Sean Lemme

Sean is mildly pleased with most things in life, so I guess it's good he made this website.

Criterion Month Day 23: My Dinner with André

My Dinner with André (1981)

Going into My Dinner with André, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the movie was a vaguely real-time conversation taking place over the course of a dinner, but I didn’t really know what the conversation would be about. Would it be a profound discussion about the meaning of life? An insightful take on show business? A dated, vestigial story about life in the early Eighties? The truth is that My Dinner with André is many of those things, but what it is is a movie about imagination.
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Criterion Month Day 21: All That Jazz

All That Jazz (1979)

There aren’t a lot of movies like All That Jazz. This is a story about a director frantically trying to balance his frustrations with his latest production with his personal problems with women. A story set in a somewhat cynical world of show business, where the producers seem nice until you realize all that matters to them is money. A story that seamlessly blends reality with fantasy to help you better understand the main character. Yeah, it’s almost a totally unique story, except for the fact that it sounds exactly like , Birdman, and even Singing in the Rain.
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Criterion Month Day 18: Solaris

Solaris (1972)

I know it’s super cliche, but 2001 is one of my favorite movies. Like top 10, maybe even top five. That fandom helped put Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris on my radar, because one thing I had heard was that when it comes to cerebral sci fi, the west has 2001 and Russia has Solaris. And let me tell you, sure there are some obvious surface level similarities, but these movies should not be compared to each other.
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Criterion Month Day 15: Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï (1967)

Who, when, and how is it decided whether or not to translate the title of a film? Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru means “To Live,” and I think knowing that helps a viewer understand its message, even if it’s not particularly hard to figure out. But then there are movies like Le Samouraï, where leaving the title untranslated gives you an additional insight into the movie ahead of time, namely that this is a French film. Maybe it’s simply a copyright thing, as there are probably a dozen movies called “The Samurai,” but there’s only one of this. And it deserves to be memorable and easy to talk about.
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Criterion Month Day 11: 8½

(1963)

Frederico Fellini’s is, and this is explicitly stated, a selfish film. I use that word instead of the more common “personal” because I think personal movies tend to be more generous. This is a filmmaker hashing out his own problems publicly and honestly, leaving behind plenty of scraps from which the audience is free to pick up anything that resonates with them. But that is secondary to the director’s reckoning with his own frustrations.
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Criterion Month Day 10: Jules and Jim

Jules and Jim (1962)

A week ago we celebrated our Independence Day, which is always a good reason to reflect on one of our most sacred American values: freedom. Like many of us here, I believe that people should have the freedom to be who they want and do what they want, but I acknowledge absolute freedom is an impossibility. Logistically, it’s immediately obvious that giving one person that platonic ideal of liberty would inherently limit someone else’s; I cannot be free to eat all the hamburgers if you want to eat hamburgers too. But even beyond that, you have to admit that we are born into bondage: we have no say in our skin color, our abilities or susceptibilities, who our parents are, where we’re born, or even the times we live in. From the very beginning, we must compromise.
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Criterion Month Day 7: Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory (1957)

Is there another director who has made as many powerfully antiwar movies as Stanley Kubrick? Paths of Glory joins Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket (and to some extent Spartacus and Barry Lyndon) in the Kubrickian canon of films that fight back against the idea that war can be noble, justified, or heroic. Even the picture’s title is a bitterly ironic reference to Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard: “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” And for all that, Paths of Glory was brushed aside in 1957, failing to garner even a single Academy Award nomination, in part due to the popularity of The Bridge on the River Kwai.
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