Criterion On The Couch

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February 11, 2018  

Episode #11: It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World


In episode #11 we discuss one of the most star-studded, high-flying action/comedies of all time: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Interrupted from a leisurely drive through the California desert, five men bear witness to the last words of a dying criminal, revealing the location of his hidden loot. What follows is a no-holds-barred-comedic-mad-dash to see who can get to the money first and claim it as their own.


It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - Criterion

Director - Stanley Kramer

Capt. T. G. Culpepper - Spencer Tracy

J. Russell FInch - Milton Berle

Melville Crump - Sid Caesar

Benjy Benjamin - Buddy Hackett

Mrs. Marcus - Ethel Merman

Ding Bell - Mickey Rooney

Sylvester Marcus - Dick Shawn

Otto Meyer - Phil Silvers

J. Algernon Hawthorne - Terry-Thomas

Lennie Pike - Jonathan Winters

Monica Crump - Edie Adams

Emeline Marcus - Finch Dorothy Provine

Man in Car - Jack Benny

Cab Driver - Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson

Cab Driver - Peter Falk

Colonel Wilberforce - Paul Ford

Tower Controller at Rancho Conejo - Carl Reiner

2001’s Rat Race was a modern remake

The West Wing: Season 4 Episode 9 - Swiss Diplomacy

The First Lady and President Bartlet talk about Mrs. Wilberforce

The Simpsons: Season 5 Episode 11 - Homer the Vigilante

Bart tricks the driver

The Big T

January 6, 2018  

Episode #10: Pan’s Labyrinth


In episode #10 we discuss Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-Winning masterpiece: Pan's Labyrinth. Set just after the Spanish Civil War, young Ofelia is thrown into two very different worlds; one of soldiers and violence and one of faeries and magic. Now to protect her own life and that of her mother, she must carefully navigate the border between fantasy and reality.


Pan's Labyrinth - Criterion Collection

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro who also directed and/or wrote:

Cronos (Criterion)

Crimson Peak

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark


Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The Devil’s Backbone (Criterion)

The Strain (TV Series)

Pan’s Labyrinth - Happy Trailer

Other violent movies

Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino)

Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino)

Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)


Non-violent Thrillers


The Decemberists’ album: The Hazards of Love

Doug Jones plays both Pan and the Pale Man

Day for night cinematic technique

In the Bible, King David is responsible for the death of Bathsheba’s husband.

Harry Potter: Mandrakes in herbology class


S (Ship of Theseus)

The Jolly Postman

The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break

Labyrinth with David Bowie

October 30, 2017  

Episode #9: Easy Rider


In episode #9 we discuss Dennis Hopper's directorial debut: Easy Rider. Wyatt and Billy are two bikers with an anti-establishment lifestyle. After netting a big score in a drug deal, the two friends set off on a cross-country journey where they'll experience the best and worst that society has to offer. 


Easy Rider - Criterion Collection

Directed by Dennis Hopper

Written by Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Terry Southern

Notable Cast:

Dennis Hopper - Billy

Peter Fonda - Wyatt

Jack Nicholson - George (young Jack Nicholson looks similar to Walter Goggins known for Justified and Vice Principals)

Family Connections:

Peter Fonda (Henry’s son)

Bridget Fonda (Peter’s daughter)

Jane Fonda (Henry’s daughter)

Henry Fonda (was featured in episode #1: 12 Angry Men)

American Chopper was a television documentary series that aired on the Discovery Channel

Top Gear (BBC) aired an episode (series 9 - episode #3) where the hosts had a dangerous encounter in the American south.

Training Day (starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke) was another movie with a weird drug scene.

Requiem for a Dream was another movie with many weird drug scenes.

