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1. The Long Good Friday - Criterion
$26.96 $20.86 list($29.95)
2. Alphaville - Criterion Collection
$26.96 $20.86 list($29.95)
3. Cleo From 5 to 7 - Criterion Collection
$22.48 $14.04 list($24.98)
4. Beware of a Holy Whore
$13.99 $12.75 list($19.97)
5. It Lives Again / It's Alive 3
$111.97 list($159.95)
6. Criterion Crime Wave 6-Pack (High
7. Zentropa

1. The Long Good Friday - Criterion Collection
Director: John Mackenzie
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Asin: 6305174091
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 9231
Average Customer Review: 4.51 out of 5 stars
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Intricately plotted and smartly paced, this gangster saga clicks as whodunit, social satire, and explosive thriller. The piece is crowned by Bob Hoskins's career-making turn as a London mobster courting respectability and Helen Mirren's subtly detailed performance as his upper-crust mistress. Cockney wiseguy Harold Shand is a would-be burgher whose domination of the city's underworld stems from his shrewdness as a mediator and his skill at harnessing political and economic clout. As Easter approaches, he's poised to launch an aggressive real estate development scheme along the depressed Thames waterfront when all hell breaks loose: a trusted lieutenant is brutally murdered, Shand's mother is nearly killed in a car bombing, one of his pubs is blown apart, and the visiting American don crucial to the pending deal is quickly growing wary.

Barrie Keeffe's original screenplay keeps the viewer a step ahead of Shand, providing us with a telling but teasingly incomplete glimpse of the misstep by his underlings that has set chaos loose. At the same time, Keeffe underlines the bourgeois pretensions of the rough-hewn, barrel-chested Shand, how the elegant Victoria (Mirren) helps serve those ambitions, and the myriad parallels between Shand's minions and the local politicians and police only too willing to join in his scheme. Tart, funny dialogue and alternately playful and pungent Eastertide imagery complete Keeffe's shrewd design--two key scenes, in a meat locker and a warehouse, invoke the Crucifixion itself.

Even with lesser performances, the script and John Mackenzie's solid direction would make The Long Good Friday a keeper, but Hoskins's explosive portrait of Shand and his descent toward brutal revenge elevates the film into the very front rank, earning admiring comparisons to The Godfather, Scarface, GoodFellas, and other classics of that genre. On DVD, Criterion's new digital transfer restores more than just the widescreen aspect ratio--the film has never looked better, even if an occasionally muddy sound mix survives to make the thick Cockney accents a challenge to decipher. --Sam Sutherland ... Read more

Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars brilliant
I first saw this film way back in 1981 and thought then that it was something special. Bob hoskins had just made a name for himself in the UK appearing in the TV series PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (worth checking out if you have never seen it), and was the perfect choice to play violent cockney gangster Harold Shand, although a nasty piece of work I found the character quite appealling and could not help but sympathise as his empire slowly crumbled around him. An excellent script by Barry Keeffe, and a superb supporting cast, in particular Derek Thompson,whose confrontation with Hoskins on his boat is both riveting and shocking. I must have seen this film at least a dozen times and it never fails to grip me. As a side note watch out for a young Pierce Brosnan as one of the IRA hitmen.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Gangster Film
I second those who found this a clever, brilliantly performed film; one of the best gangster films ever made. With an intricate plot that shifts from social commentary to ironic and deadpan humor to sudden violence with ease and a clear focus. The cast is first rate in all departments, but this was the first big exposure for Bob Hoskins and the short man fills the screen as the tough, ambitious cockney hood trying to raise himself in his world and his complete bewilderment and fury as that world begins to crumble around him. So many things to enjoy in the movie, but absolutely unforgettable is the final haunting scene in closeup as an array of emotions play across Hoskin's face. A great, gritty, tough film.

