Fifteen Criterions That I Wish Were Real

The Criterion Collection is responsible for releasing some of the highest quality DVDs and Blu-Rays available today. One of my favorite parts of their products are their awesome covers. While browsing around the internet today I came across a website called Fake Criterions that, as the title suggests, makes fake criterion covers for films that have yet to be released by the collection. I ended up looking through all 68 pages of its incredible content and got an idea. Below are fifteen of the fake Criterions that I saw that I wish would actually be released by Criterion.

2001: A Space Odyssey

The monolith, the red circle of HAL in the “o”, the sci-fi font, the perfect screenshot. No better way to capture the film.

Badlands 

Somehow manages to capture the beauty of a Terrence Malick film. Also a remastered blu-ray version of this be incredible.

Boogie Nights

The Criterion collection needs some Paul Thomas Anderson. Also the cover is an excellent color scheme applied to the opening shot of the film. It feels 70’s.

Black Swan

Perfect. It is perfect.

Drive 

All of the best shots showcased on one incredible cover.

Hot Fuzz

Simon Pegg is a stone cold badass. That is all.

I’m Not There

Interesting coloring plus all of the major characters shown on one cover. No other way to describe it except awesome.

Lost In Translation

No shot better captures the entire essence of the film than the shot shown here.

Mulholland Drive

The perfect image to capture the eery and weird feel of this film.

Persona

Considering how they have essentially every other Ingmar Bergman film in the criterion collection it’s long overdue that they add Persona. As for the cover there is no better way to showcase this film than by using just still shots of the excellent cinematography.

Raging Bull

The collection is clearly lacking in Scorsese and what better film to help with that problem than Raging Bull?

Revolutionary Road

Probably my favorite cover on the list.

The Shining

The more Kubrick in the collection, the better.

There Will Be Blood

That red bowling combined with the shot Daniel Day-Lewis is pretty dark and haunting.

The Tree Of Life

A beautiful film like this deserves to be released on a beautiful Criterion blu-ray.

Finally I’ve saved the best for last. An extra cover that I found too spectacular to ignore:

Titanic

Just about as good as the film itself.

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The Art of Stand-Up Comedy

When properly executed, stand-up comedy routines can become some of the most entertaining experiences one can have. In order for it to reach that peak level of quality it has to contain of the usual factors that makes comedy great. What you like is subjective but, in my mind, for a comedy routine to be successful it’s humor has to be clever. It has to be something that original and hilarious. No one is going to laugh at something thats already been repeated. What this results in is that all of the true top-tier comedians are just great story-tellers with a twist. Today, rather than watching films, i decided to watch three comedy specials. One entitled Talking Funny which consisted of four of todays greatest comedians (Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, and Chris Rock) talking about comedy as a whole. The other two were both acts by Louis C.K. One was called Shameless which was my favorite of the two, and the other was called Chewed Up. I’m going to give brief reviews on each of them while touching on what made them funny.

Talking Funny 

Talking Funny manages to be both incredibly entertaining and very interesting. It may just be me but I was truly fascinated by the differences and similarities between how each comedian created and crafted their final acts. This may not seem very interesting but each of these men’s natural comedic gifts allow it to be so much more than just explanations. This is just a conversation. There is no interviewer, no questions, no real topics. All there is are four drastically different personalities bouncing off of each other.

Between discussions of the mechanics of what makes stand-up routines there are plenty of amusing anecdotes and revisited jokes supplied by each of the comedians. Some of the jokes that were talked about I had never heard before which added a new level of entertainment to it. One of my favorites was Louis C.K. delivering one of Chris Rock’s jokes which was “When white people are rich, they’re just rich forever and ever. But when a black guy gets rich it’s just countdown to when he’s poor again.” It’s all just really funny stuff.

This special combines the humor of a stand-up routine, the information of a documentary, and the casual-ness of a regular conversation. All together it is an incredibly entertaining little film.

Shameless by Louis C.K.

I’m tempted to review these next two comedy specials simply by copying down the hilarity of Louis C.K. Word for word. That is how good his bits are. His delivery and his personality clearly add something to the bits but when it comes down to it he just has incredible content. Louis C.K. doesn’t really tell jokes, per se. Instead he just talks about all the (usually shitty) things in his life and dissects parts of them until somehow through his comedy magic they become hilarious.

One of my favorite examples of this is one of  his first bits where he’s talking about his friend who instant messages him. His friend is on a plane and Louis tells him he hopes the plane crashes. The guy tells him to take it back and Louis says “Fuck you, I hope it crashes”, and the friend replies asking him how he would feel if the plane crashes and Louis says “That would be amazing. To know that I can crash planes. I’d happily give your live for knowledge of these powers.” It’s just simple things like that. He starts the bit talking about how stupid instant messages are, transfers to talking about an argument with his friend, and ends with rooting for a plane to crash and for his friend to die. None of these topics are naturally funny but he seems to have a natural ability to make it hilarious.

The entirety of the act is at the highest caliber when it comes to his routines, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will enjoy this. He really doesn’t have any boundaries t all when it comes to his content. He talks about everything and he talks about them with brutal honest. It’s one of the many things I love about his act. I get that there are many people that find him too vulgar but for me it is all perfection.

Chewed Up by Louis C.K.