Mad Men (season 5 episode 6 - Far Away Places) featured Roger and Jane Sterling take LSD

Trail Magic is a hiking tradition of doing charity unto others

Music that we mention (not necessarily in the movie):

Born to Be Wild - Steppenwolf

Wasn’t Born to Follow - The Byrds

Signs - Five Man Electrical Band

Slow Ride - Foghat (written in 1975)

Product placements:

Jim Beam

Enco Gas


Pepsi Co

Pabst Blue Ribbon




September 10, 2017  

Episode #8: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


In episode #8 we discuss our second Terry Gilliam movie: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Raoul Duke and his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo embark on a drug-filled trip through Las Vegas. Based on the story by Hunter S. Thompson, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Criterion Collection

Directed by Terry Gilliam (who also directed Brazil which we discussed in episode #4).

Terry Gilliam also directed the movie Twelve Monkeys

Based on the Novel by Hunter S. Thompson which itself began as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine

Notable Cast:

Johnny Depp also appeared in:

The Rum Diary (not Rum Punch) - was another movie based on a Hunter S. Thompson novel

Pirates of The Caribbean (where he based his character on Keith Richards)


Benny and Joon

Benicio Del Toro

Tobey Maguire

Tobey was made up in a similar manner to Chris Elliott (who appeared in There’s Something About Mary and Groundhog Day)

Also starred in The Cider House Rules with Charlize Theron

Cameron Diaz

Christopher Meloni

Gary Busey also appeared in Rookie of The Year

Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Penn Jillette

Verne Troyer

Mark Harmon

Katherine Helmond (appeared in Who’s The Boss and Brazil)

David Brisbin (appeared in Hey Dude on Nickelodeon)

Christina Ricci

Raiders of the Lost Ark was originally rated PG

The Royal Tenenbaums was rated R (which we discussed in episode #6)

Powder (produced by Disney) was rated PG-13

The Journey of Natty Gann was rated PG (even though it featured dog fighting)

The Hangover was another drug-filled Las Vegas based movie

Vegas Vacation also featured some sketchy Las Vegas casinos

Adaptation was another movie based on a writer (Charlie Kaufman)


White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane

Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again - Bob Dylan

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Hollyridge Strings (Originally by The Beatles)

Viva Las Vegas - The Dead Kennedys

One Toke Over The Line video from the Lawrence Welk Show. (Originally by Brewer & Shipley)

Justified (FX television series) was based on the short story Fire In The Hole by Elmore Leonard

The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas

August 27, 2017  

Episode #7: Badlands


In episode #7 we discuss Terrence Malick's first full-length film: Badlands. Kit, a captivating loner from "the wrong side of town" falls in love with Holly before beginning a murderous crime wave. Based on the real life story of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. Starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.


Badlands - Criterion Collection

Directed by Terrence Malick who has several other films in the Criterion Collection including

Days of Heaven (1978)

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The New World (2005)

Malick’s The Tree of Life starring Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt is NOT in the Criterion Collection

Martin Sheen stars as Kit

Sissy Spacek stars as Holly

Sissy also starred in The Help (2011) along with Allison Janney who appeared as C.J. Cregg on The West Wing with Martin Sheen

Badlands was based on the real life story of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate

The movie Natural Born Killers also depicted the sensationalism surrounding a pair of serial killers

Kit (Martin Sheen) has a heavy resemblance to James Dean

The plastic trash bag was invented in 1950

Warren Oates played the role of Holly’s father

Warren also starred as Sergeant Hulka in Stripes with Bill MurrayHarold Ramis, and John Candy

Another great example of a memorably narrated movie is The Shawshank Redemption

Martin Sheen dancing in Badlands sort of resembles The Bluths doing their best impressions of a chicken

The Badlands in Montana

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is another movie that follows two outlaws on the run from the authorities

Gassenhauer by Carl Orff was also used in Finding Forrester and Monster (starring Charlize Theron)

Kit and Holly dance in the dark to A Blossom Fell by Nat King Cole

The Sheen’s have a strong family resemblance

Martin Sheen was 32 during the filming of Badlands

Platoon featured Martin Sheen’s son Charlie Sheen aged 21

Apocalypse Now featured Martin Sheen aged 36

Martin Sheen’s other son Emilio Estevez starred in The Mighty Ducks at age 29 and The Breakfast Club at age 22

August 5, 2017  

Episode #6: The Royal Tenenbaums


In episode #6 we discuss Wes Anderson's comedic drama The Royal Tenenbaums. With a star studded cast, this detailed world delves in the dysfunctional lives of the Tenenbaum family. Starring Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Danny Glover.


