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Thread: Criterion Challenge 2022

  1. #1

    Criterion Challenge 2022

    Welcome to the Criterion Challenge 2022 thread!

    Original Letterboxd List

    MC Criterion Challenge 2021

    There are 52 categories - one for each week. Watch any Criterion related film in connection to the categories between 1/1/22-12/31/22 that have been released on Laserdisc, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, or has been featured on The Criterion Channel streaming service. The films can be watched daily, weekly, or monthly, and in any order! I would like for all picks to be first time watches but will leave that up to you.

    Challenge:
    [
    ]

    Good luck, one and all. Let the arthouse binging begin!
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 01-05-2022 at 06:36 PM.

  2. #2
    First week bonus = discover the age of MC posters! I'll be going with Sweetie.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator dreamdead's Avatar
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    1. Watch a movie from the year you were born.
    I had an aborted attempt at Ann Hui's The Boat People back in late November, but this watch proved breathtaking. The first 20 minutes or so are setting up the stakes and leading us into a false narrative--what the North Vietnamese want the world to see of post-1975 Vietnam--before placing us into the daily horrors of poverty, labor camps for those who need re-educated, and the aftereffects (left behind mines) from the war. Characters recede and reappear, and some of the film's structure--embedding belief in escape without ever knowing if that person will escape--are indeed powerful. There's one or two operatic images that go hard into the melodrama, but by then Hui has earned the film's pathos, and the final 10 minutes are as nerve-wracking as I expect to see this year.

    A great first film for this challenge.
    The Boat People - 9
    The Power of the Dog - 7.5
    The King of Pigs - 7

  4. #4
    Replacing Luck Since 1984 Dukefrukem's Avatar
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    Lets see if I can get past week 7 this year

    https://letterboxd.com/dukefrukem/li...hallenge-2022/
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  5. #5
    collecting tapes Skitch's Avatar
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    Movies from when I was born would be easy. Epic year. 1979.

  6. #6
    1. Watch a movie from the year you were born -- Sweetie. Challenging material and excellent shot composition make this an exciting debut from Campion (and predictive of her future successes), but it doesn't congeal quite right: if only the tree metaphor were more illuminating and/or unique. Three stars.

    2. 1920s -- The Kid Brother. Sing a sad song for Harold Lloyd, the brilliant star outshined by Keaton and Chaplin. Delightful from beginning to end, but "lesser" in terms of gags, emotions, satire, and more. I loved the bit where Lloyd kept climbing the tree higher and higher in order to say one more thing to his crush. An easy film to recommend to silent-skeptics, but why would you when Sherlock Jr and City Lights exist? Three stars.


    Up next:
    30s: Only Angels Have Wings or The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum
    40s: Le Corbeau, I Know Where I'm Going, or Leave Her to Heaven
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 01-14-2022 at 04:55 AM.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator dreamdead's Avatar
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    2. 1920s - Eleven P.M. (Maurice, 1928). I haven't seen many African American silent films, and this one isn't perfect (it's more conceptual about doubles than it needs to be with actors playing mirror roles that obfuscate some of the larger meaing), but amidst the performance shenanigans there's some fascinating use of imagery, especially in the final 10 minutes. This is a sequence where Maurice finds mythic power in projected image, splicing a dog's body with the head of a man to terrorize the villain. It's a bit "much" yet it'll likely stay with me when other, financially better, films fade. It also has a little Cabinet with Dr. Caligari vibe that's both clever and too clever by half.

    3. 1930s - A Story of Floating Weeds (Ozu, 1934). Another area where I get to correct a blind spot, as I've never before seen any silent Ozu films. This one felt so clean and contemporary, so although it's still early Ozu and lacking some of what I look for in his work (parental and daughter relationships), the film charts some real complexity of family dynamics and the main actor of a kabuki troupe in his navigating bad decisions from his past with present pregnant silences and avoidances. Some beautiful landscapes throughout and the film is powerful even if it makes the main male someone who is to be respected (seemingly to me, at least) even after he strikes multiple women multiple times. That said, a strong conclusion.
    The Boat People - 9
    The Power of the Dog - 7.5
    The King of Pigs - 7

  8. #8
    Super Moderator dreamdead's Avatar
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    4. 1940s - Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire (1947), chronicling a detective's attempt to understand how a Jewish man was murdered. We know the culprit right away, and the script is working to build empathy with those the audience might view as different and Other from them. What makes the story work so that it's more than simple sermonizing is some nice slow tracking shots from Dmytryk's team, and a lovely moment about the detective's grandfather who came over from Ireland after the 1840s. For a film about resisting hate, it never has the courage to voice African Americans as a population most at risk in the U.S., but considering the film's release date as coming in the aftermath of WW2, it has some lovely moments.

