Krzysztof Kieślowski’s exploration of self The Double Life of Veronique is a subtly surreal and beautiful film, yet much of our conversation is centered around coming to terms with the essays included in the Criterion release, particularly the one written by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
Alfonso Cuarón has made some really great movies, a few masterpieces, and at least one sex romp that may be a satire of an HIV awareness campaign for encouraging monogamy. Guess which one the Criterion Collection makes us watch this week? It’s the sex romp one. Ultimately the target seems more than a little misguided, but the movie’s still pretty good.
Gus Van Sant originally started writing the film that would become My Own Private Idaho in the 70s, and wrote the other two films that would become My Own Private Idaho sometime before the film came out in 1991. Somehow despite the fact that it is very clear which portions of the final film come from the Shakespeare modernization script the film works cohesively -- just with wild changes in tone.
Richard Linklater's Slacker kicked off the American indie scene of the 90's for better or worse (Kevin Smith cites the film as inspiration for making Clerks). Criterion dates the release as 1991 which is when it won at Sundance, though it floated around for at least a year before that, premiering in Austin in June of 1990 and having principally been shot in 1989. There's a lot here that under other circumstances I'd hate, mainly all the people spouting bad philosophy less toward other characters and more toward the camera, but you know what? It works here. It works beautifully.
We start this week's episode with 15 minutes about linguistics, so have fun with that.
Naked Lunch is a "transgressive" and "unfilmable" novel written by William S. Burroughs in 1959. So unfilmable, in fact, that when David Cronenberg decided to make a movie in 1991 it became less of an adaptation of the specific book and more of a meta-adaptation (or, as Pat argues when we finally start talking about the movie, an uber-meta-adaptation) of Burroughs life and creative process. It's messy and uneven.
This week's episode is a long one solely for the plethora and variety of material we're tasked with talking about. Stan Brahkage was an experimental filmmaker and a long-time film professor at the University of Colorado, who principally focused on non-narrative film. By Brakhage covers work from six decades of his career. With over four hours of material in 26 pieces ranging from 9 seconds to 74 minutes long, there's a lot to digest: a lot to love and some, well, not to.
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Further expanding our definition of what The Criterion Collection is collecting -- though in a different direction than the last episode to question it -- comes a television show. John Lurie created, directed, starred in, and composed for this series of fishing trips, and emphasis on the word trip. Fishing companions -- is it still fishing if you never catch anything? -- include Jim Jarmusch, Matt Dillon, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe, and Dennis Hopper in six episodes of mundane fishing action and epic visualization, scoring, and narration.
Originally aired in 1992 on IFC and Bravo nearly a decade before we knew that either of those channels exist, Fishing with John has become a bit of a cult hit. Still have no idea why Criterion's released it on two different occasions, though. Whatever the reason, Adam and Pat loved Fishing with John so much that they cut this episode a bit short -- it's only 40 minutes -- to keep from just repeating their favorite bits and laughing at the memories.
This week Lost in Criterion talks about Jonathan Demme's 1991 Oscar-winning thriller Silence of the Lambs. Pat's not a fan of psychological thrillers, but he didn't let that keep him from watching this one. And he certainly didn't let it keep him from delivering an incredibly well-reasoned argument on why this movie sucks. Personally, I still like it, even if he makes some fair points. This is probably the best conversation we've had so far, and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed having it.