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12 Directors I Explore in Criterion Collection

15 January 2012 | CC Lists | by David Zou

Watching Criterion Collection dvds is a process of exploring.Explore people,explore themes,explore the unknown.Without it,I can never get familiar with so many director’s work and fell in love with some of them.

Here is a list of directors whom I did not know well before I watched their works in Criterion and completely fell in love with after I finished all(most) of their spines in Criterion.Thanks,Criterion,for bringing them and their works to me and enlarge my cinema.

#1 Wes Anderson

bottle rocketI watched: Bottle Rocket,Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,The Darjeeling Limited,The Royal Tenenbaum

Watching Wes Anderson films is pure joy,music,art direction,cast,all pitch-perfect.I do hope Criterion will release his Mr Fantastic Fox to make it the first cartoon in this collection.

#2 Luis Bunuel

The Exterminating Angel

I watched:That Obscure Object of Desire,The Phantom of Liberty,The Exterminating Angel,  Simon of the Desert,Belle de jour,The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

I can’t tell you how much I love his works,every film I watched is a spectacle of imagination.I watched his The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Phantom of Liberty many many times,his films are definitely worth watching over and over again.

#3 Henri-Georges Cluzort


wages of fear

I watched:Diabolique,Le Corbeau,The Wages of Fear

Before watching his films I have never found any directors who can compete with Hitchcock in the suspense film genre.After that,I always wonder what if we pick 3 of Hitch’s best and compared them with the 3 I listed above,who will win?

#4 Jean Cocteau

blood of a poet

I watched:Beauty and the Beast,the Orphic Trilogy

Any of  his films can easily be listed in my “top 10 most beautiful films ever made” .How can a director made films with such poetic style and philosophical sense?Amazing.

#5 Jim Jamusch


I watched:Mystery Train,Down by Law,Stranger Than Paradise,Permanent Vacation,Night on Earth

I always find his films to be the most realistic and accurate in terms of presenting the relations among people in modern society.He is a alien American who made alien American movies.

#6 Louis Malle

dinner with andre

I watched:The Fire Within,Au revoir les enfants,Elevator to the Gallows,My Dinner with André,Zazie dans le métro,Black Moon

If Criterion did not release so many his films,I would never know he was so capable of making films in such wide range of genres.He is definitely the most underestimated filmmaker in the French New Wave and one of my fav during that period of French Cinema.

#7 Jean-Pierre Melville

army of shadows

I watched:Le cercle rouge,Army of Shadows,Le Samouraï

Since I’m big John Woo fan,I was  always wondering how he was influenced by Jean-Pierre Melville.After watching 3 films of his,I instantly became a Jean-Pierre Melville fan.Alain Delon is the ultimate cool gangster in my mind.

#8 Max Ophuls

Le plaisir

I watched:The Earrings of Madame de . . .,Le plaisir,Lola Montès 

Every time I watch a Max Ophuls film,I would pay so much attention to the camera movement,and always get puzzled about how those gorgeous shots were made.And I have to admit after watching The Earrings of Madame de . . ., I liked De Sica more.

#9 Micheal Powell & Emeric Pressburger

the red shoes

I watched:The Red Shoes,Black Narcissus,The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp,I Know Where I’m going,Peeping Tom

Their stories always fascinates me,they remind me of those fairy tales I read during my childhood.Thanks to Jack Cardiff,he made those great stories look fantastic.

#10 Douglas Sirk

magnificent obsession

I watched:Written on the Wind,Magnificent Obsession,All that Heaven Allows

I do not like family melodrama very much,I always have the impression of them being too corny,but Sirk’s films made me changed my mind.Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman is a perfect couple on screen of all time.

#11 Jacques Tati

mon oncle

I watched:M. Hulot’s Holiday,Mon Oncle,Play Time,Traffic

Not everyone gets Tati’s joke,it always takes great attention to notice the little gags in his films.I learned a great deal from his comedies,they taught me that as long as you pay attention,life is full of jokes all the time.

#12 Hiroshi Tashigahara

the pitfall

I watched:Antonio Gaudí,Pitfall,Woman in the Dunes,The Face of Another

I know other Japanese directors well in the collection,but him,I’ve never heard of him.His existentialism trilogy is something I’ve never seen or expected in Japanese Cinema.Besides,he made a doc about Antonio Gaudí,that’s also something I did not expect a Japanese director would do.

So which directors you explored in Criterion? Tell me as many as you can.


