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2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Old 09-04-19, 06:14 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by popcorn View Post
This is the first year that I'm not focusing on the checklist. As my collection starts to grow, I'm taking the opportunity to watch some of the supplements on the disc as well. I spent almost six hours on the Do The Right Thing Blu-ray the other night! Besides the high quality transfers, these additional features are what make Criterions stand out to me.
Oh, absolutely! Whenever I participate in this challenge, I gorge on the supplements before moving on to the next movie, unless I'm really close to finishing the checklist and running out of time. This year's challenge is pretty daunting for me, 'cause I've got a decent size backlog of unwatched discs and there are gobs of supplements. I'll be stunned if I get through them all, but that's alright.
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Old 09-04-19, 10:30 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

I just slogged through Armageddon (Spine #40), which I hadn't seen since it opened in theaters 21 years ago. The visual effects hold up surprisingly well, and Peter Stormare is great as the cantankerous cosmonaut Lev. I think that's the extent of praise I have for the movie. Odd as it may sound, even though it runs 153 minutes, a key problem I have with it is that it doesn't take its time when it should. In-story, pretty much none of the things that happen could happen in the time allotted. But even just as a piece of storytelling, Michael Bay never pauses for a beat to let a punch line set in, or give dread a chance to build. The pace is too impatient for any of that, and consequently, the tone is homogeneous throughout, and any personality that may have been on the page is smothered.

Can't wait to sit through the two commentaries. -_- At least I'm told Ben Affleck razzes the movie throughout one of them.
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Old 09-06-19, 03:55 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

I'm had a good start to the month, utilizing my Criterion Channel subscription and watching a few from my unwatched pile. Last night, I opened my Ingmar Bergman's Cinema set and watched Smiles of a Summer Night. The set is organized as if you are at a Bergman retrospective which is cool (but I'll probably watch a few out of order since I want to rewatch Shame and The Passion of Anna).
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Old 09-06-19, 05:25 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

I havenít watched it yet, but I saw that Rosemaryís Baby was on one of the Epix channels, so I set my DVR and recorded it. A horror movie seems like it will be a good way to start off my Challenge viewing, given that myself and many of my friends are looking forward to Halloween now that summer is over.
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Old 09-08-19, 10:36 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Y'all, Armageddon ain't in The Criterion Collection. Ben Affleck's commentary remarks for Armageddon are in The Criterion Collection, and the movie is just a supplement. I had heard it was delightful, and they were right. It's a cut-together commentary track featuring director Michael Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and actors Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. I wish they had just presented Affleck solo, because his riffing on the stupidity of the movie is fantastic. He breaks into Sling Blade talk whenever Billy Bob Thornton appears, and at some point even proposes that it's the same character, and he's just somehow fooled NASA into letting him run things, and it may be my favorite fan theory about anything I've heard all year.

It was also interesting to hear Bay talk about how he lectured the CGI artists about how important it was for him to be able to follow the action and have a clear sense of spatial relationships, and to wonder what Armageddon Michael Bay would think about Transformers Michael Bay. The late Jerry Bruckheimer's comments are of the predictable "Michael is so good at what he does, this was not an easy shoot" variety, and Bruce Willis... Honestly, I've already forgotten anything he had to say. He didn't appear much.

There's a second commentary track featuring director of photography John Schwartzman, NASA consultant Dr. Joe Allen, and asteroid consultant Ivan Bekey. I wish they'd swapped Schwartzman with Affleck, because the two scientists frequently say things like, "I told them this was unrealistic but they did it anyway". Somehow, they refrain from sounding exasperated while watching the movie they gave input for completely disregard that input. But it was kind of chilling to hear that, at least as of 20 years ago, we didn't really have anyone even watching for more than around 2% of asteroids because of lack of funding and moreover, we didn't even have a contingency plan in place "because nobody want[ed] the responsibility"! Which means that this stupid movie actually represents more of a blueprint for dealing with a "global killer" asteroid than anything that any actual agencies had. That was kinda sobering.

The rest of the supplements are on Disc Two, and unfortunately, there isn't much here to write home about. Michael Bay's Gag Reel is a bit amusing, if you're into gag reels. I like the idea of them, but they always end up feeling like hearing just the punchline to someone else's inside joke. There are Deleted Scenes; storyboard sequences; three mind numbing interviews with different visual effects artists who use the word "render" so much that it would be a fatal drinking game; another interview with the production designer that's okay but not enlightening; trailers and such; and, of course, the music video to Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". I can see how these passed for supplements in 1999 for a popcorn movie, but they feel sub-par for Criterion.

