture in 1980s Japan. What Tampopo seems to emphasize in most of these one-offs is the sensual pleasure of food, and how our desire for sweets and richness and even just sloppy eating can't be restrained. Yet even when defying restraint, our taste for the sensual can be refined and in the process our appreciation for pleasure deepened. Tampopo isn't a movie for foodies. What a wretched, bourgie word that is. Tampopo is a movie for uplifting gormandizers who want to suck marrow rather than spoon it from the bone. Tampopo was just the second film from Itami, though it seems so assured and confident. Who else but a confident filmmaker decides to include a goofy rice omelet scene with a hobo? At numerous times the actors address some off-camera interlocutor by looking directly at the audience. This recurring quirk is sort of like Ozu, but not like Ozu at all. Tonally I was reminded a little of A Christmas Story, but then in comes a sexy or dark or sensitive moment redolent of some separate influence. Every couple minutes, unexpected surprises, and just more and more delight.
Review: Tampopo photo
Zen and the sexiness of ramen making
Prior to this week, the last time I saw Juzo Itami's 1985 food comedy Tampopo was in the mid-90s. I remembered so little of the movie save for the fact that I enjoyed it. Some isolated scenes are easy to recall, though. There...

Review: A Touch of Zen

Apr 22 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220492:42919:0[/embed] A Touch of Zen (Xia Nu, 俠女)Director: King HuRating: NRRelease Date: April 22, 2016 (New York, with subsequent expansion)Country: Taiwan A Touch of Zen is such a singular sort of movie. After the success of Come Drink with Me and Dragon Inn, Hu had the creative freedom to do what he wanted, and the result was a movie of different moods and different modes. There is the wuxia element centered around a heroic fugitive named Yang (Feng Hsu), a swordswoman fighting for her life after corrupt government officials have murdered the rest of her family. She's one of Hu's many female heroes, though this movie doesn't have the same level of gender role confusion seen in other martial arts films. Yang is a woman but never mistaken for a man (the common genre convention), and she's the most capable fighter in the film. The centerpiece fight in the bamboo grove is an exhilarating bit of old school swordsman action. When A Touch of Zen was released as two films, the bamboo fight concluded the first movie and opened the second. Hu further adapts the theatrical movements of Peking Opera and the visual style of Japanese samurai pictures (en vogue at the time) to a swashbuckling cinematic form uniquely suited to Chinese martial arts. Trampolines give the heroes and villains a kind of superheroic flair as they clash with one another on rooftops and treetops. Hsu slashes, evades, and ripostes, and Hu cuts the action together to add intensity to the elegant movements on display. The action in A Touch of Zen feels like a transition period in fight choreography between the stage-like combat of the 1960s to the faster-paced cinematic combat that would be pioneered by later Shaw Brothers filmmakers Chang Cheh and Lau Kar-Leung. Yet the first fight doesn't occur until at least one hour into the film. Instead of rollicking adventure, A Touch of Zen opens with the banal rhythms of pastoral life. We follow a bumbling mama's boy/artist-scholar named Ku (Chun Shih), who takes an interest in Yang and a blind man (Ying Bai) who are hiding in an abandoned ruin. Ku is an archetypal fool, and a great vessel for the audience into the story (which has an archetypal opening: a stranger comes into town). While he's crafty, Ku's a coward and he falls in love too easily, which is a great contrast to Yang's ruggedly stoic heroism. Before A Touch of Zen, Chun Shih played the hero of Hu's Dragon Inn. In a subversive move, Hu has a previous star play against type and also against gender stereotype. And then there's the Zen Buddhism, which pervades the film's visual style emphasizing nature, seasons, and impermanence. I mentioned patience at the beginning of the review, and Hu's return to slow rhythms and long takes seems to give the audience a chance to breathe and take in each scene. A group of Buddhist monks show up when Yang is on the run, and they are unstoppable force and immovable object. They're shot with diffuse or star-filtered light emanating from behind them, and they seem to be followed by a supernatural veil of mist. The Zen aspects figure heavily in the film's unexpectedly bonkers finale, which I can only be described as 2001: A Space Odyssey meets El Topo.  The 4K digital restoration looks great during the daytime shots--you can make out the dust on King Hu's camera lenses as he lovingly absorbs hillsides and waterfalls and sky--though I noticed some major issues with image noise during the nighttime scenes. One of the pivotal action sequences in the last half of the film is at night, and it was often difficult to make out what was happening in each scene. Part of it may be the limitations of lighting and photography that Hu had to work with back then, though I sense there might have been an issue with the projection and/or the copy I saw during my screening. I'm curious to see A Touch of Zen again now that it's out in theaters, just to see for myself if the digital noise has been eliminated/addressed. Besides, I could use a little more patience and adventure in my life.
Review: A Touch of Zen photo
The beguiling wuxia masterpiece in 4k
A Touch of Zen is King Hu's masterpiece, yet unless you're patient and a bit adventurous, it may not be the best introduction to his work. Dragon Inn, his straightforward wuxia classic from 1967, might be a more palatable ent...