5-0 out of 5 stars The british answer to the Godfather
The clever script allows to build a sollid story. Bob Hoskins surpasses all his performances, past, present or even future. He gave the best performance of his monumental career.
The progressive tension around Hoskins literally overflows the screen and struggles us. That hopeless, that certainless of facing against an enemy of the IRA dimensions and the irreverent mood assumed by Hoskins in that unforgettable dialogue with his american partners lead to a smart and unexpecting ending.
Helen Mirren , combines her talent and amazing beuty and Pierce Brossnan has a little cameo in the end of the movie.
Under any circunstance you can avoid watching this brilliant and even underrated film of the eighties.
A true gem.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Long Goodbye to Britain
After watching the extras interview with Hoskins and the director, Mackenzie, I finally realized that this film is intended to be an allegory of Britain's alleged decline under Thatcher. It's a sort of "Beggar's Opera", I suppose, where low-life represents high-life. But it really doesn't work: not for me at least. The dialogue isn't sharp enough, the slang is self-consciously laboured, the actors try hard but you can see they're acting. This must be down to the writing and the direction. There's a heap of machinery here, including even a reference to the crucifixion, but it's all very clunky, and unsubtly assembled, when it should be natural and organic. In retrospect, there are a lot of nudges and winks about the inner meaning of everything, and how the boss has lost the plot. Unfortunately, since there isn't a single sympathetic character anywhere, it doesn't engage the emotions and it's not intelligent enough to engage the mind. There isn't much that's less lovable than a lovable cockney criminal. Perhaps that's part of the plan. Perhaps the Hoskins character isn't even a criminal, merely a semi-successful seedy businessman in the property, catering and leisure industry. We all know that England is only a theme park for tourists these days. Tourists like to go slumming in a quaint old banana country with a lot of history. The music is annoying and obtrusive. The story doesn't work properly at the gangster level, because it isn't convincing, so it can't work at the allegorical level. For a really great political allegory, try High Noon.

4-0 out of 5 stars a cool film with great music
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD version of the film.

This film is a bit different for me given that Bob Hoskins is in it. The first film with Bob Hoskins I saw was "Who framed roger rabbit" I had seen it countless times before seeing this and have thought of his faked American accent in that film to be his normal one. Seeing this film, where he does a Cockney British accent is more unusual than his regular British accent.

The film starts with the unexplained murder of several people. We later learn that they all are members of a Harold's (Bob hoskins) gang. He begins to have difficulty running his gang and trying to close a deal with another gang.

The film also has a short appearance by Pierce Brosnan in one of his very first film roles. 007 fans would know him best.

The DVD only has the British and American theatrical trailers as special features. ... Read more

2. Alphaville - Criterion Collection
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
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Asin: 0780021541
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 7488
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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As the French New Wave was reaching its maturity and filmgoing had evolved as a favorite pastime of intellectuals and urban sophisticates, along came Jean-Luc Godard to shake up every convention and send highfalutin critics scrambling to their typewriters. 1965's Alphaville is a perfect example of Godard's willingness to disrupt expectation, combine genres, and comment on movies while making sociopolitical statements that inspired doctoral theses and left a majority of viewers mystified. Part science fiction and part hard-boiled detective yarn, Alphaville presents a futuristic scenario using the most modern and impersonal architecture that Godard could find in mid-'60s Paris. A haggard private eye (Eddie Constantine) is sent to an ultramodern city run by a master computer, where his mission is to locate and rescue a scientist who is trapped there. As the story unfolds on Godard's strictly low-budget terms, the movie tackles a variety of topics such as the dehumanizing effect of technology, willful suppression of personality, saturation of commercial products, and, of course, the constant recollection of previous films through Godard's carefully chosen images. For most people Alphaville, like many of the director's films, will prove utterly baffling. For those inclined to dig deeper into Godard's artistic intentions, the words of critic Andrew Sarris (quoted from an essay that accompanies the Criterion Collection DVD) will ring true: "To understand and appreciate Alphaville is to understand Godard, and vice versa." --Jeff Shannon ... Read more

Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars the greatest sci-fi film ever: not a special effect in sight
'Alphaville' is Jean-Luc Cinema Godard's 'The Wizard of Oz', the story of an American stranded in a strange fantasy city, who must find its controlling wizard before he can return home, evading forces sent to destroy him. Eddie Constantine reprises the role of Lemmy Caution that made him famous in 1950s France, as the roughneck FBI agent who fisticuffed, dame-bothered and slang-winked his way through a series of simple-minded thrillers. here he has become Special Agent 003, sent by his superiors in the Outlands to assassinate Professor Von Braun, the brains behind Alphaville, a futuristic city controlled by a philosophical computer, and which bears more than a passing resemblance to Gaullist Paris.

Alphaville is a classic dystopia, its minions brainwashed, dehumanised and branded; photographs of its leader on every available wall; the surveilling computer present in every room. dissidents are tortured or murdered in elaborate rituals (e.g. diving-board firing-squads in swimming pools before a gallery of socialites). Double-talk couched in the complexities of dialectic numb the brain; dictionaries are censored daily.