Lastly, there's an essay in the booklet by Jeanine Basinger trying to sell us on Bay as an ahead-of-his-time storyteller (he may be) and Armageddon as "misunderstood" by its detractors (it wasn't). I believe that she believed it, but she fell short of making me believe it, too.

At least I got several checks out of all this.
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Old 09-09-19, 09:11 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

^^^ I've heard that the Armageddon commentary is worth checking out for the reasons you state. I haven't watched the movie in years and never really cared for it, but it was in heavy rotation at our house after my brother got the Criterion DVD. At that point, no one in my family knew that it was a niche distributor (or even that such a thing as a niche distributor was a thing). At the time, my brother and I engaged in the heated Armageddon vs. Deep Impact debate on opposite sides. (I still think I was on the right one!)
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Old 09-09-19, 09:19 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Watched Merchant of Four Seasons last night and felt it was kind of 'meh,' it was a nicely melancholy tale from Fassbender with some development that made sense thematically but on a surface plot level felt a little random. I remember being more impressed with Ali: Fear Eats the Soul; maybe I wasn't in the mood for the melodrama of it.

Rushmore was fun, Wes Anderson knows how to do kooky.
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Old 09-10-19, 12:57 AM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by mrcellophane View Post
^^^ I've heard that the Armageddon commentary is worth checking out for the reasons you state. I haven't watched the movie in years and never really cared for it, but it was in heavy rotation at our house after my brother got the Criterion DVD. At that point, no one in my family knew that it was a niche distributor (or even that such a thing as a niche distributor was a thing). At the time, my brother and I engaged in the heated Armageddon vs. Deep Impact debate on opposite sides. (I still think I was on the right one!)
There are some discussions about Deep Impact. Bay says they didn't view one another as rivals, because they were doing something so different from one another despite starting from a similar presence. They even invited him to attend its premiere, apparently. One thing he talked about was how he hates movie presidents (the only one he liked was Harrison Ford), so he kept the president in Armageddon to a minimum, whereas of course Morgan Freeman was a big part of Deep Impact as its president. But that underscores a key difference; Bay's film, we're told repeatedly throughout all the supplements, was made for middle America, with a workin' class hero gettin' it done because all the muckety mucks are too incompetent. In her accompanying essay, Jeanine Basinger likens Armageddon to old Warner Bros. pictures in that way. If they could have made this movie, with all of its 1998 production values but with a comparably aged Bogey in the Bruce Willis role, it might have been one of the greatest works of cinema ever.
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Old 09-10-19, 01:10 AM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

I finally revisited Certified Copy, which I fell in love with when I first saw it six years ago. I could spend two hours just alternately looking at Juliette Binoche fighting back a tear and staring at William Shimell's exquisitely sculpted hair. I love strolling through Tuscany with them, taking it all in without spending any real time on any of it. I find the whole thing mesmerizing in a way few other movies have been for me. Its plot twists, such as they are, are often so subtle that it's only in hindsight that they took place at all. Are they just being coy with one another in the beginning, role playing that they're strangers? Or is this some kind of alternate universe thing, where each segment shows us the same people under slightly different circumstances? Does James not know how to speak Italian (as he admits to in the coffee shop) or does he (as he angrily snaps at the staff in the restaurant)? There are a lot of little threads that can be pulled, and I love that.
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Old 09-12-19, 03:15 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

How's everyone's challenge going so far? Found any new favorites, or learned anything new about an old one? For those doing the checklist or set personal goals, how's your progress?
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Old 09-12-19, 03:49 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Armageddon doesn’t count? I haven’t seen it in 20 years and don’t recall even being tempted to watch it for the challenge, but that’s still news to me.
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Old 09-12-19, 03:51 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Travis McClain View Post
How's everyone's challenge going so far? Found any new favorites, or learned anything new about an old one? For those doing the checklist or set personal goals, how's your progress?
I'm on track to finish the checklist. However, I've got way more activities planned for the latter part of the month, so I may not get every check. I've started watching my Ingmar Bergman's Cinema set, and the two films I've seen look amazing. The Crisis BD is much better than the Eclipse DVD.