New Releases, week of 10/19/13: Jaeger Bomb Edition

Pacific Rim, The Heat, Maniac, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Oct 15
// Hubert Vigilla
Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim hits stores today, meaning the movie may turn a decent profit yet on top of the Chinese box office returns. By far, this is the biggest new release this week, with The Heat starring Sandra Bul...

New Releases, week of 9/21/13: World War Hee Hee Edition

World War Z, The Bling Ring, The East, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Sep 17
// Hubert Vigilla
The big new release of the week is the in-name-only adaptation of World War Z. Once maligned and expected to tank, the movie wound up being profitable and there's talk of a sequel. Other big new things this week include Sofia...
Netflix Now photo
Netflix Now


Requiem for a Dream, There Will Be Blood, and (of course) Zoolander
Sep 04
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
Hubert's off for the week, so it's my pleasure to tell you that my personal favorite movie of all time, Darren Aranofsky's Requiem for a Dream, has officially hit Netflix. Actually, there's a number of awesome movies this we...

New Releases, week of 8/31/13: The Replacements Edition

The Great Gatsby, Pain & Gain, To Be Or Not To Be, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Aug 27
// Hubert Vigilla
I know there was some crazy stuff that happened in the music industry over the weekend that everyone's been talking about on the internet, so I figured we should address the matter here on Flixist. I'm speaking, of course, ab...

New Releases, week of 8/24/13: Starzinger Edition

Epic, Peter Pan, Amour, Satyajit Ray, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Aug 20
// Hubert Vigilla
When I was a kid, I used to watch the same three or four episodes of Spaceketeers (aka Starzinger) on a VHS tape over and over again. I never knew how the series ended or where the story was going to go, but I just kept watch...

New Releases, week of 8/17/13: Olympus Edition

Olympus Has Fallen, A Band Called Death, The Muppet Movie, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Aug 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The big new release this week is Antoine Fuqua's White House Down, starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman. Oh, sorry, I meant Olympus Has Fallen, starring Channing Tatum as Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx as Aaron Eckhart, and R...

Mondo releasing Guillermo Del Toro Criterion posters

Jul 31
// Hubert Vigilla
The Criterion Collection put out The Devil's Backbone on DVD and Blu-ray this week, one of Guillermo Del Toro's bona fide masterpieces. This is the second Del Toro movie in the Criterion Collection, the other being his f...

New Releases, week of 8/3/13: NY Drafthouse Edition

G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the Criterion Collection release of The Devil's Backbone, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jul 30
// Hubert Vigilla
Guys! The first New York Alamo Drafthouse is opening this weekend! Sure, it's up in Yonkers and a bajillion miles from my apartment, but I'm going to do my darndest to get up there. It's staff training weekend, so there'll be...

New Releases, week of 7/27/13: Hypnotwixt Edition

Trance, Twixt, Graceland, Pieta, Vanishing Waves, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jul 23
// Hubert Vigilla
This week's set of new releases is making you very sleepy. You feel a sudden urge to give me all of your money, or at least enough for me to buy a breakfast sandwich tomorrow, because breakfast sandwiches are delicious and I ...

