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Lost in Criterion
By withtwobrains.com
About this podcast
The Adam Glass and John Patrick Owatari-Dorgan, attempt the sisyphean task of watching every movie in the ever-growing Criterion Collection and talk about them.
Episodes (Total: 141)
Sept. 22, 2017 · 01:13:12
Robert Altman gets political again, but in a very different manner to last week's delightfully weird ranting satire. Instead we have a miniseries set against the 1988 Presidential race that may have been satirical in 1988, but we've gone through the looking glass as of late and instead it's just inside baseball. Which doesn't make it any less funny when it's funny, or poignant when it's poignant -- or exploitive when it's exploitive. Tanner '88, written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, tells the story of a failed campaign in a ripped-from-the-headlines manner involving real political players interacting with Altman's fakes over the course of 11 episodes that are incredibly uneven indvidually, but pretty great as a whole. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Sept. 15, 2017 · 01:06:24
A clearly disturbed and vile president rants about the conspiracies against him while contemplating suicide, and somehow is so full of pathos that we find ourselves feeling pity instead of anger.There are...modern parallels? Still Robert Altman's Secret Honor's exploration of Nixon's psyche is a class of it's own, do mostly to Philip Baker Hall's masterful performance. Still it does remind us of certain contemporary pieces, namely the first episode of Comedy Central's The President Show (particularly starting at about the 5 minute mark), and Amiee Mann's brilliantly tragic entry for 30 Days 30 Songs "Can't You Tell?". Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Sept. 8, 2017 · 01:05:34
We properly finish the Five Films box set with Charles Kiselyak's 2000 video eulogy to John Cassavettes. A Constant Forge finds Cassevettes' friends and creative squad telling anecdotes about the man and his process. The biggest lesson: we've been pronouncing Gena Rowlands' name wrong for the past month. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Sept. 2, 2017 · 01:06:20
We reach the end of the Five Films by John Cassavetes (though not quite the end of the boxset) with Opening Night from 1977 which, like A Woman Under the Influence, stars Cassavetes' wife Gena Rowlands. Next week we'll discover that we've been pronouncing her name wrong, but don't let that distract you from her brilliant performance here. Sure the resolution of her character's issues could have been better, and we propose a change to the final scene that would have made this movie beyond compare, but it's still pretty doggone amazing. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Aug. 26, 2017 · 01:02:16
Two films for the price of one this week as we watch the original 135 minute version of John Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie from 1976 and then his director's cut which runs 108 minutes from 1978. Of course, since this is Cassavetes, the shorter version isn't just a truncated version but a rather different film in design, in character motivation, and quite a bit of plot. Right from the start we see scenes not in the longer original then a restructuring of the narrative's chronology. The pair form a fascinating look into the psyche of an extraordinary director, only compounded by the suggestion that the story is allegorically autobiographical. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Aug. 19, 2017 · 00:59:42
There are ways in which A Woman Under the Influence is the most "Hollywood" of the John Cassavetes films we've seen so far. It's got structure! But in other very deep ways it is absolutely the furthest from anything Hollywood would ever put out --  "No one wants to see a crazy, middle-aged dame." It's quite possibly the most emotionally intense film we've ever seen. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Aug. 11, 2017 · 00:57:42
Another John Cassavetes film that feels more like an acting exercise than a traditional film. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Like last week's film Shadows, Faces feels improvised (and grew out of improvisation exercises) and it feels all the more real for its looseness.
Aug. 4, 2017 · 01:02:25
We kick off a box set of Five Films by John Cassavetes this week with his first feature Shadows (1959). It was a bit of a rough start for the prolific indie auteur who recut the film after a disastrous premiere before leaving the original cut in a subway car. What remains is a fascinatingly realistic look at New Yorkers in the late 50's.
July 29, 2017 · 01:03:11
In 2003 the US Department of Defense held a screening of Gillo Pontocorvo's 1966 film The Battle of Algiers at the Pentagon. A flyer for the screening read:How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.Subsequent US history tells us that the showing did not achieve its objectives.
July 21, 2017 · 01:10:26
There's an early iTunes review of Lost in Criterion that states that Pat says "weird" a distractingly large number of times for lack of a better way to describe things. This week the two of use do the same thing but with the word "orifice". If there is any director who comes to mind with the word "orifice" it's definitely David Cronenberg, and in 1983 he was at his most-orifice-y with Videodrome, a film that accurately predicted the future of James Woods. Also, don't click that link to James Woods twitter because current James Woods is a nightmare unlike Cronenberg could ever imagine.
