A Criterion Primer

The Criterion Collection Sale at B&N


Any Cinephile worth his salt knows that the Criterion Sale at Barnes and Noble is one of the best times of year. Hundreds of the greatest works of art ever produced on sale for 50% off and available at your local mall.

Actively checking Reddit every day for news about the sale (which is never announced aforetime), speculating as to when the sale might be, and posting pictures of your haul may be more than the average film watcher is willing to invest in a movie, but luckily, not for us at True Myth Media.

Once you know that the sale is on and running through August 4th,  the next step is figuring out what to buy. At 25 bucks a pop on bluray and even more than that for many editions and boxsets, how is someone who may have only just heard about the Criterion Collection to know where to start.

Here are 6 films that you can rest assure are solid Criterion pics for film fanatics of every ilk.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Wes Anderson - America

“Moonrise Kingdom” is the story of two young tweens who run away together to get married and the frantic search for and effort to stop them. Wes Anderson’s characteristic whimsy swirled sober themes produce a film full of laughter, awkwardness, courage, fear and love. Basically, adolescence in a picture book.


12 Angry Men (1957), Sidney Lumet - America

The simplest in concept and execution of our Criterion picks “12 Angry Men” is by no means a film simply for the budding Criterion explorer. With drama and social commentary as relevant today as in 1957 this one room conversational film about a court trials jury deliberations will have you and anyone you watch it with asking, “Why can’t they make more films like that anymore?”


Persona (1966), Ingmar Bergman - Sweden

In our opinion this is some of Bergman’s best work, and one of our favorite films of all time. So, if we had to pick one arthouse film to recommend for a Criterion pick up, it would be this film. The film is short, but it’s stuffed to the gills with symbolism and double-meanings; Bergman’s directing is at its most experimental; and Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson give two spellbinding and haunting performances. If you’re looking to expand your art house collection, this film is a must-own. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Peter Weir - Australia

“Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a disquieting drama about a group of schoolgirls that go missing while on a picnic in Australia. While there is nothing incredibly terrifying about the imagery in this film, the atmosphere is so otherworldly and the tension that slowly builds from not knowing what happened ramps up until it’s impossible to ignore. This movie had our reviewer lying awake pondering this movie for almost a week straight and a year later still recalling it rather frequently. 


Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa - Japan

“Seven Samurai” is a story so iconic and classic in theme that it is constantly being remade (“The Magnificent Seven,” “A Bug’s Life”). A starving peasant village of farmers learns that bandits intend to raid them after the harvest, starving them to death. They have no protection except the help of wandering Samurai but what kind of Samurai can poor peasants afford? The word Epic was made for films like this. Raw Battle sequences, brilliant characterization, and attention to detail which creates tension rather than boredom are simply a few of the qualities that have made this film and its director, Akira Kurosawa, synonymous with Asian Cinema.

Yi Yi (2000), Edward Yang - Taiwan

“Yi Yi” is about life and everything it contains. It’s about love and heartbreak; remembering and forgetting; creating and destroying; budding friendships and vicious rivalries; successes and failure; marriage and infidelity; happiness and depression; the beauty of music and also of silence; the passage of time; and most of all life and death. This is a film that we believe could be watched at various moments of life and one could garner something new from it every time. It’s a film that looks at the curious age of young childhood, the uncertainty that comes with being a teenager, the regrets of middle age, and the reflection of our final years. 

“Yi Yi” is a straight up masterpiece.


Written By:

Michael McDonald and Seth Steele