Archive for Jim Jarmusch

My TEN Favourite 1990s CRITERION Films

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by goregirl

Have you entered my contest to win a $50 Criterion gift certificate? And if you haven’t; why in the hell not? For rules and to enter click here. In keeping with my 90s theme here are my ten favourite Criterion films from the 1990s. This is a rotten cheat of a post; it really is just an elaborate excuse to remind you about my contest and whore out some of my previous lists.

1990s Criterion films Shortlisted but not making the final cut were: Hoop Dreams (1994), Insomnia (1997), Three Colors: White (1994), Three Colors: Blue (1993), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Short Cuts (1993), Ratcatcher (1999), Cronos (1993), Clean, Shaven (1993).

The following list is in no particular order; every single one of these titles received a 5/5 from me…

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Being John Malkovich (1999)

being john malkovich

Blurb from Criterion

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Or, more specifically, have you ever wanted to crawl through a portal hidden in an anonymous office building and thereby enter the cerebral cortex of John Malkovich for fifteen minutes, before being spat out on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike? Then director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman have the movie for you. Melancholy marionettes, office drudgery, a frizzy-haired Cameron Diaz—but that’s not all! Surrealism, possession, John Cusack, a domesticated primate, Freud, Catherine Keener, non sequiturs, and absolutely no romance! But wait: get your Being John Malkovich now and we’ll throw in emasculation, slapstick, Abelard and Heloise, and extra Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich!

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Crumb (1994)

Here is a video I posted from the soundtrack for Crumb: Cocaine – Dick Justice – Music from Crumb: A Terry Zwigoff Film…

Blurb from Criterion

Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of the underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art. Zwigoff candidly and colorfully delves into the details of Crumb’s incredible career and life, including his family of reclusive eccentrics, some of the most remarkable people you’ll ever see on-screen. At once a profound biographical portrait, a riotous examination of a man’s controversial art, and a devastating look at a troubled family, Crumb is a genuine American original.

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Europa (1991)

europa

I recently posted my 50 favourite directors and Lars Von Trier was number 18.

Blurb from Criterion

“You will now listen to my voice . . . On the count of ten you will be in Europa . . .” So begins Max von Sydow’s opening narration to Lars von Trier’s hypnotic Europa (known in the U.S. as Zentropa), a fever dream in which American pacifist Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) stumbles into a job as a sleeping-car conductor for the Zentropa railways in a Kafkaesque 1945 postwar Frankfurt. With its gorgeous black-and-white and color imagery and meticulously recreated (if then nightmarishly deconstructed) costumes and sets, Europa is one of the great Danish filmmaker’s weirdest and most wonderful works, a runaway-train ride to an oddly futuristic past.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

fear and loathing in las vegas

Terry Gilliam is another favourite director featured on my list of 50; he is number 20.

Blurb from Criterion

It is 1971, and journalist Raoul Duke barrels toward Las Vegas—accompanied by a trunkful of contraband and his slightly unhinged Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo—to cover a motorcycle race. What should be a cut-and-dried journalistic assignment quickly descends into a feverish psychedelic odyssey. Director Terry Gilliam and an all-star cast headlined by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro show no mercy in bringing Hunter S. Thompson’s excoriating dissection of the American way of life to the screen, creating a film both hilarious and savage.

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La haine (1995)

la haine

Did you know I have a list of my favourite non-horror films from the 1990s on this blog? I do! Here it is.

Blurb from Criterion

Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with La haine, a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis.

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Hard Boiled (1992)

hard boiled

Sadly, Hard Boiled has been discontinued from Criterion’s library. It is well worth seeking out just the same!

Blurb from Criterion

Violence as poetry, rendered by a master—brilliant and passionate, John Woo’s Hard Boiled tells the story of jaded detective “Tequila” Yuen (played with controlled fury by Chow Yun-fat). Woo’s dizzying odyssey through the world of Hong Kong Triads, undercover agents, and frenzied police raids culminates unforgettably in the breathless hospital sequence. More than a cops-and-bad-guys story, Hard Boiled continually startles with its originality and dark humor.

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Man Bites Dog (1992)

man bites dog

Man Bites Dog was my number three pick for my top 10 favourite horror films from 1992. To read it click here.

Blurb from Criterion

Documentary filmmakers André and Rémy have found an ideal subject in Ben. He is witty, sophisticated, intelligent, well liked—and a serial killer. As André and Rémy document Ben’s routines, they become increasingly entwined in his vicious program, sacrificing their objectivity and their morality. Controversial winner of the International Critics’ Prize at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, Man Bites Dog stunned audiences worldwide with its unflinching imagery and biting satire of media violence.

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Naked Lunch (1991)

naked lunch

Naked Lunch was my number one pick for favourite horror film from 1991! To read it click here. A full review for this one will be forthcoming before months end!

Blurb from Criterion

In this adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s hallucinatory, once-thought-unfilmable novel Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg, a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict named Bill Lee (Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish Interzone, a netherworld of sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. Alternately humorous and grotesque—and always surreal—the film mingles aspects of Burroughs’s novel with incidents from the writer’s own life, resulting in an evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process.

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Night on Earth (1991)

night on earth

Jim Jarmusch is number 31 on my 50 favourite directors list.

Blurb from Criterion

Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this hilarious quintet of tales of urban displacement and existential angst, spanning time zones, continents, and languages. Jarmusch’s lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films.