The Royal Tenenbaums - Criterion Collection

The Apple Cube

Wes Anderson movies:

Bottle Rocket


The Royal Tenenbaums

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

The Darjeeling Limited

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Moonrise Kingdom

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Burn After Reading

The Wilson brothers

Owen Wilson

Luke Wilson

Andrew Wilson (who appeared in Whip It with Ellen Page)

Narrated by Alec Baldwin

30 Rock

A compilation of Wes Anderson slow motion shots

Eric Chase Anderson (brother of Wes Anderson)

Some of Eric Anderson’s drawings

Property Masters

Wes Anderson miniatures

Bill Murray plays Margo’s husband

Stars as Bob Harris in Lost in Translation

Stars as Peter Venkman in Ghosbusters

Anjelica Huston plays Etheline Tenenbaum

Danny Glover plays Henry Sherman, Etheline’s love interest

Futura Bold is the font of choice in this movie.

Also used exclusively by Field Notes

Helvetica Documentary

The Warriors

Music from The Royal Tenenbaums Soundtrack

Hey Jude - The Mutato Muzika Orchestra

111 Archer Avenue - Mark Mothersbaugh (Royal Tenenbaum Theme)

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon

Christmas Time is Here - The Vince Guaraldi Trio

These Days - Nico (Not to be confused with Neko Case)

Judy is a Punk - The Ramones

Gymnoépdie No. 1 by Éric Satie

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday - The Rolling Stones

Baz Luhrmann also has very stylized films

Romeo + Juliet

Moulin Rouge!

The Great Gatsby

FilmStruck - One of the easiest ways to stream Criterion movies online

July 23, 2017  

Episode #5: The Man Who Knew Too Much


In episode #5 we discuss one of Alfred Hitchcock's first major films: The Man Who Knew Too Much. On vacation in Switzerland, Bob and Jill Lawrence get caught up in a secretive world of spies and assassins. With time running out, they must follow a cold trail to save their daughter and prevent a world war. Starring Leslie Banks, Edna Best and Peter Lorre.


The Man Who Knew Too Much - Criterion Collection

Alfred Hitchcock

Gaumont-British Picture Corporation

The 39 Steps

The Lady Vanishes

The character’s name is Bob Lawrence, not Bill

Peter Lorre

Foley Effects

The Free Irish State

Chekhov’s Gun (not to be confused with Pavel Chekhov)

The Jazz Singer (first film with sound, a talkie)

Gallows Humor

National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration commercial

Glasses without earpieces are known as Pince-nez glasses


M (criterion collection)

Hey Abbott

Remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (starring Jimmy Stewart)

Star Wars

THX 1138 starring Robert Duvall

Wipe Transition intentionally used in Star Wars and Raiders of The Lost Ark

Royal Albert Hall

Leverage (S03E04) - The Scheherazade Job

Scheherazade by Korsakov

Rear Window and Psycho are not Criterion Collection

Classic Hitchcock Criterion box set: The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps, and Foreign Correspondent

The Woody Allen movie Shadows and Fog (starring John Cusack)

Also stars the Julie Kavner who does Marge Simpson’s voice (and who is Not in Sleepless in Seattle)

July 8, 2017  

Episode #4: Brazil


In episode #4 we discuss the comedic dystopia "Brazil" from director Terry Gilliam. Sam Lowry, an average employee at the Ministry of Information, gets caught up in a quest to solve a bureaucratic mistake while simultaneously searching for the literal woman of his dreams. Starring Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro and Kim Greist.