Much of the fun in Godard films of this period lies in their playfulness with familiar cinematic genres; and the trappings of the gangster and spy genres, the detective story and sci-fi adventure (brawls, shoot-outs, car-chases, interrogations, (literal) femmes fatales etc.) are made ridiculous by their slapstick treatment, comic exagerration and over-emphatic music. 'Alphaville' may be a pulp adventure, but the world Lemmy must negotiate is not one of genre, but of ideas, about reality, history, politics, freedom, love, poetry, dreams, the mind, logic, conformity, escape, all reverberating in an environment based on One Big Idea.

'Alphaville', like Chris Marker's similar 'La Jetee', is less a futuristic satire than a reflection of contemporary France (its dark and dense mise-en-scene like a negative photograph of the familiar city; with its extraordinary modern architecture reconfigured as a giant prison), with memories of the recent Nazi Occupation. But, as its name suggests, Alphaville is also the first (cinematic) city of post-modernity, where meaning and authority is decentred, where language ceases to have any shared value, where time ceases to exist, the past and future are abolished, and the mindless live in an eternal present, unable to learn from mistakes or hope for improvement, unable to acknowledge the value of culture. Lemmy seems to be set up as a very 'human' interloper, a repository of 'our' feelings and values in a culture that would seek to suppress them. But Godard called him a Martian', and he is a stranger to Alphaville, which, after all, is our world: he is a figure from pulp fiction , a risible set of signifiers who can only offer Natasha a choice between who gives her orders.

Most dystopias, like '1984' and 'Blade Runner', ultimately fail, because they are as cold and inhuman as the worlds they portray. 'Alphaville', especially in its visionary climactic half hour, shares more with Nabokov's novel 'Bend Sinister' - positing whimsy, idiosyncrasy, gags, Surrealism (Eluard, Bellmer), pop art, the absurd, the unexpected, the daft, the poetic, the aesthetic, the cinematic (especially Melville's 'Deux Hommes Dans Manhattan'), Anna Karina's gorgeous coats against the Brave New World.

But we shouldn't get too comfortable in this ''us vs. them', anti-totalitarian model: Professor Von Braun, with dark, impenetrable shades permenantly welded, is the clean-cut image of the director; he too forces Anna Karina (his daughter, Godard's wife) to perform for strangers and suppress her personality; he, like Godard, is the creator of Alphaville.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Individuality Exemplified
It is a rare thing to see a film that not only shows one what life is, but espouses a concrete vision of what life should be. Even more rare is a film which does this by situating characters in a world where one would not want to live thereby isolating the very essence of what makes on human. Godard's Alfaville not only accomplishes this feet but it creates an artistic embodiment of all that true individuality stands for. More potent than 1984 and just as beautiful as novels such as Atlas Shrugged, Alfaville shows one who is willing to watch and listen the true value and purpose of freedom and the ominous results when that freedom is removed from their lives. The music, cinematography and overall directing could only be done by an individual who's sense of life is majestic and bordering on, if not completely genius. This is not only great science fiction but it is art at its highest ideal, a work that makes me proud to be human.

3-0 out of 5 stars a weird film and quite interesting
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This film which is one of several involving the character Lemmy Caution remains popular to this day as one of the few science fiction films with no special effects. It is a good view of a technocratic society an has elements which at the time seemed like fantasy but in our computer age seems more feasible.

The film also has a voice over that is really deep and raspy that sounds very interesting.

The DVD does not have any special features but still is a good one to buy.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Eternal Theme of the Individual VS The State
It should not surprise anyone that a film from Jean-Luc Godard will invariably attract the usual assortment of Post-Modernist, ethically and politically retarded, anti-Western afficionados. Some of that can be seen in the reviews for this film, both on this page and throughout the Internet. The truth however, is that while Godard was a borderline socialist and critical of the supposed decadence of "America", he was more of a heroic individualist than anything else and his pre-1970 films all demonstrate this fact.

Alphavile is without a doubt, his greatest achievement and it is a work that speaks of an artistic sensibility all but lost in the France of today, which is overun with rampant anti-intellectualism and a worship of un-reason.

Godard takes the Bogart-like "Lemmy Caution" character out of his former slew of 40/50's French spy thrillers and puts the very same character into a future where a technocratic dictatorship exists. In doing so, the very best idealism of American pulp-fiction is given back its soul by a French director, Godard, who truly was interested in the world of ideas.