As for new favorites, I've been working my way through The Golden Age of Television box set and loving it. The live teleplays of the 1950s are oddly compelling and nerve-racking - even though almost everyone in front and behind the camera is dead. I find myself anxiously hoping that no one seriously flubs a line or experiences a tech failure. I've watched five of the eight included films so far, and my favorite is The Comedian, a drama about a tyrannical comedian browbeating and manipulating his staff and brother on the eve of a huge live-action broadcast. Andy Rooney plays the tyrant with jovial meanness. I borrowed the set from the library to watch the teleplay of Bang the Drum Slowly which starred Paul Newman, one of my favorite actors, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the whole experience. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised since I love 50s television. (I mean I once had a DVD of old half-hour Westinghouse commercials that Lucille Ball did in the 50s.)
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Old 09-12-19, 05:00 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
Armageddon doesnít count? I havenít seen it in 20 years and donít recall even being tempted to watch it for the challenge, but thatís still news to me.
Yep, it's spine #40, and also had a LaserDisc release. If you're referring to my remark that the movie isn't in the Collection but its commentary tracks are, I was just being flippant.
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Old 09-12-19, 08:03 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Hoping to have more time this weekend since Iím home alone, but I enjoyed Rosemaryís Baby. Creepy movie and good for my favorite holiday of the year.
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Old 09-12-19, 08:12 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Travis McClain View Post
Yep, it's spine #40, and also had a LaserDisc release. If you're referring to my remark that the movie isn't in the Collection but its commentary tracks are, I was just being flippant.
Oh good. I still wonít watch it, but I could if I wanted.
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Old 09-15-19, 12:51 AM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post


Oh good. I still wonít watch it, but I could if I wanted.
Just watch with the commentary track that includes Ben Affleck. Speaking of whom, it was either Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer who shared that they spent $20k to "fix" Affleck's teeth because they weren't sufficient for a movie star. Whichever one it was shared that another movie had spent about that for someone else's teeth. I forget who. So I guess if you want your chompers fixed and can't afford it, become a movie star!
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Old 09-15-19, 08:43 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Well, folks, we're at the halfway point. How's it shaking out for everyone? What have you got left that you want to get to before the end of the challenge?

I personally am way behind. I've lost several days at a time due to other time consuming things and some "blah" level health. I have twelve discs remaining in my backlog. It's doable, but only if I can really commit to it. If I was only watching the movies, it'd be a breeze. But I figure the supplements are probably one-and-done viewings, and I may as well do them while I'm watching the movies, too. Doing that has always felt like the spirit of the challenge to me, anyway.
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Old 09-15-19, 08:50 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

I have to admit, I haven't started yet and may not. After 2 months of hosting, I'm a bit movie'd out and enjoying my break and catching up on TV.

Though, I was just watching Criminal Minds, season 1, and felt the need to watch The Princess Bride soon. (Mandy Patinkin is in the first season only.) I picked that one up, last year? the year before? when Criterion re-released it. It's one of my top 3 movies of all time and certainly deserved the Criterion treatment. The packaging is very nice. A fabric covered book of the essays and the disc is in the back cover. I know I watched everything when I picked the film up, but honestly can't remember all that is on the disc. There's quite a bit of content for for the film, even if you go outside of this edition, though!
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Old 09-15-19, 09:39 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by LJG765 View Post
I have to admit, I haven't started yet and may not. After 2 months of hosting, I'm a bit movie'd out and enjoying my break and catching up on TV.

Though, I was just watching Criminal Minds, season 1, and felt the need to watch The Princess Bride soon. (Mandy Patinkin is in the first season only.) I picked that one up, last year? the year before? when Criterion re-released it. It's one of my top 3 movies of all time and certainly deserved the Criterion treatment. The packaging is very nice. A fabric covered book of the essays and the disc is in the back cover. I know I watched everything when I picked the film up, but honestly can't remember all that is on the disc. There's quite a bit of content for for the film, even if you go outside of this edition, though!
I totally get that burnout. I think even just participating in two consecutive challenges can be draining. In hindsight, we should have scheduled the Criterion Challenge in either July or August, or maybe November to catch forum members at their peak Criterion interest due to the annual Barnes & Noble sale. I think for a lot of us, it's exciting to get a new disc or two in July and plan on getting to them during the Criterion challenge, but by time it rolls around, we're either drained from the one-two punch of Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Animation, as you are, or they've just had the disc on their shelves long enough that it's stopped feeling important. Come to think of it, what is the November challenge? Could we swap with it? Would anyone even want to swap if we could? I know this is probably the lowest participated challenge, but it feels like a ghost town this year. (Says the guy who has only dropped by the forum for this challenge in the last three years.)
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Old 09-15-19, 09:44 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Travis McClain View Post
I totally get that burnout. I think even just participating in two consecutive challenges can be draining. In hindsight, we should have scheduled the Criterion Challenge in either July or August, or maybe November to catch forum members at their peak Criterion interest due to the annual Barnes & Noble sale. I think for a lot of us, it's exciting to get a new disc or two in July and plan on getting to them during the Criterion challenge, but by time it rolls around, we're either drained from the one-two punch of Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Animation, as you are, or they've just had the disc on their shelves long enough that it's stopped feeling important. Come to think of it, what is the November challenge? Could we swap with it? Would anyone even want to swap if we could? I know this is probably the lowest participated challenge, but it feels like a ghost town this year. (Says the guy who has only dropped by the forum for this challenge in the last three years.)
November is comedy challenge with a hefty crossover with holiday starting on Thanksgiving (around Thanksgiving? can't remember off hand). Might be something to bring up in the Challenge Compendium thread. I'd be up for the change. A bit more serious films then can go right into mainly light hearted, feel good films.
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Old 09-15-19, 10:18 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

