Amoeblog

Happy 30th, Criterion -- May your next 30 be even better

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 25, 2014 11:18am | Post a Comment
Criterion is, without a doubt, the most loved video-distribution company in the video distribution game. No one (outside Korea) packages their films so beautifully and today they released a lovely, book (just in time for Christmas) of their "covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art" featured on their releases over the years called Criterion Designs. They're also beloved for their supplemental special features, which are similarly rarely paralleled, and the high quality of their restorations. There are podcasts, and subreddits, and completists devoted to the label. My only problem with them is over the films which they release -- or rather, those that they don't. 

Criterion Designs
Criterion Designs (image source: The Criterion Collection)


Criterion was launched back in 1984, when Joe Medjuck, Aleen Stein, and Robert Stein founded the company in New York City. From the get go Criterion chose films from Europe, North America, and Asia for their lovingly attentive treatment. I only became aware of the company around 1999. I recognized a lot of their films from introductory film school classes -- the canonical status of which was usually advertised by the stamp of Janus Films. At the same time, couldn't help but notice the glaring omission of ANY films from South America or Africa. When I pointed this out to Criterion loyalists and asked for their thoughts I got the following replies: "Do they make films?," "You mean like Tarzan?," and "You mean like Superfly?" My answers to all three were, "Are you *censored* kidding me?"

Continue reading...

Would the REAL Criterion Please Stand Up?

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, March 6, 2012 08:08am | Post a Comment
fake criterion collection dvd twin peaks fire walk with me laura palmer david lynch sequel prequel slipcase graphic design DVD packaging
Any film can be a DVD but it has come to be accepted as common knowledge that a Criterion Collection DVD is important. And don't we all know by now that the discerning film aficionados manning the helm of the goodship Criterion don't scrimp when it comes to a figuring "wow factors" into their packaged feature presentations - that's why one expects only the best in classic and contemporary cinema when glimpsing said particular 'C' word, right? WRONG! Welcome to the new world of Criterion Collection realness, created for the people by the people, shining like a grand DIY roadside attraction just off the information superhighway: the Fake Criterions tumblog! Okay, so maybe I'm just getting on board with this trend, which would be still considered fairly new by all accounts if the year were 2002, but seeing as it's 2012 and this blog has only been around for a year and a half and has already amassed extensive content of admin and fan-made Criterion Collection DVD artwork (often highlighting Criterion's sophisticated approach to graphic design by treating lowbrow, low-budget films in a like manner) it seems to me that film geeks are taking the argument for the appreciation of tangible media into their own hands. I mean, what movie enthusiast wouldn't be romanced into acquiring something as ridiculously awesome as this:

Andrew Ihla graphic art dvd case slipcover back to the future 2 II fake criterion collection film movie cinema
Here's to Andrew Ihla who designed this nugget of Criterion Collection fool's gold! All I can say further is that scrolling through the entries can be painful at times for there is so much goodness in the Fake Criterions stacks that I believe truly should exist. Really, it hurts my feelings to see these things and know that I cannot possibly enjoy the full cinematic experience house within faux Criterion offerings like these:

Continue reading...

What's Got Into That Cat!? Japanese Cult Classic Hausu Out Today on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray!!!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 26, 2010 02:00am | Post a Comment
Everybody knows that old cats can open doors, but did you know that only ghost cats can close them?
Hausu DVD Criterion colletion japanese horror camp cult classic film movie cats ghost animation
Well, to quote the great Levar Burton, don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! Here's to the joy of lessons learned from Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 cinematic freak-out Hausu (or House if you speak American), a film that'll give you a trick-or-treating of horror-infused psychedelia like you've never ever experienced, not even in your wildest, most delightfully random-ass frightmares. Hausu dvd criterion japanese horror cult kitch film movie eye cat While it's difficult to know where to begin in reviewing this amazing monkeyshine, it should not go without saying that supposedly the story was dictated to the director by his 11-year-old daughter, which pretty much makes the movie itself just as crazy as, well, a story told by a demented little girl with cat fancy, Auntie issues, and campy ideas about "indecent" piano behavior. Add to that the fact that Hausu seems to be a visual exercise in testing the limits on how many times a movie can one-up itself, utilizing a lightning round of every stylistic technique known to film-making all the way, as if daring viewers to exclaim "this shit is bananas!" to which the movie quite literally delivers a shit-ton of bananas, no kidding. hausu house dvd japanese movie cirterion cult classic weird funny wacky campy

(In which we reunite, even as we bid a fond adieu.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 3, 2010 01:12pm | Post a Comment
Well, it’s the middle of September and there’s nothing novel or interesting about this week.

