Criterion Close-Up

Criterion Close-Up 64: Hal Ashby

Mark and Aaron have the pleasure to discuss Hal Ashby with Amy Scott, director of the documentary “Hal” about the filmmaker, which is available on Oscilloscope. We discuss Hal’s aesthetic and the way he could tackle difficult subjects with realism and humanity. Among the films discussed are The Landlord, Coming Home, Bound for Glory, Being There, The Last Detail, Shampoo, and others.

Episode Links

Hal – Official Website
Amy Elizabeth Scott – Personal Website
Other Music – Official Website
Facebook – Hal
Instagram – Hal

Criterion Close-Up 63: Notorious (1946)

Mark and Aaron bring back Criterion Close-Up is back, this time with Jill Blake and Wade Sheeler from Drinking While Talking to dive into one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. We look at the history with Selznick and how that helped develop Hitchcock’s later style. We also discuss Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in detail, including their friendship and the chemistry they showed in this film. We get into the gender politics, how the film pushed the boundaries of the code, how it built suspense without extensive action sequences, and also how it incorporates some surprising comedic moments. While we do not settle the debate, we also touch on whether Hitchcock’s 40s or 50s period was his strongest, and how this was a pivotal film between those periods.

Criterion Close-Up 62: FilmSpotting, Cold Water

Yes, you read your podcast reader correctly. Criterion Close-Up is back! For this episode, Mark and Aaron kick things back on, and then dig into a conversation with Adam Kempenaar from FilmSpotting. This was initially recorded for Criterion Now, but was a better fit for Close-Up and a good way to relaunch the show. Adam talks a little bit about Criterion and his own experience with director marathons. We then dig into Cold Water and the career of Olivier Assayas. Glad to be back!

Show Links

Social Media

Criterion Close-Up 61: The Rose

Mark and Aaron take a trip down memory lane. This is not only the first Criterion Close-Up episode, but the first time that we had podcasted together. The episode is a little rough, as would be expected, but we hope you’ll enjoy hearing us as we learned our way.

Episode Credits

 

Criterion Close-Up 60 – Julien Duvivier in the 1960s

Mark, Aaron, David and Trevor return for part two of our exploration of the under-appreciated French director, Julien Duvivier. The first episode, Eclipse Viewier 54, looked at the first two films in his Eclipse set. This episode looks at the peak of his career, particularly La Belle Equipe, Pépé le Moko, and La Fin du Jour, along with an overview of his career and the availability (or lack) of his work in the states.

Episode Links & Notes

Episode Credits

Next time on the podcast: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Criterion Close-Up 59: Late Spring and the Films of Yasujiro Ozu

Mark, Aaron and Matt Gasteier explore the filmmaking world of Yasujirō Ozu, centering on his pivotal masterpiece Late Spring (1949). It would be impossible to explore all of his dozens of his films in one episode, so we give an overview of his work, his style, and his contributions towards international cinema.

3:00 – Ozu Introduction

15:00 – Ozu biography & style

29:00 – Setsuko Hara

39:00 – Late Spring

Episode Credits

Next time on the podcast: French Series, Part Three

Criterion Close-Up 58: Punch-Drunk Love and the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

Mark and Aaron get back to this century with a look at Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love. Naturally we talk about Adam Sandler’s dramatic acting jobs, and, well, what happened to them? We go further into PTA’s career, film by film, chronicling the evolution of his craft and style. We explore why he is so popular, and question whether he belongs in the conversation of greatest living filmmakers.

3:40 – Punch Drunk Love

47:40 – Paul Thomas Anderson

Episode Credits

Next time on the podcast: Late Spring

Criterion Close-Up 57: French 1930s 2 – Early Jean Renoir

Mark and Aaron continue the French 1930s series by exploring the early career of Jean Renoir, easily the most recognizable director from the period. We begin with the beginning, by looking at his origins and childhood. We look at his early silent films, his first sound adaptations, and a couple of films from the middle of the decade where we began to settle into his poetic realist style.

7:00 – Why Renoir?

9:30 – Origins of Renoir

20:00 – Silent Renoir (Catherine, Whirlpool of Fate, Nana, Charleston Parade, The Little Match Girl)

51:30 – Early Sound (On purge bébé, La Chienne, Boudu Saved From Drowning)

1:21:30 – Poetic Realism in Mid-Thirties (Toni, A Day in the Country)

Recommended Films

Episode Credits

Next time on the podcast: Paul Thomas Anderson

Criterion Close-Up 56: Blood Simple

Mark and Aaron are joined by Keith Silva to look at the Coen Brothers’ debut to cap of #Noirvember. The film cannot be viewed without the exploring the context of the Coen library and their successful career to follow, but it stands alone as a debut film that sets the stage for their style. We focus quite a bit on the noir aspect, how they were going for a specific aesthetic that shows their film heritage. We evaluate why this film works, how these neophytes meticulously crafted a slow burning art film at the height of the 1980s mainstream blockbusters.

About the film:

Joel and Ethan Coen’s career-long darkly comic road trip through misfit America began with this razor-sharp, hard-boiled neonoir set somewhere in Texas, where a sleazy bar owner releases a torrent of violence with one murderous thought. Actor M. Emmet Walsh looms over the proceedings as a slippery private eye with a yellow suit, a cowboy hat, and no moral compass, and Frances McDormand’s cunning debut performance set her on the road to stardom. The tight scripting and inventive style that have marked the Coens’ work for decades are all here in their first film, in which cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld abandons black-and-white chiaroscuro for neon signs and jukebox colors that combine with Carter Burwell’s haunting score to lurid and thrilling effect. Blending elements from pulp fiction and low-budget horror flicks, Blood Simple reinvented the film noir for a new generation, marking the arrival of a filmmaking ensemble that would transform the American independent cinema scene. Episode Links & Notes

Special Guest: Keith Silva from Interested in Sophisticated Fun, Comics Bulletin, and Psycho Drive-In. You can find him on Twitter.

1:50 – Welcome Keith Silva

4:50 – Blood Simple

Episode Credits

Next time on the podcast: French 1930s, Part Two

Criterion Close-Up 55: Cronos

Mark and Aaron tackle Guillermo Del Toro’s debut film, recently re-released as part of the Trilogía boxset. Cronos is technically in the vampire genre, but even for his first film, has a distinctive Del Toro feel. We get into the character of Jesus Gris, and how Del Toro uses him as a tragic figure that touches on themes of mortality and religion. We also explore Del Toro’s passion and his “Bleak House,” showing that his passion for the medium informs his work.

Episode Links & Notes

4:20 – Mark’s VTIFF experience

8:00 – Short Takes (The Interrogation, Santa Sangre, Evolution, Your Vice is a Locked Room and I Have the Key, Under the Shadow, Midnight Cowboy)

33:30 – Cronos

Episode Credits

Next time on the podcast: Blood Simple