    There's a bewildering morality to how it approaches the ease of catching the culprit: [
    ] But as an additional commentary on how to handle hate, it makes for an interesting aftereffect, though one that makes the happy ending walk-away scene a bit more bitter than I'd expected. Not quite revelatory, but better than average.
    The Boat People - 9
    The Power of the Dog - 7.5
    The King of Pigs - 7

  9. #9
    Producer Yxklyx's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Idioteque Stalker (view post)
    Up next:
    30s: Only Angels Have Wings or The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum
    40s: Le Corbeau, I Know Where I'm Going, or Leave Her to Heaven
    Were you looking for recs? Only Angels Have Wings for sure but for the 40s that's a tossup with a slight edge to Le Corbeau as a French film released during German occupation.

  10. #10
    Quote Quoting Yxklyx (view post)
    Were you looking for recs? Only Angels Have Wings for sure but for the 40s that's a tossup with a slight edge to Le Corbeau as a French film released during German occupation.
    Always up for recs! Keep them coming. I've been sidetracked by anime. Ended up choosing I Know Where I'm Going! because my grandma recommended it and I'll get brownie points for discussing it with her.

    3. 1930s -- Only Angels Have Wings. I'd rather not go too deep on this one as the burden of proof falls on me as to why this isn't a stone cold masterpiece, yet I have little to complain about. Some tense sequences, fine if not exactly mind-blowing performances, the use of the word "boner" in a key emotional scene (I know, I'm twelve years old), and a very nicely set up half-romantic ending. A totally solid and in certain ways unconventional Golden Era Hollywood movie. Maybe another viewing down the road will help me to understand its status as an all-timer. My struggle with 30s movies continues. Three stars.

    4. 1940s -- I Know Where I'm Going! Guess what y'all: this woman is stubborn! How stubborn is she? She's so stubborn the movie opens with a montage of all the times she was really, quite stubborn! She's so stubborn she almost gets herself and two others killed for no reason! She's so stubborn there's an exclamation point in the movie's title! It's a good thing Roger Livesey's #1 turn-on is stubbornness, since there otherwise couldn't have been a feel-good ending to help gloss over the feeling you've spent an entire feature following a lead with one single character trait. The best part was when the boating climax made me seasick. Two stars.

    Up next:
    50s: Written on the Wind or The Cranes are Flying
    60s: Double Suicide, Jigoku, The Face of Another, The Color of Pomegranates, The Cloud-Capped Star, or The Cremator
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 01-26-2022 at 06:59 PM.

  11. #11
    Producer Yxklyx's Avatar
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    I need to re-watch The Cranes are Flying and I've seen Written on the Wind like three times. I'd recommend the latter but you can't go wrong with either.
    Have not seen The Color of Pomegranates or The Cloud-Capped Star - I'd recommend Double Suicide.

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    The Cranes Are Flying is really good. Written on the Wind is a masterpiece. The Cloud-Capped Star and The Colour of Pomeanates (Sayat Nova) are both amazing (I haven't seen Double Suicide, though I'm a big fan of Shinoda's Dry Lake and Pale Flower). The Face of Another and The Cremator both suck.
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  13. #13
    Back on the horse, let's go!

    5. 1950s -- Written on the Wind. So much trash has been made from similar ingredients, but Douglas Sirk crafts Michelin meals from days-old McDonalds. Just two movies in, he is rocketing up the list of my most respected directors. The colors, framing, writing, acting, music -- all exemplary melodrama. Character motivation was a tad hard to grasp during the first act, but it hardly mattered after the legendary opening credits. In our darkest moments, when we feel most lost, everyone needs a personal Rock Hudson to make everything okay again. Four stars.

    6. 1960s -- The Color of Pomegranates. A visually stunning biography which dares to be as abstract as its subject's poetry. People who don't watch arthouse films probably think every arthouse movie is like this, though for the life of me I can't recall seeing something so vivid and surreal since maybe The Holy Mountain. Jaw was agape for the first half, but -- as is the case with most experimental cinema -- produces diminishing returns at feature length. Three stars.

