John Otteni

Criterion Month Day 6: Stray Dog

Stray Dog (1949)

We watch some heady stuff for Criterion Month. You know, films that make you feel stupid. Or at least make me feel stupid. What I love about Akira Kurosawa is that he feels like the workingman’s Criterion filmmaker. He makes beautiful films with profound statements and ideas but they are also very entertaining. Kurosawa is never boring. His films move quick (even his longer ones) with tight scripts, action, suspense, and a lot of people getting pissed off at other people. In most cases, one of those people is Toshiro Mifune. Kurosawa is one of the few filmmakers in the Criterion Collection that I will happily watch outside of Criterion Month and he’s got a lot of good films to choose from. Stray Dog is one of them.

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Criterion Month Day 3: Dos monjes

Dos monjes (1934)

“Dos monjes” (Two Monks)
(Sung to the tune of “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors)

One, Two Monks is a movie
from Juan Bustillo Oro
Two Monks, who really hate each other
In a drama from Mexico now
One thinks the other stole his lady
Many years before now
The other said I think you’re crazy
But he got beat with a cross, now

This film has German Expressionism
That’s what I said now
Dutch angles and lots of symbolism
How ’bout that now
Two Monks is a split narrative movie
How ’bout that now
In flashbacks, we see both sides the story
Like Rashomon, now

Who is wrong? Who is right?
The woman they loved got shot one night
She was just trying to break up their fight
But I know what a Monk and lover ought to be
I know what a Monk and lover ought to be

(Scat Interlude)

3 1/2 Stars.

Criterion Month Day 1: The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

Hey everybody it’s Criterion Month! For those who don’t know, this an entire month we devote to watching and reviewing films in the Criterion Collection. The reasoning is it’s the time of year that Barnes & Noble (which I think still exists) has their 50% off sale on Criterions. It also means I get to watch 90-year-old silent movies in 90+ degree weather in an attempt to provide some kind of insight. Ha, yeah, we’ll see about that.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 12: Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

The 77th Academy Awards (2005)
Nominations: 7
Wins: 4

The 2000s was when I became an Oscar fan. Yeah, I know, the Oscars suck. Most of the time it’s just a bunch of Hollywood Elites patting themselves on the back and awarding the best run campaigns (not movies). But it’s also a celebration of movies. Those are like my favorite thing. So much so that in 2006 I watched every Best Picture Nominee. This is a tradition I have carried on every year since then. I still haven’t seen every nominee between 2000 and 2004 but I’m getting there. What’s odd is that it took me this long to watch Million Dollar Baby. The last Best Picture Winner of the 2000s I hadn’t seen.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 9: A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men (1992)

The 65th Academy Awards (1993)
Nominations: 4
Wins: 0

A Few Good Men is totally 90s. It stars Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. It’s Rob Reiner. It’s got the Castle Rock logo—Seinfeld vibes intensifying. This is an era where a courtroom drama could be a top ten grossing film of the year (it was number 7 for 1992). I mean, it’s got the line. You know? The one about the truth! He can’t handle it! How many times has that been spoofed on The Critic?

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Oscars Fortnight Day 6: Patton

Patton (1970)

The 43rd Academy Awards (1971)
Nominations: 10
Wins: 8

I have this weird memory about Patton. Well it’s either a memory or a dream. It was this time my dad took out a DVD copy of Patton, played Patton’s opening speech, and then turned off the movie. I don’t know why we didn’t watch the whole movie. Which is why I wonder if I’m misremembering this event. If not, it seems like the takeaway is my dad believed this opening scene was so well acted it was required viewing for a young film fan like myself. Even if it’s the only part of the movie I see.

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Oscars Fortnight Day 4: The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music (1965)

The 38th Academy Awards (1966)
Nominations: 10
Wins: 5

Like my first film I didn’t want to watch this one either. 174 minutes? Old timey people singing in Austria? Sounds like something I’d watch in school. Hmm, would that be for History class? Choir? In my Choir class we watched Drumline. It didn’t win any Oscars, though it did get two MTV Movie Award nominations (Breakthrough Male Performance and Best Kiss).

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