I’m running contributions from some of my favorite film critics, writers, and theorists from around the internet for a few weeks. Each writer is listing their top 10 from the Criterion Collection. However, it’s starting to wind down. One of the final pieces comes in from Bubbawheat, proprietor of Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights. Bubba knows more about superhero movies than the rest of us know about… well, anything at all. He also has an awesome podcast with an incredible concept. It’s called FilmWhys- as in, “Why haven’t you seen this film?” Each episode, his guests challenge him to watch a highly-touted film that he hasn’t seen, and he challenges his guest to watch a superhero movie that they haven’t seen. I’ve been fortunate enough to take part and it’s a blast. You can find Bubba on Twitter @Bubbawheat.
It’s funny because out of Terry Gilliam’s imagination trilogy as it is sometimes referred to as, my favorite of the three is the only one that is not part of the Criterion collection and that is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. But while that one is my favorite, the other two still hold a place in my heart, though Brazil has yet to find its way into my collection. Of these two, I think that Time Bandits is my favorite, though now that I’m a bit closer to middle age now I should probably revisit Brazil again as I think it might hit a little bit closer to home this time around, while Time Bandits still holds a lot of nostalgia for me as it’s a movie that was a favorite of mine whenever I was younger and I still enjoy the movie as an adult, though it really does go into some bizarre places for what’s often considered a children’s movie.
I’m a big fan of sketch comedy, abstract movies, and I did watch reruns of the Monkees when I was a kid. This movie holds a nice little place in my heart and mind mostly due to the circumstances surrounding my one and only viewing of it. I was a senior in high school, and the girl I had a crush on just got this movie and was super excited about it and wanted me to come over to see it, and of course being in high school it was the funniest thing ever for her to enthusiastically say “I’ve got Head!” It’s a bizarre movie and I remember slightly more about the situation surrounding the viewing than I do about the movie, but it’s something that I’ll keep with me for quite a while.
Almost more than anything else, what really helped get me more into the behind the scenes of movies and filmmakers was the Q&As of Kevin Smith and his SModcasts, and because of that I’ve also became a big fan of his movies. While I would say that my favorite of his would be Clerks 2, this is one of his strongest movies and quite possibly my second favorite. Not only that, but it was probably the first Criterion Collection movie that I owned, though I now have the re-release of this movie on Bluray, mostly due to the fact that there is an exclusive SModcast episode as a commentary track on it. This movie helped launch the careers of Jason Lee and Ben Affleck, though it didn’t do too much for Joey Lauren Adams. It’s a love story, it’s a comedy, it’s set somewhat in the world of comic books, and it’s just a great movie period.
The Royal Tenenbaums
A while back my DVD collection was starting to get away from me, so instead of culling it down to size or getting more shelf space, I decided that I would just completely do away with the DVD boxes entirely and get a giant folder to hold most of my discs since that’s really the most important part of the collection anyway, right? But there were a handful of DVDs whose cases I hung on to, like my metal Akira case, the great looking Lord of the Rings extended editions, the Memento special edition, and my Criterion copy of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums with the great artwork all along it. Oh, and the movie’s good too. But seriously, this was and still is my only foray into the quirky world of Wes Anderson with this bizarre family dynamic headed by a cantankerously loveable Gene Hackman.
12 Angry Men
This is one of the much more recent watches for me on this list, and it was a viewing brought about by my Filmwhys podcast where I have a guest choose an unseen classic of mine and I find a comic book or superhero movie that’s new to them to keep it within the theme of my site. It’s a fantastic film that still holds up with it’s sharp dialogue and subtle filmmaking techniques like altering the scope of the lens to create a more claustrophobic setting as the movie goes on. It’s quite amazing how much drama and tension that can be created within just a single room over the course of a day and it’s something I’m truly glad I got around to viewing.
It’s not surprising that I’ve thrown in a movie that’s the closest thing to a superhero besides the only actual superhero movie in the Criterion collection. This is a movie that I saw when I was possibly younger than I should have been, which isn’t too surprising considering how it seemed to have been marketed back then. But I’ve always loved sci-fi, robots, and cyborgs, and this vision of a dystopian Detroit where the only solution to the crime problem is a robotic law officer is a lot of fun. The look of Robocop himself is iconic, both with and without his visor, and so is the great ED-209 which was brought back in the reboot for a reason. But aside from just the fun factor, there’s also a great layer of satire that makes the movie more than just a violent sci-fi robot cop movie with the commercials and news reports intercut with the movie. I’d buy that for a dollar.
This is probably the movie that made me a full fledged David Fincher fan before Fight Club sealed the deal, which is funny because I have yet to make time to see any of his works after Panic Room. But The Game was one of the 10 or so VHSs that I owned before I became a collector of DVDs. Back then it had to be an amazing movie for me to want to own it on VHS, or be Disturbing Behavior. But The Game is one of those movies with a deceptively simple premise: it’s all just a game… or is it? That keeps you guessing all the way through until the very end of the movie. It has a great performance by Michael Douglas as the uptight rich businessman who is thrown into situation after situation designed to break him down until there is almost nothing left, so much so that at one point he’s even basically left for dead in the middle of Mexico until you finally find out, and yes I’m spoiling it for you right now, it all really is just part of The Game.
The Gold Rush
This is another movie that I watched for my Filmwhys podcast, one of the more well known movies starring Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp in the Frozen North. In many places it reminded me of a black and white, live action Looney Tunes short where nearly every person on screen was a cartoonish caricature that played everything for laughs. Which is exactly why it holds up so well. It was fascinating to see the origins of many classic cartoon, and just plain comedic gags like the famous teetering over the edge of a cliff scene or looking at someone while extremely hungry and seeing them turn into something edible. And though I don’t think it topped my opinion of Buster Keaton’s The General, it’s not too far off.
The Seventh Seal
I will finish things out with a movie that was also on John’s top 10, and yet another film that I watched for the first time on my Filmwhys podcast. In fact, the episode where John himself was my guest, not to sound like I’m sucking up or anything. This film really is a sight to behold. It caught me off guard with how lighthearted it really is, when you first think of this movie it feels like it’s going to be an overly artsy film about the existentialism of life and death, but there is quite a bit of humor thrown around alongside the philosophy, not to mention the fact that the visuals are completely stunning in their black and white glory. It’s also one of those films, at least for me, that when you remember it you forget that it was actually subtitled and not in English.
BUBBA: When I was asked to do this list I was aware of the Criterion Collection, but when I started looking through their catalogue, I realized I had only seen about a dozen or so movies that were included, so I will finish this list off by fully sharing my lack of film knowledge and also list the others that I’ve seen but didn’t quite make the top 10: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Being John Malkovich, Seven Samurai, and Dazed and Confused. Oh, and I do have to mention that there is actually a single solitary superhero movie that has made it into the Criterion Collection. No, it isn’t the Dark Knight, though it wouldn’t surprise me if that were included sometime in the future, but a 1969 French film by the name of Mr. Freedom, and I will be watching it sometime in the near future. Thanks again to John for letting me be a part of this series.