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Barnes & Noble selling Criterion DVDs 50% off

2282 Views 30 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Rammitinski
It looked to be all of them when I looked at the local store last night (and not the Blu-rays), through August 4th.


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I just had a look through their website of the Criterion titles on sale. Almost all of which I am unfamiliar with. Any recommendations? Anything titles that are should be on the "must see list"?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Great movie and, IMO, the single best set of extras on any DVD ever*. In particular, I'm a comentary whore, and you've got three of them. First up is a fairly standard producer/star track. Interesting, but nothing groundbreaking. Then you've got Terry Gilliam's track. I swear you could have a first rate film school couse using nothing but his DVD tracks. They are the best. Then there is Hunter Thompson's track, which has to be experienced to be believed.

I literally watched the movie 4 times back-to-back when I got this package. OK, 3 1/2 times. I couldn't make in through the entire Thompson track.

Tons of additional extras, including an honest-to-god book. Very cool.

* OK. I realize P.J. deleted topless scene in Stripes is the single greatest extra on DVD. But Stripe's overall package comes up short of Criterion's FALILV
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Thanks! The Criterion edition of Fear and Loathing is the only of those listed that I already own!

However, I've never listened to the commentary tracks at all and now I've got to go do that. Thanks for pointing those out.

Any recommendations? Anything titles that are should be on the "must see list"?

It depends upon your love of/tolerance for foreign films. And there are a variety of British and American films as well.
Actually, the website indicates that the Blu-rays are on sale as well, including upcoming ones such as Kagemusha, Playtime and Pierrot le Fou. I don't see For All Mankind, however.

Might have to order Playtime. It's a 70mm film.

Originally Posted by Shaded Dogfood /forum/post/16885670

Any recommendations? Anything titles that are should be on the "must see list"?

It depends upon your love of/tolerance for foreign films. And there are a variety of British and American films as well.

You're right, I thought about making a note about my tastes.

I would enjoy about anything; from a sci-fi that isn't necessarily well-made or acted, but at least has an interesting premise, to anything that could be considered a "good film" based on direction, cinematography, acting, etc.

I notice that most of the films are older. I'd be interested in any that stand out as having stood the test of time because of the quality of the film-making. I realize that I'm not being very specific, but that's because I can enjoy just about anything.

Is there a film, or a director, that as a lover of movies you'd say "If you haven't seen this" or "If you haven't seen any of this director's work" then I should?

That can be anything from something that you personally liked a lot to something that may not be your favorite, but is "important" nonetheless for any variety of reasons.

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I have to go exercise my decrepit body in a little, but I'll throw out a few suggestions before I do and ask a few questions.

Criterion has several memoriable sci-i/horror cheapies from long ago-

Fiend without a Face flying brains that eat yours
The Blob the title sez it all; with Steve McQueen and a title song by Burt Bacharach
Carnival of Souls excellent little mood horror piece, a real classic
Eyes Without a Face French film about a mad doctor killing girls and trying to transplant their faces on his daughter's ruined face. An eerily beautiful horror movie

You can deal with subtitles? You can deal with slowly paced films? You can deal with Black and White films? You can deal with silent films (probably not many of those would I recommend, other than The Passion of Joan of Arc)?
A few more observations:

I didn't see all of the Criterions appear on the website when you scroll through the thirty or so pages. Some of them you have to key the title in in the search bar. And some don't seem to be available- The Blob won't come up, but even with the discount it's a bit too expensive, nor will the Samurai Rebellion boxed set, nor will Ozu's Good Morning, which I wanted.

There are also two sets called Essential Art House, part of a monster Janus package of 50 films. These are fairly good selections. Volume 1 contains La Grande Illusion, Beauty and the Beast, Knife in the Water, Lord of the Flies (not a very good adaptation in my opinion), Rashomon and Wild Strawberries. Volume 2 contains Black Orpheus, The 400 Blows, Ikiru, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Pygmalion, and La Strada. These come out to around $8 apiece.

They are bare bones releases. No extras, no commentaries. Just the films.

The stores are breaking up the sets and selling them individually for $20, so with the discount at $10 it's a great deal. But the website doesn't offer them, so you have to find them in a brick and mortar establishment.