    Up next:
    70s: Probably Manila in the Claws of Light (might watch today), but also considering Alice in the Cities, Mikey and Nicky, Pink Flamingos, or a rewatch of The Last Picture Show.

    80s: Probably Where Is the Friend's House, but also considering rewatches of Sans Soleil or Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

    90s: Probably Cold Water, but also considering The Ice Storm, The Last Days of Disco, Howard's End, Rosetta, or When We Were Kings. There's also the chance I fall hard for Where Is the Friend's House then move on to its "sequel," Life and Nothing More.

    00s: Probably A Christmas Tale, but also considering Still Walking, Love and Basketball, or a rewatch of Mulholland Drive.

    10s: Weekend or Minding the Gap.
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 04-10-2022 at 06:26 PM.

  14. #14
    7. 70s -- Manila in the Claws of Light. Nice restoration. Much respect to Lino Brocka and his crew for making a film during such harsh conditions that holds up almost fifty years later. Three stars.

    8. 80s -- Where Is the Friend's House? Is Kiarostami one of the best to ever do it? Five movies in, I'm starting to wonder. Iranian cinema on the whole is underrated. Four stars.

    9. 90s - Cold Water. Who knows, maybe down the line I'll feel it in my bones -- the beautiful tragedy of teenagers making poor decisions, risking everything to steal some rock 'n' roll LPs then deciding to run away to a magical place that obviously doesn't exist, all because they kissed near a bonfire -- but as of now I can't help but lament the sheer amount of arthouse prowess that gets sacrificed to the nostalgia gods. Assayas' camera is magical, however, and the lengthy, mostly wordless party centerpiece with song after song of licensing hell (Cold Water took nearly 25 years to be properly released in the U.S.) is a formalistic highlight. Three stars.

    10. 00s -- Love and Basketball. Truth in advertising. The title is apt to the point of poetry. A great soundtrack overshadows the cornier moments. Three stars.

    11. 10s -- Weekend. People keep talking about Before Sunrise (this too is a dialogue-heavy meet-cute), but I keep wondering why Andrew Haigh isn't considered part of the mumblecore scene. The naturalistic dialogue, unadorned style, and relatively unknown cast make it feel 100% real, like Bujalski's best moments. If you believe in love at first sight, soul mates, etc., then the central question -- "Will they or won't they get/stay together after 36 hours of true connection?" -- may carry more dramatic weight for you than it did for me. Three stars.

    Up next:
    12. War -- The Cranes are Flying
    13. Science Fiction -- Time Bandits or maybe rewatches of Tarkovsky's Solaris/Stalker
    14. Musical -- The Lure, The Young Girls of Rochefort, or a rewatch of All that Jazz

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    12. War -- The Cranes Are Flying. I'm sure this was very moving to audiences in 1958, when it won the Palme d'Or. At this point, however, this type of story has been told a thousand times, and neither the impressive tracking shots nor expressionistic lighting can overshadow the "been-there-done-that" of it all. I keep seeing Isao Takahata everywhere. I wonder if the scene where Tatiana Samoilova runs away from the hospital (the camera blurry and shaky, reflective of her inner state) could have inspired Takahata's choice to let the animation break down into violent brushstrokes when Princess Kaguya flees the palace. Three stars.

    13. Science Fiction -- Time Bandits. Unfair. The characters get to jump around in time whenever they want, but I had to wait over an hour for the movie to get good. Loved Winston the Ogre. Laughed hysterically at the audacious ending. Gilliam just isn't for me. Two stars.

    14. Musical -- The Lure. Spinal is/was a huge fan. The outrageousness carries it for the first third. The rest is overwhelmed by mediocre music and a lack of proper characterization. Read Peng's LB review. I couldn't agree more. Two stars.


    Up next:
    15. Watch a film by a director whose work you haven't seen before -- Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, Jigoku, Double Suicide, The Cloud-Capped Star, Two-Lane Blacktop, Leave Her to Heaven. Leaning Two-Lane Blacktop.

    16. Directed by Chantal Akerman -- Je, Tu, Il, Elle

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    15. Watch a film by a director whose work you haven't seen before -- Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One. As tantalizing as a freshly-baked oatmeal raisin cookie, and just as crumbly. To achieve the desired texture, one must risk the entire thing falling apart. In the end there are a few delicious bites, and the rest ends up getting kicked under the cupboard. This film within a film within a film is Steve Buscemi's favorite movie. Three stars.

