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The Criterion Collection: The Cinema Challenge: The Criterion Challenge

Overview of the Criterion Collection from Alexander Street

Are you "Film Buff" enough?  Alexander Street invites you to participate in

THE CINEMA CHALLENGE: THE CRITERION CHALLENGE

Alexander Street challenges you to watch the selected list of some of the greatest films from around the world that encompass many time-periods, varying content and form. Film clubs, student groups, and faculty members are invited to track your progress and report your challenge completion to support@alexanderstreet.com.

Access the full Criterion Challenge playlist: https://search.alexanderstreet.com/playlist/521368

A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day's Night

The Beatles were the most famous musicians of their time.  How do you compare this film to the social media posts of today's pop stars?

8 1/2

What do you think Fellini was trying to say in the opening sequence?  Why did he choose that to start the film?

400 Blows

What are some characteristics of French New Wave that you see in this film?

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

Do you feel more admiration or sympathy for Arthur or for William?

Jules and Jim

Jules and Jim

Why do you think Jules and Jim are so drawn to Catherine?

Knife in the Water

How does Polanski build suspense in this film?  How is a film like this different from modern-day thrillers?

Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai

Compare this movie to Saving Private Ryan or other American hero-warrior classics.  How are the seven samurai similar and how are they different from the American idea of the battle hero?

Breathless

Breathless

Why do you think the characters act the way they do? What is the filmmaker trying to communicate about what motivates their actions?

The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator

Chaplin once described Hitler as "the greatest actor" he'd ever seen.  What do you think he meant by that

Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens

These 2 women are undoubtedly eccentric.  Do you find them likable?  Do you feel sorry for them?  Do you admire them?

La Haine

La Haine

This film takes place in France in 1995.  Do you see correlations between that place and time, and today's BLM movement?

Eraserhead

Eraserhead

David Lynch is known as an experimental filmmaker.  What elements of Eraserhead represent experimental filmmaking?

God's Country

God's Country

What characteristics of this 1979 Minnesota town are still relevant in today's small towns?

My Dinner with Andre

My Dinner with Andre

This is a film with virtually no plot and no action. How does it engage its audience without those critical elements?

Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas

How do the landscape and cinematography contribute to the film?

Solaris

Solaris

This film asks the question "When we love someone, are we loving that person or our idea of that person?"  Can you relate to that question?

The Blob

The Blob

Sci-Fi thrillers like 'The Blob' birthed a genre in the 1950's and are cult classics today.  Thinking historically, why did these films resonate so much at the time?  What was happening, sociologically, that made these films so popular?

The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal

What is the role of religion in the film?  What would an atheist think about the film?

The Times of Harvey Milk

The Times of Harvey Milk

What do you think is Harvey Milk's legacy? What can today's activists learn from him?

The Vanishing

The Vanishing

This film was remade in America, with Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock, but with a very different ending.  Which ending do you prefer?

An Angel at my Table

An Angel at My Table

How can society determine who is actually mentally ill, and who is merely 'different' or 'creative'?  How many artists/musicians/writers have been marked as 'crazy' throughout history?

F is for Fake

F is for Fake

"Art is merely a lie that allows the truth to be seen".  This quote by Picasso ends the film.  What do you think Welles was saying with this quote?

Foreign Correspondent

Foreign Correspondent

What elements can you see in this movie that you recognize from other, more famous Hitchcock films?

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

What points is this film making about society in general?

M

M

How does Fritz Lang tell his story without dialogue?  What elements does he use to evoke plot, mood, and character?