And if one is going berserk, the $25 a year membership gives an additional 10% off of the purchase, which might pay for itself immediately, dependent upon how much medication you are on.
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In answer to jcmccorm's question for advice, I am assuming silence implies consent as far as willingness to try B&W films and films with pacing that is not like that of contemporary American cinema, so here goes:

Criterion is presently engaging in releasing Blu-ray discs. Two have been big disappointments: The Last Emperor and Salo (don't get Salo!) But a number of the dozen or so they have released are highly esteemed, so we can hope they will forge on with good transfers. But it seems unlikely that the whole catalogue will make the transition. Much of what is getting the Blu-ray treatment are releases new to "The Criterion Collection", such as Wings of Desire and Monsoon Wedding, though great old films such as The Third Man and The Seventh Seal are now in Blu-ray.

I am personally trying to go for older films and non-widescreen stuff. Though everything should improve with higher definition, many of the old titles should do just fine in DVD resolution, unless you have a projector and sit really close to the screen.

So if you are really wanting to take the plunge, here is a list. Do your homework. Go to Amazon.com and look them up and see what people have to say about them and see if you think you'd respond to them. The following are on international lists among the great films of all time:

La Grande Illusion

Umberto D

The Seventh Seal
The Third Man (Blu-ray)


The Children of Paradise

These films are among the very greatest, but there is a pretty good chance of their being released on Blu-ray eventually, for the demand for these films is very strong:

The Red Shoes

Black Narcissus
in demand for many reasons, not the least of which is the color photography
8 1/2

Seven Samurai

Beauty and the Beast

Other great films:

Ballad of a Soldier

The Exterminating Angel

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie
Yojimbo/Sanjuro widescreen- will look better in higher definition
Fires on the Plain widescreen
Mon Oncle color
The River particularly beautiful color

If you like Shakespeare, there is the Olivier Shakespeare box
My Life as a Dog color
The Ruling Class color
Le Samurai color
Elevator to the Gallows with a famous Miles Davis score
Hoop Dreams color
Repulsion (Blu-ray) absolutely terrifying shockfest

This is just scratching the surface, to say the least.
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Thank you very much Shaded Dogfood! I appreciate you taking the time to compile that.

Apologies for the silence, and your assumption about pacing, B&W, subtitles, etc are correct. I really do love the modern action/sci-fi/comedy/fantasy as much as the next guy, but I also like to finish watching a movie and think "wow". I appreciate good work. The best movies are the ones my fiance and I will bring up randomly to each other days after seeing it, questioning each other about what they thought the director meant by this or that.

To further answer that question, the reason I solicited opinions about the movies in the Criterion Collection that are for sale is because of a recent thread on "The Seventh Seal". I was interested in it. I did go do some homework and looked at Amazon. I hope it's ok to to do this, but here's the product blurb copied from Amazon:

"Few films have had as large a cultural impact as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet). Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing."

Now that's a movie that I really want to see! You posted about the Criterion sale and I saw "The Seventh Seal" in the list and I wondered what else I might be missing out on.

I'll start looking at the other titles you listed. I can't seem to find how long the sale lasts so hopefully I have a couple of days.

Thanks again!

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I believe it's either through August 3rd or 4th.

I made a website order today. It was a tortuous process, possibly due to a difficult-to-diagnose problem in the Hinkle family network.

The Seventh Seal is truly legendary, and has been good-naturedly spoofed on many occasions. Ingmar Bergman's whole output is one of the world's greatest, but many of his films are pretty heavy going, and he's a little out of fashion these days.
Just a bit of warning.. I find the Seventh Seal to be near unwatchable. And this is coming from someone who likes many old, foreign and/or black and white movies.

Of course, part of the problem is that it is a Very. Serious. Movie. And I keep wondering when they are going to play Battleship and eat the salmon mousse.
I watched Bergman's Hour of the Wolf recently and was amazed at how highly wrought the whole thing was. As I said, his star has fallen somewhat, though Woody Allen has based his entire "serious" output on Bergman's style. It just shows to go you how what is regarded as "great" can change over time.