The first few minutes of this performance wasn’t really something I found entertaining and is probably the only reason why I consider this to be the worst of his that I’ve seen. He opens up talking about the word faggot and its multiple meanings. How he used it as a kid for just someone being annoying or just “being a faggot.” This was one of his few bits that I didn’t really find that entertaining. It certainly had moments where it reached proper C.K. caliber like him watching two guys blow each other and how he would never call them faggots unless one of them took the dick out of their mouth and said something like “People from Phoenix are Phoenisians.” I’ll admit it. That line made me laugh pretty hard, but overall it was hardly comparable to his the rest of the special. Consider it a blemish on an otherwise flawless piece.

I may be considerably biased when it comes to reviewing Louis C.K.’s stand up but I really just love his act. Like I said earlier: comedy is subjective. For me as long as the comedy is like this I will always laugh hysterically.

A Look at the Work of Leonardo Dicaprio

Last night while on Letterboxd (which is a brilliant film website), I decided to make a list ranking the ten Leonardo Dicaprio performances that I’ve seen. I ranked them like this:

  1. His performance as Howard Hughes in The Aviator
  2. His performance as Frank Wheeler in Revolutionary Road
  3. His performance as Billy Costigan in The Departed
  4. His performance as J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar
  5. His performance as Frank Abgnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can
  6. His performance as Danny Archer in Blood Diamond
  7. His performance as Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island
  8. His performance as Cobb in Inception
  9. His performance as Jack Dawson in Titanic
  10. His performance as Amsterdam Vallon in Gangs of New York

While I was making this list I realized how big a fan I am of Dicaprio’s work. He has managed to deliver consistently good performances and, for me at least, he hasn’t delivered a bad performance in ten years. He is, in my opinion, one of the finest actors of his generation if not the finest and I would personally rank him as one of my ten favorite actors of all time. Why is that? What is it that makes his performances so excellent? That is what I’m going to be looking at now. What I’m going to be doing is taking a look at the top three performances that I listed and explaining why I consider them to be clear examples of Dicaprio’s talent.

The Aviator

In my opinion this is, without a doubt, Dicaprio’s finest performance. A film like this with a running time of just over three hours needs a talented to lead actor to survive. The entire film is about it’s central character Howard Hughes, and without a convincing lead it would amount to nothing.This is where Dicaprio steps up. This a tour de force performance, mainly because of what Dicaprio is required to do. He has to illustrate eccentricity to the point of insanity in the life of a committed and successful man. It is this breakdown that highlights the actors true talent.

There is one scene in particular that really stands out to me as a clear example of this. It is the final scene so this explanation may contain a spoiler regarding to the ending. Just a warning. The scene that I am referring to shows Howard’s paranoia and insanity take hold in his later life. In the scene prior to this he had successfully flown his Hercules plane which was a gigantic vehicle and he is now at the landing area where a party is being held. He approaches his two main men and starts talking about the future of flight with Jet airplanes. As he is explaining, he keeps looking at these men in suits who seem to be looking at him. He eventually stops working and pauses for a minute as the camera cuts to this group of men who appear to be making their way towards him. In that moment we see a close up on Dicaprio’s face and we see his paranoid mind at work trying to figure out who these men are. He soon starts up talking again about getting someone over from Lockhead to help them out and his two men start conversing. As those two are talking his is staring at the men who are still slowly approaching and begins to mumble under his breath “The way of the future.The way of the future.” over and over again.

As he says those words it looks like he is experiencing pain. He starts coughing between saying it and he is quickly rushed out to a small bathroom and he’s kept in there. As he’s in there he starts looking frustrated and angry and in more pain from before until this flashback occurs to him as a child with his mother. Once that ends it goes back to his face for thirty seconds or so and in those thirty seconds he could only be described as broken. Both mentally and physically. It is a flawless piece of a brilliant performance.

Revolutionary Road

For the longest time I considered this to be the finest of Dicaprio’s career, and there is good reason for that. This is Dicaprio’s most emotionally raw performance. It is here more so than any of his other films that he is required to channel strong emotions whether they be severe anger, depression, etc. And that is where he really shines. The character he plays in Revolutionary Road, Frank Wheeler, is a conflicted and unfulfilled man. He used to have great dreams until the day he settled down to live a empty, normal suburban life. His emptiness results in a resentment of his wife and vice-versa. What this conflict and tension results in is some of the most terrifyingly real arguments that you will ever see on film.

The one argument that stands out the most for me is towards the end of the film where their hatred for one-another really shows and it all erupts in a violent argument. I wont give away any plot points  but the scene that I’m talking about comes right after Michael Shannon’s character, a mathematician named John Givings, really exposes them and the reasons why they chose not to follow their dream. What happens in this argument is mainly Frank living in denial and attempting to prove to April that what John said wasn’t true. In that moment April really comes out with everything and tells him that she is repulsed by him. Dicaprio’s response shows some of the best acting of his career. In short: he explodes. And it is magnificent.

The Departed

Billy Costigan is a fascinating character, to say the least. For the duration of the film he is dealing with the unbearable stress of being undercover and working with an incredibly dangerous criminal. What this results in is a mass amount of unresolved issues with inner conflict, identity, and overall fear. All of this agony is put out in their in my favorite scene of the film where Billy opens up to a psychiatrist, Madolyn. What ensues is one of the finest moments of a transcendent display by Dicaprio.

For some reason this video wouldn’t imbed properly. Sorry about that.

As you can see, I am massive fan of Dicaprio. What do you think about him? Love him? Hate him?