F for Fake

Before we started our journey of Lost in Criterion I owned two Criterion films: The Third Man and F for Fake. They also happen to be the two movies I most enjoy sharing with other people. I got to make my dear friend Pat watch The Third Man just over four years ago, and now I finally force him to watch F for Fake.
Directed, or perhaps curated, by Orson Welles with footage also directed by François Reichenbach, Oja Kodar, and Gary Graver, F for Fake is a sort of film essay about perceived expertise and fakery. It's a lesson we continue to need.

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The last time we heard from Barbet Schroeder was in his documentary General Idi Amin Dada about a clearly insane man which allowed us to talk about exploitation in documentaries which gets even more interesting when you can't be sure if it's the director or the subject exploiting the other more.

The very next film he worked on may lead to similar concerns of exploitation if it weren't for the concept of informed consent and the fairly clear facts that everything is above board and everyone is on board and a certain board gets used for a purpose I will not quickly forget, but I digress.

Maîtresse (1975) is a traditional boy-meets-girl love story where one part of the couple has to come to terms with something the other does that threatens to undermine their relationship. It's a common enough storyline, though the "something" in this particular instance is that Gerard Depardieu's new girlfriend is a BDSM mistress. Originally Rated X in the US and flat out banned in Britain despite the act that the Brits recognized it as a worthwhile film with some rather graphic content that they just weren't comfortable with.

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The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum

There's a lot of talk in US politics lately of criminalizing womanhood, but then men have always had a tendency to use prison or mental wards to control women who don't act the way the patriarchy would like. You know, when we weren't just burning them at the stake.

If that last paragraph has you scoffing or rolling your eyes, you may want to avoid this week's Lost in Criterion as we take on Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta's The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975), a tale of a woman criminalized for normal behavior to the nth degree. But Blum is more than that, as it also tackles the corrupting relationship between law enforcement and the media, and how both forces spread fear through the masses, decimating civil rights under the guise of "anti-terrorism". It's brilliant, hard to watch, and teaches lessons that we continually need reminded of.

On second thought, if you were rolling your eyes, definitely watch the film in question. And learn a thing.

Grey Gardens

Wrion Bowling joins us today for this documentary about two out of touch and out of mind ex-socialites, which leads to a discussion on whether the Maysles Brothers are exploiting the Beales, whether or not the Maysles Brothers think they're exploiting the Beales, and various multiverse versions of the film that obviously exist because quantum theory.

Wrion is a moviemaker in his own right, and his excellent indie sci-fi psychological thriller Shelter will be available on DVD via Amazon and possibly Walmart and less-probably your local Redbox starting April 21, 2015. My goodness, that's only four days from now!

The Magic Flute

As Pat repeatedly states in this week's episode Ingmar Bergman's 1975 adaptation of the classic Mozart opera is "wonderful." Playfully shot as an actual stage production, with recurring reminders that there is an audience and periodic peeks backstage, Bergman originally filmed it for a New Year's Day television broadcast. It's certainly one of Bergman's best films, and one of the few that I would unequivocally recommend to anyone, no matter their age or disposition.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Peter Weir's 1975 adaptation of Joan Lindsay's equivocally "true" novel is a trip, and not just because it's a mystery with no resolution. Sure it's success was based almost entirely on people thinking the story was real, but there's also a reason it won the BAFTA and Saturn awards for it's cinematography. It's a lovely movie, even if the answer to its central mystery remains unsolved and the answer Joan Lindsay came up with involves some sort of magic portal. It's probably best that Weir left that part out.

Salo, or the 180 Days of Sodom

Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote and directed this 1975 film that almost made me vomit. I stopped it four times to keep from doing so.

This film is the reason we decided to do the podcast in order of Criterion's Spine numbers, because it forced us to have a system which meant we wouldn't just watch the ones we wanted to watch first and never ever ever watch Salo. I almost regret that. I watched this before Pat did and sent him an email apologizing for ever having the idea to watch the Criterion Collection and considered putting an end to it. 

I endured.  Pat endured. We chatted about it for an hour.

From now on whenever I am faced with a seemingly impossible task I will remember: I watched all of Salo; I can do anything.