John Otteni

Criterion Month Day 29: La Llorona

La Llorona (2019)

Society is in a weird place with streaming. Just look at the strikes in Hollywood going on right now. Writers and Actors used to get residuals when movies and shows were re-aired on TV or re-released on DVD and basic cable. Now everything is fucked. Movies or shows can just disappear like that and we’re all the worst for it.

What I appreciate about the Criterion Collection is their goal of preservation. I can’t vouch for their policy towards residuals. For all I know, that policy varies from film-to-film. Regardless, it’s clear there’s a passion to protect art. Take today’s film, Jaro Bustamante’s 2019 Guatemalan Horror film La Llorona.

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Criterion Month Day 25: Cure

Cure (1997)

One of my favorite video essayists, KaptainKristian, released a video last January called, “The Melancholic Comfort of Late 90s Horror” and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure (although not strictly horror) reminded me of this video. There was a “vibe” that was unique to late 90s horror. As KaptainKristian points out, we were nearing the end of the Millenium and there was an underlying sense of dread. A somberness to films like; Ringu, The Sixth Sense, and The Blair Witch Project. A mournful age for the lonely with seemingly no… cure.

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Criterion Month Day 21: Ran

Ran (1985)

Every year I have to do at least one post that feels like homework. Not because the movie itself isn’t fun or entertaining but because of how much its production and story entails. Ran is an epic period-piece inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and the life of famous Daimyo (feudal lord) Moro Motonari. At 11 Million, Ran was the most expensive movie ever produced in Japan at that point in time. Hundreds of costumes and sets of armor were made, castles built, horses were everywhere. It’s staggering how much went into this movie. Which is probably why this movie feels staggering to write about, but I’ll try.

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Criterion Month Day 20: Eating Raoul

Eating Raoul (1982)

This is my favorite kind of Criterion acquisition because there are a lot of classic dramas, noir thrillers, and westerns in the collection. There are underseen international and arthouse films as well, but there isn’t nearly enough shlock. That’s why anytime Criterion announces a new John Waters or Alex Cox flick, I can’t help but flash a wide Grinch smirk. Just because a movie is trashy doesn’t mean it’s not art. Movies don’t have to have stars, effects, or an impressive budget to be important. Personally, I find these films most valuable, which means Eating Raoul is like finding buried treasure.

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Criterion Month Day 16: Enter the Dragon

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Last March, I watched a 1981 Filipino martial arts flick called “The One Armed Executioner” about an Interpol agent who seeks revenge after losing his arm. The movie was poorly dubbed, melodramatic, and cheaply produced. I liked The One Armed Executioner more than Enter the Dragon. Now this isn’t meant as a slight against the 1973 classic. What I’m trying to say is that I believe that Enter the Dragon’s influence over the genre might be outweighing the actual quality of the film.

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Criterion Month Day 13: Walkabout

Walkabout (1971)

We sure do love Australia here at Mildly Pleased. So much so that not only have we covered every Australian-produced film in the Criterion Collection (there are only four), but we’re now onto British films made in Australia. Yes, to my surprise, Walkabout, which I always assumed was as Australian as a kangaroo playing a didgeridoo, is actually a British film made by British people, based on a British book, and starring two British children. So, Walkabout isn’t a film about Australia as much as it is a film about an outsider’s perspective of Australia. However, it’s precisely this perspective that makes the film stand out.

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Criterion Month Day 11: The Cremator

The Cremator (1969)

I’m a simple man. I see a movie labeled as “horror” in the Criterion Collection, I watch. What makes The Cremator a horror film? Going in I assumed it was because… well, cremation. What I didn’t know until now is that the scariest thing about The Cremator isn’t cremation, it’s Nazis. God, I hate those fuckers. This film hates Nazi’s too and shows us why they suck through one man’s slow descent into madness.

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