Clare's Criterion Collection

Here Is My Criterion Collection. See What I Have Bought & Read My Reviews. Follow Me As I Explore My Collection.

Review # 24 – Clean, Shaven

clean shavenSpine # 354

Available on DVD

DIRECTORAPPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Lodge Kerrigan
  • Audio commentary featuring Steven Soderbergh interviewing Kerrigan
  • A Subjective Assault: Lodge Kerrigan’s “Clean, Shaven”, a new video essay, written and narrated by critic Michael Atkinson
  • The film’s original soundtrack, composed by Hahn Rowe, and selections from the film’s final audio mix (all downloadable as MP3 files)
  • Trailer
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Plus: A new essay by film critic Dennis Lim

    New cover by Eric Skillman

Clean, Shaven is not an easy film to watch but it is one that absolutely deserves our time. The subject of schizophrenia has been portrayed in various films/TV shows over the years and that will no doubt thankfully continue. I will not pretend that I have expertise in the world of psychology but this is one of, if not the best depictions I’ve ever seen.

Through a combination of imagery and sound, Clean, Shaven takes us right into the heart of the taboo subject of mental illness.

We follow Peter Winter, a man recently released from an Institution as he sets off to find his young Daughter but with every step he encounters a hurdle. He has an uncaring Mother who chooses to ignore the suffering of her Son and offers him no support or understanding. There is a scene at the library; Peter loses control yet no one asks if he is ok, the one person who does approach him tells him to leave. For me that reflects the everyday struggle and isolation of real-life sufferers and in ever-increasing austerity world, their needs are not met.

The physical appearance of Peter is striking. His pasty skin colour and lifeless eyes gives schizophrenia a face and it is one you cannot forget. He constantly scratches at his skin and in one gruesome scene believes there is a transmitter under his fingernail

The sound too plays a monumental part of this film. Radio static, old broadcasts, voices from within power cables, they all add up to create an audio pounding that throws you off, I felt as if I was actually inside the mind of a schizophrenic. It is constant, unsettling, frenetic and disorienting; you become Peter Winter.

It is really hard to write down how brilliant this film is. It makes you feel uneasy yet it is so educational. I was going to look on YouTube for a few clips to post but I could not find ones that do the film justice. The only way to fully appreciate this film is to invest 79 minutes and watch it. Hopefully you will come away from the film having more of an understanding about how mental illness can affect not just the sufferer but also everyone around them.

Conclusion:

The audio and visual mix for this film is amazing and a fascinating look into the mind of a sufferer of schizophernia.  It is worth buying the Criterion even though it is only DVD.  The interview with Director Lodge Kerrigan by Oscar winning Director and fellow Criterion member Steven Soderbergh (who I met in 2013) also makes this film a worthwhile purchase.

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Review # 23 – Days of Heaven

DoH

Spine #409

Available on Blu-ray & DVD

DIRECTORAPPROVED SPECIAL EDITION

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Terrence Malick, editor Billy Weber, and camera operator John Bailey
  • New Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring Weber, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden
  • New audio interview with actor Richard Gere
  • Video interviews with Bailey, cinematographer Haskell Wexler, and actor Sam Shepard
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Adrian Martin and a chapter from director of photography Nestor Almendros’s autobiographyNew cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

This was my 2nd Terrence Malick (Double Cannes winner) film and as with the first, The Thin Red Line, this did not disappoint.

Manual labourers endure a hard life in this film; the constant harsh conditions of a smelting mine to the seemingly never-ending fields at harvest time. They live in poverty whilst those for whom they toil have the prosperity that brings nice clothes, houses and cars. Despite all this the good folk of the fields find the time to enjoy themselves. There are many moments in the film where we have people playing in the fields and river along with evenings of music and dance. Within the confines of the farm you could almost say there is one huge extended family.

After an accidental death, Bill is on the run with his girlfriend Abby and kid Sister Linda. Their train takes them to the ripe wheat fields of the Texas Panhandle (The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost twenty-six counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east.) but before the machines are fired up to bring home the harvest a Priest is brought in to say a prayer over the land (I’ll come back to this later) to bring good fortune and safety to those at work.

Now in order to conceal his identity Bill and Abby try to pass as Brother and Sister. Due to this the farm owner takes a shine to Abby and asks her to stay on after the harvest is complete. She is encouraged to take up the offer after Bill overhears a conversation between the owner and his Doctor.

