CRITERION COLLECTION REVIEWS – VOL. 2 (Eraserhead, Short Cuts, Sisters)

SHORT CUTS 1ERASERHEAD 1SISTERS 1

ERASERHEAD 2

Eraserhead (1977 / dir. David Lynch / USA) 

I can’t believe it took me this long to experience David Lynch’s debut film. While certainly not in the same league as Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead is full of mind-blowing imagery all built-around a story of the stresses of raising a child with no money and limited resources. Jack Nance (who was murdered by homeless people in a parking lot in real life) creates a wonderfully empathetic character to take us into this grotesque black and white world where claymation cornish game hens shit blood and swollen faced honeys sing about heaven. Eraserhead isn’t a powerful and cryptic allegory for anything, it’s just a beautifully shot, bizarre cult film. Now Streaming on HuluPlus Grade: B+ 

SHORT CUTS 2

Short Cuts (1993 / dir. Robert Altman / USA)

One of the best films I’ve ever seen in my life, this love letter to Los Angeles and humanity in general takes place over course of two days exploring the lives of twenty-two people. The intersecting vignettes are appropriately punctuated by jazz music seeing as though the dialogue is so realistic it often seems improvised itself. Along with wonderfully natural dialogue, Altman’s screenplay adapted from the short stories of the great Raymond Carver features beautifully written soliloquies brought to life by individual actors in one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled for a motion picture: Julianne Moore, Frances McDormand, Tim Robbins, Robert Downey, Jr., Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Bruce Davison, Andie McDowell, Matthew Modine, Huey Lewis (and his penis), Fred Ward, Anne Archer, Buck Henry, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Chris Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lily Taylor, Peter Gallagher, Jack Lemmon, Madeline Stowe and Lyle Lovett as a disgruntled pastry chef. Short Cuts may be over three hours long, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire runtime. Who knew Suburbanites going about their everyday lives could be so riveting. Grade: A 

SISTERS 2

Sisters (1973 / dir. Brian DePalma / USA) 

Despite having one of the best uses of the split screen I’ve ever seen in cinema, Brian DePalma’s early effort Sisters is a jumbled mess of a movie. For almost an hour, the film is wonderfully suspenseful and entertaining. Brian DePalma perfectly manipulates the camera to provide the perfect level of dread, even if the acting is often mediocre at best. Once the film begins to explain it’s mystery, it begins to rapidly fall apart into a pretentious, incoherent mess. The late great hostage negotiator Charles Durning (Dog Day Afternoon) is predictably reliable here as a private investigator whose storyline helps create one of the most unnecessary and lackluster endings I’ve ever seen in a thriller. Now Streaming on HuluPlus. Grade: C+ 

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