Rounding up the Criterion-related links of the day. Forgive me for taking the past two weeks off from posting these daily links, but it was necessary. If you can’t get enough links, be sure to follow @CriterionCast or @RyanGallagher
After a brief sabbatical from his responsibilities at his Criterion Reflections blog, David has resumed blogging through the Criterion Collection. He’s currently making his way through 1966, and has posted about Pearls Of The Deep and The Naked Prey this past weekend.
The experience of discovering these films and assimilating my own tastes and perspectives to better understand them is among the happiest memories I carry with me from the past several years of movie blogging!
Born in Kyoto on 5 March 1929, Saito joined Toho studios in 1946. His paths crossed with Kurosawa’s immediately, as he started working on One Wonderful Sunday, released in 1947, as his first assignment. The young cameraman became an indispensable Kurosawa regular from Ikiru (1952) onwards, from then on working on all of Kurosawa’s films, except for Dersu Uzala, which the director shot in the Soviet Union with a local crew. Saito also worked with other directors, although his main body of work can be said to have been with Kurosawa.
…Tootsie has aged incredibly well. In point of fact, it’s still incredibly funny, laugh-out-loud so. And there is nothing to cringe about while watching it because it lacks any meanness. It’s very human and very matter-of-fact and its characters are largely free of judgment. The comedy doesn’t happen just because Dustin Hoffman is wearing a dress, but rather because of the things that happen to him while he’s wearing a dress and the way it challenges his perceptions and what it exposes about everyone.
The Innocents is a film that, when Halloween rolls around, not many people mention it. It doesn’t have the cheesy appeal of something like House on Haunted Hill, nor does it have the fun atmosphere of a horror comedy such as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. It’s a genuinely frightening and disturbing film, with enough atmosphere for ten other films, and with Criterion’s excellent treatment of it, it deserves much more habitual viewing.
The predilection of French critics for linking Mizoguchi with Murnau seems largely dictated by this sense of fatality, expressed equally by the striking high-angle shots, a fairly constant use of the diagonal line, and the movement between the “sympathy” and autonomy of several extended camera movements in relation to Oharu: her endless flight of despair through the woods after reading Katsunosuke’s parting message to her; her nocturnal street walk in the opening shot –- repeated near the film’s close –- as an axis round which things happen, which closely resembles the City Woman’s walk in Sunrise.
This very beautiful film from director Stanley Donen is perfect to see on a cold and gloomy December afternoon. I don’t think that it is as well polished as it could have been, but it has a casual atmosphere that fits its style and a seemingly endless arsenal of stunning panoramic vistas from the French countryside. It looks quite wonderful on Blu-ray
The Music Room is a bleak portrait into a sad life. The stark black-and-white cinematography by Subrata Mitra, Ray’s regular collaborator, is perfect for the somber mood of the piece. The camera works its charm from the first frame itself, as we see the lumbering frame of Roy slumped in a chair on a desolate balcony, staring out into emptiness. When adding The Music Room to his “Great Movies” series, Roger Ebert called this “one of the most evocative opening scenes ever filmed.”
…a towering achievement on multiple fronts. When it was finished, the Cannes Film Festival in 1965 rejected it. However, forty-eight years later, they screened it in the Cannes Classics section.
The A Hard Day’s Night DVD/blu-ray package now available should probably be recommended before any Beatles’ recording. We get Phil Collins narrating a documentary about the movie. He says how the bandmates were “prisoners” of their fame. He should know about that to some degree (he was an extra in A Hard Day’s Night). Most likely, the boys did not argue or try to call the shots as the movie was made, and it worked out.
A severely dated film that was hard at times to watch. But, one that showcases the awesome power of Paul Robeson, and one that must have completely confounded the expectations of the ignorant viewers of its time.
Finally retrieved from undeserved obscurity, Allen Baron’s 1961 shoestring feature debut is one of the seminal New York City movies. A dead-eyed mob hit man reaches the end of the line at Christmastime. Bleak, pessimistic and gritty, with similarities to Irving Lerner’s Murder by Contract.
Meeting for drinks. Going to the beach. Family dinners. Eric Rohmer was a visionary who dealt in the down-to-earth, argues Michael Newton, as the BFI prepares to celebrate the French director
What Anderson offers us in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is an idea of masculinity and of culture that finds strength in making and preserving beautiful things rather than destroying them.
NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM
- The Trip To Italy
- Nymphomaniac: The Extended Director’s Cut Volume I
- Nymphomaniac: The Extended Director’s Cut Volume II