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Rhymes With Five: Judging films by their covers

July 10, 2008  |  3:16pm
Um, whoops. Somehow, it's been over a month since the last installment of Rhymes With Five-- sorry, things got a little busy around here. But fret no more: PasteMagazine.com's very finest aimless roundup of non sequitur whatevers is back and... well, whether or not it's "better than ever" or "here to stay" is debatable, but for now, at least, here we are.

This week, I stumbled across three separate DVD covers that knocked me on my feet. Turns out, they're all upcoming releases from The Criterion Collection-- and, turns out, Criterion has churned out some really beautifully designed DVD packages over the years.

This morning, I spent way longer than I should have (shh, Internet, don't tell anyone I was dilly-dallying during magazine deadline) browsing through titles and cover art on their website. In addition to the staggering visual impression of their full catalog, I was struck by just how many great films I'm wildly unfamiliar with.

So, in celebration, here are my five favorite Criterion covers of movies I've never seen (that I probably should soon). What are yours?

mishima.jpg

The main reason I was on Criterion's site in the first place was to find the cover art of Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters to run with our review of the film, released on DVD earlier this month. It's a really crappy, rainy, gray day in Decatur, so this graphic explosion of color was more than welcome in my dark little corner of the office. It now may or may not be set as my computer's desktop background. Your guess.

la haine.jpg
La Haine is one of my boyfriend's favorite movies, and though a copy on DVD was one of my Christmas presents to him last year, we've never watched it together. This image is so haunting, though-- the gritty concrete below, the figures' faces blurrily obscured by the letters of the title, the bright white expanse above. How do you say "suitably creepy" in French?

the furies.jpgThis is more what I associate with the Furies-- not a sepia-toned, off-centered Barbara Stanwyck on horseback-- but the title of Anthony Mann's 1950 film apparently refers to the name of a ranch, not scary, winged, bat-bird ladies. Still, I like the look of this-- though I'm unsure whether 1870s pioneer women would have worn such shiny, shiny shirts.

trafic.jpg
Last week, I saw Trafic laying in a pile of CDs and DVDs that our interns had recently retrieved from the Post Office. It immediately reminded me of two things: 1) "Freewayphobia," a kinda-bizarro 1965 Disney cartoon in which Goofy instructs viewers on how to properly conduct oneself on this crazy new thing called "the Interstate," and 2) Atlanta's own Spaghetti Junction, which is hellish to drive through but beautiful, I guess, it its own weird way. This cover seems to be based on its original French poster-- the swooping freeway letters are the same, but I really love the updated blue. (Kind of stupid, selfish aside: I really hope I like the movie, because I'm pretty set on hunting down and framing a copy of this poster for my apartment.)

koko a talking gorilla.jpg
I remember Koko from a kids' show I watched years ago-- maybe Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood-- but had no idea there'd been a serious documentary made about her. I love the ASL "subtitles," and her pose here-- so dignified and human, and way, way, way less weird than the only other simian-centric Criterion cover I saw, the seemingly inexplicable Robinson Crusoe On Mars. Yikes.

[Last week month on Rhymes With Five: Bonnaroo! Excitement!]

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