Criterion Collection

Discussion in 'Media Central' started by Paladin, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    bicycle-thieves-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000.jpg

    Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    Vittorio De Sica's classic story of a man in post-war Rome, desperate to support his family, who gets a lucky break when he is hired for a city job as a poster hanger, a job that requires him to provide his own bicycle...only for his bike to be stolen on his first day. Unable to afford a replacement, the man and his young son set off on a desperate search of the city. Checks all the Italian neorealism boxes: real people as actors, location rather than studio filming, natural lighting, limited camera movement, documentary style shots, cynical or pessimistic outlook, and focus on the lowest tiers of society. An engaging story, but definitely no Hollywood ending.
    7.0/10

    I was going to watch De Sica's Umberto D. afterward, but I can only handle so much soul-crushing Italian neorealism in a day, so...


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    Sisters (1972)
    Brian De Palma has made some terrific movies--Scarface, The Untouchables, and Mission: Impossible come immediately to mind--but I've always enjoyed his Hitchcock-esque thrillers like Blow Out and Dressed to Kill. This one features Margot Kidder (years before Lois Lane) as a woman whose formerly conjoined twin may be committing murders. Jennifer Salt is a reporter who's witnessed part of one murder--no one believes her, of course--and is trying to uncover the truth. Hoo boy, does this one stink! A few flaws: it's unintentionally(?) funny in places, as it treads very close to parody; the protagonist plays no role in the resolution; the "twist" is not so clever; without going into spoilers, there are some, let's say, dishonest shots--shots that misdirect the viewer but that are not logically consistent with the film's central conceit; one sequence has a murder scene--a man has been repeatedly stabbed and slashed--thoroughly cleaned during the few minutes between when the murder occurs and the police, summoned by a witness, arrive. Absurd. Kidder is solid, though I'm not totally sold on the French-Canadian accent, and Charles Durning shows up as an inept private eye, but his comical character seems to be from another movie. Some prominent critics apparently consider this a passable thriller; I gotta disagree. Awful.
    4.0/10.
  2. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    Yes I've seen Bicycle Thieves - great film! So gritty and real. My favorite scene? Selling their bedding and the shop keeper puts their bedding up on that super tall shelf. :no:
    It's pretty much a "put all your hopes & dreams & semblance of a happy, successful life way up on a stack out of reach like hundreds of other schlubs before you" moment. Wow that's deep!
    Yeah that's what's great about movies like this - no cookie-cutter Hollywood ending!
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  3. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    It says there are a lot of people in a similar situation.

    I would think with a stockpile like that, they wouldn't be buying any more linen, but that doesn't work for a movie.
  4. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    Yes, a lot of people like I said, "hundreds of other schlubs". But indeed for a movie "a picture paints a thousands words" as they say. Overall it's a great movie no doubt about it.
    Just remembered I can recommend an Italian heist movie with dark comedic elements - "Big Deal On Madonna Street". Granted it's worth a watch streaming but I don't know if it's worth buying. You may already have it. It's entertaining but IMHO not a classic.
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  5. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    How do you come to know so many of these foreign films? Granted, a film like Bicycle Thieves is pretty well-known, but even at that, I doubt more than a small percentage of Americans have ever seen it. I can't recall ever seeing it on television when I was a kid.

    Did you secretly major in film? :diacanu:
  6. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    My son is a film buff. Made a few movies and even entered a couple in local festivals, but never won. My wife and I started taking him to movies as a child, and he was hooked for life! He loves the process of film making and watches everything about them - the "making of" the director's cut, the voice over analysis/commentary, etc. Now he teaches video making/photography and whatnot to mostly inner city kids and loves it.
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  7. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Very cool!
  8. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    When he started making movies I realized just how much hard work is involved! Yes, shooting and editing digital is easier than actual film, but that's just a fraction of the whole process. The logistics & planning and keeping a dependable crew together and then keeping them engaged through multiple takes is like herding cats! :shakefist: And setting up locations? Good god that's an exercise in frustration.
    Filming in public urban locations? You better have some hobo/addict repellent and get ready for constant interruptions. :brood: And it takes dozens of man-hours just to get a few minutes of final product.
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  9. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Modern Times Hero.jpg

    Modern Times (1936)
    Charlie Chaplin's last outing as his tramp character is a delightful satire of working class travails in the industrial age. In a series of hilarious episodes (the assembly line, the eating machine, roller skating in the department store are a few of the classics), the tramp tries to survive and build a life with a street urchin (a very lovely Paulette Goddard). Chaplin's voice is even heard for the first time when the tramp sings a gibberish song. I laughed out loud several times, especially during the brilliant eating machine sequence. Wonderful.
    8.0/10


