Criterion Collection Reviews

The Criterion Collection takes film of all sorts and restores them to their highest potential. Many of these are hidden or previously forgotten classics. Here are Blake Hall’s thoughts on a majority of Criterion film he’s seen. Within this list, you may discover a batch of films that you’re interested in watching to pass the corona time! There’s something in here for just about everyone. Most of these films can be found on The Criterion Channel. This list will be sorted in order by the last name of the director.

Written by Blake Hall

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 Women (1977, Robert Altman)

Image result for 3 women criterion poster

This features Robert Altman, one of the strongest and most diverse directors of the 1970s, shifting away from ensemble character films and venturing into surrealism in the vein of Persona and David Lynch. As under the radar as this film went, I feel it was low key groundbreaking in regards to pushing the boundaries for modern surrealism in cinema. And it’s unlike any other film I’ve ever seen. A classic slow burner of 70s cinema!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Short Cuts (1993, Robert Altman)

Image result for short cuts criterion poster

This is just one of those films I could watch all day. From start to finish, it manages to engage with its subtle character development and the way it balances out these numerous stories. You are constantly immersed into these characters, all of them leaving you wondering what’ll happen next. Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia will especially enjoy this!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971, Robert Altman)

Image result for mccabe and mrs miller criterion poster

Robert Altman’s deconstruction of the Western genre. Warren Beatty may seem like the ultimate cool guy at first but he ends up looking like a goon. Slap that story over a Leonard Cohen soundtrack as well as a grainy vision of the Old West and you’ve got yourself a great time. Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood will especially enjoy this one! (Paul Thomas Anderson in general cites Robert Altman as a primary influence).

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Player (1992, Robert Altman)

Image result for the player criterion poster

Such an outstanding satire on Hollywood within a grimy Neo-noir story. Of course, being a Robert Altman film, just about every A list actor in 1992 appears in this film at some point. All of these cameos are a blast and very self aware at poking fun at the imperfections of Hollywood. The story itself is highly engaging. The screenplay is one of the best from the early 90s.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Nashville (1975, Robert Altman)

Image result for nashville criterion poster

And my personal favorite of all Robert Altman films, I feel this is his ultimate statement as a filmmaker. He balances out 24 stories to present an examination on the American Dream and what many individuals were after in the 1970s. Fans of the ensemble cast aspect of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and Magnolia will surely get into this one. I believe this is one of the first films to interweave many stories together.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Punch Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson)

Image result for punch drunk love criterion poster

A strong personal favorite of mine. A brilliant mood piece. It’s quirky, uncomfortable and genuinely sweet all at once. It deals with overcoming insecurities within a romantic relationship. Paul Thomas Anderson truly made something special here; it’s very intimate and resonating. Anderson brings the best out of Adam Sandler; he’s truly phenomenal here.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, Wes Anderson)

Image result for royal tenenbaums poster criterion

Still my favorite Wes Anderson film. I honestly need to spend more time with his filmography but this one is simply beautiful. I feel like his earlier films try too hard to be quirky at times, but the eccentric tone balances out the emotional intensity effortlessly here. These characters are so much fun.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Wes Anderson)

Image result for the grand budapest hotel poster criterion

Another Wes Anderson film I really enjoyed. Just a captivating world full of fun characters and eye striking set designs. It seems like the film Anderson spent his entire career building up to.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Wes Anderson)

Image result for moonrise kingdom poster criterion

Here’s a film that I somehow used to not like but I’m fully onboard with it now. Its whimsical tone and subtle dry humor will leave an endless smile on your face. Plus the setting in the woods of Maine is absolute eye candy.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Blow-Up (1966, Michelangelo Antonioni)

Image result for blow up poster antonioni criterion

Such a fascinating and brilliant film. Michelangelo Antonioni’s style takes a bit of getting used to, as slow paced as it is. However, once it clicks, it’s incredibly atmospheric and really has a special way of putting you in the moment with the characters and swinging 60’s setting. There is consistently a feeling of rich tension throughout. The murder mystery plot has been seen many times but the way it’s executed here is original. It’s hardly even concerned with the murder mystery. Also Led Zeppelin fans cannot miss the Yardbirds scene, which features Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck playing “Train Kept A Rollin'”!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

