‘The camera is backed away, at an amazing (and amazed) distance, from which it can contain what seems to be an entire city. It comes as a shock to discover that Tati actually built this city…We feel we are seeing Paris, or any metropolis. That is a tribute to extraordinary precision in the art direction, but it is also a proof of the tranquil, amiable gaze that Tati maintains. There is nothing like the inclination to see ugliness, or unkindness…Rather, Tati is charmed by the existence of things in space…Yes, this society is accident-prone and deserves to collapse or destroy itself, but its energy, its persistence, is beautiful and inspiring. It’s like watching cells grow and divide. What alarmed 1968, I suspect, was the authentic optimism of the film, its exhilaration, and the gentle growing fondness between, say, the dark girl in green and Tati himself, who wanders in and out of his own world, auteur and bystander. Truly a great film, the secret to the crowded frame.’
How many Criterion Collection editions do you own and what would be your top three favorites (going by overall package-- bonuses, cover art, and such)?
(hopefully I hit ‘post’ rather than ‘answer privately’) I own this many releases from the Criterion Collection
But these three are my favorite overall releases that I own (Rather than simply my three favorite films from the Criterion Collection)
1.The Complete Jacques Tati - It contains the entire directorial output by one of my pantheon directors (6 features, and 3 shorts). Playtime (1967), his masterpiece, would be my choice as my favorite film of all-time. It also has four other short films, a couple of documentaries, and a buttload of other extras. I don’t think cinema has ever reached higher heights than what is contained in this box set.
2.F for Fake (Orson Welles, 1974) - I’d say that this is Orson Welles at his most playful and fun. It’s also a contender for being my favorite Welles film. What makes this one of my favorite releases, beyond how much I love the film itself, is that it contains the documentary Orson Welles: One-Man Band (Vassili Silovic and Oja Kodar, 1995). It’s a documentary about many of Orson Welles’ unfinished and unreleased film projects, of which there are many.
3.Lonesome (Paul Fejos, 1928) - This is a beautiful and inventive little romantic comedy made during the transition from silent to sound. Most of the film is silent, with three sound sequences mixed in there. This film was rarely seen for decades, I think only seen periodically at festivals. I believe that this is the first time that it’s been released on home video, the first time that it’s been widely available to watch since it’s release. It also has two additional bonus films by Paul Fejos - one silent film, and a reconstructed early musical film.