No, no – of course we’re standing at the precipice of a new decade as a fresh millennium dawns and everything’s fraught with poignancy. I get it. But just for a second, wasn’t it nice to hear otherwise?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, which is a sure-fire way to get people to forget about me. By now my regular readers have probably been reduced to the Amoeblog staff, my Mom, and myself (and I’m just barely skimming them).

Chalk it up to an action-packed holiday season, kiddies. Since last we met, I shot the footage for an upcoming webisode series with the fantastically rad Elizabeth Keener. Once it’s up and running I’ll let y’all know about it.

Also freelance articles, while hardly pouring in these days, are vying for my time. I just finished writing an article for Gourmet Magazine for their “traditional dishes of Indonesia” series. My piece focused on the Åland crisis and its impact on the League of Nations in the wake of the First World War, and how the Islands’ current Finnish loyalties but Swedish-speaking majority stand as a metaphor for modern Scandinavian policy. What does that have to do with Indonesian food? Nothing. But it’s all in how you spin the article.
yummy
Välsmakande mat som du kan äta med din jävla mun!

Also, the boyfriend’s parents were here for a week to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with us. They’re from Texas, so in cooking for them I had to make sure to restrain myself from culinary flourishes. Example: Spaghetti & meatballs are fine, but in lieu of Italian herbs, why not use fresh-roasted cumin seed and Walla Walla sweet onions caramelized in aged balsamic vinegar?

coming out 9/4...night on earth...stranger than paradise...prison break...the office...

Posted by Brad Schelden, September 4, 2007 09:29am | Post a Comment
It seems like everybody wants to have an album out this year on 9/11. It's such a big week next week, with new albums from Kanye West, The Black Lips, Film School, Ani Difranco, The Shout Out Louds, Pinback, Animal Collective, Hot Hot Heat, The Go Team, and a bunch more. Unfortunately it is only 9/4 and with the recent holiday of labor day the music releases are pretty non existent today. But there are some exciting DVD releases coming out this week. It is hard to believe that two of the classic films of Jim Jarmusch have never been on DVD. Both Night on Earth and Stranger Than Paradise are seeing their first release on DVD domestically this week. They will released through the fantastic people of Criterion. These awesome Criterion Collection editions are not just your normal DVD packaging. These are director approved editions and they look fantastic. Both these films have been long time favorites of mine and it is nice to finally see them out on DVD. I am sure a whole new generation of people have yet to see these movies. They were the kind of movies that you could find at any indie video store of the past. But I am sure over the years the old VHS copies have been stolen or broken down by now. I first saw Stranger than Paradise for a college course and then quickly went out and rented any of the other films of Jim Jarmusch that I could find. Night on Earth was easily one of my favorites.

Stranger Than Paradise came out in 1984. Jim had made one of the parts of the film a couple of years before that and had made only one other film before that. That first film, "Permanent Vacation" is included with this new edition of Stranger Than Paradise. It sort of became this famous little cult indie film. One of the first indie films that sort of made it into popular culture. After Down by Law in 1986 and Mystery Train in 1989, came the great film that is Night on Earth in 1991. This was way before Taxicab Confessions. Night on Earth was basically five different stories in one film. "Five Taxis, Five Cities, One Night." The setup of the film was brilliant. While most of my cab rides have not been this exciting. It is really interesting to see these little stories of what could happen in various cab rides throughout the World. Winona Ryder and Gena Rowlands star in the Hollywood cab ride. Gena is always fantastic and amazing to watch on the screen. Please go watch "Gloria" or "Woman Under the Influence" if you don't know what I mean. It is fun to see her here interacting as a casting agent with a young and tough cab driving Winona. I may not smoke anymore but it still is great to see these two smoking away as they have a conversation in the cab. Gena wants to cast Winona in a film but Winona has to turn her down. She seems to already have her life plan all worked out. One of other great interactions is between Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez and Armin Mueller-Stahl in the New York Taxi ride. Rosie Perez is sort of like Sandra Bernhard. You either absolutely love her or you can't stand her. I am for sure on the love side. But whatever you think of her, she is perfect in this part. The dialoge is just brilliant and hilarious. The three other cab rides take place in Rome, Paris, & Helsinki.  Roberto Benigni is hilarious in the Rome cab ride. He makes a very detailed sexual confession to a priest. 

Continue reading...