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    Blow Up (1966)
    Here's a good story idea: photographer unknowingly photographs a murder. Brian De Palma's Blow Out took a similar concept (audio recording instead of photograph) and made a great thriller, and Mel Brooks hilariously spoofed the concept in High Anxiety. But this film goes absolutely nowhere and it takes a long time getting there. "That's the end?" I exclaimed at the conclusion. Roger Ebert explained it to me: the film isn't about a murder, it's about a photographer mired in ennui from his libertine 60s Mod London lifestyle finding sonething to stir his passion. Know what stirs my passion? An entertaining story! A mystery that gets resolved! I see this film was probably an inspiration for one aspect of Austin Powers: the main character, a photographer like Austin, has a session with a model at the very beginning that's very reminiscent of Austin's. He does all but say "...and I'm spent" at the end. Boring, pretentious, and unfulfilling. Big disappointment.
    4.0/10


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    A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
    Light, charming romance has David Niven as an RAF bomber pilot who, because of a mistake made by the authorities in the afterlife, survives certain death. To stay alive, he'll have to plead his case in a heavenly trial. Or this may all just be an hallucination brought on by a brain injury. Kim Hunter (decades before being Zira in Planet of the Apes) is the American WAC he falls in love with. Breezy entertainment bogs down before the climax with an odd England vs. U.S.A. segment in the trial (propaganda to feed the Anglo-American alliance?). There are some pretty nifty visual effects and the recent Sony restoration of the film looks great.
    6.5/10
  10. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
    I thought this was a so-called "women's film," and it starts that way, but it morphs into a great little film noir, albeit a bright sunny one in color. A writer (Cornel Wilde) marries a socialite (Gene Tierney, beautiful and nicely unhinged) and it becomes increasingly apparent that she's dangerously possessive of him. A scene on a lake with her in a canoe watching the husband's crippled little brother swimming is delightfully suspenseful and...is this movie really going to go there? Vincent Price plays an effective non-creepy role as a district attorney, though I think there are a number of events in the climactic courtroom sequence that couldn't go down in a real trial. Terrific.
    7.5/10

  11. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    Looking through your picture of your movies......Punch Drunk Love? :unsure: Nothing against Adam Sandler as a serious actor (Uncut Gems was a great performance) but PDL sounded a lot better when my son pitched it to me than it turned out to be IMHO. The movie felt unfinished and just not "fleshed out" as a stand-alone story. I guess you could say it played like a quirky sitcom pilot, if that makes sense.


    That said the scenes with Philip Seymore Hoffman were GREAT! :yes: And I wish I could have seen more of Luis Guzman, but then I say that about every movie or series with Luis Guzman.
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  12. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    I wish they'd do Twisted Nerve. I've always wanted to see it after hearing the theme on Kill Bill.

    Amazon only has region 2 DVDs (which hasn't stopped me before) but I don't know the quality of the transfer.

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  13. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I haven't watched PDL yet, but I've heard good things about Adam Sandler's performance. It's also a film by Paul Thomas Anderson, whole works I've enjoyed.
  14. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    well this is a departure from a typical PTA film. He didn't want anything epic, he just wanted to knock out something simple, so to that end mission accomplished I guess.

    Since I am forced to stay home today (carpet/floor crew is in my home today and maybe tomorrow) I'm watching Netflix but in the afternoon I'll watch some Criterion streaming if my son still has the service.
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  15. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    Coming after Boogie Nights and Magnolia, I was disappointed with Punch Drunk Love the first time I saw it. But subsequent viewings have shown it to be a much better film than I initially thought. Not my favorite Anderson film, but pretty solid.
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  16. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan, but he was awesome in Magnolia. Okay to be honest everybody brought their "A game" to Magnolia, But Tom's really stood for me.
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  17. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    A double feature from Jean-Luc Godard. No, not this guy:

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    The French director. This guy:

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    Okay, these are not technically Criterion films. They are/were available on Criterion as DVDs, but they have not been put out on Blu-Ray.