Ten more films that should be in the Criterion Collection

Jul 19 // Hubert Vigilla
Heathers is one of the great dark comedies of the 80s and a film that could never be made today; influential but incapable of being reproduced. If they made it today, would it be called Zooeys? All the uncool kids loved it, and very few movies will dare to be this uncool, let alone this blunt and satirical. Heathers sneers at the cruelty of class politics in high school and merges it with cold-blooded murder. And it's somehow hilarious. There are quotable lines from beginning to end, and the slang in it is so damn very. But at its heart I think there's something hopeful about Heathers: it's good to know that someone else out there had the gall to say what was on my mind as an uncool teen. I don't think Criterion currently has any animated titles in their catalog. They released a laser disc version of Akira way back in the 1990s, but I can't think of anything else off the top of my head. Part of this may be rights issues rather than lack of merit since there are plenty of Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli movies that should get the Criterion treatment. Outside of that, I'd nominate René Laloux's Fantastic Planet since the previous releases of the film could use a good restoration. It's a surreal, psychedelic science fiction allegory for the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Beyond its story, the animation is incredible to look at. It was accomplished by manipulating paper cutouts on static backgrounds. The effect is hypnotic. A Criterion release would need to include Laloux's short films as well. The DVD transfer of Matewan that I saw several years ago was downright criminal. It looked like a fourth-generation VHS copy of the movie. I think it was even full frame. It's a shame since Matewan is one of John Sayles's best films. Set in 1920s West Virginia, the film is all about coal workers struggling to unionize. This is a battle for decency and dignity, and it winds up becoming bloody. Matewan is such an underrated film, a real gem of a movie that's constantly overlooked and unjustly unremembered. It would make a fine pairing with the documentary Harlan County USA, which is currently part of the Criterion Collection. I first saw Memories of Matsuko at the 2007 New York Asian Film Festival and it surprises me that it never received distribution in the United States. The film looks back on the strange, tragic life of a woman named Matsuko and the many men she loved. This is a tale of loneliness and heartbreak told in highly stylized fashion, like a big garish commercial or music video, but somehow in a good way. And it's also a musical melodrama. The thing I remember most about watching it that first time was trying to stop myself from sobbing uncontrollably at the end. Like the people around me, I failed. Memories of Matsuko is one of the few movies that makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it. This is a given. Of the many movies released in the first decade of the 21st century, I think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the most deserving of a Criterion release. Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman have made a poignant and bizarre movie about relationships and why, as Woody Allen once put it, we need the eggs. What's said at the end is familiar, but novelty is breathed into the message through the film's imagery and the little observations. What is it about watching the circus come into town that feels like magic? What is it about a crumbling house that makes me want to cry? Eternal Sunshine also features some of Jon Brion's best film music. DVD releases of Béla Tarr's films have been generally so-so, which is why I think Criterion should step in and do his entire catalog. Before they do his seven-hour-plus epic Sátántangó or his final film The Turin Horse, they should start with Werckmeister Harmonies, which is my favorite. There are some incredible long takes in Werckmeister Harmonies, and the moments in them wouldn't be as effective if they weren't long takes. Sure, Tarr used hidden cuts in the unforgettable hospital raid, but hidden cuts don't matter. There's such raw emotion in the sequence. The opening and closing scenes play off each other so well, and the perfect timing with light is punctuated by Mihály Víg's score. Víg's two melodies