I wish someone in addition to myself was doing some recommending.
You about had me, Salmoneous. I pulled out my recently bought Seventh Seal and watched it, and the beginning did roll on rather ominously, with lots of speachifying and theatrical gestures. But I slowly fell back into its spell like I did forty years ago when I first saw it.

It is very. serious. but Bergman is concerned with big questions, and lots of the film is light and compassionate and even funny. And the scene with the little witch at the towards the end drops the theatrical performances and presentation and becomes quite grim and horrifying. It exists in its own world that does look like theater, much as does Bram Stoker's Dracula. You just have to be willing to enter Bergman's world.

If if this one gives you problems, don't even think about Winter Light, The Silence, Hour of the Wolf, Through a Glass Darkly, Scenes from a Marriage, and maybe not even Persona or Cries and Whispers.

Oh, and the Blu-ray is just phenomenally gorgeous. It shows just how good a properly photographed and cared for old B&W film can look.
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...and if you didn't like The Seventh Seal, many people have found they enjoy even more Bergman's little-known sequel The Seventh Seal II: The Elephant Seal, in which Death brings Antonius back to life to play a game of Risk with him and the Elephant Man.

Originally Posted by Salmoneous /forum/post/16903744

Just a bit of warning.. I find the Seventh Seal to be near unwatchable. And this is coming from someone who likes many old, foreign and/or black and white movies.

Of course, part of the problem is that it is a Very. Serious. Movie. And I keep wondering when they are going to play Battleship and eat the salmon mousse.

That's funny. The Seventh Seal is one of the few Bergman films I can tolerate.
This may make it hard to ever take any Bergman seriously again, though sadly the video is terrible:

Criterion discs tend to have some of the best commentary tracks. They will often have film critics or film historians talk about the film, which is fascinating. If you get a movie that has one of these tracks be sure not to miss it.

There have already been some great recommendations so I will just add on.

If you are unfamiliar with Godard he was hugely influential. I would recommend starting with Breathless and Bande a Part. Breathless came first and so was more influential, but I actually prefer Bande a Part.

Some Ozu is essential. Tokyo Story and Early Summer are great, but if you can choose only one get Late Spring.

In the Mood for Love is often considered one of the great films of the 2000's if you haven't seen it yet.

Ikru is an amazing film (one of my all time top 5) but if you are new to Kurosawa I would start with some of his more well known samurai flicks i.e. Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Ran...

If you look at most 'Greatest Films of All Time' lists that are not made in the US you will almost always see The Rules of the Game at the top of the list.
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If you are unfamiliar with Godard he was hugely influential.

I omitted French New Wave films partly because I'm not really crazy about them and also because they are seeing Blu-ray reissue. I enjoyed Pierrot le fou and Week End way back when, and imdb shows Godard has been making films steadily up until now. Most of these films I can't recall ever getting a release over here. I assume he is still a good filmmaker.

I love Eric Rohmer and was ecstatic about getting his Six Moral Tales box from Amazon for $44 some time back, but his films are so talky they didn't seem a good recommendation for the uninitiated. My favorite of latter-day French directors is Louis Malle, who has never made anything other than a good film, at least among the films of his I have seen.

If you look at most 'Greatest Films of All Time' lists that are not made in the US you will almost always see The Rules of the Game at the top of the list.

Absolutely. I like it better than Grand Illusion, but it seemed it might be a more specialized offering.

Some Ozu is essential.

I love Ozu, and Late Spring is fabulous, particularly the shattering ending, but his films are very deliberately paced, which made me wary to recommend him. The Late Ozu box is a real bargain, containing what may be my favorite, Tokyo Twilight, and Equinox Flower, his first color film, and one of the best and most subtle color films ever made.

I've not seen In the Mood for Love, though I did see 2046 (because the previews made it seem to be science fiction), and that one was pretty interesting, though I'm not sure how many times I would need to see it. There are a great deal of excellent films being made in Asia these days, and of course only a few make it over here. There used to be a great deal of talk about them on the forum, but not so much now.

One aspect I have found about foreign films is that many great films are either so different or such downers that I find one viewing is enough. One must be careful about what one purchases.
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