The Criterion Collection is like a cinephile’s version of Whole Foods. It’s got a lot of the same stuff you can buy in your neighborhood grocery (and a lot you can’t), but a lot of the times the organic tofu just tastes better there, y’know? In short, it is the finest quality of packaging and presentation one could hope for in a home video release of the world’s greatest titles. Have they added Demolition Man to the Collection yet? Regrettably, that’s a negative, Ghost Rider.
But what the Criterion Collection does have are literal-thousands of films to explore and purchase, and what better way to purchase something than for half off?
âš¡ï¸Our Flash Sale has begun! For the next 24 hours, all Criterion Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off! Shop now to save big on new titles and collection favorites until 12pm ET tomorrow! https://t.co/BPV0mR4gLr âš¡ï¸ pic.twitter.com/M4Tu6qzFYn
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) February 25, 2020
That’s right! Until tomorrow, February 26th at noon EST all titles (available for order; read: not out of print) in the Collection’s library are going for halfsies. Feed your material stuff-monger!
“But Sam,” you plead, “there are so many movies there!” Fear not my loose-walleted chum! For I’m here to provide you with ten recommendations as to where those hard-earned dollars of yours should be spent! So, without further ado:
Alright, I must confess: I’m not the biggest David Lynch fan. Sue me! Though I enjoy many of his films, the weirdness to which so many flock (and typically I am indeed a weird fellow) mostly leaves me cold, and uninterested. But you know who’s impossible to find uninteresting? Dennis Hopper. Chewing the scenery the way he guzzles Pabst Blue Ribbon, Hopper’s performance as helium-huffin’ (?) gangster Frank is something that need be seen to be believed. Blue Velvet is a real tour-de-force (an extremely overused term, but applicable here) of underbelly-America and strange, strange horror.
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
I mean, c’mon! How embarrassed would you be, impressing a potential-significant other, to admit that you don’t have Kubrick’s ’60s satire of atomic proportions adorning the shelves of your film cave? Dr Strangelove is my favorite Kubrick, but besides that it could be your favorite Kubrick, too. If only you owned this release from Criterion! Best part of this release, besides the snazzy cover and thick essay booklet, is the slew of behind-the-scenes footage of Kubrick being all frowns (he was a very nice guy, actually!) and business on set. When Kubrick’s behind the camera, every room is a war room.
Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975
Look, this is an obvious recommendation. A monkey could’ve told you to buy this. But truly, the Godzilla collection that Criterion put together for their thousandth release (!!!) is truly a work of art. No, literally. It’s an art book! Featuring illustrations and historical connotations from more than a dozen varying artists to accompany the 15 films that feature in this set, the Show-Era set is truly a collector’s item. Do it for Hedorah.
A Hard Day’s Night
I mean if you don’t like The Beatles, 1. What’s wrong with you, and 2. This might not be for you. But for everyone else (which should be everyone) Richard Lester’s smash hit could have been written off by the historians as capitalizing on Beatlemania. Instead, Night has stood the test of time as both a capsule of an era that need me seen to be believed, but also a straight-up rollicking good time, and a showcase for what made the Fab Four such a fad. The music is one thing, but the boys themselves are perfectly charismatic; natural-born stars.
In the Mood for Love
Feeling moody? Rainy night? Thinking about an old flame? Well Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 sensation In the Mood for Love might just be your huckleberry. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography is gorgeous, like in all Wong films, but its the subtle period detail that sells the lush visuals. But really, Tony Leung and Maggie Chung’s performance as lovers caught in the snare of passion are really all you need. It’ll touch your cold heart. It did mine!
Lone Wolf and Cub
Because sometimes ya just gotta cut a sucker. This set of the six Lone Wolf and Cub films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama as shogun executioner-turned-unstoppable-killer-for-hire Ogami Itto is, well, far-freakin’ out. If you love Seven Samurai but thought “gee, this could sure use a bucket of paint-red blood or two and some killer baby carriages’ buddy, let me stop you right there. A gorgeous set featuring some of the best special features the Criterion Collection has assembled (samurai sword documentary and an interview with original manga author Kazuo Koike??), another easy recommendation to make with a cool 50% shaved off--just like the heads of Itto’s enemies.
The Royal Tenenbaums
So, regrettably, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson best darn movie fight me, isn’t yet released on the Criterion Collection. In lieu of that, not my second favorite Wes Anderson, and maybe not even my third favorite Wes Anderson! But that’s like picking favorite kids, right? And considering the absolutely eclectic cast of kids to pick from in The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson’s 2001 smash hit, you’ve got a good pick for your shopping cart right here. Even if you don’t like Anderson’s neat ‘n tidy style (and I ask again, what’s wrong with you?) Tenenbaums is perhaps early enough in his career that he hasn’t yet blossomed into the tightly-framed, color-coordinated auteur he’s become.
Chances are, you reading this on that new-fangled Internet thing all the kids love, you’ve seen the gif. You know,
Exactly! That’s Scanners! David Cronenberg’s 1981 telepathic tale of terror is not only a meme sensation, but it’s a great film. Cronenberg, purposing genre tropes for social causes, weaves a yarn of social outcasts and stigmatized disease manifests in… well, some heads a-splodin’. Isn’t it great when we can learn something and watch Michael Ironside hunt psychics!
Okay, so maybe Brazil is Terry Gilliam’s best film (also available to buy!), but I dare you to resist Time Bandits. Co-written by Gilliam and Michael Palin, those old Monty Python pals, Bandits features A. Time-traveling dwarfs, B. A Napoleon Bonaparte cameo, C. A whimsical journey befitting the best of ’80s sensibilities, D… Well, we could go to Z. Time Bandits is a lot of movie, and it’s all fun.
Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy
You know who loves the spirit of Americana more than most Americans? Wim Wenders. Evident in his three films here, “The Road Trilogy” boasts a collection of some of the German genius’ best films from the ’70s, including the epic, terrific Kings of the Road. The films are stark in their black-and-white presentation, and come together here in Criterion’s set, complimenting each other in the best possible ways.