Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Top 10

Occasional FCM contributor Eric Dienstfrey has sent us his top ten list of the decade, and like most lists from Eric it comes with certain rules: There can be no two films by the same director and there must be at least one sequel. In addition, if a film saw a world premiere in 1999 but did not get an official release until 2000 it was not included in the pool of films.



Before Sunset (2004, Richard Linklater)


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)


The Five Obstructions (2003, Lars von Trier)


In the City of Sylvia (2007, José Luis Guerín)


Millennium Mambo (2000, Hou Hsiao-hsien)


Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)


The Piano Teacher (2001, Michael Haneke)


Regular Lovers (2005, Philippe Garrel)


Werckmeister Harmonies (2000, Béla Tarr)


Yi yi (2000, Edward Yang)


I could have just as easily swapped out Millennium Mambo for Flight of the Red Balloon or The Boss of it All for The Five Obstructions, or even School of Rock for Before Sunset, and perhaps on another rainy day I would have done so.

And because a list of only ten films is boring (and in this case perhaps a bit pretentious) I'm including 40 more, most of which appear to come from the later half of the decade.

24 Hour Party People (2002, Michael Winterbottom)
25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee)
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005, Judd Apatow)
Adventureland (2009, Greg Mottola)
A.I. (2001, Steven Spielberg)
Anchorman (2004, Adam McKay)
Bad Santa (2003, Terry Zwigoff)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet)
Bug (2006, William Friedkin)
Cloverfield (2008, Matt Reeves)
Dan in Real Life (2007, Peter Hedges)
District 9 (2009, Neill Blomkamp)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schnabel)
Fat Girl (2001, Catherine Breillat)
The Fountain (2006, Darren Aronofsky)
Gerry (2002, Gus Van Sant)
Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog)
Happy-Go-Lucky (2008, Mike Leigh)
The Hurt Locker (2008, Kathryn Bigelow)
I'm Not There (2007, Todd Haynes)
The Incredibles (2004, Pixar / Brad Bird)
Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005, Shane Black)
Let the Right One In (2008, Tomas Alfredson)
Marie Antoinette (2006, Sofia Coppola)
Mutual Appreciation (2005, Andrew Bujalski)
The Namesake (2006, Mira Nair)
Notre Musique (2004, Jean-Luc Godard)
Once (2006, John Carney)
Rachel Getting Married (2008, Jonathan Demme)
Redacted (2007, Brian De Palma)
Role Models (2008, David Wain)
The Shape of Things (2003, Neil LaBute)
Snow Angels (2007, David Gordon Green)
The Squid and the Whale (2005, Noah Baumbach)
The Story of Marie and Julien (2003, Jacques Rivette)
Summer Hours (2008, Olivier Assayas)
There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
United 93 (2006, Paul Greengrass)
Vicki Cristina Barcelona (2008, Woody Allen)

Thanks, Eric!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Judy-Lurkey Time!

Before there was auto-tune there was The Judy Garland Show, where Streisand and Garland could convert millions to homosexuality and a teenage Liza would knock it out of the park.


And Judy liked to show that no matter how detrimental drug abuse can be, it didn't begin to dilute her sense of humor.



Is there no one running a marathon of her show today? What a waste of a TV schedule.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joe's 2009 DVD Premiere Summary

I highly suggest you all take a look at Joe Bowman's complete overview of the North American cinephilic DVD premieres in 2009.


Outstanding job, Joe!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's Bow Wow Wow!

Earlier this year I asked you where I heard this song before (Flickhead confirmed was "No Hay Problema" by Art Blakey).



The answer? Bow Wow Wow's Aphrodisiac!



Ten points to me for getting the answer on my own!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Criterion Responds to 2009 Criticism

In an unprecedented manner, Peter Becker of Criterion responds to criticism via an email (via .org):


My name is Peter Becker. I'm the president of Criterion. Thanks for taking the time to write in.

You're right to call the Criterion schedule a juggling act, and juggling this year's schedule has been more challenging than any since laserdisc days. I understand some of the frustration you're feeling about the balance of new and classic titles, especially in the later 2009 Blu-ray schedule. Making the Criterion schedule is always a series of impossible compromises, and in the end, some people, some years, are going to end up unhappy. Clearly this was not a good year for you. I'm sorry about that. I know it may not solve anything, but I thought you might appreciate a quick look at some of the factors that came into play with this year's schedule.

For what it's worth, we've spent much more time on classic film this year than our announced schedule shows. The single most time consuming and expensive mastering project in the history of the company was Kobayashi's THE HUMAN CONDITION -- that is, until we started work on Rossellini's War Trilogy, which is still not finished. We had originally hoped to have the Rossellini set ready for October release, then November, then December. Ironically the easiest of the masters, the 2007 restoration of ROME, OPEN CITY, is the one that is giving us the most trouble. PAISAN, which has never been available in a watchable video version, has taken us three straight months of digital restoration, an amount of time and an expense that will probably never come back, but the film will finally, for the first time, look good -- still damaged, but with a beautiful black and white image that will be a revelation to anyone who has ever seen the old tapes and 16 mm prints that are still in circulation. Our tech director is about to make his third trip to Italy on this project, just to try to straighten out the last master, next week.

