Criterion Month Day 20: The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

When you’re doing a project like this one, especially if you’re doing it the way I am, it’s easy to takes movies for granted. This month I’ve already watched eight other movies, and in most cases, written up reviews immediately after their credits rolled. When you’re watching some of the world’s finest cinema, it’s really not that hard to do; you just summarize the plot, comment on the themes or the film’s impact, and Bob’s your uncle. It such a streamlined process I didn’t even think to talk about how comforting it was to see familiar actors last night in The Last Picture Show, a rare gift in this mostly director-driven practice. But it all comes to a smashing halt when you watch something truly experimental, like The Man Who Fell to Earth.

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Criterion Month Day 19: The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show (1971)

The Last Picture Show is yet another coming of age story that’s really distant from my life experience. It’s set during the Fifties in a small (and shrinking) town somewhere in Texas oil country, where optimism seems to have already died long ago. This is a place where no one has career prospects and the adults entertain themselves by watching to terrible high school basketball team and sleeping with each other. For the kids, the entertainment options have dwindled to the property of one man, Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson), who has a cafe, a pool hall, an the movie theater, from which the title of the film comes.

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Criterion Month Day 18: Multiple Maniacs

Multiple Maniacs (1970)

How does one go about reviewing a movie like Multiple Maniacs? I struggled with roughly this same dilemma last year when I reviewed Beyond The Valley of The Dolls, so perhaps I’m more equipped than I otherwise would’ve been. Although, Dolls at least had the kind of (surprisingly) accomplished technical qualities that made it a complete anomaly in the Hollywood studio system. Multiple Maniacs, however, takes that same kind of trashy aesthetic and somehow makes it even trashier, with a nothing budget and the barely actors known as the Dreamland players. And yet, somehow, its absurd depravity is something hard not to still be shocked and entertained by, even 50 years after a murder-happy Divine strutted the streets of Baltimore. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 17: My Night At Maud’s

My Night At Maud’s (1969)

Look, I think every time we do one of these themed months, we should each be allowed to do one half-assed review. Sean already cashed his (quite amusingly), so since reviewing this movie isn’t exactly the most pressing thing on my mind on this particular night, I hope you’ll forgive the half-assery. Also, this seems like the most acceptable review to phone in, since I don’t think anyone else at Mildly Pleased had heard of this movie when I picked it during our Criterion draft. Hell, I didn’t know much about it, other than that Éric Rohmer was a name I’d heard, but didn’t know much about. And despite my rush to finish this movie, I wouldn’t mind familiarizing myself with more of Rohmer’s work. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 16: Persona

Persona (1966)

I knew this movie was special from the moment I heard the Persona Blu-Ray’s menu music. I popped in the disc, went over to make a sandwich and was hit with a cacophony of dissonant strings and percussive clicks ‘n clacks. It was the scariest sandwich I ever made. Though Persona isn’t a horror movie. You could call it a psychological thriller. Or an avant-garde drama. Or all of the above. Or none of the above. This is experimental art house cinema in its purest form and must not be taken lightly. Put down that sandwich.

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Criterion Month Day 15: The Battle of Algiers

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

One has to wonder… would anyone remember The Algerian War if it wasn’t for this movie? It’s hard for me to say, considering I am an uninformed American who was without any prior knowledge of this conflict that involved France and its colonial grip on the region now known as Algeria. I’m sure the war itself is more well known in Algeria (like, a lot more) and maybe France than this movie is. But whatever the case is, it takes this somewhat obscure international struggle, and turns it into one of the more gripping war films I’ve seen, and one that’s unlike any other I can recall from its era. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 14: Harakiri

Harakiri (1962)

I was never sure why sometimes people use the word “harakiri” and sometimes it’s “seppuku,” so I looked it up. Both words are written using the same kanji characters, “to cut” and “stomach.” The difference, I found out, is formality. “Harakiri” is an informal word, and would perhaps be used to describe a defeated warrior taking their own life on the battlefield. “Seppuku” is more formal, maybe more befitting describing the act of suicide that would also involve a second slicing the person dying’s head off. This is worth knowing, since Masaki Kobayashi’s film Harakiri is actually known as “Seppuku” in Japan.

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