This film not only shows why a totalitarian state must be destroyed, it also demonstrates some key philosophical concepts in the process. Through Godard, we learn that it is language that first must be assaulted before one can enslave man, then mathematics, then history and finally, the human mind itself. We can see parallels to this line of thinking through the world today and yet, how ironic that it is today's France that probably best embodies Godard's nightmare come to life (for a Western democracy of course).

The cinematography of Alphaville is superb, as is the musical score by Paul Misraki which is one of the finest I have experienced, for it reaches its crescendo with the most important line in the film, almost as an answer to a question. The theme of Alphaville is simple enough - the Individual against the State, but the soul of Alphaville reaches higher to a level where Man is sanctified against all intrusions on his life, liberty and happiness.

Anna Karina plays the part of the Ideal Woman still capable of feeling and understanding the value of love and that immortal word that may still one day save humanity - "I". It is a rare thing to find a work of art that speaks so eloquently to the sublime beauty of Man, Humanity and Individualism. Godard does this and more in Alphaville and for that, he should go down in history as one of Europe's finest artists.

Note - One would need to watch this film about 3 times to completely grasp every important nuance. Also, Anthem and 1984 are good reads along the same vain.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Analysis of Genre
As usual with Godard moments stand out. In this film the most absurd sequence involves a diving platform in what looks to be an eastern bloc recreational center and a number of black sweatered and bereted revolutionaries with sub-machine guns standing on the pool deck spraying the divers as they dive. Whats it all mean? Well I suppose you could say its Godards way of commenting on the wests ability to turn even political oppression into mass entertainment.

I like a number of Godard films: Breathless, My Life To Live, Contempt, Pierrot Le Fou, First Name: Carmen, Hail Mary, In Praise of Love --still Alphaville remains kind of a hard one for me to get into. Perhaps because I am not too keen on science fiction. It seems the people who like this film are the ones who like science fiction in general. To me science fiction is full of cliches and so is film noir and so to me it seems Godard is using these genres to address cultural cliches -- and yet he is also making pointed comments on modern culture as he does so. You can always count on a Godard film to be smart and even though its not one of my favorites Alphaville is no exception to that rule.

Anna Karina looks great as always. Unfortunately for Lemmy Caution she is the daughter of Alphaville's overlord. No one really believes the future will look like a parking garage nor that a super-computer will run our lives and that people will become vacant automatons. Only a handful of early twentieth-century authors thought the future was leading us toward Alphaville. In the context of the swinging sixties sci fi just looks campy and noir even campier. Whats going on in Godards head? Hard to say in this film. To me its funny, but a surprising amount of people seem to take this sci fi stuff seriously.

I think the new wave band of outsiders enjoyed genre hopping because it gave them a chance to flex their movie knowledge. Plus genres come loaded with rules which the new wavers can then subvert -- so that is the fun of Alphaville, subversion of genre and in this case its a double dose of subversion because Godards subverting two genres, sci fi and noir. I think its interesting to note that in both of these genres men and women relate in steretypical and fatalistic ways -- and the new wave was about being hyper-conscious of these film conventions. Perhaps what Godard is really saying is that in order to invent life anew we must break free of these conventions. This is of course something his characters often fail to do although in some films they try. ... Read more

3. Cleo From 5 to 7 - Criterion Collection
Director: Agnès Varda
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Asin: 0780023234
Catlog: DVD
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Visionary of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda captures the atmosphere of Paris in the '60s with this portrait of a singer searching for answers as she awaits test results from a biopsy. A chronicle of two crucial hours in one woman's life, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama. The film features a score by Michel Legrand (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and cameos by Legrand, Jean-Luc Godard, and Anna Karina. Criterion is proud to present Cléo from 5 to 7 in a beautiful digital transfer supervised by the director, with the color opening sequence restored. ... Read more

4. Beware of a Holy Whore
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
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Asin: B00008L3WK
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 25208
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Fans of the prodigiously gifted Rainer Werner Fassbinder will find Beware of a Holy Whore the German director's most revealing look inside his filmmaking process. A kind of neurotic backstage comedy, the movie details the struggles of a film crew in Spain:the jealousies, tantrums, money problems. He doesn't spare himself in this process, as the movie's director (played by Lou Castel) is a petulant manipulator given to screaming fits. RWF himself plays a long-suffering production manager; the great pock-marked star of French B movies, Eddie Constantine, plays himself (looking somewhat bewildered by the deadpan jokes and frequent lulls). If the slack pacing and Warholian weirdness limit the movie, it nevertheless looks very vivid, thanks to future Hollywood cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. Fassbinder made around 40 features in his brief life, and this self-portrait gives hints about the maddening, mercurial personality that could pull off such a feat. --Robert Horton ... Read more