You also mention STAGECOACH. We never announced it for December, but it's true that we had hoped to release it then. Again mastering turned out to be more complicated than we anticipated. The original negative of the film is lost, and we have been evaluating a number of different elements. We are now working closely with UCLA's restoration team to evaluate all available elements and create a new HD master, starting from scratch. The bad news is that it's taking a long time. The good news is that in the time we've been working on the master, we've had the opportunity to unearth some interesting supplemental materials, so the edition will be all the better for it. That said, it's frustrating that it didn't come out -- the cover's been on the wall of our office for weeks now, and we're looking forward to making it a part of the collection.

Those two big classics that we've been hard at work on were never announced, which helped to give disporportionate weight to the contemporary releases of this fall/winter. I can understand why you would think we were stepping back from classics in favor of more contemporary films, but in fact, the opposite has been true. Our Blu-ray schedule has been heavily weighted toward international classics with THE SEVENTH SEAL, PLAYTIME, WAGES OF FEAR, THE THIRD MAN, REPULSION, 400 BLOWS, THE LAST METRO, IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. And when you throw in our DVD schedule with Z, JEANNE DIELMAN, 2 OR 3 THINGS..., HUMAN CONDITION, MY DINNNER WITH ANDRE, the Imamura box, Painlevé, etc., I don't think we pulled any punches or spared any expense where classics were concerned.

Integrating Blu-ray production into our workflow has been challenging in its own right. Adding an existing DVD upgrade is about equivalent to adding a new DVD production to the schedule, at least where our technical team is concerned, and that is where our capacity is most constrained. New Blu-rays released day and date with the DVD editions are marginally more efficient, and many of our customers are avidly urging us not to release DVD-only editions anymore, but each simultaneous release we do is one more DVD catalog classic we aren't revisiting that month. Right now we're struggling to bring our Blu-ray capacity up from one to two a month to three or four. As our capacity increases, it will be easier to keep a balance, but in the meantime it's an inexact science.

The other title that you say you were expecting, but which we didn't officially announce for December, is CHE. It's coming, and as you can imagine there's a wealth of great content getting developed. We wanted to be ready for December, but Steven Soderbergh needed time to reconstruct some deleted scenes, and we were also able, in what we think is going to be a controversial coup, to persuade Che biographer Jon Lee Anderson to do commentaries on both films, but he also needed more time to prepare. In short, it became clear that if we delayed the release a month we would be able to make a much better set. That's a trade we will always make, even if it means we don't get the benefit of sales in the holiday season, and we think that's the kind of decision our collectors would want us to make.

To touch briefly on some of the other things you mention: more Eclipse is a goal for us too. Again, this is a capacity issue. Each disc in a set represents multiple passes for our QC department, and when we're working on large-scale projects like Rossellini, HUMAN CONDITION, or the Imamura box, that has a tendency to cramp our capacity to handle multi-disc Eclipse sets at the same time. Still, we're proud of what we've been able to do in Eclipse this year, but we are definitely looking forward to getting more out next year. As for "two-release months," by which I assume we're referring to December, I've already mentioned that we intended to have STAGECOACH and CHE ready for December as well but we delayed them to make them better rather than sooner. That said, when one of the two releases is a 25-disc set, that also factors in. I'm sorry you don't like the Kurosawa box idea, but we felt that his centennial was an important opportunity to draw attention to his monumental body of work, and so far we've had some very positive feedback from people who have not been as diligently collecting his work as you have.

I don't expect anything I've said will change your mind about our slate, but I hope at least you'll know that we have no desire to dismiss your concerns. We do value feedback from our customers, especially longtime supporters like you, and we hope we'll earn your loyalty again in 2010.

All the best,
Peter Becker


Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breaking: Criterion Says They Will Release Out 1?

WHAT JUST HAPPENED ON FACEBOOK?!?



Covering the 2008 primaries in 2007, I saw a similar phenomenon with Ron Paul supporters, though I don't think you needed to officially cover the primary in order to have seen Paul's volume of support find little correlation to his level of support. Still, the event that was the 2008 Presidential Campaign of Ron Paul is nothing to balk at. Similarly, I would hope Criterion sees the shit-ton of support on Facebook for the release of Jacques Rivette's Out 1 on DVD as a serious challenge to their current business model. Maybe they should consider changing it:


The Criterion Collection: Wow, Kristina, look what you started! We're going to try to get this done, but everyone in this thread is going to have to buy about 100 copies for us to break even...


I can't tell if that's sarcasm, so maybe they already are.


Keep going -- One Million Strong for Out 1!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Criterion Ponders Out 1 on Facebook?


Yesterday on Criterion's Facebook Wall, someone asked if the company planned on releasing Rivette's Out 1. Today, Criterion responded with "Out 1 is definitely not out of the question. Anyone else want to chime in in favor?" Since saying that seven hours ago, forty people have responded with a resounding yes.


Do you want to boot your bootleg with a Criterion edition of Jacques Rivette's masterpiece? Then tell Criterion that you want it released!