L’Avventura (1960, Michelangelo Antonioni)

Image result for l'avventura poster antonioni criterion

My personal favorite of Antonioni’s. It’s an intimate story told through the lens of an epic. There is so much texture and detail put into every shot. This is a fascinating one of a kind film that I feel fans of David Fincher’s Gone Girl will especially appreciate, as it essentially has the same plot and deals with very similar themes (although executed differently). It has a rich suspenseful tone that lingers over the conflict. Martin Scorsese and Jack Nicholson both cite this as a personal favorite.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Harold And Maude (1971, Hal Ashby)

Image result for harold and maude criterion poster

An adorable and quirky romance story that essentially feels like Wes Anderson in the early 1970s with its deadpan humor and whimsical tone.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Being There (1979, Hal Ashby)

Image result for being there criterion poster

Literally the Dougie Jones subplot from Twin Peaks: The Return condensed to film. It’s perhaps the ultimate statement on the absurdity of celebrity worship. My favorite Hal Ashby film.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fanny And Alexander (1982, Ingmar Bergman)

Image result for fanny and alexander criterion poster

My favorite Ingmar Bergman film. It seems like the film he spent his entire career building up to as it explores about every theme he’d tackled throughout his career. Despite its massive scope, it never loses a sense intimacy within these characters. It’s a 5 hour epic that never manages to feel boring. It’s a deeply sincere testament to all phases of life within its highs and lows.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)

Image result for the seventh seal poster criterion

Just an all around fantastic film. Death has got to be one of the most memorable villains in a film (if you can even call him a villain). Powerful imagery, an awesome soundtrack, dark humor and the great concept of playing a chess game with death. The screenplay is also incredibly poetic. If you’re in a black metal band, this is the film for you.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Last Picture Show (1971, Peter Bogdanovich)

Image result for the last picture show poster criterion

A quietly devastating picture of a small town in America as it studies the loneliness and aimlessness of changing times. I like to think of it as an anti-Dazed And Confused in a sense. While that film celebrates youth, this one explores the hardships of growing up and lacking personal direction. A film that feels gloomy and lonely, yet warm and comforting.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

City Lights (1931, Charlie Chaplin)

Image result for city lights criterion poster

A simple bittersweet story that is beautifully told. It’s apparent that a great deal of thought was put into every moment. Just a plain charming film that will leave a smile on your face from start to finish.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Wages Of Fear (1953, Henri Georges Clouzot)

Image result for the wages of fear criterion

I just can’t get enough of the premise of this film. Four people are required to transport two trucks of nitroglycerine over endless mountain dirt roads. Even though I prefer its gritty remake Sorcerer (1977), the suspense here is absolutely strong when its on. It’s a true slow burner that hits hard when it does. However, I’d definitely suggest checking out Sorcerer instead (which isn’t on Criterion yet) as that one is more colorful, more gritty and has a much better ending. That’s one of the ultimate lost classics of the 1970s and is essentially an upgraded version of this.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Blood Simple (1984, Coen Brothers)

Image result for blood simple criterion poster

This is a fantastic thriller from the Coen Brothers. It’s always fun to go back to the debut of your favorite filmmakers and take note of how their distinctive style began. A great choice if you’re in the mood for a thriller with constant momentum.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013, Coen Brothers)

Image result for inside llewyn davis criterion poster

One of my favorite Coen Brothers films! A fantastic study on the life of a struggling artist and the endless quest to be heard and understood. I love the poetic structure in which its told. Llewyn is perhaps the most fleshed out character in the Coen Brother’s catalogue.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)

Image result for videodrome criterion poster

A fantastic choice if you want a true mind bender. Haven’t seen it in a long time but I recall it being a wild ride.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)

Image result for the silence of the lambs criterion poster

One of the greatest mystery/thrillers I’ve ever seen. The suspense is so well crafted within the dialogue. I love its contrast between good and evil. The character development is incredible, there is a great sense of humanity to be found within the darkness.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (1964, Jacques Demy)