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    Le mepris (Contempt) (1963)
    Godard's attempt at making a more mainstream film. A playwright gets hired by a beastly, demanding American film producer (Jack Palace!) to do a screenplay for a version of the Odyssey, but when the playwright lets the producer get a little too friendly with his beautiful young wife (Brigitte Bardot hawt, hawt, hawt), she becomes contemptuous of her husband. It's mainly a movie that spends its runtime with a husband demanding to know why his wife no longer loves him, and the wife refusing to tell him. I got a little bored with it after a while. However, there's some very nice scenery: much of the film takes place on Capri and the first three minutes of the film feature Bardot's nude bottom. I suppose there's a message here about what women really want and expect from men, but it's a long way to go to deliver it. A few early sequences in the film looked bad because they were reconstructed from lesser prints, but on the whole this Kino Lorber disk looked pretty good.
    6.0/10





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    Alphaville (1965)
    What...the...actual...f**k? This very weird sci-fi/film noir mashup has a hard-boiled secret agent travelling to another planet (which looks exactly like 1960s Paris) to uncover the truth about a computer that runs the whole society. The nods to American film noir are so strong they descend into near-satire, and the whole affair is as pretentiously philosophical as European films can get. Still, I was oddly entertained and wanted to see where it was going even if the thing comes off as half-baked (the low budget New Wave documentary style filming doesn't help). An execution method involving a swimming pool is an oddly memorable scene. The charming Anna Karina (she was married to Godard and is featured in several of his films) is the girl the secret agent falls for.
    5.5/10

  18. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    AWESOME! I'm recommending this to my son. He will absolutely flip cartwheels over this work of offbeat creativity!
  19. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    A double feature of highly-regarded films from French director Robert Bresson...

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    Pickpocket (1959)
    A young man takes to pickpocketing in order to sustain himself, but his life of crime keeps him at a distance from those he cares about. Owes a little bit to Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment (destitute, socially isolated young protagonist with a belief that certain people should be allowed to commit crimes). Lead actor Martin LaSalle, who had never acted in a film before, makes a solid debut. The romantic interest is played by angelic Marika Green (aunt of Eva Green) who was just 16. Involving, and interests with some great demonstrations of pickpockets plying their trade.
    7.0/10


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    Au hasard Balthazar (1966)
    In a French village in the Pyrenees, a donkey passes from owner to owner, suffering abuse and overwork, his life connecting at various points with his first owner, a girl caught between a father whose foolish pride could bankrupt the family, and her abusive, criminal boyfriend. What's the deeper meaning here? Perhaps that life is suffering and a lot of it comes from the failings of others. I found this an involving film; I really was engaged with the story of this donkey. And the final scene is very poignant.
    7.5/10
  20. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
    Pretty great film noir from director John Huston details a group of criminals (the brain, the safecracker, the driver, and the muscle) pulling off a huge jewelry heist. Things go wrong and double-crosses ensue. Perennial tough guy Sterling Hayden (Johnny Guitar, Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather) is the muscle, dreaming of returning to his family farm after the caper. Marilyn Monroe, in a small, early role, sparkles as the mistress of the prominent lawyer bankrolling the heist; it's obvious here she was headed for greater stardom. I love a good heist film and this one delivers, but you shouldn't expect a happy ending in film noir.
    8.0/10

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  21. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    oh yes this is a classic! IMHO what makes or breaks a heist film is the casting. Of course good direction/editing is a must. But without that casting chemistry they are just spinning their wheels.
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  22. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I'm fairly astonished I had never seen this one before; it's often mentioned as a classic of the noir genre. Well, glad I did. It's quite similar to another great Sterling Hayden-led noir heist film (The Killing) that Stanley Kubrick made a few years later.
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  23. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    MV5BNTljMTEzYjEtMjczNS00NjQ0LWJmYWUtNGFlMjUxNzYxMjQ4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzM0MjQ4Ng@@._V1_.jpg

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    Night Train to Munich (1940)
    I'm a big fan of Carol Reed's The Third Man (might be my all-time favorite film), so I got this 1940 thriller by Reed hoping that I'd like it as well. It's the eve of WW2, and a Czech scientist with a revolutionary new armor escapes to England. His daughter, left behind is imprisoned in a concentration camp but is helped to escape by Marson (Paul Henreid), a prisoner who is actually a Gestapo agent seeking to use her to find her father. When Marson succeeds in stealing scientist and daughter back to Germany, an English spy (Rex f**king Harrison!) sets out to steal them back! A splendid bit of spying, subterfuge, and suspense ensues. Long story short: I loved this film. It's a total gem. The climax had me grinning from ear to ear. Just wonderful.
    8.0/10

    This modern trailer is a bit spoiler-y...
  24. shootER

    shootER Insubordinate...and churlish Administrator

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    I've been a noir fan for quite some time, but TCM's Noir Alley (Saturdays at midnight, EST and repeated at 10am EST Sunday mornings) has turned me on to a bunch of them that I hadn't seen before.
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  25. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)
    Based on the real life 1901 Texas manhunt for a Mexican-American, Gregorio Cortez (played here by Edward James Olmos), accused of the murder of three lawmen. The film gradually reveals what really(?) happened, but I knew from the start that one character's less-than-fluent Spanish was going to be a key point. The chase is quite involving, and the acting (Olmos in particular) is solid all around. I liked that most of the characters in the film are well-meaning; even those who want Cortez hanged believe that he's guilty of multiple murders. I did find the electronic score jarringly anachronistic for a western.
    7.0/10

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  26. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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  27. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I've got most of these but have yet to watch three or four of them. The rest are now on my list. Thanks!