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  • That’s what I love about the Criterion Collection. They create the best DVDs on films by great filmmakers and give you more than your money’s worth to be introduced by them. Plus, the blind-buys of filmmakers whose work you had never seen often deliver. For me, it’s been people like Robert Bresson, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Michelangelo Antonioni so far. A recent blind-buy of whose film I have never seen is Satyajit Ray as I have The Music Room which I’ll watch next month.

    • YES,Criterion delivers.Not only by movies,but also commentary and bonus go along with them,that helps us learn about the director’s background,style,main films very quickly.The 3 directors you listed are all presented very well in Criterion,I’m a fan of Robert Bresson,he’s PURE CINEMA for me.I just watched The Music Room last month,totally loved it,I believe you are gonna like it a lot too.

      BTW,thanks for the trackback url of your blog,I’m checking it now!!

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  • What I love about Criterion are those sleepers. Directors and films that you’ve never heard of before until Criterion brings them to your attention and they hit you with that WOW factor in amazement of how one can be ignorant of such greatness like: 1) Guy Maddin’s BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! 2) William Greaves’ SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM and 3) Mathieu Kassovitz’s LA HAINE. However, the Directors explored in the Collection are ones that you’ve heard of in name only, but are not familiar with the work themselves like: 1) Samuel Fuller – Cinephiles tend to concentrate on all the well-known major art house European and American directors. But someone, like Fuller who is generally regarded as a “B” Hollywood director tends to get overlooked until one starts to examine his work. SHOCK CORRIDER; THE NAKED KISS and PIUCKUP ON SOUTH STREET are recommended. 2) Jules Dassin – A Hollywood Director who works on “A” films rather than “B” films, but whose name has fallen in stature over the years since his heyday, but Criterion has brought back some of that lost luster and shown us how consistent this craftsman was inside and outside of Hollywood. BRUTE FORCE; NAKED CITY; THIEVES’ HIGHWAY; NIGHT AND THE CITY and RIFIFI are recommended. 3) Krzysztof Kieślowski – His international reputation is well-known, but prior to his work in the collection. His films were subpar transfers especially with Facets’ THE DECALOGUE. Kino had a decent collection of his early works: THE SCAR; CAMERA BUFF; BLIND CHANCE; NO END; A SHORT FILM ABOUT KILLING and A SHORT FILM ABOUT LOVE. We know that Kino should have made many of their early dvd’s restored in much better transfers. Thank goodness they learned that lesson for their Blu releases. Only Miramax was able to provide their THREE COLORS: BLUE, WHITE and RED in an excellent transfer (would Criterion would later acquire and improve on) which is highly recommended along with the beautiful THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE. 4) Raffaello Matarazzo – Virtually unknown Italian director in Region 1. This is the kind of sleeper director that Criterion should expose more of us to. I’m glad they have taken this kind of risk. All the reviews have been positive and certainly gives a lot of credibility to their Eclipse series. 5) Pedro Costa is another director that doesn’t have much exposure in our Region 1 area. His films are more challenging and not as accessible as some of the others we’ve mentioned, but thanks to Criterion. Another box set to behold and ponder upon. 6) Gillo Pontecorvo – THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS is a classic of world cinema, but the director’s name slips by quite a few cinephiles. Glad to see KAPO released albeit on the Essential Art House line rather than the mainline where it rightfully belongs, but at least it’s available. 7) Preston Sturges – is an “A” listed Hollywood director with a reputation and a name that is still highly regarded by cinephiles. The problem is that the “comedy” genre is not one favored by cinephiles in general. Criterion by releasing Sturges helps break down that wall and makes us accepting of more genres. All of Sturges works are recommended.

    • Thanks for your comments,Henry.this can be a post of its own.You list is definitely less well-known than mine,and I have not explored them much yet.I love Fuller’s PIUCKUP ON SOUTH STREET,the Sugar role is amazing.Dassin’s NAKED CITY is the only one I’ve seen,and I’ve heard lots of good things about his works.Krzysztof Kieślowski is my love,I love all the 4 films released by Criterion,and need to see more of his works,even his early docs interests me.Raffaello Matarazzo,Pedro Costa,Gillo Pontecorvo,I’ve heard of them enough,and will definitelytry their works.Preston Sturges is a great comedy director,I hope Criterion release more of his works.It is interesting that you come up with the idea of “A” and “B” films,for me,as long as it is my taste,I do not care whether it’s “descent” or “not descent”.As a Chinese,I’m lucky to watch dvds released in all regions,that is the topic I’m gonna discuss in my next topic.

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