I’m running contributions from some of my favorite film critics, writers, and theorists from around the internet for the next few weeks. Each writer is listing their top 10 from the Criterion Collection. Day four of The Criterion Top 10 Series brings us a contribution from Nick Rehak of French Toast Sunday. I’m a huge fan of the FTS crew because they have the same sensibilities that I do. They embrace great graphic design and they’re enormously enthusiastic about film. In fact, they love most of the same movies that I do. Nick is a contributing writer and one of the regulars on their podcast, where he can be found talking about New Orleans. He’s also a profound Muppetaholic (“I’m waiting for the day Muppet Treasure Island gets a Criterion Release,” he says). You can find Nick on Twitter @TheRehak.
10.The Complete Monterey Pop Festival
This, to me, is D.A. Pennebaker’s best work. What’s great about this release is you have the documentary AND the full performances from Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix. It’s incredible and depressing at the same time. Incredible, because these are historic performances that were captured and will be preserved forever and depressing because I’ll never get to see ANY of these acts in person.
This film introduced me to Kurosawa. The grand scale and the beauty of everything blew me away and I knew I had to have more.
My second favorite Godard film. Visually impressive with some of the best tracking shots I’ve ever seen in my life mixed in with bizarre characters and even more bizarre situations.
5. The Killing/Rififi (TIE)
This spot has to be a tie. It’s hard to choose between these two films. Rififi is the definition of tension while The Killing is an escalating tension builder with an ending that gets me every time!
4. The Exterminating Angel
I will always have a special place in my heart for this film. It introduced me to the concept of surrealism in film and the works of Luis Bunuel. It’s also hard to believe a film like this came out of Mexico in the early 60s.
3. The Earrings of Madame de…
Possibly one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. A heartbreaking tale surrounded by gorgeous set pieces and lavish characters, this Max Ophuls film is nothing short of perfect.
2. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou/Darjeeling Limited (TIE)
Another tie! I know, I know. It’s kinda cheating but it’s so hard to pick a favorite Wes Anderson film. I’ve gone on record saying Darjeeling is my favorite film of his, but whenever I re-watch Life Aquatic, something stirs inside of me and I have to reanalyze everything. You can’t go wrong with either film. Complex characters, gorgeous cinematography (each in their own unique way) and the music selections are fantastic. There is a reason a Wes Anderson film is unlike anything else you’ll see.
1. Pierrot Le Fou
This film introduced me to not only Jean-Luc Godard, but French cinema in general. I fell in love with the gritty look, the sloppy feel to the film, and the idea that anything was possible in the world of film. This film single handedly changed the way I look at film.