Image result for the umbrellas of cherbourg poster criterion

This is a fantastic musical experience. The color schemes and costume design are stunning, echoing that of Wes Anderson. Although the characters aren’t very three-dimensional, none of that matters in Jacques Demy’s world. It’s all about the themes of growing up from naiveté as well as the overwhelming color schemes. Fans of La La Land who are seeking more in that flavor can’t miss this!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967, Jacques Demy)

Image result for the young girls of rochefort criterion cover

Well I absolutely adore every moment of this film. It’s a love letter to old school musicals in the way Once Upon A Time In A Hollywood is a love letter to film. Simply one of the most purely exuberant and colorful films I’ve ever seen. Jacques Demy crafts a playground of top tapping music at every corner and makes a film around it. Although it doesn’t have much of a plot, the enjoyment of this film is all in the music, vibrant colors and sensations of joy. Fans of La La Land and old school Hollywood musicals will particularly be at home with this one.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

La Dolce Vita (1960, Federico Fellini)

Image result for la dolce vita criterion poster

Essentially a three hour descent into a self made hell. I’m not the biggest Fellini guy overall but this one is truly fantastic. It’s absolutely absorbing watching Marcello Mastroianni as an empty person who’s terrible decisions lead him towards a downward spiral. A fascinating takedown on the rotten side of the glamorous life.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

All That Jazz (1979, Bob Fosse)

Image result for all that jazz criterion poster

One of the most interesting musical I’ve ever seen. It’s essentially a downward spiral of a man who couldn’t escape his excesses with numerous musical numbers. It’s the style of this film that makes it stick out.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

George Washington (2000, David Gordon Green)

Image result for george washington criterion poster

As Roger Ebert puts it, “There is a summer in your life which is the last time boys and girls can be friends until they grow up. The summer when adolescence has arrived, but has not insisted on itself. When the stir of arriving sexuality still makes you feel hopeful instead of restless and troubled. When you feel powerful instead of unsure. That is the summer “George Washington” is about, and all it is about.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Easy Rider (1969, Dennis Hopper)

Image result for easy rider criterion poster

As someone who is particularly fascinated by culture and arts of the late 60s, I really don’t think there could possibly be a better countercultural film.  It candidly captures a time when the world was boiling with a new sense of freedom and change.   It masterfully captures how various people were responding to this.  The cinematography is breathtaking, the soundtrack is awesome and I simply felt like I could hang out with these characters endlessly.  The laid back Peter Fonda, the insane Dennis Hopper and a quirky young Jack Nicholson make for such a fantastic trio. It’s an illustration of the beauty of the hippie movement as well as its failings.  In that sense, it’s the perfect mix of the flowery late 60s and the paranoia of the early 70s.  It’s a film that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.  A massive influence on independent cinema.  I can easily see why this film connected with so many people upon its release.  It makes cruising the country on a motorcycle seem like the coolest thing imaginable; yet it doesn’t hold back on showing all kinds of dangerous situations along the way.  People are heavily judgmental towards these hippies and excessive drug use eventually gets to the best of them.   The entire film is very exciting and full of life.  The final ten minutes are absolutely devastating and really left me feeling stunned.   This is certainly an all time favorite of mine. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mystery Train (1989, Jim Jarmusch)

Image result for mystery train criterion poster

Jim Jarmusch’s love letter to Memphis. This thing is all about the tone and atmosphere within its four entertaining segments. An essential film to watch late at night. An excellent film to drift asleep to. Highly recommended for fans of Pulp Fiction.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Night On Earth (1991, Jim Jarmusch)

Image result for night on earth criterion poster

One night in different parts of the world within one night of a taxi driver’s life. Five stories which contain five different attitudes towards life. One of the best existential comedies. It takes all of them to make the world.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On The Waterfront (1954, Elia Kazan)

Image result for on the waterfront criterion poster

An all time American Classic. This is my favorite Marlon Brando performance outside of the Francis Ford Coppola films.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kwaidan (1964, Masaki Kobayashi)

Image result for kwaidan criterion poster

Fans of anthology stories and ghost stories cannot miss this one. It’s essentially four ghost stories, all with a rich and distinctive atmosphere. The first two stories especially stand out as favorites.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Paths Of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick)