    16. Directed by Chantal Akerman -- Je, Tu, Il, Elle. Akerman, wow. The stylistic and sexual audacity of this thing is off the charts. Blue Is the Warmest Color, eat your... heart out. Yeah, your heart. It was deeply unsettling to watch Akerman eat spoonful after spoonful of sugar from a paper bag. I almost want to give this four stars just to proclaim how much of a boss ass move this whole thing was. But, you know, it's kinda boring. Three stars. She is a legend.


    Up next:
    17. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder -- Querelle
    18. Directed by Wong Kar-wai -- As Tears Go By
    19. Directed by Claire Denis -- 35 Shots of Rum, U.S. Go Home, or Friday Night.

    (Anal-retentive note: Usually I only pick movies that are in the actual Criterion Collection/have a spine number. Querelle is not in the Criterion Collection, but it is on the Criterion Channel. I'm picking it because it happens to already be on my watchlist. If I were going 100% by the rules 100% of the time, I would've chosen Fox and His Friends. But in certain cases, such as "Directed by [x]," I will make small concessions. As Tears Go By doesn't have a spine number, but it was released in the WKW box set, and it's the only one I haven't seen. As far as Claire Denis goes, that's where I am breaking the rules most egregiously. Criterion has only released three of her films. Beau Travail, which I've seen, along with White Material and Let the Sunshine In, which are both among her least intriguing films. So I admit I'm going rogue on this one in order to watch the Denis movie I actually want to watch.)
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 05-19-2022 at 04:12 PM.

  17. #17
    I see you there Mr. McGibblets. Are you ahead of me as you were last year?

  18. #18
    17. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder -- Querelle. Gotta respect Fassbinder's ability to make something this ugly from such elaborate lighting, staging, and camerawork. Maybe if I found the lead as attractive as everyone else then I could overlook his stale performance. Half the dialogue amounts to "Hey you! Just cuz I [homosexual act] doesn't mean I'm a [homosexual slur]! Got it?" Probably my least favorite Fassbinder so far. Two stars.

    18. Directed by Wong Kar-wai -- As Tears Go By. For completists only. Watch the budding auteur sneak his signature into the mainstream! Choose one: a true 80s triad movie or a true WKW movie -- and skip this awkward mix of the two. Not the worst movie I've seen from him or anything, but just plain ol' mediocre. World of WKW box set haters should know I thought the blu-ray looked great. Two stars.

    19. Directed by Claire Denis -- 35 Shots of Rum. For a while I wondered where this was going, then suddenly realized I didn't care -- I was enjoying the simple ways these characters loved one another. A very tender, subdued movie. Not exactly arresting, but good, like in the ethical sense. Four movies in and Denis still hasn't blown me away. Three stars.


    Up next:
    20. Isabel Sandoval's Top 10 -- Insiang is the only one I haven't seen. Just saw Lino Brocka's Manila in the Claws of Light and liked it, but not exactly hankering at the moment for another movie about extreme Filipino poverty. So that, or a rewatch of either Woman in the Dunes or In the Mood for Love. Leaning Woman in the Dunes.

    21. Bill Hader's Top 10 -- The Earrings of Madame de..., Ace in the Hole, Mona Lisa, or The Steel Helmet. Leaning Earrings.
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 06-02-2022 at 10:48 PM.

  19. #19
    Back on the horse, let's goooo.

    20. Isabel Sandoval's Top 10 -- Woman in the Dunes. I try to stay away from rewatches with this challenge, but it's been over a decade and I had great memories of this. It holds up like a mofo. A half-hour too long to be a personal favorite, but otherwise feels like one of the most impeccably-crafted, beguiling movies ever made. For a while you will believe that sand is the most powerful thing in the universe. Four stars.

    21. Bill Hader's Top 10 -- The Earrings of Madame de... As opulent and finely-tuned as a royal wedding cake, I would imagine Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson are big fans. My first impression of Max Ophuls is that he was a major show-off, and I relished in the gliding camerawork and intricate staging. Maybe I prefer my deceit-laden relationship films to be less melodrama and more black comedy (where the irony can be utilized toward a more enjoyable end), but the acting was solid all around and it was a particular joy to see none other than Vittorio De Sica in a major role. Three stars.


    Up next:
    22. Ana Lily Amirpour's Top 10 -- Fisher King or And God Created Woman... ugh, is that really what I have to choose from? I'll likely go with a long-overdue rewatch of Mulholland Drive.