I’ve barely turned the TV on this month, way behind schedule on my checklist. One interesting thing I did watch was a first-time viewing on the infamous Heaven’s Gate. Known as one of the first huge budget box office complete failures, and reviewed by some as ‘the worst film ever made.’ Not sure how it got that designation, must have been reviewers writing based on expectations. It wasn’t bad at all. Not very good, and plodded along a bit too long before it got really going, but some decent performances and an ok plot, though apparently not very close to the actual story.
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Old 09-15-19, 10:40 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

There is a Criterion themed collection, Blue Christmases, which would give dual participants some stuff for the segue. Plus, there's no telling what they'll add to the channel in November. I don't expect a formal Christmas collection until December, but there may well be individual titles that would fit. Obviously, there are far fewer of these than there are comedies that overlap with holiday movies, but really, how many movies are any given participant watching on that one night before the handover?

Anyway, I'm about to revisit M. That'll end up being three movie viewings in all, since I'll also do the commentary and the English language version. It's one of four on my to-do list that will end up being three viewings. I know Bull Durham and The Princess Bride each have two commentaries, and The Phantom Carriage has a commentary and two different score tracks. Damn my completism complex!
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Old 09-15-19, 10:46 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Travis McClain View Post
There is a Criterion themed collection, Blue Christmases, which would give dual participants some stuff for the segue. Plus, there's no telling what they'll add to the channel in November. I don't expect a formal Christmas collection until December, but there may well be individual titles that would fit. Obviously, there are far fewer of these than there are comedies that overlap with holiday movies, but really, how many movies are any given participant watching on that one night before the handover?

Anyway, I'm about to revisit M. That'll end up being three movie viewings in all, since I'll also do the commentary and the English language version. It's one of four on my to-do list that will end up being three viewings. I know Bull Durham and The Princess Bride each have two commentaries, and The Phantom Carriage has a commentary and two different score tracks. Damn my completism complex!
Well, I think the overlap is more like a week and a half with comedy and holiday since holiday starts with Turkey Day and comedy doesn't end until the 1st. Holiday is the longest challenge I believe going from Thanksgiving to Jan. 1st. Last year, holiday started on Nov. 17th. Not that I'm arguing against the change! Just throwing it out there.

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Old 09-15-19, 10:50 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
I’ve barely turned the TV on this month, way behind schedule on my checklist. One interesting thing I did watch was a first-time viewing on the infamous Heaven’s Gate. Known as one of the first huge budget box office complete failures, and reviewed by some as ‘the worst film ever made.’ Not sure how it got that designation, must have been reviewers writing based on expectations. It wasn’t bad at all. Not very good, and plodded along a bit too long before it got really going, but some decent performances and an ok plot, though apparently not very close to the actual story.
It also came out in 1980. The standards for what constituted a bad movie were different, for critics and movie-goers alike. That year's box office top ten:
  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. 9 to 5
  3. Stir Crazy
  4. Airplane!
  5. Any Which Way You Can
  6. Private Benjamin
  7. Coal Miner's Daughter
  8. Smokey and the Bandit II
  9. The Blue Lagoon
  10. The Blues Brothers
Can you imagine such a landscape for movies today? 9 to 5 was second. Second! Only The Empire Strikes Back took in more money that year. That's wild.
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Old 09-15-19, 10:51 PM
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Re: 2019 Criterion Challenge Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by LJG765 View Post
Well, I think the overlap is more like a week and a half with comedy and holiday since holiday starts with Turkey Day and comedy doesn't end until the 1st. Holiday is the longest challenge I believe going from Thanksgiving to Jan. 1st. Last year, holiday started on Nov. 17th. Not that I'm arguing against the change! Just throwing it out there.
Nobody's gonna go for the swap anyway.
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