in Werkmeister Harmonies are the best he's done for any Tarr film. I'm always surprised that Paper Moon isn't considered a truly great film, though that might be because it's such an unrepentant work of popular entertainment. I only saw it for the first time three or four years ago and fell instantly in love. It's a con man movie, it's a road movie, it's a subversive Depression-era movie, but mostly it's a buddy movie built on the chemistry of father-and-daughter stars Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Something about Paper Moon manages to be adorable but not cutesy; sweet but not saccharine. A lot of that is thanks to the way Ryan and Tatum work together. Even when they seem to hate each other, you know deep down they couldn't stand to be apart. Between 1996 and 2006, Christoher Guest and Eugene Levy collaborated on four ensemble mockumentaries: Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. The first of these four, Waiting for Guffman, is still my favorite and I think it's definitely Criterion-worthy. The core ensemble of Guest, Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, and Parker Posey was perfectly cast, and each character had an opportunity to shine. (This became more difficult with each film, and the cast wound up way too packed by For Your Consideration.) I think Guffman hits the right note in terms of laughing at and with the characters, and the musical numbers are so goofy that they're almost legitimately good. It's a little surprising that none of Kitano "Beat" Takeshi's movies are in the Criterion Collection. For his inaugural entry into the Collection, it came down to Sonatine and Hana-bi (Fireworks). I went with Fireworks since it was the first Beat Takeshi movie I watched, an international breakthrough (it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival), and it made many in Japan reconsider Kitano's importance as a filmmaker. It's a tough, glum, poetic melodrama about a cop's burden of loyalty when it comes to the people he cares about. Fireworks includes paintings from Beat Takeshi himself as well as a haunting score by the great Joe Hisaishi, both of which combine for a memorable moment in the film. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy have done something unique with their three Before films: they've engaged in an 18-year-long conversation about love in its different forms and how time affects people in love. Before Sunrise was a dream about the possibilities of young romance. Before Sunset was about second chances (maybe last chances, given its urgency). Before Midnight, one of the best movies of 2013, is about what real love looks like after the gloss of infatuation has faded. If there's another Before film (Before Noon?) in nine years, I hope it can live up to the quality of these three. Honorable Mentions I could have gone on much longer, but I'll stop here. Let me just give honorable mentions to three more Criterion-worthy films: Upstream Color - Shane Carruth's Upstream Color is going to be in my top five of the year if not the top three. It's a great misfit love story that stresses the importance of free will and reasserting control when life seems out of hand. It's a bold vision, enigmatic though not incomprehensible, from a director tapping into what interests him most intellectually and emotionally. Kafka - While many considered Steven Soderbergh's second film a misfire, I remember parts of Kafka fondly and think it's probably worth reconsideration. Now that there's a proposed director's re-cut of Kafka, I think a Criterion release would be great. Both the old version of Kafka and the new cut would be in the same package, sort of like the box set for Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Airplane! - Airplane! is one of the highwater marks of the spoof genre, right up there with the first Naked Gun. All spoofs and parodies wind up in the shadow of Airplane!, and the vast majority of them are so bad they don't even belong in the shade. This is a classic comedy for its joke-a-second pace and sheer brilliant lunacy.
More Criterion Desires photo
Also more than ten, but let that be our little secret
As many of you already know, Barnes & Noble is doing their 50% off sale for the Criterion Collection. We offered some staff recommendations for available Criterion Collection titles earlier in the week. This is a time whe...