Reviews (5)

2-0 out of 5 stars Unfocused Fassbinder
In the early seventies, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was making an incredible four or five movies a year. But not even the Wizard of Babylon was capable of making four or five GOOD movies per year, and although Fassbinder apparently considered "Beware of a Holy Whore" to be one of his important films it has not aged well. Obviously a diehard Fassbinder fan will want to see or own this movie. Wellspring and the Fassbinder Foundation have done a great job in making these films available on DVD and the transfers are excellent - although the original audio could use some work in places. For me, however, the film is important for two reasons. Firstly, because Eddie Constantine is in the cast - although the iconic actor seems to be wondering what he got himself into. Second is the fascination of watching Fassbinder himself in a self-parodying role that is fun, albeit bitter-sweet. That said, in subtitles, it's hard to get the humor that is intended, and I strongly disagree with those that claim this film is on the same level as more mature introspections on the moviemaking process - like Truffaut's "Nuite Americaine". If you're new to Fassbinder, viewing early classics such as "Ali: Fear Eats The Soul", "The Merchant of Four Seasons" or "Fox and his Friends" may give you a better idea of how striking and important a filmmaker he was.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Fassbinder's best
Don't let the tongue-in-cheek title, which refers to cinema, deter you! Beware of a Holy Whore (1971) looks even better - and more complex - than when I first saw it theatrically several years ago; and Wellspring's DVD transfer is gorgeous (you can also choose either the original mono or new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack). Fassbinder himself ranked this his best film on the list he made, shortly before his death, of "The Top 10 of My Own Films." Not only is this knowing satire - part screwball comedy, part existential pseudo-documentary - one of his two out-and-out comedies (1976's Satan's Brew is the other), it is also a probing, wickedly funny, yet celebratory film about filmmaking. Although some will heartily disagree, for me it ranks with such classics of this rarefied subgenre as Godard's Contempt and Fellini's 8-1/2 (both 1963), and seems more illuminating, and even entertaining, than Truffaut's wonderful Day for Night (1973).

But there is much more of interest than its behind-the-scenes peek at dysfunctional moviemaking. There are its autobiographical layers (Fassbinder not only appears in a crucial supporting role as the harried production manager Sascha, he parodies himself wickedly through the central character of the tyrannical director, Jeff); a brilliant use of rhythm, both within scenes and in the overall flow of the film (Fassbinder was also the co-editor); some of the most beautiful, subtle and complex visual design - and camera movement - of any of his films up to that point (the great Michael Ballhaus was the cinematographer; he now shoots Scorsese's films); an ecelctic, brilliantly deployed soundtrack ranging from Peer Raben's haunting original score to songs from Leonard Cohen, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley to a haunting Donizetti aria; a superb ensemble cast (it follows about a dozen major characters - although it focuses on Jeff - and looks ahead to, say, Altman's Nashville); not to mention psychological insight, and some surprising yet on-target character revelations.

Fassbinder delves into extremely dark and tangled emotions in this comedy; and although there are many laughs, they often stem from violence. When a character asks Jeff what type of movie he is directing, he replies, "It's a film about brutality. What else would one make a film about?" Fassbinder was an enormously complex artist, and man, who understood from personal experience the cruel power plays, and blindness, of people in love. He admitted that he was capable of oppressing the people close to him (often his crews and cast were also his friends and lovers), yet he showed enormous compassion - in his life and work - for both victims and victimisers; and he understood that the same person could play both roles. And although this pivotal film - which looks back to his earlier, more abstract works and ahead to his unique melodramas - often has a languid pace, Fassbinder never stops digging beneath the surface, exploring the sources of human need: love, desire for power, longing, dependency, repressed wishes, unfulfilled dreams, and all manner of frustrations. With emotional meltdown possible at any moment, it is no wonder that the title begins with "beware," immediately telling us that that this is a cautionary tale. The title's other two words suggest the struggle, in each of us, between the spiritual and the raw.