 

Cover Art Title Challenge Question Check Mark
Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day's Night

directed by Richard Lester, 1932-; designed by Julie Harris, 1921-; produced by Walter Shenson, 1919-2000; performed by George Harrison, 1943-2001, Ringo Starr, 1940-, Paul McCartney, 1942- and John Lennon, 1940-1980 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1964), 1 hour 28 mins

The Beatles were the most famous musicians of their time.  How do you compare this film to the social media posts of today's pop stars?  
8 1/2
8 1/2

directed by Federico Fellini, 1920-1993; designed by Piero Gherardi, 1909-1971; produced by Angelo Rizzoli, 1889-1970, Francinex and Cineriz; performed by Anouk Aimée, 1932-, Claudia Cardinale, 1938- and Marcello Mastroianni, 1924-1996 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1963), 2 hours 19 mins

What do you think Fellini was trying to say in the opening sequence?  Why did he choose that to start the film?  
400 Blows
400 Blows
directed by François Truffaut, 1932-1984; produced by François Truffaut, 1932-1984; performed by Jean-Pierre Léaud, 1944-, Claire Maurier, 1929- and Albert Rémy, 1911-1967 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1959), 1 hour 40 mins
What are some characteristics of French New Wave that you see in this film?  
Hoop Dreams
Hoop Dreams
directed by Steve James, fl. 1986-2015; produced by Steve James, fl. 1986-2015, Frederick Marx, fl. 1981-2015 and Peter Gilbert, 1957-, KTCA and Kartemquin Films; performed by Arthur Agee, 1972- and William Gates, 1971-(New York, NY: Janus Films, 1994), 2 hours 53 mins  
Do you feel more admiration or sympathy for Arthur or for William?
 
