Author Archives: aaronwest
Mark and Aaron are joined by Marcus Pinn to explore the filmography of Jim Jarmusch, beginning with Mystery Train (1989). We explore the triple storyline, the coalescence of the director’s indie experience and arthouse sensibilities, and the film’s sense of place. We then dive into his library and style, and choose our five favorite Jarmusch films.
Mark, Aaron and Scott Nye kick off the first of a seven episode series about French cinema i the 1930s. We give an overview of the decade and some historical context, and discuss the French silent tradition and how that it transitioned to sound. We also get into detail about two important filmmakers, Jacques Feyder and Jean Vigo. Feyder was an important filmmaker in his time, but his works are not as prominent today, whereas Vigo was nearly forgotten in the 1930s and discovered after the war.
We change things up by focusing on a boutique label, Twilight Time, that has found success through a unique business model. Mark and Aaron happen to be big fans, and feel that we have directly contributed towards some of their profits. We talk about the company, their business model, why they have succeeded, and we address some common critiques. We also review a few discs each, and finally count down our favorite Twilight Time titles.
Mark and Aaron are joined by Dave Eves to evaluate the massive Zatoichi serial starring Shintaro Katsu. We explore the character of Zatoichi, and how he’s an unusual type of superhero. We also share tips on the best way to watch the series, whether a little bit at a time or to go on a binge-watch. We evaluate the series as both a piece of art and as pop culture, observing the high and low points.
Mark and Aaron celebrate the Summer Olympics by exploring Downhill Racer, an independent film about the Winter Olympics. We draw parallels to what is portrayed in the Michael Ritchie with the actual sporting events that take place today, including the thrills of victory and the agony of defeat. We discuss the groundbreaking cinematography, the nature of winning in an individual sport and the the enduring legacy of Sundance that began with this film.
Mark and Aaron podcast live and in person for the first time ever. During Aaron’s vacation up north, he visited “Casa Hurne” up in beautiful Vermont. While we weren’t drinking beer and eating delicious food, we decided to podcast a little about the experience we’ve had with Criterion Close-Up. Aaron also talks about his journey through Canada and the film connections he made along the way.
Mark and Aaron are joined by Matt Gasteier to explore Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950) and evaluate Humphrey Bogart’s body of work. We go into how Ray’s life informed the cinema, why he wasn’t celebrated during his time and subsequently appreciated later. We also go through Bogart’s entire career, from getting his lucky break to becoming a superstar.
Mark and Aaron are joined by Scott Nye to hash out the intricate themes, history, and nuance of Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day. Given the length and depth of the film, we explored it in detail, distilling the cultural and societal clashes that took place in a pivotal period of Chinese and Taiwanese history. We also compare it to what is considered Yang’s other masterpiece, Yi Yi, and we touch on the New Taiwanese Cinema movement.
Mark and Aaron welcome old friend, Doug McCambridge to talk about Robert Altman’s “Don’t call it a” comeback film. We touch on the opening tracking shot, what Altman is saying about Hollywood, and yes, we even go into the ending — or both of them. On top of that, we give some tidbits on how to be economical with the Barnes & Noble Criterion Sale.
Mark and Aaron welcome Ben Model, silent film historian, accompanist, distributor, and enthusiast. He gave a presentation about “undercranking” on Criterion’s release of Chaplin’s The Kid. We discuss the idea of undercranking, scoring silent music, and the state of silent media today theatrically and in the home video market.