    In a Lonely Place and Ace in the Hole are terrific, and The Third Man is one of my favorite movies ever.
  28. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Time Bandits (1981)
    I've seen this film once and it was a long time ago. How long? When I saw it, I really didn't know much about Sean Connery (who has an extended cameo role in it). So, it was probably on VHS around 1983. I recall that I didn't care for it; no surprise, fantasy--when it diverts too far from science fiction--is not really my bag. I watched it today while listening to the commentary by director Terry Gilliam, and I have to say I liked it better. It's a fun film about a boy's imaginary (?) travels through time and myth with a group of dwarf bandits who are stealing valuable artifacts from every era. Python regulars John Cleese and Michael Palin Show up, as do Ian Holm (as Napoleon!), Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, and David Warner in his 80s villain mode as the antagonist, the Evil Genius. Several episodes of adventure--including a very inspired escape from a cage dangling in a seemingly infinite space--are quite entertaining. Connery, playing Agamemnon, is a kinder, gentler, more innocent character than we usually see him play. Gilliam describes how the screenplay handles Connery's appearance in the film: the warrior king removes his helmet to reveal "none other than Sean Connery. Or an actor of similar but less expensive stature." :lol: Delightful.
    7.0/10

  29. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I've heard many people laud the films of Yasujiro Ozu, so I spun two of them last night...


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    Good Morning (1959)
    After two young sons demand their parents buy a television, they are scolded by their father and go on a "silent strike," refusing to speak. Failures of communication are what this exceedingly charming comedy are all about: the neighborhood gossips misinterpret people's actions and spread false rumors, an elderly woman forgets to pass along an important envelope to her daughter, two young people--attracted to each other--are unable to have more than superficial conversations, etc. Oh, and there are a lot of fart jokes. Seriously. This film explores the generation gap between the more traditional parents and the kids with their modern desires. Ozu's camera work takes a bit of getting used to: instead of the traditional Hollywood over-the-shoulder framing of conversations, he uses straight-on framing of whomever is speaking, like the POV shots of characters speaking directly to you in video games. It's a little unnerving at first--it breaks the 180 degree rule and, occasionally, continuity--but you get used to it after a while. Excellent film, highly recommended.
    8.0/10



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    Tokyo Story (1953)
    An elderly couple travel to Tokyo to visit their adult children, but the children are too wrapped up in their own lives and mainly feel burdened by the visit. Everyone has concealed truths--the daughter has a grudge against the father, the son is a disappointment to the father, the dutiful widowed daughter-in-law (her husband died in the war) wants to let go of the past--but these things go unspoken. Maybe it shouldn't be this way, or maybe this is how it always will be. As in Good Morning, Ozu uses POV shots during dialogues. An effective if somewhat overlong drama, this moves into tear-jerker territory in the last quarter.
    7.0/10
  30. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    A couple of films noir...

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    Detour (1945)
    Roberts, a musician hitchhiking from NYC to LA, accidentally kills a man who picks him up, and, fearing the circumstances make it look deliberate, assumes the dead man's identity, and continues west in the man's car. Things go from bad to a lot worse when he picks up Vera, a hitchhiker who realizes what Roberts has done and begins blackmailing him. Holy shit, Vera (Ann Savage, terrific) is one batshit crazy dame and she has no qualms about twisting Roberts to her will. This is an early but highly-regarded noir and for good reason. It's a nice dark tale of escalating moral corruption. This Criterion edition's transfer comes from a beautifully restored film.
    7.5/10


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    Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
    Tavernier, a former paratrooper now an executive at an oil company, is having an affair with the owner's wife, and they conspire to kill the owner, making it look like a suicide. It all goes to plan until Tavernier gets locked in an elevator leaving the scene of the crime, setting off a chain of events that cause everything to spiral out of control. Every few minutes there's another "uh oh" complication. A sequence with Tavernier dangling in the elevator shaft is wonderfully suspenseful. Legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau has a star-making role here, her face filling the screen as her character roams the streets of Paris, looking for her missing lover. A melancholy jazz score from Miles Davis is the perfect musical accompaniment. The Criterion transfer is superb, totally preserving the film grain. This was director Louis Mallet's first film; he was 25 when he made it. I am depressed. Outstanding film, though.
    8.5/10