Category Archives: The Collection

The Collection: Picnic at Hanging Rock

#29 – Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – Dir. Peter Weir

Peter Weir’s recent film, The Way Back, confirmed what movie fans already knew, the director is one of the greats. I thought I’d catch up on his earlier work. I recently re-watched Master and Commander and finally realized how great that nautical movie really is. Now I’ve seen his first (and Australia’s first) international hit, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and it holds up as a haunting work of art as well as a sign of great things to come from the esteemed director. Continue reading


The Collection: A Canterbury Tale

#341 – A Canterbury Tale (1944)
– Dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

I don’t know jack about Chaucer and I don’t need to in order to enjoy this odd and beautiful film, written, directed and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (AKA The Archers). It is part war film, part mystery, part propaganda and expressionistic in a romantic sort of way. Continue reading

The Collection: The Wages of Fear

#36 – The Wages of Fear (1953) – Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot

There’s suspense, there’s tension, there’s thrills, and then there’s The Wages of Fear. Once you hear the plot of this foreign classic you’ll begin to understand why, but it’s the demoralizing and punishing lack of humanity that elevates this thrill ride into the realm of poignancy. But don’t let any of that fancy, highfalutin talk dissuade you, at the end of the day this is a film that I’m going to run out of ways to call suspenseful. Continue reading

The Collection: Cronos

#551 – Cronos (1993) – Dir. Guillermo Del Toro

Cronos is a small-scale reworking of the vampire mythos that also happens to be Guillermo Del Toro’s first feature film. Some debut feature’s arrive fully formed, so fresh and so daring they rise above their shortcomings. Cronos is not that kind of debut. Continue reading

The Collection: Broadcast News

#552 – Broadcast News (1987) – Dir. James L. Brooks

This satire/romantic comedy about… well, just reread the title, just got the Criterion makeover and was recently seen embarrassing me on my shame list. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and walked away with zero, thanks to competition from another successful romantic comedy, Moonstruck, as well as that year’s big winner (and fellow Criterion title) The Last Emperor. It was a tough year and I don’t think Brooks’ smart film was shortchanged, except in one category, Best Actress, where Holly Hunter lost to the popular (at the time) Cher. Regardless of awards recognition, I found this to be my favorite of Brooks’ films that I’ve seen (As Good as it Gets, Terms of Endearment). Continue reading

The Collection: Naked

#307 – Naked (1993) – Dir. Mike Leigh

One of the most fascinating, complex, and divisive characters is unleashed upon the unsuspecting public in Mike Leigh’s moody and ruminative odyssey through London. Only known as Johnny, David Thewlis captures lightning in a bottle with his live wire acting, which earned him Best Actor at Cannes in 1993. Leigh is no slouch here either, he won Best Director as well, crafting and ultimately capturing the enigma that is Johnny and the strangeness of the world he inhabits. Continue reading

The Collection: Walkabout

Next up from the Criterion Collection

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The Collection: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

#475 – The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) – Dir. Peter Yates

(Click here to catch up on the idea behind this column.)

This is a small and not too well-known crime drama, featuring a world-weary lead performance from the legendary Robert Mitchum. Mitchum is Eddie “Fingers” Coyle, a small-timer, living in Boston, trying to make ends meet. He’s done time upstate and is facing another 2-4 stint. Before his sentencing, Eddie spends his days buying guns from a fresh-faced dealer for the more legit and organized gangsters he works for. Continue reading

The Collection

For some it is an obsession, and for others nothing but a pile of pretension, but when I say Criterion, some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. The Criterion Collection, a company that distributes DVDs and now Blu-ray, but they aren’t just any old discs and they aren’t just any old movies. In their own words, the collection consists of “important classic and contemporary films,” which says it all and nothing at the same time. Continue reading