Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Highlights From The Criterion Collection, Part 3

Going down the stretch of this year, more films come and go from the Criterion Channel which means more opportunities to watch and rewatch classics. Movies that just were released by Criterion sometimes also get screened on the Channel, allowing me to watch Rouge, Mississippi Masala, and Shaft with all of the special features from the DVD right there. Two-hundred titles watched this year so far, here are five more films that caught my eye recently. 


The Thin Man (1934)

Actress Myrna Loy was one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1930s and 40s. She was never nominated for an Academy Award (only an Honorary Oscar in 1991) but was a significant star in screwball comedies. In The Thin Man, arguably the best movie in her career, she and William Powell play a couple, Nora and Nick Charles, who investigate a murder as private detectives. The first of six Thin Man films, is a whodunit where the couple is effective in untying the web of backstabbing and also remain loving to each other, not faulting their chemistry which carries on throughout the whole series. 


Woman In The Dunes (1962)

From the Japanese New Wave is a jarring story amidst the neverending sand reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia and Dune. Instead of an action/adventure story, Kobo Abe adapted his existentialist novel about an entomologist who is unwittingly trapped in a sand pit by villagers who pair him with a woman who lives below. He cannot get out as much as he tries and is forced to be the woman’s love for the pleasure of the villagers. Hiroshi Teshigahara directed his sophomore effort with a storm that continues to choke viewers with its desolate landscape and allegory of existence, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director, plus another nomination for Best International Feature. 


Fists In The Pocket (1965)

Considered a game changer in Italian cinema, writer/director Marco Bellocchio’s debut is a disturbing satire on the family. The mother is blind and three of her children have epilepsy while a fourth is the main provider as he does not have it. One of the brothers decides to kill himself and his epilepsy-suffering relatives to free his epilepsy-free brother from this burden. It was despised by conservatives and the Catholic Church for its attack on family values. Still, Fists hit a nerve with Italian youth who were ready to protest against the establishment. Even today, its rawness shows how it became a sleeper hit and a precursor to Italian modernist cinema.


Midnight Run (1988)

I had never seen this film before but I was very aware of how highly regarded this road comedy starring Robert DeNiro and the late Charles Grodin was. DeNiro is an ex-cop-turned bounty hunter who goes to New York to arrest a mob-connected accountant (Grodin) who skipped bail in Los Angeles. By multiple means, the two go across the country back to LA while being hounded by FBI Agents, a rival bounty hunter, and the crime boss’ capos. They are a funny pair  who have to look over their shoulders for the shadowy people who have a piece at stake. It is less of a run and more of a duck-and-cover from all the bullets being fired. 


My Name Is Gulpilil (2021)

Shot four years before his death from cancer; the life and career of David Gulpilil told by the man himself is astounding for those who never heard of him. Gulpilil was an Aboriginal Australian who made his breakthrough performance in Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout and subsequently starred in several other major Australian films including The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker, Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Charlie’s Country. Gulpilil was a noted hunter and ceremonial dancer, which was seen in several films, making him one of the most famous figures in Australian entertainment. He goes through every key moment in his life while we watch him bravely fight cancer and cement down what the real man was like in his own words.


Follow me on Twitter: @brian_cine (Cine-A-Man)

Similar Articles