Image result for paths of glory criterion poster

One of the greatest anti-war films ever made. Those who are interested in seeing Stanley Kubrick make a more raw and more humane film must check this out. It’s an intense depiction of three soldiers being sentenced to death for essentially no reason. Incredibly powerful and moving film.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Killing (1956, Stanley Kubrick)

Image result for the killing criterion poster

The first successful film in Stanley Kubrick’s filmography.  The plot is simple; it deals with amoral characters committing a racetrack robbery.  You can instantly mark Kubrick’s directing style.  Fans of Quentin Tarantino can’t miss this one, as it’s a primary influence for Reservoir Dogs.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Barry Lyndon (1975, Stanley Kubrick)

Image result for barry lyndon criterion poster

This is simply the most breathtaking period piece I’ve ever seen.  I normally don’t care much for these kind of films but Stanley Kubrick managed to make something truly special here.  It’s stunningly gorgeous with its natural lighting, classical soundtrack and grand slow burner pacing. It’s one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve ever seen.  You could pause it at any given moment and it’d be worthy of a period painting.  The costume and set designs combined with the use of natural lighting makes for such rich and elegant visuals.  Barry is a compelling character who is both sympathetic and despicable.  He is driven to seek high status and works hard at it.  However, he is selfish and un-compassionate.  He is primarily motivated by personal benefit.  Fans of rise and fall films such as There Will Be Blood and GoodFellas will be right at home here.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

High And Low (1963, Akira Kurosawa)

Image result for high and low criterion poster

My favorite Akira Kurosawa film. Instead of samurais, it’s a modern day thriller. And it’s truly one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen. The first half reaches a special level of tension that reminds me of 12 Angry Men. It’s a film that portrays the good and evil of human insightfully. Fans of Parasite cannot miss this one.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa)

Image result for seven samurai criterion poster

Entertaining and immersive from start to finish. And it’s four hours long! I cannot get over how well made and timeless this is. It’s one of the best action films ever made and doesn’t feel dated in the slightest. The characters are always intriguing and have great depth. Fans of epic storytelling cannot miss this.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ran (1985, Akira Kurosawa)

Image result for ran criterion poster

A phenomenal film on madness and betrayal. One of the most visually appealing films I’ve ever seen. It’s like watching the apocalypse occur from a heavenly lens.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ikiru (1952, Akira Kurosawa)

Image result for ikiru criterion poster

One of the most life affirming films I’ve ever seen. A masterful depiction of goodness in humanity. Fans of It’s A Wonderful Life cannot miss this one, as it was a primary influence!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

M (1931, Fritz Lang)

Image result for m criterion poster 1931

The first serial killer film. And one of the greatest! It’s engaging, thought provoking and consistently suspenseful. Peter Lorre gives a deeply disturbing performance. Fans of serial killer films such as Silence Of The Lambs (1991) and Se7en (1995) cannot miss this one.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Night Of The Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)

Image result for the night of the hunter criterion poster

A fascinating blend of film noir, gothic horror and fairy tale.  This film is a true one of a kind. Some of the greatest use of black and white cinematography I’ve ever seen. A strong piece of visual minimalism. It looks like a gothic fairy tale. Fans of Fargo and No Country For Old Men cannot miss it, the Coen Brothers cite it is a primary influence.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do The Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee)

Image result for do the right thing criterion poster

A powerful examination of the nature of hatred and where its sources stem from. As powerful and hard hitting as it is, it’s highly entertaining as well. The characters are endlessly engaging and it’s consistently strong in dialogue and momentum.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Hard Day’s Night (1964, Richard Lester)

Image result for a hard days night criterion poster

A real treasure of a film which showcases The Beatles in their earlier Beatlemania years. It’s essentially like hanging out with the members within a day in their lives. Fans of The Beatles will be right at home here.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dazed And Confused (1993, Richard Linklater)

Image result for dazed and confused criterion poster

Basically the cinematic equivalent of a great night out with your buddies. Watching this will make you want to cruise around with friends, hang out, listen to music and just feel good. With an endless amount of great characters and a rocking 70’s soundtrack, it’s an endlessly comforting hang out film.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Boyhood (2014, Richard Linklater)

