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10 Criterion Collection Films I Watched in January

03 February 2012 | CC Lists | by David Zou

Since I spent a week at home during Chinese New Year without watching any films this month,I only managed to watch 17 films in 24 days.10 out of 17 are Criterion Collection films,they come from different countries (Japan,Korea,USA,France,England,Italy,Czech),different style(noir,college comedy,period drama etc.),different era(Early Hollywood,Japanese New Wave,Czech New Wave,etc.),but one thing in common,that is GREAT QUALITY as usual.

Here is the list:(click here for a quick view)

#10 Loves of a Blonde

Loves of a Blonde

Before this film,I’m already a big fan of Milos Forman,but only limited to GREAT American films.This small-budget film gave me a little TOUCH of Czech New Wave,it reflects the what the Czech Society looks like that time,and it is very crafted in telling a sentimental story about a young girl’s growing pains.

#9 Mafioso


One of rare disappoints from Criterion Collection,for me,it’s just an average film and AVERAGE is not CC-worthy.I used to have great impressions about Sicily,you know,but after this one,I don’t think I will ever set my foot there.

#8 The Hidden Fortress


Probably the most entertaining film from Kurosawa,and best character ever for Tashiro Mifune.The only thing I could not quite figure out is HOW ON EARTH it has influence on STAR WARS?? I mean,in what way??

#7 Merry Christmas,Mr Lawrence

Merry Christmas,Mr Lawrence

You can watch it based on the simple fact that it is the first appearance on screen for both British Rock Star David Bowie and Japanese Director Takeshi Kitano,and first film score from Composer¬†Ryuichi Sakamoto(what a score!!).A good film to understand the¬†“The Chrysanthemum and The Sword” essence of Japanese.

#6 The River


I love technicolor films.I think the surface of this story is about growing pains of the girls in the family but there is a deeper meaning of the flow of life,just like the saint river in India where the story takes place.

#5 The Killers


Great start point for two greatest cinema icon of all time – Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.The opening sequence is the best ever in a Noir in terms of style and telling a story.Another great aspect of the story-telling is using witness’ words and flashbacks,really kinda of increasing some suspense there.

#4 Kicking and Screaming

kicking screaming

Criterion has collected some great independent films about youngsters,this is one of them.The common aspect of those films is they really captured the spirit of the time these stories take place,and how these youngster act and talk.There are lots of humor and wisdom is their lines,which makes it great to watch.

#3 Make Way for Tomorrow


This is a film you SHOULD watch,because it educates you of how to treat old people in your family in a smart way.And another reason for you to watch this film is it tells a love story of an old couple in their 70s,how many times have you been able to see this kind of film?PLUS,Orson Welles once said:It can make a stone cry,that is a fair statement.

#2 Secret Sunshine

secret sunshine

This is actually not a religious film according to what Lee said in the interview,it’s about a ordinary people who tries to be extraordinary and fails,and ironically,the greatness she is seeking is right beside her but she chooses to ignore it.Do-yeon Jeon’s performance is very convincing.

#1 Naked


I hate the fact that this film is released in the same year of Kaige Chen’s “Farewell,My Concubine”,and David Thewlis’s performance is so good that he beats Leslie Cheung in the Best Actor category in Cannes Festival.This film is more about the interact among people than about the Johnny character,nobody in this film seems normal yet it looks so real to us.

I will try to make a video which consists of memorable clips from these 10 films in the weekend,so stay tuned!!

What Criterion Collection films have you watched in January? Do you like them?





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  • That’s a nice variety of titles, David. To answer your question about the Star Wars connection to The Hidden Fortress, it’s found in the basic plot point of two comic relief characters helping to transport a feisty, strong-willed princess out of danger to a place of safety. Mifune’s character is roughly analogous to Han Solo, but only “very” roughly. Besides that, Kurosawa’s ability to make a fast-moving adventure that appeals to the masses yet retains some artistic sensibilities was very influential on George Lucas. I could only wish that Lucas had a fraction of Kurosawa’s deeply felt humanism and good judgment in collaborators. Kurosawa knew how to make hits without getting sucked into the “franchise” trap that Lucas exploited in a different era of movie-making. Of course, Kurosawa went through his own share of hardships, and had produced so many other great films prior to the populist hits like Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo, speaking of him and Lucas at length is practically nonsensical.

    As for Criterion films I watched in January: Pigs & Battleships, The Human Condition, Blast of Silence, Yojimbo and all the Eclipse stuff I reviewed at! Of all those, I consider Yojimbo the greatest, but they were each quite moving and impressive in their own ways.

    • Thanks for the insights into the connection,Dave.So The Hidden Fortress had influence on both the characters and story-telling of Star Wars.But Lucas is nowhere close to Kurosawa,I only watched Star Wars for pure entertainment,and I can understand its influence on American pop culture etc,but I don’t think there are many artistry there.But Kurosawa has this kind of artistry of combining art and entertainment together,they are great to enjoy and yet have profound meanings about humanity and society.
      YES,I know what you watched in January since you wrote them all on your blog,I will definitely re-watch Yojimbo sometime.

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