    23. Richard Linklater's Top 10 -- Pickpocket or Unfaithfully Yours. Leaning Pickpocket.

  20. #20
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Idioteque Stalker (view post)
    22. Ana Lily Amirpour's Top 10 -- Fisher King or And God Created Woman... ugh, is that really what I have to choose from?
    ... Two excellent movies?

  21. #21
    Quote Quoting Grouchy (view post)
    ... Two excellent movies?
    Maybe I'm a little rough on The Fisher King right now since I just trudged through Time Bandits. But there's nothing but two star ratings in by LB feed for And God Created Woman, so you're the only supporter I know.

    I haven't seen Mulholland Drive since ~2005. It's time.

  22. #22
    22. Ana Lily Amirpour's Top 10 -- Mulholland Drive. Naomi Watts. Four stars.

    23. Richard Linklater's Top 10 -- Pickpocket. I've yet to experience any sort of Transcendental Bressonian Ecstasy, but gotta respect the dude's iconoclasm. Handsome faces, mournful baroque music, S-tier editing (particularly during the pickpocket scenes), and that ending -- all in 75 minutes? I'll take that any day, even if it doesn't transport me to a higher plane of existence. Three stars.


    Up next:
    24. Made in the United States -- Tons to choose from, obviously. Gates of Heaven, Leave Her to Heaven, Mikey and Nicky, Two Lane Blacktop, or Vanya on 42nd Street. Not leaning in any particular direction, will see where the mood takes me (and recs are welcome as always).

    25. Made in Poland -- Blind Chance

    26. Made in Iran -- Life, and Nothing More (Chess of the Wind is intriguing but unavailable as far as I can tell).

  23. #23
    Producer Yxklyx's Avatar
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    Argh - https://www.criterionchannel.com/ is down and so is streaming!

  24. #24
    24. Made in the United States -- Leave Her to Heaven. How I felt watching this: [] It's the kind of movie you want to hoot and holler at with some friends. "Yoooooo, she did NOT just do that." "Oh yes she did!" Fun and very dark, with beautiful technicolor. I bet John Waters has seen it a hundred times. Four stars.

    25. Made in Poland -- Blind Chance. Let me get this straight: If I choose Charmander then I become a neo-nazi, and if I choose Squirtle then I become an anarchist. Fine, I'm going off the grid! Bulbasaur, I choose you! /stays neutral, dies in horrible Lapras accident.

    All due respect to Kieslowski, but this was a total slog that didn't even have the good manners to coalesce into a salient point. Run Lola Run has more value -- as entertainment and otherwise -- in a single strand of neon pink hair. Two stars.

    26. Made in Iran -- Life, and Nothing More. If you like Where Is the Friend's House, you will like this. I think I was hoping for more meta-textual juicy bits. Best part was the child dropping wisdom bombs to a stranger at a well. And the opening credits. And the final shot. Kiarostami can do no wrong. Three stars.


    Up next:
    27. Made in Mexico -- Two Monks, The Exterminating Angel, or Japon. Leaning Two Monks.

    28. Made in Senegal -- Touki Bouki
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 08-30-2022 at 05:04 PM.

  25. #25
    27. Made in Mexico -- Two Monks. Visually it's leagues ahead of most early sound films, with canted close-ups, a mobile camera, and set designs so delightfully askew they would make any Expressionist mess their lederhosen. At a time when many filmmakers were so infatuated with the new shiny toy called "sound" they forgot to make their movies look interesting, Oro packed Two Monks with flourishes and quirky detail -- a strength that has helped it to age well, particularly considering its recent restoration. Unfortunately the story is 100% standard, seen-it-a-thousand-times melodrama. If you have a high tolerance for that type of thing, the Rashomon-style framing device (or possibly the copious amount of religious symbolism, which ultimately fell flat for me despite a killer organ solo) may provide enough variation from the formula to lift Two Monks into a higher plane. Three stars.

    28. Made in Senegal -- Touki Bouki. Reminiscent of Godard's Weekend, but with less humor and more animal violence. The many good moments are overshadowed by the disgusting ones. Two stars.


    Up next:
    29. Watch a film that has an out of print physical release. So many great options. The Blood of a Poet, Claire's Knee, Hard Boiled, or Howard's End. Leaning... all of them?

    30. Watch a film from the "America Lost and Found: The BBS Story" collection. Eh, nothing very exciting here. Easy Rider is the obvious choice. Head or King of Marvin Gardens are decent but unexciting options. I'd much rather re-watch The Last Picture Show or Five Easy Pieces. Leaning Last Picture Show.

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