Filmmaking proves a fascinating combination of those two distinct yet intertwined qualities, especially as embodied by Jeff. On the one hand, he makes life a living hell for his producer Manfred (Karl Scheydt) - who's in love with him, his production manager Sascha (Fassbinder), his fling Babs (Maragrethe von Trotta) - who happens to be Sascha's girlfriend, his ballistic ex named Irm (Magdalena Montezuma) who has convinced herself that she would "bear his children," and especially his on-again/off-again boyfriend Ricky (Marquard Bohm). Not to mention everybody else. But we also see Jeff's redemptive love for filmmaking, such as the spellbinding scene in which he tells his cinematographer exactly what he wants in a complicated shot and why. There is real fire in Jeff, and a natural poetry in his words, as writer/director Fassbinder turns cinema into language, even as the camera movement he uses counterpoints Jeff's vivid description of what he plans to film. But film is not all "holy," and throughout the camera often suggests voyeurism, both of cinema and of us, the audience. It often seems to be peeking around corners or pillars, as if it were eavesdropping.

Although film production is not part of most people's lives, Fassbinder manages to make it a probing metaphor for universal human experience, in one of his most hilarious, disturbing yet deeply moving pictures.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Early Fassbinder
This (relatively) early Fassbinder effort deserves to be seen. It has several flashes of brilliance but remains of interest mainly in light of what was to come. The film has a certain Morrissey/Warhol deadpan charm--you could almost envision Viva! or Joe D'Allesandro showing up any minute. Visually it can be quite striking. The cast varies in acting ability and star quality. There's a hint or two of Hanna Schygulla's later greatness. Fassbinder appears in a significant role (not merely the usual cameo) and is affecting. Ultimately one of those meta-films about making a film that young directors are partial to. Whether it provides the viewer with much insight is another question. Just how much do you care to know about this demimonde? Something of a curio thirty years after its release.

One has to wonder though why this film is available when "Maria Braun" is out of print. Of course the entire Fassbinder oeuvre should be on the market, but "Maria" remains one of his masterpieces, and it's scandalous that it's not currently available.

An early masterpiece from the German New Wave,a hilarious and human portrait of the making of a film on the set of a monstrous director.More than self parody, Fassbinder created a vivid melange that is alive with pleasure.His characters are classic.This thrilling film should not be missed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perverse and Hilarious Genius!
One of Fassbinder's best -- visually ravishing while at the same time invigoratingly threadbare, brutally funny and self-deprecating, squalid and sexy and filled with cutting-edge glamour still, more than 25 years after its release -- you cannot miss this one! Watch for the breathtaking set piece on the hotel balcony with Hanna Schygulla's strangely affecting Marilyn Monroe dance, an outrageous drag-queen hanger-on getting his hair done, "Let's Go Get Stoned" playing in the background, and the funniest fistfight you'll ever see in a German'll take your breath away. Sheer genius. ... Read more

5. It Lives Again / It's Alive 3 - Island of the Alive
Director: Larry Cohen
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Asin: B0002KQNKO
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 19030
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6. Criterion Crime Wave 6-Pack (High & Low/Tokyo Drifter/The Honeymoon Killers/Branded to Kill/Alphaville/Man Bites Dog) - exclusive
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
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Asin: B00015WMP0
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 32901
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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The six films in the Criterion Crime Wave 6-Pack were shown together on on the International Film Channel in January 2004.

Although best known for his samurai classics, Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa proved himself equally adept at contemporary dramas and thrillers, and 1962's High and Low offers a powerful showcase for Kurosawa's versatile skill. The great Toshiro Mifune stars as a wealthy industrialist who receives a phone call informing him that his son has been kidnapped, and by unfortunate coincidence the ransom demand is nearly equivalent to the amount Mifune has raised for a corporate coup. What follows is both a tense detective thriller, as the police attempt to track down the kidnapper, and a compelling illustration of class division in Japan--the "high and low" of the title. Far be it from Kurosawa to make a mere thriller, however; this loose adaptation of the Ed McBain novel King's Ransom provides the director with ample opportunity to develop a visual strategy that perfectly enhances the story's sociological themes. --Jeff Shannon

In Toyko Drifter, Seijun Suzuki transforms the yakuza genre into a pop-art James Bond cartoon as directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The twisting narrative takes hitman "Phoenix" Tetsu (Tetsuya Watari) from deliriously gaudy nightclubs, where killers hide behind every pillar, to the beautiful snowy plains of Northern Japan and back again, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. Suzuki's extreme stylization, jarring narrative leaps, and wild plot devices combine to create a pulp fiction on acid, equal parts gangster parody and post-modern deconstruction. --Sean Axmaker