Image result for boyhood criterion poster

The greatest coming of age film I’ve ever seen and my favorite Richard Linklater film.  This never fails to take me back and remind me how special it is to be alive.  It makes one reflect on memories and the specific little moments that define who one is.  The fact this was filmed in the span of time I actually grew up in makes it all the more resonating. I love how it focuses on Mason’s parents growing up too, portraying that they’re just “figuring it out” too.  This film is all about the journey.  It’s a film with great honest humanity that I see as the film Linklater spent his entire career building up to.  It makes one reflect, feel warm and deeply inspired. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Slacker (1991, Richard Linklater)

Image result for slacker criterion poster

The film which made Richard Linklater an indie giant.  It’s an essential watch for any aspiring indie filmmaker.  It’s one of the most groundbreaking films of the 90’s indie scene.    Although I feel it lacks the carefree spirit of Linklater’s other films, it’s still incredibly fascinating and inspiring. Fans of Kevin Smith’s Clerks (1994) cannot miss this one, as this singlehandedly inspired Smith to be a filmmaker.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Before Sunrise (1995, Richard Linklater)

Image result for before sunrise criterion poster

An entire film based simply around the experience of falling in love.  Linklater directs this like a daydream come to reality. Linklater captures these two falling for each other in such a natural manner.  It cuts the plot route that most romantic films take and keeps it simplistic.  The chemistry between Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine is simply unbeatable. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater)

Image result for before sunset criterion poster

My personal favorite entry to this beautiful trilogy.  What makes this one so special is the premise of reuniting with a significant person from the past many years later.  It’s everything great about Before Sunrise but from a wiser and more bittersweet perspective.  Jesse and Celine have grown to be a bit more cynical over the course of nine years, yet they still carry a sense of hope. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Before Midnight (2013, Richard Linklater)

Image result for before midnight criterion poster

The most emotionally naked of the trilogy.  The magical tone of Sunrise and hopeful tone of Sunset is gone and the hardships of reality are present.  The trilogy makes us so invested in the chemistry of Celine and Jesse that it hurts to watch their romance at serious conflict.  This is a film that works as well as it does due to its realism and honesty.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

12 Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet)

Image result for 12 angry men criterion poster

One of the most immersive films I’ve ever seen. All twelve of these characters are diverse in personality and viewpoints, which makes for endlessly intriguing conflict. It’s a heavily thematic film which explores timeless social themes.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch)

Image result for blue velvet criterion poster

The first David Lynch film to reach beyond his cult audience and grab a wide audience.  I don’t think there is a scarier character out there than Frank Booth, played masterfully by Dennis Hopper.  He is essentially all that is terrifying embodied into a person.  And Kyle MacLachlan is just fantastic as Jeffery Beaumont, a naive college kid both horrified and intrigued by all of the seediness and darkness he gets himself into.  This film is many things, ranging from an exploration of good vs. evil, a young man’s sexual awakening, a Hardy Boys mystery on acid, etc. Highly recommended for fans of Alfred Hitchcock.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)

Image result for mulholland drive criterion poster

The most complete, fleshed out and personal of all David Lynch films.  A masterful experience which takes the ‘dream meets reality’ formula of Lost Highway and takes on personable themes of love, dreams and self delusion.  This is above all a sensory experience which takes us on a journey through the dark side of Hollywood underneath its outer glamour.  It’s one of those films that will always hold an enigmatic air no matter how many times you see it. The film is primarily driven by a dreamlike hypnotic spell it puts the viewer under. There is a scene in particular (the Silencio scene) which I feel expresses everything Lynch wants to communicate through his films in a nutshell. This is a downright transcendental experience that is all about mood, feeling and mystique.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch)

Image result for eraserhead criterion poster

David Lynch’s debut film is like a vivid nightmare that you never really forget. It’s one of the most nightmare fueled films I’ve ever seen. It’s essentially a collection of unsettling imagery and scenarios that really don’t make much sense. You feel like the main character who is tossed into all of these situations that he cannot understand. This is such a masterful achievement of world building. Every scene evokes an unsettling mood. Although Lynch would go on to craft films with fleshed out characters and more grounded world building, there isn’t another film out there quite like this one.  Fans of The Shining (1980) cannot miss this one, considering Stanley Kubrick cites it as a primary influence for that film!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992, David Lynch)