July 14, 2017 · 00:57:28
Richard Linklater's Slacker kicked off the American indie scene of the 90's for better or worse (Kevin Smith cites the film as inspiration for making Clerks). Criterion dates the release as 1991 which is when it won at Sundance, though it floated around for at least a year before that, premiering in Austin in June of 1990 and having principally been shot in 1989. There's a lot here that under other circumstances I'd hate, mainly all the people spouting bad philosophy less toward other characters and more toward the camera, but you know what? It works here. It works beautifully.
July 7, 2017 · 00:59:57
The Criterion website describes Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni as "semiautobiographical" which is a valid description of any Fellini film. The man couldn't make a movie that wasn't ultimately about himself. I suppose upon its release in 1953, with only two other films under his belt (Variety Lights and The White Sheik), it is perhaps the most autobiographical Fellini has been thus far, but both earlier films clearly have elements of Fellini's life woven in. As far as I Vitelloni goes, it's pretty clear who Fellini thinks his author-insert is, but it's also pretty clear which who it actually is.
June 30, 2017 · 01:02:27
Marcel Carne's Port of Shadows, released in 1938, is the one of the earliest films to have the term "film noir" applied to it. It also stars our favorite face of French Poetic Realism Jean Gabin (who shows up often enough that we should probably make him his own tag). This is our second outing with Carne after his 1945 epic Children of Paradise. There is significantly less mime in this one.
June 23, 2017 · 01:14:48
So producer Louis Wipf says to Jean Renoir, "Hey, Jean Renoir, you wanna make a movie with Ingrid Bergman?"And Jean Renoir says, "Boy do I!"Then he sat around for a bit and tried out a few ideas that either he or Wipf or Bergman didn't really like before settling on a fictionalized version of the life of General Georges Boulanger, though not fictionalized enough that Bergman was playing the general.Anyway, Elena and Her Men (1956) brings the Stage and Spectacle boxset to a close with little stage but a whole lot of spectacle, and is our favorite of the three.
June 17, 2017 · 00:55:01
We continue the Stage and Spectacle boxset with 1954's French Cancan wherein Jean Renoir explores the founding of the Moulin Rouge with about as much fidelity to history as Baz Luhrmann. But more interesting than the pseudo-history is the visual panache, with frequent frame references to the works of Renoir's father and his fellow impressionists. Visually stunning to say the least. And perhaps the most. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
June 9, 2017 · 00:59:44
We've seen three Renoir films so far, and two of them -- The Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game -- are among my absolute favorite films that the Collection has offered us, and the last -- his take on The Lower Depths -- is pretty dang good in its own right.Now we jump 13 years into his future and find him working in color and out from under the pressures of an impending war (and a bit of an exile to Hollywood) for a trilogy of films dancing around themes of theater and female-empowerment. Well, kind of.First off from Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir is 1953's The Golden Coach and boy is it a change from the Renoir we've grown accustomed to. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
June 3, 2017 · 00:51:26
Yasujiro Ozu is brilliant.We've already seen the final chapter of his Noriko Trilogy -- three films about family that each star Setsuko Hara as a 28 year-old woman named Noriko and are otherwise unrelated -- and now take a step back to the second, 1951's Early Summer. In about two years we'll finish off the sequence with the first film, Late Spring, but until then we can bask in the perfection that is Early Summer. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
May 27, 2017 · 01:00:29
Two movies for the price of one with this week's outing. In 1902 Maxim Gorky debuted his play The Lower Depths about a group of people living in a flophouse in Russia. It was an international hit of a character study, leading to localizations around the world. In 1957 Akira Kurosawa made a version that was fairly faithful to the source material except transported to 19th century Japan. In 1936 Jean Renoir made it into a romantic comedy.Reportedly, Gorky actually liked Renoir's version, but even Renoir recognized that Kurosawa made the better adaptation. They're both wonderful movies and are both included in the Criterion Collection's The Lower Depths double disc. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
May 20, 2017 · 00:50:22
1961's A Woman is a Woman is Jean-Luc Godard's first film shot in color or Cinemascope, a fact that may be more impressive if it weren't only the third film ever of a man who has made, well, a ton of movies. Still he didn't dive right in with the color (or the Cinemascope): three films later he'd go for color and wide-aspect again with Contempt, but right after that he's back to black and white and 4:3 with Band of Outsiders. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
May 13, 2017 · 00:55:28
Many of Ingmar Bergman's films could be called comedies in the existential absurdism sense, but Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) is a romantic comedy sex romp with shades of Oscar Wilde. It was Bergman's big break. He'd been making films for over a decade with nothing landing with an audience. He was at his wits end, even thought he was dying, and desperately needed a win. Which he definitely got here. Oh, and subscribe on iTunes! And/or support us on Patreon?
Listen Notes
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