Now, what would you do if you were in Abby’s shoes? You have a chance to live a life beyond your dreams. To live in a big fancy house, wear the nicest clothes, to get out of the fields and the endless hours picking up bales of hay. Would you take that, even if it would mean living a lie? The decision pulls everyone apart and sets off a chain of events that will leave two people dead.

I earlier mentioned the Priest and the connection I want to refer to now is Biblical. Moses served up a large plate of locust upon Egypt and someone sent quite a decent delivery order of the little pesky grasshoppers to Texas. They say that plagues are divine judgments, a series of curses and whilst he himself was not directly targeted I felt that Bill was the cause (if you take the Biblical viewpoint). The night descends into chaos and is the start of the end for everyone.

Another constant that played through my mind, and again I touched on above is the relationships of the workers. During the film, bar one instance, they all sit together and enjoy each other’s company. Did the relationships last between the people, did they stay together and continue on to the next place in need of workers? After the first group of workers moved on another train arrives bringing a new batch, how long had they been together? How did they get to this point, what is their story?

My final thought regarding this film is that no matter how advanced Man thinks he is; he is nothing when faced with the power of Nature. The land on which we grow food can be taken in a moment by Nature. The wind fans the flames, the water washes away anything in its path and without the sun rising each day there would be nothing.

And finally, a few interesting facts for you about the film:

The film was shot in Alberta, Canada not Texas

Cinematographer Nestor Almendros was replaced in the final days of filming by Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool) due to a previous job commitment with another Criterion Director, François Truffaut. The film was The Man Who Loved Women.

First major film of Hollywood Heartthrob Richard Gere

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Review # 22 – The Gold Rush

TGRSpine # 615

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Special Features:

  • New high-definition digital restoration of the 1942 sound version, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New 2K digital transfer of the reconstructed original 1925 silent film, restored in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with a newly recorded adaptation of director Charlie Chaplin’s score, presented in 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
  • New audio commentary for the 1925 version by Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
  • Three new programs: Presenting “The Gold Rush,” which traces the film’s history
    and features filmmaker Kevin Brownlow and Vance; A Time of Innovation: Visual Effects in “The Gold Rush,” featuring effects specialist Craig Barron and Chaplin cinematographer Roland Totheroh; and Music by Charles Chaplin, featuring conductor and composer Timothy Brock
  • Chaplin Today: “The Gold Rush” (2002), a short documentary featuring filmmaker Idrissa Ouédraogo
  • Four trailers
  • PLUS: A new essay by critic Luc Sante and James Agee’s review of the 1942 rerelease

    New cover by Patrick Leger

‘A dramatic comedy’

This is the inter-title that greets you at the start of the film.

There are two versions of this film, the original from 1925 and Chaplin’s remake with his own narration in 1942.  I watched the original first and followed up a few days later with the 1942 version.

Quite a few thoughts crossed my mind whilst I watched the film and here are a few of them:

  • Remember when German film Director Werner Herzog lost a bet and eat his shoe?  Well Chapin beat him by over 50 years as he did it in 1925 and it was for Thanksgiving!
  • Don’t complain about the weather, our Little Man had to contend with some very windy conditions
  • Ever been so hungry you have hallucinated? Well the next time you feel a little peckish make sure you have a good look at your food, make sure it is not actually a person
  • If you go for a walk in the mountains try to stay away from the edge and also watch out for the odd roaming wild bear
  • Do you need to earn a little cash, offer to shovel snow for local businesses. In order to keep your client list long move the snow from one store to another
  • Take time to look around, someone who seeks you may just be walking by any minute. Then again, fate does have a way of making sure two people eventually meet again
  • In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s house flew away. Thankfully a rock was in just the right place to save our Little Man and his friend from a similar fate. It was still an “edge of the cliff” experience though
  • Now, as usual for films with down on their luck men, there is a love interest. In The Gold Rush her name is Georgia and frankly she has no time for our Tramp 😦 She only sees him when it suits her; gets him into a fight and laughs about his affection towards her with her friends. What this does give us though is one of the most iconic pieces of celluloid, the Dance of the Bread Rolls

I won’t spoil the ending but if you do watch this film (both versions) you will see an alternative (and what Chaplin classed as the “real” ending) on the 1942 version.

Enjoy !

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