Category: Criterion Discovery

Criterion Discovery: The Phantom Carriage

Background: In 1921, Swedish director Victor Sjöström created The Phantom Carriage (Spine #579) one of the most important works in Swedish cinema, and the one that heavily impacted Ingmar Bergman’s decision to enter the world of filmmaking. As if that isn’t enough, Charlie Chaplin repeatedly called it the best film ever made. Based on the novel Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! by Selma Lagerlöf (the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature) this silent film tells a dark and foreboding story. Story: Legend says that he who dies at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve is condemned to...

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Criterion Discovery: Canoa: A Shameful Memory

Background: Canoa: A Shameful Memory (Spine #862) is a pivotal piece of Mexican political filmmaking. It’s director Felipe Cazals’s first film in the collection as well as the seventh Mexican film overall to be inducted. Story: During an ill-fated mountaineering trip, several employees of a Mexican university are mistaken by the villagers of the small town of San Miguel Canoa as Communist agitators. Spurred on by the town’s priest—a corrupt strongman who brainwashed the town with fear and religious propaganda—the villagers brutally lynch the employees. The Film: In his brief Blu-ray introduction to Canoa: A Shameful Memory, director Guillermo...

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Criterion Discovery: 45 Years

Background: 45 Years (Spine #861) is a British realist drama examining the self-destruction of an elderly couple’s marriage against the wintry landscape of Norfolk. This is director Andrew Haigh’s second film in the main collection, the first being Weekend (Spine #622). Story: With just a week left before their 45th anniversary, the lives of Kate and Geoff Mercer (Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay) are rocked by the news that the body of Geoff’s ex-lover Katya has been discovered after being frozen over 50 years earlier during a mountain-climbing accident in Switzerland. As Geoff becomes more and more distant over the news,...

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Criterion Discovery: Fat Girl

Background: Catherine Breillat’s 2001 outing, Fat Girl, followed her controversial explorations of sexuality in Perfect Love! and 36 Fillette with aplomb. Whereas these earlier films seemingly fetishized male power over women, Fat Girl explores the fragility of women in a patriarchal society. In this sense, the women of the film are given a voice that evokes empathy and a brutal sadness. This is Breillat’s only film in the Criterion slate, spine #259. Story: Fat Girl juxtaposes the life of two adolescent sisters, the overweight 12-year-old Anaïs and the socially approved, 15-year-old beauty Elena. The sisters share a deep sibling love for one...

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Criterion Discovery: Roma

Background: Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical Roma (Spine #848) is a cluttered, messy affair that nevertheless contains sequences of intense, visceral power. This is Fellini’s twelfth film in the Criterion Collection: Amarcord (Spine #4), Nights of Cabiria (Spine #49), And the Ship Sails On (Spine #50), Variety Lights (Spine #81), 8½ (Spine #140), Juliet of the Spirits (Spine #149), The White Sheik (Spine #189), La Strada (Spine #219), I vitelloni (Spine #246), La dolce vita (Spine #733), Satyricon (Spine #747). Story: A loose, nonlinear procession of reminiscences and allegories, Roma sees director Federico Fellini turn his camera on Rome, the capital...

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