Criterion Channel is streaming a few of Justin’s fave flicks
Hey hey hey, cinephiles. While putting together a new batch of weekly recommendations for great films currently streaming on the Criterion Channel site and app, I realized that some of my all-time favorite flicks were both coming and going on the service. So buckle in to a comfy chair (see below) and indulge in some of my faves!
Newly added: Brazil (1985)
This dark dystopian comedy from Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) is my all-time favorite movie. Jonathan Pryce is an office worker caught in the bureaucratic cogs of an authoritarian government. His only escape is through his vivid and fantastical dreams. When he discovers the literal girl of his dreams is real (Kim Greist), he puts both of their lives in danger to be with her. Gilliam’s grungy future-noir imagery and the witty dialogue of co-screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Oscar winner for Shakespeare in Love) make this a film that astonishes me consistently over the years. Universal Pictures famously attempted to put out a butchered version of the film, and their hilariously wrong “Love Conquers All” edit is also available now on Criterion’s site.
Leaving August 31: Stop Making Sense (1984)
A few weeks back, I recommended the David Byrne-curated color guard film, Contemporary Color. Call me a man with a one-track mind, but when I saw that the classic concert film Stop Making Sense from Byrne’s band Talking Heads was getting ready to shuffle off the Criterion Channel slate, I knew I had to feature that magnificent weirdo again. If somehow you have missed this flick — or you’ve only seen Fred Armisen and Bill Hader’s brilliant parody on Documentary Now — what are you waiting for!?! This is the film that introduced me to the Talking Heads’ music, and I’m not the only one to consider many of the performances here superior to the studio recordings. Add in Byrne’s trippy stage designs (and big suit!) and Jonathan Demme’s masterful direction, and you have one of the cinema’s most astonishing and joyous works.
Women Filmmakers: Mikey & Nicky (1976)
Elaine May has been a legend for decades — as a writer, as a comedic actor, and as an improviser. But it has only been fairly recently that she has been getting her due as a filmmaker. Her best known film is Ishtar, an infamous flop that essentially put her in movie director jail forever. (In case you’re wondering, I’m one of those revisionist folks who thinks Ishtar is actually a pretty funny movie and not nearly deserving of its turkey status.) However, her best film might be Mikey and Nicky, a character-driven drama about two low-level mob guys. Peter Falk and John Cassavetes play the title characters who spend a long night together, with Cassavetes’s Nicky paranoid that he’s going to get whacked and Falk’s Mikey there to calm his pal’s nerves. At least, that’s how it seems at first…
More Pop Culture Beast – Criterion Channel Picks:
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 30, 2020: “Summer” Movies
*Criterion Channel Picks: Sports flicks for Opening Day, July 23, 2020
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 16, 2020: Last House on the Left & More
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 9, 2020: Contemporary Color & More
Justin Remer makes movies, directs music videos, and plays in the bands Duck the Piano Wire and Elastic No-No Band when he is not writing movie reviews. His folk-rock documentary MAKING LOVERS & DOLLARS is currently streaming on Amazon.