Ten films that should be in the Criterion Collection

Jul 19 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
There's something fascinating about the inclusion of Pier Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom in the Criterion Collection. It's always been there, too, with a spine number of only 17. That film is absolutely an artistic achievement and deserves a place in the Collection. So too does Srđan Spasojević's A Serbian Film. Like Salò, A Serbian Film uses its (extremely) shocking imagery in service of a grand political message, although it's about as subtle as... well, infant rape. Admission into the Collection is something of an artistic validation, and A Serbian Film could use some artistic validation. It would also be nice to get a true Uncut release rather than just the "Unrated" version put out by Invincible Pictures. Gaspar Noé is notoriously stingy about his process, and so his techniques remain a mystery. A mystery that the Criterion Collection should solve. Enter the Void is a film unlike any other, and on those merits alone it warrants inclusion in the Collection. But it's really the potential wealth of features that would make it such an exciting proposition. I would love to learn more about exactly how the whole thing was made. I've seen the tiny bits of stuff that's out there, and it's woefully incomplete. I don't think anybody but Criterion could do it justice. I want to see Tony Kaye's original American History X. The movie that everybody knows and loves (myself included) has been publicly disavowed by its creator, after he had control wrested from him in the editing room. His version of the film has been lost to time, but that's why The Criterion Collection exists. I want the company to find the old negatives and let Tony Kaye have at them, bringing the film he wanted to make back to life. Yeah, it would be 2013 Tony Kaye and not 1998 Tony Kaye at the helm, but the end result probably won't have changed dramatically. Make that happen and bundle it together with the official release and it would be one hell of a package.  Takashi Miike's most infamous film (Audition is up there), the uber-violent Ichi the Killer fills a niche that the Criterion Collection rarely does outside of its Eclipse series (which features classics like Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell). Putting a film like Ichi the Killer into its main library sends an even more inclusive message than the one already put out. The Criterion Collection may have a lot, but it doesn't have anything like Ichi The Killer, but I think that's in need of a change. And while we're on the subject... I think Criterion should buy Palisades Tartan Asia Extreme and create a level between the main releases and the Eclipse line. Not every Palisades Tartan release deserves the full treatment, but every so often a film really does, and as they proved with the Vengeance Trilogy's release, they're completely capable of doing great extra content on releases. That's all well and good, but it should be done under the Criterion name. "Palisades Tartan Asia Extreme" is such an aggressive name, which fits the tone of the films it features, but imagine "Criterion Eclipse Extreme" or something like that. It sounds far more inviting, and a lot more people would be likely to check out the films if they had that off-kilter C on the the corner of their box art. I really don't think I need to justify this choice, but let me explain what I want from it: while most of this list should be added to the Collection and stay in circulation, Die Hard should join the ranks of films like Hard Boiled that get Criterion releases that cement their place in its library forever and then go out of print as quickly as they were in. The Die Hard Criterion release should be a true collector's item. Few directors have such fascinating films under their belt as Kim Jee-Woon. The man has done everything from a wrestling comedy (The Foul King) to a psychological horror film (A Tale of Two Sisters) to an excellent take on the Western genre (The Good, the Bad, the Weird). There's just so much quality on display (he's not my favorite director for nothing) that he would fit right in with the other directors who have been showcased by Criterion. [Note: The Last Stand can be omitted from this release or not; I won't be offended either way.] What? More Miike? Damn right. Ace Attorney is the best damn videogame adaptation out there, and it deserves to get the kind of treatment only Criterion can give. Quality videogame films are essentially nonexistent, but they are only getting more prevalent (Polygon thinks we're on the verge of that revolution). At some point, Criterion will have to acknowledge them. I could have ironically recommended a Uwe Boll film or something to be the first representation of that sort of film in the Collection, but I seriously believe that Miike's accomplishment has earned its place there. The Criterion Collection is supposed to be a showcase of important films and important milestones in film. Well, there's a milestone right here. I want Sam Raimi's Evil Dead Trilogy to be in the Criterion Collection for essentially the same reason I want A Serbian Film there: validation. I don't think the films individually would qualify, but as a whole I think they represent a significant artistic achievement. The set would have to be accompanied by essays that explain how the progression of narrative and tone does this or that and special features that really dig deep into the creation of these films and their continued relevance. With the remake trilogy in the works and hints at a fourth film, now would be as good a time as any for Criterion to take these on. Plus, the current HD transfers are meh at best, which would never be a problem with a Criterion release. James Bond has never been in the Criterion Collection even as a one-off like Die Hard should be, but I think Skyfall should be the film to change that. It's a spectacular achievement both as a Bond film and just as a film. It's got a level of technical polish that most of the other films in the series lack, and its just a damned good movie in general. Just as it celebrates 50 years of Bond, so too would a Criterion release of the film (even if it's a year late).
Ten Criterion Desires photo
Technically way more than ten, but shhhh
The Criterion Collection is amazing, but it could always be more amazing. The ever-expanding list of films (so much of which is worth buying) has some pretty big gaps. So that's why I'm here: to help coax the company into cho...

FlixList: Best of the Criterion Collection (Part 2)