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Shallow Grave (1994)

shallow grave

Blurb from Criterion

The diabolical thriller Shallow Grave was the first film from director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, and screenwriter John Hodge (the smashing team behind Trainspotting). In it, three self-involved Edinburgh roommates—played by Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston, and Ewan McGregor, in his first starring role—take in a brooding boarder, and when he dies of an overdose, leaving a suitcase full of money, the trio embark on a series of very bad decisions, with extraordinarily grim consequences for all. Macabre but with a streak of offbeat humor, this stylistically influential tale of guilt and derangement is a full-throttle bit of Hitchcockian nastiness.

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DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #35 – #31

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on July 15, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #35 – #31

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

Here is a quintet of directors I don’t think get nearly the love they should! I’m getting down to the nitty gritty here; the next list I post will bring me to the mid-point of this project!

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#35. Hiroshi Teshigahara

What I’ve Seen: Pitfall (1962), Woman in the Dunes (1964), The Face of Another (1966), Man without a Map (1968), Rikyu (1989), Gô-hime (1992)

Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara sadly only made 11 films! I have seen six of his 11 films and they are all magnificent! Absolute masterpieces! I had borrowed Woman in the Dunes from the library and was waiting in the queue far too long for Teshigahara’s Pitfall and The Face of Another. I couldn’t bare it any longer so I actually bought a used copy of the Criterion 4-disc set from a guy on Craigslist. I had already seen Woman in the Dunes which I gave perfect marks so I felt confident I would at least enjoy the other two. Enjoy them I did! They blew my mind actually! I am so pleased to own this set, which evidently was in absolute mint condition! I have already watched the trio twice! Perfectly constructed films full of striking visuals and intriguing richly drawn characters that make me drool they are so freaking good! In addition to his directing he also became the Grand Master of the School his father founded that taught ikebana (Japanese style of flower arranging). This dude was multi-talented! Hiroshi Teshigahara died on April 14, 2001 at the age of 74, and should be celebrated as one of the great masters of Japanese cinema!

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#34. James Whale

What I’ve Seen: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

I have seen just five of the 21 full length feature films directed by James Whale. Four of five of these are the best that classic horror has to offer! Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein are his trio of pure gold I gave a perfect score to. Fantastic sets and costumes, beautifully acted, unique and inventive visuals and effects made these delicious gothic fairytales come alive. Whale had commercial successes with several titles but apparently all good things must come to an end and Whale’s career in the movie industry petered out. James Whale left an indelible mark on film and the horror genre in particular. His 1931 Frankenstein and its sequel Bride of Frankenstein have been the inspiration for multiple decades of filmmakers. James Whale committed suicide on May 29, 1957 at the age of 67 after a long, troubling bout with his health. James Whale is a legend. Word.

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#33. Jacques Tourneur

What I’ve Seen: Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), Days of Glory (1944), Out of the Past (1947), The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Nightfall (1957), Night of the Demon (1957), The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

I have given four of French-American director Jacques Tourneur’s films a perfect score. Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, Out of the Past, and Night of the Demon are all magnificent. Be warned, Out of the Past is the only one of the four that is not a horror film; but it is one of my very favourite film noirs. Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man were all produced by the immensely talented Val Lewton whose films have given me copious amounts of enjoyment since starting this blog! Tourneur and Lewton were a quality team; I wish they had collaborated more! Tourneur made 36 full length feature films and was an amazing creative talent who’s extraordinary, moody and beautifully filmed masterpieces should be given the ample respect they deserve! Jacques Tourneur died December 19, 1977 at the age of 73 and is one of Goregirl’s Gods!

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#32. Takashi Miike

What I’ve Seen: Audition (1999), Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999), Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha (2000), Visitor Q (2001), Ichi the Killer (2001), The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), Deadly Outlaw: Rekka (2002), Gozu (2003), One Missed Call (2003), Izo (2004), The Great Yokai War (2005), Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006), Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), Detective Story (2007), 13 Assassins (2010)

Japanese Director Takashi Miike is one interesting cat. He covers a variety of genres in each one of his 74 full length feature films. Okay, I have not seen nearly that many of his films, I’m basing that on the 15 I have seen. The man is a movie making machine! This is certainly an eclectic list of flicks! One of my favourite horror films from the past couple decades has been Miike’s intense Audition. Most of Miike’s films are not straight up horror but do contain elements. The ultra-violent weirdfest Ichi the Killer, the disturbing family drama Visitor Q, the bizarre horror musical The Happiness of the Kutakuris and the samurai epic 13 Assassins are all films I have given high marks to. I could recommend checking out any of the fifteen films on this list, but I was a little mediocre on Deadly Outlaw: Rekka and Sukiyaki Western Django but otherwise a quality library. Miike is one of the most talented and original filmmakers working today.

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#31. Jim Jarmusch

What I’ve Seen: Permanent Vacation (1980), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995), Year of the Horse (1997), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), The Limits of Control (2009)

I have seen all 11 full length feature films from American director Jim Jarmusch. He also has a film in pre-production; Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) which needless to say, I am anxious to see! I absolutely love the deadpan humour, the chance encounters, the great casting and the exceptionally likable no-good-nick characters he often features in his films. I love the black and white photography and the real-time lingering of his camera on his subjects. The man is not afraid to show someone chewing on a piece of toast and reading the newspaper. It is superb how he mixes languages in films; like in Night on Earth which is about the adventures of various cab drivers on one particular night in various cities around the world; each segment is subtitled appropriately. There is something charming yet bleak about the way Jarmusch looks at his own culture that is very appealing to me. I gave Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, Night on Earth and Dead Man perfect marks! And Mystery Train and Ghost Dog would not be too far behind. Jim Jarmusch is a true American original whose films I eagerly anticipate.

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