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Fowler’s Flix 10.17.18: Recent Selections from the Criterion Collection (Part One)

Criterion Collection
Terry Gilliam's "Jabberwocky."
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The finest purveyors of filmed entertainment in this or any century continues to be the Criterion Collection and their constantly evolving library of meaningful films. From remastered prints to bonus features that you’ll actually want to watch, every disc you purchase is totally worth the purchase price and then some, including these stand-out releases from the past couple of months.

Sofia Coppola’s hipster comedy Lost in Translation gets all the credit, but I think people should really give her understated paean to 70s love and the pain of that love in The Virgin Suicides a longer look.

Based on the cult lit by Jeffrey Eugenides, Suicides tells the heartbreakingly wistful story of the wholesomely attractive Lisbon sisters and their one-by-one suicides that both shock and awe the neighborhood boys, all of whom love them, secretly and not-so-secretly.

Armed with a lush score from the French band Air, the morality tale of the Lisbons and their lives of stifling rules and the trying to break free of them is a harshly mellow tone that has become even more magically tragic to watch since its release in 1999. Perfect viewing from the end of the century and, much like the boys and their memories of the sisters, Suicides still leaves an indelible scar twenty years later.

John Waters’ Female Trouble, on the other hand, leaves scars of a far more mental kind. His raucous follow-up to Pink Flamingos, this rock and roll tribute to crime for the sake of beauty is Waters’ most accomplished and grotesque of his 70s works, a masterpiece from the mastermind of filth.

Longtime muse Divine is Dawn Davenport who, leaving home in a huff after not receiving cha-cha heels for Christmas, is comedically impregnated by a sleazeball, becomes a single mom to a bratty kid and commits small-time crimes to make ends meet. When dirtbag beauticians bring her into their circle of carnal felonies, they use Dawn as a canvas to create a living art project, a tribute to crime and the desiccation of beauty, proving crime may not pay, but it can sure looks good with the right accompaniment.

Almost as grotty—but a completely different kind of grotty—comes the indelible debut film from Terry Gilliam, the purely Dark Ages adventure Jabberwocky. “`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe,” the classic nonsensical poem starts—as does the film—weaving it’s way in and out of the structure of the story effortlessly.

Starring Michael Palin as excitable coppersmith Dennis, who, through a series of misadventures, winds up a reluctant hero in accidental search of the vile creature running amok on the countryside. Gilliam really showcases his talent to capture despicably creative monsters—and even more despicable humans—in Jabberwocky, perfectly setting the fire for his streak of classic films full of imagination past, rerun and recycled through his own bizarrely witty brain.

Finally, as much as I hate to admit it, I had never fully seen The Silence of the Lambs all the way through.

Having watch it mostly in parts over the years, I was a little hesitant going into it—the hype built up over the years from overzealous horror fans a bit much—but the exploration of disturbed serial killer Jamie “Buffalo Bill” Gumb and his skinning (and wearing the skin) of women, in a very Hitchcock-influenced reasoning for it, was absolutely mesmerizing. For once, the gorehounds were right.

But besides the horror aspect, what I wasn’t expecting was the psychological depths that director Jonathan Demme goes to, making a film that primarily focuses on FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and her near-romantic series of twisted conversations with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), all the while tracking Buffalo Bill down.

Very rarely do you get such a glimpse into the inter-personal dynamics of student and teacher or, perhaps more accurately, prey and predator. And, c’mon: what a hearty gallows humor’s chuckle is to be had at the delicious postscript, chilling while amusing.

To be continued next week…

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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