Author Archives: aaronwest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 he began to settle into his poetic realist style.
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.
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.
We let our hair down for Halloween and celebrate the oddity that is Ôbayashi’s House (1977). Dave and Jessica join Mark and Aaron. We agree that House is the most random and the most bonkers “horror” film in existence. Rather than break it down thematically, we celebrate its weirdness by pointing out the WTF moments and the occasions that make us laugh. Warning: this episode has a lot of profanity.
Mark and Aaron cover the Dutch and French horror/suspense classic, The Vanishing. Having experienced this film numerous times before, we are able to explore the foreshadowing and narrative structure that led us on a wild journey to an even wilder ending. We talk about obsession, control, that harrowing ending, and yes, we even get into the American remake.
Mark, Aaron and Eric Ford begin a month of horror with the micro-budget cult classic, Carnival of Souls. We talk about what makes this such an enduring classic that has held up over time, the bizarre story about how it was made, its influences and what it has influenced, and what type of artistic aims the filmmakers tried to reach.