Jules and Jim
Jules and Jim
directed by François Truffaut, 1932-1984; designed by Fred Capel, fl. 1962; produced by François Truffaut, 1932-1984; performed by Jeanne Moreau, 1928-, Oskar Werner, 1922-1984 and Henri Serre, 1931- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1962), 1 hour 46 mins  
Why do you think Jules and Jim are so drawn to Catherine?  
Knife in the Water
Knife in the Water
directed by Roman Polanski, 1933-; produced by Stanislaw Zylewicz, 1908-1994; performed by Leon Niemczyk, 1923-2006, Jolanta Umecka, fl. 1962-1967 and Zygmunt Malanowicz, 1938- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1962), 1 hour 35 mins  
How does Polanski build suspense in this film?  How is a film like this different from modern-day thrillers?  
Seven Samurai
Seven Samurai
directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1910-1999; designed by Ezaki Kôhei, fl. 1954-1960 and Yamaguchi Mieko, fl. 1954; produced by Motoki Sôjirô, fl. 1945-1971; performed by Mifune Toshirô, 1920-1997, Shimura Takashi, 1905-1982 and Tsushima Keiko, 1926-2012 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1954), 3 hours 27 mins  
Compare this movie to Saving Private Ryan or other American hero-warrior classics.  How are the seven samurai similar and how are they different from the American idea of the battle hero?  
Breathless
Breathless
directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1930-; produced by Georges de Beauregard, 1920-1984, Les Films Impéria, Les Productions Georges de Beauregard and Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC); performed by Jean Seberg, 1938-1979, Jean-Paul Belmondo, 1933-, Daniel Boulanger, 1922-, Henri-Jacques Huet, 1930-2009, Roger Hanin, 1925-, Van Doude, 1926-, Liliane Dreyfus, fl. 1960, Michel Fabre, fl. 1960, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1917-1973, Claude Mansard, 1922-1967, Jean-Luc Godard, 1930- and Richard Balducci, 1929- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1960), 1 hour 30 mins
Why do you think the characters act the way they do? What is the filmmaker trying to communicate about what motivates their actions?  
The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator
directed by Charlie Chaplin, 1889-1977; produced by Charlie Chaplin, 1889-1977; performed by Jack Oakie, 1903-1978, Charlie Chaplin, 1889-1977, Paulette Goddard, 1910-1990, Henry Daniell, 1894-1963 and Reginald Gardiner, 1903-1980 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1940), 2 hours 6 mins  
Chaplin once described Hitler as "the greatest actor" he'd ever seen.  What do you think he meant by that?  
Grey Gardens
Grey Gardens
directed by Ellen Hovde, fl. 1975, Albert Maysles, 1926-2015, David Maysles, 1931-1987 and Muffie Meyer, fl. 1975; produced by Albert Maysles, 1926-2015 and David Maysles, 1931-1987, Portrait Films(New York, NY: Janus Films, 1975), 1 hour 35 mins  
These 2 women are undoubtedly eccentric.  Do you find them likable?  Do you feel sorry for them?  Do you admire them?  
La Haine
La Haine
directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, 1967-; produced by Christophe Rossignon, fl. 1990-2009, Studio Image, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Lazennec Films, La Sept, Kasso Inc. Productions, Egg Pictures, Cofinergie 6 and Canal +; performed by Saïd Taghmaoui, 1973-, Hubert Koundé, 1970- and Vincent Cassel, 1966- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1995), 1 hour 38 mins  
This film takes place in France in 1995.  Do you see correlations between that place and time, and today's BLM movement?  
Eraserhead
Eraserhead
directed by David Lynch, 1946-; produced by David Lynch, 1946-, American Film Institute and Libra Films; performed by Jack Nance, 1943-1996, Charlotte Stewart, 1941-, Allen Joseph, 1919-2012, Jeanne Bates, 1918-2007, Judith Roberts, fl. 1977, Laurel Near, fl. 1977, V. Phipps-Wilson, fl. 1977, Jack Fisk, 1945-, Jean Lange, 1927-, Thomas Coulson, fl. 1977, John Monez, fl. 1977, Darwin Joston, 1937-1998, T. Max Graham, 1941-2011, Hal Landon, Jr., 1941-, Jennifer Chambers Lynch, 1968-, Peggy Lynch, fl. 1968, Brad Keeler, fl. 1977, Doddie Keeler, fl. 1977, Toby Keeler, fl. 1977, Gill Dennis, fl. 1977 and Jack Walsh, fl. 1971 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1977), 1 hour 29 mins
David Lynch is known as an experimental filmmaker.  What elements of Eraserhead represent experimental filmmaking?  
God's Country
God's Country
directed by Louis Malle, 1932-1995; produced by Vincent Malle, 1944-2011, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1985), 1 hour 29 mins
What characteristics of this 1979 Minnesota town are still relevant in today's small towns?  
My Dinner with Andre
My Dinner with Andre
directed by Louis Malle, 1932-1995; designed by Jeff Ullman, fl. 1980; produced by Beverly Karp, 1930-2003 and George W. George, 1920-2007, Andre Company and Saga Productions; performed by Roy Butler, fl. 1981, Jean Lenauer, 1904-1983, Wallace Shawn, 1943- and Andre Gregory, 1934- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1981), 1 hour 52 mins  
This is a film with virtually no plot and no action. How does it engage its audience without those critical elements?  
Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas
directed by Wim Wenders, 1945-; designed by Birgitta Bjerke, fl. 1984; produced by Don Guest, 1935-2010, Westdeutscher Rundfunk Studios, Argos Films, Film4 Productions, Road Movies Filmproduktion and Pro-ject Filmproduktion; performed by Harry Dean Stanton, 1926-, Dean Stockwell, 1936-, Nastassja Kinski, 1961-, Hunter Carson, 1975-, Aurore Clement, 1945- and Bernhard Wicki, 1919-2000 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1984), 2 hours 25 mins  
How do the landscape and cinematography contribute to the film?  
Solaris
Solaris
directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, 1932-1986; designed by Nelli Fomina, fl. 1972-1996; performed by Anatoliy Solonitsyn, 1934-1982, Nikolay Grinko, 1920-1989, Jüri Järvet, 1919-1995, Donatas Banionis, 1924- and Natalya Bondarchuk, 1950- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1972), 2 hours 47 mins  
This film asks the question "When we love someone, are we loving that person or our idea of that person?"  Can you relate to that question?  
The Blob
The Blob
directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., 1926-2004; produced by Jack H. Harris, 1918-, Tonylyn Productions Inc. and Fairview Productions; performed by Steve McQueen, 1930-1980, Aneta Corsaut, 1933-1995, Earl Rowe, 1920-2002, Olin Howland, 1886-1959, Stephen Chase, 1902-1982 and John Benson, 1916-1997 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1958), 1 hour 23 mins  
Sci-Fi thrillers like 'The Blob' birthed a genre in the 1950's and are cult classics today.  Thinking historically, why did these films resonate so much at the time?  What was happening, sociologically, that made these films so popular?  
The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal
directed by Ingmar Bergman, 1918-2007; designed by Manne Lindholm, fl. 1957; produced by Allan Ekelund, 1918-2009; performed by Gunnar Björnstrand, 1909-1986, Bengt Ekerot, 1920-1971 and Nils Poppe, 1908-2000(New York, NY: Janus Films, 1957), 1 hour 38 mins 
What is the role of religion in the film?  What would an atheist think about the film?  
The Times of Harvey Milk
The Times of Harvey Milk
directed by Rob Epstein, 1955-; produced by Richard Schmiechen, 1947-1993 and Rob Epstein, 1955-, Black Sand Productions, Pacific Arts and UCLA Film and Television Archive (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1984), 1 hour 28 mins
What do you think is Harvey Milk's legacy? What can today's activists learn from him?  
The Vanishing
The Vanishing
(Janus Films), 1 hour 46 mins  
This film was remade in America, with Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock, but with a very different ending.  Which ending do you prefer?  
An Angel at my Table
An Angel at My Table
directed by Jane Campion, 1954-; designed by Glenys Jackson, fl. 1984; produced by Bridget Ikin, fl. 1988, Hibiscus Films, New Zealand Film Commission, TVNZ, Film4 Productions and Australian Broadcasting Corporation; performed by Kevin J. Wilson, fl. 1978, Karen Fergusson, fl. 1990, Alexia Keogh, fl. 1990 and Kerry Fox, 1966- (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1990), 2 hours 38 mins  
How can society determine who is actually mentally ill, and who is merely 'different' or 'creative'?  How many artists/musicians/writers have been marked as 'crazy' throughout history?  
F is for Fake
F for Fake
directed by Orson Welles, 1915-1985; produced by Richard Drewitt, 1925-2008, Dominique Antoine, fl. 1967-2009 and François Reichenbach, 1921-1993, Janus Films and SACI (Film Production Company) (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1973), 1 hour 29 mins  
"Art is merely a lie that allows the truth to be seen".  This quote by Picasso ends the film.  What do you think Welles was saying with this quote?  
Foreign Correspondent
Foreign Correspondent
directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980; performed by George Sanders, 1906-1972, Herbert Marshall, 1890-1966, Laraine Day, 1920-2007 and Joel McCrea, 1905-1990 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1940), 2 hours  
What elements can you see in this movie that you recognize from other, more famous Hitchcock films?  
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies
directed by Peter Brook, 1925-; produced by Lewis M. Allen, 1922-2003, Two Arts Ltd.; performed by James Aubrey, 1947-2010, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards, 1951-, Roger Elwin, fl. 1963 and Tom Gaman, fl. 1963 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1963), 1 hour 31 mins 
What points is this film making about society in general?  
M
M
directed by Fritz Lang, 1890-1976; produced by Seymour Nebenzal, 1899-1961, Nero-Film AG; performed by Peter Lorre, 1904-1964, Ellen Widmann, 1894-1985, Inge Landgut, 1922-1986, Otto Wernicke, 1893-1965, Theodor Loos, 1883-1954, Gustaf Gründgens, 1899-1963, Friedrich Gnaß, 1892-1958, Fritz Odemar, 1890-1955, Paul Kemp, 1896-1953, Theo Lingen, 1903-1978, Rudolf Blümner, 1871-1945 and Georg John, 1879-1934 (New York, NY: Janus Films, 1931), 1 hour 50 mins  
How does Fritz Lang tell his story without dialogue?  What elements does he use to evoke plot, mood, and character?