There's Bonnie and Clyde--then there's Martha and Ray. One-shot writer-director Leonard Kastle set out to make a film about lover-murderers that was everything Arthur Penn's movie was not. He succeeded. Consequently, The Honeymoon Killers, based on the Lonely Hearts Killers case of 1949, may be too lurid for some. But there's a heart beating inside its (tawdry) chest and Kastle clearly cared about these two crazy, mixed-up kids who should never have met. But met Martha (Shirley Stoler) and Ray (Tony LoBianco) did and proceeded to fleece several widows before doing them in. The film isn't graphic in its violence, but each murder is increasingly disturbing. Dramatic lighting and dark passages from Mahler keep the mood close and clammy throughout. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Seijun Suzuki's absolutely mad yakuza movie Branded to Kill bends the hit-man genre so out of shape it more resembles a Luis Bunuel take on Martin Scorsese. Number three killer Goro Hanada (Jo Shishido) is a hired killer who loves his work, but when he misses a target, he becomes the next target of the mob. Goro is no pushover and easily dispatches the first comers, but the rat-a-tat violence gives way to a surreal, sadistic game of cat and mouse. The legendary Number One mercilessly taunts his target before moving in with him in a macho, testosterone-laden Odd Couple truce that ends up with them handcuffed together. Kinky? Not compared to earlier scenes. The smell of boiling rice sets Goro's libido for his mistress so aflame that Suzuki censors the gymnastic sex with animated black bars that come to life in an animated cha-cha. --Sean Axmaker

1965's Alphaville is a perfect example of Jean-Luc Godard's willingness to disrupt expectation, combine genres, and comment on movies while making sociopolitical statements that inspired doctoral theses and left a majority of viewers mystified. Part science fiction and part hard-boiled detective yarn, Alphaville presents a futuristic scenario using the most modern and impersonal architecture that Godard could find in mid-'60s Paris. A haggard private eye (Eddie Constantine) is sent to an ultramodern city run by a master computer, where his mission is to locate and rescue a scientist who is trapped there. As the story unfolds, the movie tackles a variety of topics such as the dehumanizing effect of technology, willful suppression of personality, saturation of commercial products, and, of course, the constant recollection of previous films through Godard's carefully chosen images. --Jeff Shannon

The Belgian satire Man Bites Dog is dark, dark, dark--but also right on the money in its sly sendup of the media's fascination with violence and its complicity therein. This mock documentary has a trio of filmmakers shooting a cinéma vérité feature about a garrulous serial killer who lets the film crew follow him around as he selects victims and then dispatches them. But at what point does filmmaking become participation? These hapless documentarians soon find out as their subject eventually pulls them into his world, including a gun battle with a rival film crew and their own criminal star. Gruesomely hilarious, with a deadpan wit that's hard to resist. --Marshall Fine ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Criterion Crime Wave / IFC crossover promotion
From the other persons reviewing this 6 DVD bundle there seems to come confusion as to why Amazon would group said discs. The reason is for cross promotion with The Independent Film Channel (IFC) who will show all six movies on January 30th and 31st of 2004. Of course, all are Criterion titles as well, and the budding collector may feel compulsion to buy all of these at once to achieve a discount (an extra 5% PER title above individual prices here at Amazon) and saving on S&H. Aside from the tie-in to IFC, Amazon is supporting a contest with prizes to be given away and you can register here at this site.

All that being said, there is no other reason these titles would form a cohesive box set, but then again, it is not being sold as such. Unlike other Criterion box sets (which to this point have always showcased a single director), this is working off of a theme and not someone's body of work. There is no mention of a "box" to house all these DVDs, but instead are just bundled together in a group. Each of these films though are solid titles, with Man Bites Dog being far and away my favorite and the two Suzuki films probably being the least appealing (though, still good films).

If your first introduction to the Criterion Collection is from watching these films on IFC at the end of the month, you will come to find the company to be the Rolls Royce of DVDs. From film restoration to bonuses to retrieval of obscure cellulite, Criterion is unparalleled in the retail field and is a must for any serious film students or lovers of great cinema.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great movies, strange price
This is a great collection of classic films. I have all
but one on DVD or Laserdisc.

I am confused on the pricing. ..

3-0 out of 5 stars Great movies, silly collection
Each and every one of these films are fantastic...from the police procedural of Kurosawa's High & Low to the cinema verite nastiness of Man Bites Dog to the goofiness of Suzuki's Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill. That being said, they are all different one from the other and have little in common (with the exception of Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill...both by Suzuki), and other than an at times tangential relationship to the crime genre (Godard's Alphaville is "crime" film only to the extent that a private investigator is used as a plot device), it's strange why in the world these films are grouped together. Well, all of them are issued by the Criterion Collection...but even Criterion Collection boxed sets have a stronger kinship, as in the Hitchcock and Kurosawa boxes.

