In which I attempt to watch every film in The Criterion Collection and end up watching a lot that aren't. Click here for the rating system.


"You knew it had to happen..." ▲ ♪

This film has found its way onto the shelves of every filmmaker wannabe that ever existed on the planet. In fact, the existence of this film on someone's shelf is a strong indicator that they aspire to film greatness or at least did at one time. I don't yet own this film, but I am sorry to say that someday I probably will, because it is the talisman that filmmakers carry with them. It is the patron saint of filmmaking, it is the lucky charm of cinematography, the Gospel of Film according to saint Fellini. And we are all believers.

In actual fact it is just a film about making films, or about being a filmmaker or rather about being Frederico Fellini. Or rather it is a celebration of the complexity of life and film and the joy we get from this maddening art.

Favorite moments: Floating like a kite, Wagner, fantasies, screening room.

Black Orpheus

"Beware the man in black spandex!"

This film contains some of my favorite visual moments ever. Based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Marcel Camus sets his lovers in the whirlwind of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and then tears them apart. Breno Mello plays the angel-voiced Orpheus who struggles to hold onto his love (Marpessa Dawn) only to end up killing her himself. A cruel trick of fate or death or whoever that is in the black spandex and ugly mask.

Favorite moments: DVD menu page, the world of Carnival, hospital of papers.

The Naked Kiss

"Being a prostitute is lame."

This is such an odd movie that I have to recommend it to those of you out there who appreciate the finer B-movie influences of our world. This Sam Fuller classic is NOT a B-movie, but I can see where B-movies get their ambition.

The movie begins with scrawny prostitute, Kelly, beating the hell out of her drunk pimp. Adding to the distortion, she is completely bald. The opening credits roll as she uses the camera as a mirror to adjust her wig, makeup, etc. She moves to a nice suburb and becomes a decent citizen and nurse (?) at a children's hospital and even manages to get engaged to the town's most respected citizen only to discover... Am I wrecking it for you? Fine. I'll leave off.

Favorite moments: Kelly's violent streak, Kelly finds a nice little room, "Little girl! Little girl!"


The Silence


[editor's note: I'm supposed to be blazing through the films I have watched, writing savvy and intellectual responses filled with interesting tidbits and divine links, but after about sixty of them, I'm flagging. People, I have at least 200 films left to go here and I'm tired. I'm sitting down by the proverbial information superhighway for a bit of a breather. Hope you don't mind. I was trying to keep the posts here abreast with my other blog, but let's face it I'm a little tired of maintaining that one as well and unless I can manage a couple reviews a day chances are this site isn't going to ever be completed. I mean this weekend alone I watched six films in rapid fire succession. I probably can't even remember the films I watched eight months ago much less offer a valid critical response. What's a girl to do? I take comfort in the fact that most of you probably haven't read all of my film reviews thus far and so can possibly delve into the directory for a closer look. Now onto the film review...]

Ingmar Bergman's third in his "religious" trilogy doesn't really broach religion, but does with masterly affect broach a lot of taboos and the theme of isolation. I hear people say, "Nothing happens in this film. It was boring." and for some people it certainly is boring and you could argue that indeed very little does happen. I can't really recommend it unless you are a fan of the slow developing arty style that is Bergman. I am convinced that for him film is a form of introspection. After watching it I got the impression that it was indeed a silent film. The voices, the sounds are all isolated from each other, never built up, even the characters are not in the same frame together most of the time. B/W 95 minutes. Released in '63.

Favorite moments: The scrawny mare, little boy in hallway, train ride.



"Brigitte Bardot in the New Wave."

Contempt is heaped on main character Paul Javal, played by Michel Piccoli by his wife Bardot in this film, but if you think this is the only reason for the title, look deeper.
Jean Luc Godard's sixth film is also a criticism of American film practices. His use of soundtrack and color filters flaunt standard practice. He casts director Fritz Lang as himself and depicts his struggle as an artist against money-hungry American producer played by Jack Palance.

A helpful review I enjoyed reading.

Favorite moments: Bardot in the garden with book, Picolli's lame joke, swimming, fight in apartment, etc, etc.

Stan Brakhage

"Hard to sell, but interesting to watch."

Criterion has been pushing this dvd for the last few months. I think they are finding it a difficult product to move. Stan Brakhage is a visual artist (scroll down to see actual film frames). He is a filmmaker, but not in the sense that we think. His work is non-narrative (usually), highly colored and fast. Very fast. I watched several of his pieces on 1/16th speed so I could catch every frame. Mothlight is one of my especial favorites. His pieces range in length from ten minutes to nine seconds. Most of them created in his home, with his own resources and time. Most have no sound track whatsoever. An interesting guy.

WARNING: watching Brakhage requires concentration and can cause headaches from staring intently at the screen trying to decipher what is happening. I highly recommend that you experience his work at least once.

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