Image result for twin peaks fire walk with me criterion poster

This was considered a dud upon release. As a prequel to the beloved show, this really doesn’t bother answering any questions fans were looking for. Rather it just brought up more questions, which made people angry and confused. However, the release of Twin Peaks: The Return has led people to reevaluate this as a great film that was entirely ahead of its time. Although it’s required to watch the first 2 seasons of Twin Peaks to get the full impact out of this, I always suggest not viewing it as a follow up to the show but rather as a vision of Twin Peaks through a different lens. One that’s more dark, horrifying and sleazy. This is a foreshadow to the more serious and bleak tone of season 3. And above all, this is one phenomenal psychological horror slow burner which studies the most tragic character in Lynch’s filmography.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick)

Image result for the thin red line criterion poster

A highly effective and emotionally rewarding film. Perhaps one of the most unique war films out there. It follows a huge ensemble cast and the scenarios they face on the battlefield. A film that explores, no matter how much chaos and violence is going on in the world, there is still beauty around us and life goes on.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Tree Of Life (2011, Terrence Malick)

Image result for the tree of life criterion poster

My favorite Terrence Malick film.  It’s a film that’s indescribably unique, beautiful, mystical and majestic in its larger than life vision.  It ranges from pondering the universe to observing intimate lives.  It’s a film that explores good in humanity as well as what leads to self destruction.  It’s an observation of how childhood innocence gradually fades into dull skepticism.   Fans of 2001: A Space Odyssey can’t miss this one.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Days Of Heaven (1978, Terrence Malick)

Image result for days of heaven criterion poster

Some of the greatest cinematography I’ve ever seen in a film. Every shot has so much life and detail put into it. A masterwork of visual storytelling. The story may be a bit generic but it’s filmed in a way where we’re viewing an ugly situation from a dreamlike lens. A phenomenal cinematic experience.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols)

Image result for the graduate criterion poster

Just an all around entertaining coming-of-age film.  There are so many memorable moments to be found here.  I absolutely love the screenplay and overall pacing, it really felt like a descent into this total mess of a situation.  Dustin Hoffman is fantastic at playing this aimless nervous wreck who gets completely over his head.  I absolutely love the cinematography style here.  It’s never flashy, yet plays a huge role in the films overall tone and atmosphere.  Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack also goes with this film like peanut butter goes with bread.  An all around great time.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu)

Image result for late spring criterion poster

This film is simplicity at its finest. This film begs us to question why anybody should feel the need to control and dictate what makes another person happy? This film is good for the soul. Highly recommended for fans of Richard Linklater.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Monterey Pop (1968, DA Pennebaker)

Image result for monterey pop criterion poster

If you’re more invested in the cultural aspect of the hippie movement, watch Woodstock. If you’re more into the music of the late 60s, watch this. An excellent observation of the summer of love. This contains of my favorite performances from some of my favorite artists; including Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Simon & Garfunkel and Janis Joplin.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)

Image result for rosemarys baby criterion poster

A masterpiece of slow burner horror.  This has some truly spectacular atmosphere.  I just can’t get enough of its slow burner pacing and the way it makes you as paranoid as Rosemary.  Simply a masterpiece of horror, suspense and mood.  It’s a completely one of a kind in the horror genre.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Matter Of Life And Death (1946, Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger)

Image result for a matter of life and death criterion poster

Powell & Pressburger have a knack of telling sweeping grand stories in a rich old fashioned sense.  It’s a remarkably unique film told in a very original manner.  It was made right at a time when Technicolor was fresh and new. The entire film is just incredibly sweet and lovely.  Fans of It’s A Wonderful Life cannot miss it.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Five Easy Pieces (1970, Bob Rafelson)

Image result for five easy pieces criterion poster

One of Jack Nicholson’s first lead performances.  Although it’s one of his more low key performances, he makes for such a compelling character in a way that only he can.  Here, he plays an aimless man who just can’t settle down with anything.  He has a stable lifestyle as an oil rig and a girlfriend.  However, he just doesn’t want to be tied down.  The rawness makes it a personal favorite. Recommended for fans of Easy Rider (1969).