Truly a mystery why these are being marketed this way. ... Read more

7. Zentropa
Director: Lars von Trier
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00008978H
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 50160
Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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Praised as one of the top films of the year, ZENTROPA is an erotic, passionate thriller delivering nonstop, suspense-filled excitement. In this Hitchcock-like tale, Leo Kessler, an American visiting devastated postwar Germany, gets seduced by a beautiful woman and suddenly finds himself caught in a never-ending web of mystery and intrigue. Leo's nightmarish journey takes him through a hypnotizing maze of romance, passion, and betrayal -- leading to acts of terrorism, and finally, murder. With its many plot twists and heart-stopping surprises, this riveting, seductive thriller is sure to entertain from beginning to end. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Zentropa
The best film that Lars von Trier directed, better than the more well known films"Breaking the Waves"&"Dancer in the Dark".Although the critics didn't pick it up, this film,I believe, must have been influenced by Herman Melville. It has the theme of an innocent man who ends up dead under the water due to his hubris and naivete. It tells the story of Kessler, an American who makes the fateful decision to become a sleeping car conductor in 1945 Germany. He is beset by his cranky uncle who is his superior at work, he is seduced by asympathizing femme fatale, among other events. The movie has both substance and style and is never short of fascinating due both to its plot as well as the directorial technique. The performances are outstanding. It is highly recommended.

In his typical scattered narrative, von Trier crafts a hypnotic tale of an American in the post-WWII rubble of Germany, as he gets entangled with a stunning local woman. Problem is, the woman is revealed to have been a dangerous operative during the war with far-from-simple roots.

Sounds like a fairly comprehensible theme to wrap a thriller around, but no, not under the sly lens of von Trier! His screenplay copiously employs his characteristic symbolism, effortlessly morphing between black & white and technicolor, using double-exposures, backprojections, and some fascinating trick photography such as superimpositions.

The resulting murky, obscure atmosphere of psychological disorientation may lead a casual viewer to much the same frustrations as the film's protagonist -- of never quite finding a footing in the surrealistic, trancy goings-on.

But if you prefer ambitious enigmas to lacklustre boxoffice hits, then give this truly challenging film a chance.

1-0 out of 5 stars DVD Buyers Beware!
Buyers beware of the DVD version! I bought this DVD version of this glorious film two months ago and for somewhat unknown reasons, this DVD wouldn't play on my DVD player and my friends' DVD players. BUYER beware!

5-0 out of 5 stars Lars von Triers'masterpiece
Zentropa is much more than a simple movie. The experience you feel when you are under the control of time in the railroad is a brilliant idea that slowly mesmerizes you in a nightmare of horror, passion and death. Lars von Triers built a story where the anguish, the shame, the memory, the werewolf, the loneliness create an evil atmosphere. The edition is unforgetable, the amazing sincronization between the black and white and color, gradually envolves us and make us descends to the unboreable state of tension And this situation is only generated in another film ·Midnight express . of Alan Parker.
Returning to Zentropa, the sense of guiltness surrounds to our american benefactor who initially seems to be in a redemption state . Every one of his achievements are governed by the ethic . But he doesn't realize how the circunstances slowly are engaging him to the gallow. The relationship between him and his uncle, the epic affair with Barbara Sukova, announces us a fate far away he planned it. The performances are superb. You don't find just a hole. The use of the old fashioned effects is a great tribute to the golden age of mude film. From Griffith to Stroheim through the german expressionism Murnau, Wiene and Lang.
The final sequences are so original,fascinating and so beautifully made , that at the end of film the plot permeates your soul and your psiquis several weeks after.
Triers made Breaking the waves and The element of crime, which define him as a brilliant storyteller , with a visual style like very few directors.
Triers belongs to that elite of directors who see upon their shoulders. Creator in the purest sense of the word.
Don't miss the opportunity of watching this movie. You'll appreciate it several times because it's impact will shock you every time you watch it.
This is a true milestone in the cinema story. Orson Welles wherever he is, will be smiling , because Triers is one of his remarkable descendents.

5-0 out of 5 stars Follow the days go by.
"You are not free not to choose". Kessler's efforts to remain in gray area makes him the only sinner in a railroad-hypnotic view of Germany right after WWII. ... Read more

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