Jul 16 // Flixist Staff
12 Angry Men is easily one of the best shows you could ever see on stage as long as the actors are good and the director isn't trying to be too fancy. Why not take the risk out of that, however, and see the movie superbly done film. Henry Fonda delivers a staggering performance that's the next best thing to seeing it done on stage (correctly). — Matthew Razak Being John Malkovich is the movie that made the film careers of Spike Jonze (then known for music videos) and Charlie Kaufman (then barely known for his TV writing). It floored me the first time I watched it way back in college in 1999. Here were bizarrre conceits, high imagination, and a human intellect merged into a strange yet cohesive whole. And it's hilarious too. I suspect that in a few years I'll realize (as I did with Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) that everything I've written since 1999 has been a riff on Being John Malkovich. — Hubert Vigilla Organized crime makes for fantastic movies, but most of them glorify mobsters and hitmen into anti-heroes. Gomorrah walks the delicate line between glorification and reality and in turn becomes one of the best crime dramas since The Godfather II. Based on a non-fiction book, this is one of those movies you'll watch once and then it will be in your mind forever. Having it on your shelf helps relieve that itch every time you need a dose of crime.  — Matthew Razak At first glance this might seem like art-house at its worse. An entire film that is simply a dinner between two friends. Yet the movie opens up into one of the most charming, enlightening and entertaining films you'll ever watch. Louis Malle always challenged norms with his films, but this is easily his most successful, thanks in part by two incredible performances from Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn. You'll go in dreading boredom and come out enlightened by how cinematic a film can be despite relying only on its screenplay. — Matthew Razak At heart I'm a mod (though more in the mold of The Jam than The Who) and I'd dress like one every day if I could. Franc Roddam's Quadrophenia taps right into that mod spirit. From the green windbreakers and cute birds on the backs of scooters to the brutal clash on the beach between mods an rockers, this is a great coming-of-age movie for the alienated. Watch as disaffected youths become angry young men, all to a soundtrack by The Who. Seeing where the movie goes, you realize why Roger Daltrey sang, "I hope I die before I get old." — Hubert Vigilla When I found out Repo Man was going to be released by Criterion, at first I was like, "Repo Man is coming to the Criterion Collection?" And then I was like "Repo Man is coming to the Criterion Collection!" A personal favorite from the VHS era, Alex Cox's Repo Man is everything 80s, cult, LA, and cool. It's an oddball, sci-fi, punk rock movie that defies easy classification and is worth watching because of it. — Hubert Vigilla No list of Criterion Collection recommendations can be complete without at least one film by Ingmar Berman. (Fortunately, he's made over twenty Criterion-collected films, so there are plenty more lists to do.) While I don't think The Seventh Seal is his best film (that would be Persona), it's nonetheless an amazing study of death, religion, and chess. Those who can't stand monologues will probably consider suicide by the end of the 96 minutes, but everyone else owes it to themselves to see at least one (or five) Berman films, and The Seventh Seal is certainly among his better and more accessible ones. — Alec Kubas-Meyer If you're a political junkie, The War Room is essential viewing in the same way that Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 is essential reading. Directed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, the film chronicles the 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign and its masterminds: James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. It's a fine behind-the-scenes portrait of the personalities that make winning campaigns work, and while somewhat dated, I still think it's a great view of these kinds of organizations at a ground level. — Hubert Vigilla Carl Th. Dreyer's first sound film is fascinating more than it is "good" in the traditional sense. Many of its visuals have been lost to the elements (some shots are nearly impossible to understand), but what is visible is unquestionably worth a look. Dreyer's use of shadows is extremely impressive, making it seem as through a shadow that somebody is climbing a ladder that, in frame, clearly has nobody on it. In these moments, it's important to remember that this film comes from 1932. I'm hoping for a Passion of Joan of Arc-style miracle find of a pristine print, but this is quite probably as good as we're going to get, so a Blu-ray release is unlikely. But the DVD Criterion release is particularly noteworthy, because it comes with a booklet of the film's original screenplay. That sort of physical addition can't be replicated by a PDF accompanying a digital download, and makes this a disc worth getting. — Alec Kubas-Meyer One of my favorite movies of all time, Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire is such a human movie, and one that remains compelling even as it seems to meander. Maybe because it meanders. We watch as angels hover around humans and the humans sense the tender regard of angels. There's a romance in there, and also Peter Falk playing the best version of himself and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It's not a religious movie, and that's it's strength. It's really about empathy and what little comforts we can afford ourselves and give to others. — Hubert Vigilla
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More picks of (and from) the best of the best
It's that time again: the sun is up and both game and movie lovers go back into their caves to enjoy their respective hobbies. For gamers, Valve's Summer Sale is in full swing; for cinephiles, it's Barnes & Nobles' 50% Cr...


New Releases, week of 7/20/13: Evil Edition

The Evil Dead remake, 42, Bullet to the Head, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jul 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Another week means more new releases, fellas. I have no clever intro this week because I am just that tired. There are three biggies this week on the new release side: Evil Dead, 42, and Bullet to the Head. On the re-release ...