Brazil - Criterion Collection

Terry Gilliam directed Brazil (as well as Twelve Monkeys starring Bruce Willis)

Back to The Future Part I (directed by Robert Zemeckis) did not show a dystopian future

Back to The Future Part II did show a dystopian future

The Ministry of Information in Brazil should not be confused with the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter

Monty Python - Dead Parrot sketch

Gilliam has referred to Brazil, Time Bandits, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen as his Imagination Trilogy

Blade Runner (starring Harrison Ford) was based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Hudsucker Proxy - starring Paul NewmanTim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh

Sucker Punch - starring Emily Browning also featured a battle with a giant samurai

Clue starring Tim Curry (which was also released in 1985) featured a young Jane Wiedlin as a singing telegram girl

Chris Tucker’s character (Ruby Rhod) in The Fifth Element (which also starred Iam Holm and Bruce Willis and was directed by Luc Besson) had a similar outfit as Katherine Helmond (Mrs. Ida Lowry) in Brazil.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote Cat’s Cradle, another ironic look at a dystopian future

George Orwell’s 1984 popularized the phrase Big Brother in reference to surveillance

The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence made dystopian futures popular again

While Jonathan Pryce (Sam Lowry) is known for his work in the Pirate’s of The Caribbean and Game of Thrones series, his most memorable role (per Adam) was as media mogul Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies

In order, the Pierce Brosnan / James Bond movies were:

1995 - GoldenEye (which also became a classic Nintendo 64 game) featuring Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp

1997 - Tomorrow Never Dies featuring Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin

1999 - The World is Not Enough featuring Denise Richards as Christmas Jones

2002 - Die Another Die featuring Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson

Terry Gilliam screened the entirety of Brazil for a film class at the University of Southern California

Robert De Niro played Harry Tuttle the “Heating Engineer”

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith starred in Bad Boys

Michael Palin (Jack) was a regular in Monty Python

Other regulars from Monty Python such as John CleeseTerry Jones and the late Graham Chapman (who died in 1989) were not in Brazil

Peter Vaughan (Mr. Helpman) also played Uncle Alfie in Death at A Funeral and Master Aemon in Game of Thrones

American Psycho featured Christian Bale as lovable serial killer Patrick Bateman

The weird monsters in Sam’s dreams looked like skeksis from Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal

The scene where Sam unmasks the samurai seemed similar to the unmasking of Darth Vader in the swamp in Empire Strikes Back

Ian Holm (Mr. Kurtzmann) is well known for his roles as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of The Ringsand Sir William Gull in From Hell

The music in Brazil was scored by Michael Kamen who also scored the Lethal Weapon movies (with Eric Clapton) as well as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (which featured the song Everything I Do, I Do It for You by Bryan Adams

The mythology of Oedipus

The mythology of Icarus

Sam Lowry’s face looked suspiciously similar to Ziggy Stardust

June 18, 2017  

Episode #3: Harold and Maude


In episode #3 we discuss the romantic dark comedy drama "Harold and Maude." A young man, fascinated with death, meets a venerable woman who teaches him what life is really about. Starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort.


June 2, 2017  

Episode #2: The Big Chill


In episode #2 we discuss Lawrence Kasdan's classic "The Big Chill." The death of one of their own reunites seven former college friends for a weekend of memories, music, sorrow and love. Starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt and Kevin Kline.


The Big Chill - Criterion Collection

The Big Chill - Soundtrack on vinyl

More Songs from The Big Chill on vinyl

Joy to The World by Three Dog Night

Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel

America by Simon & Garfunkel

Saginaw, Michigan (NOT an island)

I Heard it Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye

Life As A House - starring Kevin Kline and Hayden Christensen

You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

Simpsons episode #132 “Bart Sells his Soul” where Bart tricks the church organist into playing In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly

When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge

Jeff Goldblum starred in both The Fly and Jurassic Park (sans glasses)

Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio

Rutledge Fellowship at the University of Michigan

The Raiders March - theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark

Death at a Funeral - starring Matthew Macfadyen

Lawless Heart - starring Bill Nighy

This is Where I Leave You - starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey

Almost Famous - starring Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson

Dreyer’s Ice Cream is REAL!

High Waisted Men’s Pants by Historical Emporium