With everyone and their mother out amongst the crowds that will be seeing the latest addition to the James Bond cinematic franchise, Skyfall, theaters will no doubt be packed to the brim with those hungry for some action-packed spy thrills. However, for those of you that may in fact want to see something other than the latest film from director Sam Mendes (even though we here at The CriterionCast are rather large fans of the latest franchise addition), there may be a need to fill the cinematic void that is your weekend. That’s where this list comes into effect.
Criterion’s monthly announcement is next week, and in honor of that, we here thought it would be a mighty fine idea to give you five of the films that should be added to the ranks of The Criterion Collection, if only going by those films found on their Hulu Plus page. With the company never quite willing to go without one or two big surprises each month, they may have teased at a handful of films they still have yet to make good on, but what about those films that haven’t been given the wacky drawing treatment? Here are five films, from Criterion’s Hulu Plus page, that should be the company’s next additions to their beloved ranks.
With Chaplin’s underrated masterpiece, Monsieur Verdoux, being rumored as the icon’s next entrant into The Criterion Collection, one wonders why the company looked near the end of the director’s canon for their next choice, instead of looking earlier. A silent feature film, the picture was penned, produced, scored and directed by Chaplin, his only major dramatic feature. Without Chaplin even in the film, the picture is still a thrilling exercise for the auteur, a great example that while he may be film’s greatest comedian, he also had a brilliant and deft hand at working with drama. A deeply moving drama, the film is considered by many to be Chaplin’s first major work, and features some top tier photography and some fantastic silent film performances. Not as affecting or thought provoking as a film like Modern Times or The Great Dictator, if Criterion wanted to go the route of picking an underrated Chaplin gem for their fourth Chaplin release (instead of his greatest still available work, City Lights), they could have definitely done worse than choosing one of the more esoteric entries into Chaplin’s legendary filmography.
Simply put, there is just too damn much of this director’s work to choose from. With thirty-five feature films directed by the filmmaker currently available to watch on Hulu Plus (not including the single Criterion-proper-approved film, Twenty Four Eyes which is also available), he is single-handedly the most popular filmmaker on Hulu Plus, without equal popularity within the company’s home video line. Whether it be in an Eclipse box set (one has to assume that that is where the company is going with his films) or in a release of one, two or three of his films within their main line, films like Boyhood, Farewell To Dream and Farewell To Spring are just too bloody good to sit on Hulu for much longer. You also have the pair of Yotsuya Kaidan pictures that could make for one hell of a release. Or toss in some of his later work into a box set of some sort. Who knows when, or even if, we’ll see any more of Keisuke’s films in the ranks of Criterion, but given their love for the director (at least online), one has to imagine it’ll happen sooner or later.
With the recent Barnes And Noble 50% off sale still going strong, one of the Blu-rays this writer had the pleasure of picking up was Criterion’s release of John Ford’s Stagecoach. Simply one of the most thrilling and insightful home video releases Criterion’s pumped out since going HD, Stagecoach is not only a great feature film, but it’s a thrilling teaming of director, Ford, and star, John Wayne. Well, the pair have another film that is available on Criterion’s Hulu Plus page, that would be a mighty fine addition. Entitled The Long Voyage Home, the film is one of Ford’s most underrated masterworks. Blending together four one act plays from Eugene O’Neill, the picture is a meditative look at the journey of one man and his crew, as they make their way on a freighter. It’s a beautifully shot picture, and features one of Wayne’s most exciting performances. With the right amount of love, care and respect, Voyage could be every bit the release that Stagecoach was, if not greater for sheer fact that the film is still relatively unknown amongst many circles.
From director Carl Dreyer, Master is another underrated gem found amongst Criterion’s Hulu pile, and would be a welcome addition to their distributed line. A silent feature from 1925, the film is not only absolutely gorgeous, but it would be the perfect type of film to show off their brilliance at restoring silent era feature films. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it 100 more times, Criterion has not only proved that black and white films can look every bit as gorgeous in HD as modern color films, but that silent pictures are especially thrilling to be seen in HD. Dreyer’s films are always something to be deeply revered, and while this picture is a tad slight and often comedic, this would be a perfect stand alone release, or Hell, even a part of a Eclipse set of silent era Dreyer films. Maybe as one of the cheaper, supplement free additions to the month when Criterion finally decides to give us a Blu-ray upgrade of Dreyer’s Passion Of Joan Of Arc? Don’t be shocked.
Simply the one film that Criterion has to put into their ranks. Besides the fact that it’s easily one of director Robert Bresson’s masterpieces and possibly his greatest film, Criterion has been hinting at this thing for a while now. Janus Films has been touring a brilliant new restoration of the picture for what seems to have been millennia now, with all signs pointing to a Blu-ray release. Sure to be stacked to the brim with supplements and featuring one of Criterion’s most talked about restorations in years, the film is simply Criterion’s most anticipated new addition in quite some time. You all can have your Y Tu Mama Tambien and other long rumored additions, when it comes to films this writer hopes to see enter The Criterion Collection, it’s Bresson’s A Man Escaped. From its breathtaking black and white photography to its brilliant and groundbreaking use of sound design, the picture is simply one of the greatest films ever made.