New Releases, week of 7/13/13: Street Trash Edition

Spring Breakers, Admission, Street Trash, and more on DVD/Blu-ray/VHS
Jul 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Of all things that are coming out on Blu-ray today, there's the bats**t crazy cult film Street Trash. There are melting bodies, exploding homeless people, scenes of extreme violence, lots of gore, and something to offend ever...

New Releases, week of 6/29/13: Achoo Resneezes Edition

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Call, Upside Down, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jun 25
// Hubert Vigilla
I've been sick for the last three weeks, and it's gone from being unpleasant to just downright annoying. After looking up my symptoms online, I'm led to believe that I'm suffering from The Scriverner's Lung, The Hipster Drops...

New Releases, week of 6/1/13: Who Are You? Who, Who Ed.

Doctor Who Series Seven, Dark Skies, Cleopatra, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 28
// Hubert Vigilla
We don't usually highlight the TV releases on DVD and Blu-ray, but since this week is light on the movie side, we're making an exception. The biggie this week is Doctor Who: Series Seven - Part Two, which includes "The Name o...

New Releases, week of 5/25/13: Arnold's Return Edition

The Last Stand, Side Effects, The ABCs of Death, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 21
// Hubert Vigilla
It's a week of many new releases and re-releases on DVD and Blu-ray. Leading the way is Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the big screen The Last Stand, along with the horror anthology The ABCs of Death, the Jason Statham fli...

New Releases, week of 5/11/13: Heading Upstream Edition

Upstream Color, Jack Reacher, Mama, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 08
// Hubert Vigilla
First off, sorry this edition of New Releases is a day later than usual. Running behind with lots of things this week. Netflix Now will also be a day late. I owe you an ice cream.* The new releases this week include Jack Reac...

New Releases, week of 4/20/13: Djangowned Edition

Django Unchained, Repo Man, Dragon (Wu Xia), and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Howdy, folks, and welcome to this week's new releases, a sort of pre-Tribeca reprieve for me. This week boasts two genre deconstructions. The biggie is Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx (who, as Nick p...

New Releases, week of 4/13/13: Historical Hot Dog Edition

Hyde Park on Hudson, Down the Shore, Gate of Hell, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 09
// Hubert Vigilla
It's another slow week on the DVD/Blu-ray release front. The most high-profile title is the disappointing Hyde Park on Hudson, which features Bill Murray as FDR. (More accurately, Bill Murray doing an impersonation of Cary Gr...

Artist creates gorgeous and unofficial movie posters

Mar 28
// Liz Rugg
A Los Angeles based artist who goes by the name Midnight Marauder has been quietly pumping out some incredible, unofficial movie posters over the last few years. Midnight Marauder (let's call him/her MM) seems to be inspired ...

New Releases, week of 3/30/13: Fightin' Abe Edition

Lincoln, The Comedy, Killing Them Softly, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Mar 26
// Hubert Vigilla
Today is the day that Steven Spielberg's Lincoln rolls onto DVD and Blu-ray. I think Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt are my favorite U.S. Presidents. Both were supreme badasses in different ways. Lincoln steered the count...

New Releases, week of 3/23/13: Les Little People Edition

The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Mar 19
// Hubert Vigilla
Back from warm and awful nice Austin to the cold, jerk-filled New York and what do I see? Lots of major releases out this week on DVD and Blu-ray. (Worst thing about Austin by the way: limited free wifi at the airport. Damn y...

New Releases, week of 3/2/13: Who is the Master Edition

The Master, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Holy Motors, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Feb 26
// Hubert Vigilla
Even though Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master didn't do well at the 2013 Academy Awards, it will always run Bartertown in my heart. If you watched Flixist's Google Hangout for the Oscars, you know we all expected Joaquin Phoe...

New Releases, week of 2/23/13: Jack Kirby Saves Edition

Argo, Anna Karenina, Monster Squad, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Feb 19
// Hubert Vigilla
Ben Affleck's Argo is the big release of the week given all the momentum it has heading into the Oscars. Based on the true story of how Jack Kirby helped saved the day, Argo won Best Picture and Best Director at the 2013 BAFT...
If you had plans this weekend, you no longer have them now
That's right, guys and gals. If it's a Criterion release and if it's on Hulu, you can watch it free starting now and lasting through Sunday. You know how you (meaning me) wanted to get work done over the weekend and hang out ...

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