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)

Image result for the third man criterion poster

One of the most memorable and atmospheric old school film noirs. The zither score contributes an off kilter character to the overall vibe. It also feels seedy within its shadowy shots. It’s pure storytelling with phenomenal characters and a top notch screenplay. Everything you could ask for in a mystery film.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This Is Spinal Tap (1984, Rob Reiner)

Image result for this is spinal tap criterion poster

One of the most quotable films of all time. Also one of the funniest. The perfect rock satire.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Midnight Cowboy (1969, John Schlesinger)

Image result for midnight cowboy criterion poster

A powerful and immersive story which shows the transition from the flower power 60s era to the gritty 70s era.  It’s a very sad tale on loss on innocence.   The pure sleaziness of New York City makes it feel like the cinematic equivalent of a Velvet Underground song.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters (1985, Paul Schrader)

Image result for mishima a life in four chapters criterion poster

A powerful and transcendent story that dives deep into a fascinating man and how the world around him influenced his art and extremist perspectives.  Mishima fits right with Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle as a tragically flawed, yet endlessly compelling character trapped in their own warped mind.  What a stunning and unique film. Fans of Taxi Driver (1976) and First Reformed (2017) cannot miss this one.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988, Martin Scorsese)

Image result for the last temptation of christ criterion poster

This generated tons of controversy in 1988 due to being based on a novel, rather than the gospel. It doesn’t portray Jesus as the son of God who only does good but rather as a man who hates the fact he has been given this role. While being hung on the cross, he dreams of being a normal man and throwing away his gifts. This caused outrage upon release.  Scorsese handles this masterfully, giving it an It’s A Wonderful Life type of structure. Making one wonder what would’ve happen if Jesus decided to become a mortal man. You can tell it’s a film Scorsese had been building up to for a while.  Peter Gabriel’s score gives this film such a great atmosphere.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Solaris (1972, Andrei Rublev)

Image result for solaris criterion poster

A moving, thought provoking and heavily atmospheric sci-fi film. This was intended to be a response to 2001: A Space Odyssey. While Space Odyssey was about man’s place in the universe, this explores similar themes from a more psychological perspective. It’s very slow paced, yet deeply rewarding viewing.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky)

Image result for stalker criterion poster

This breaks the rules of traditional filmmaking in all of the best ways.  It’s slow as molasses and hardly anything happens within its near 3 hour running time, yet it’s consistently a rich and rewarding experience.  Tarkovsky himself once said that his films are meant to be approached with a childlike sense of wonder, which is where the magic of his films truly unravel.  Even though it’s a strong slow-burner, it’s endlessly fascinating getting lost into this mystical universe and rich world building.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Woman In The Dunes (1964, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

Image result for woman in the dunes criterion poster

A distinctive one of a kind film experience that is entirely ahead of its time. It’s like a combination of Sunset Boulevard, The Shining and a Twilight Zone episode. I can’t get enough of its haunting atmosphere. The soundtrack is one of the greatest I’ve ever heard, it evokes pure dread and fear. Sand has never been so frightening.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut)

Image result for the 400 blows criterion poster

Just an all time classic. I just can’t get enough of its uniquely minimalist vibe.  The entire film just feels very personable (which makes sense, considering it’s largely autobiographical for Truffaut).  There is a real unique beauty to be found here.  I simply cannot get enough of its soundtrack.  It captures the psychological state of being a troubled misunderstood child.  It’s a wonderfully moving and honest film.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Paris, Texas (1984, Wim Winders)

Image result for paris texas criterion poster

This is one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. This is a film for the soul. Harry Dean Stanton has always been one of my favorite character actors and it’s so nice to see him take on a lead role. His moment with Nastassja Kinski near the end is heavily memorable. The amount of emotional weight is stunning. It’s truly a fantastic piece of cinema. A forgotten American classic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s