More than just possessing the best in international, avant-garde, rare, and classic cinema, the Criterion Collection provides us with an artifact. We get to enjoy a beautiful mastering of a film, bonus materials and critical analysis of the work, with the actual casing of the film a treasure in itself. The covers for Criterion films are a unique art, visually stunning, small-scale works of graphic design intended to entice and highlight the visual and thematic aspects of the film. And designer Midnight Marauder has used his own creative muscle to give us another look at Criterions films from his unique perspective—covers that could have been and those that may never be.
With a sharp vision that encapsulates the essence of the films, Midnight Marauder has a deep love for cinema, and calls his imagined Criterion Collection covers an "artistic exercise" that allows him to work through different aesthetics and have fun in the process. When I asked Midnight Marauder to describe what fuels his work, he replied, "I get my kicks from truly great filmmakers and their enduring legacy on us all—directors who curse at a studio head to get their final cut." We’ve put together some of our favorites from his series. Click through and enjoy.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
"Hands down one of my favorite films of all time. It’s so beautiful, so pure and so poetic."
"It’s as much a Walter Murch film as a Coppola film. The music is divine!
"I was blown away the second I saw the trailer. What shocked me the most was not the blood and the fights; it was the idea of mental disorder and how you can reinvent yourself in the chaos of it all."
Wild at Heart
"I love the energy of the film, the music is magical, and Dafoe is grotesque."
"Decaprio’s finest hour."
All the President’s Men
"I love journalism and the power of the press. They can bring down the most powerful of crooks."
"The first student film from a big studio. I think it’s even more powerful today then when it first was projected in New York."
"A pretty bold move from Robert Rodrigez and Quentin Tarantino. They took a massive gamble on the entire Grindhouse film. Planet Terror is a fun ride for all of us who grew up on cheap VHS Horror Films."
"Sidney Lumet gave us a satirical look into television programming. The first five minutes of the film leave you speechless."
"Roman Polanski at his most devilish, and he paid the ultimate price for making it."
"The ultimate romantic experimental comedy. When I hear Diane Keaton singing at the end…I cry."
No Country for Old Men
"The Coens gave us a modern Western masterpiece. Those brothers can do no wrong."
"It’s Quentin Tarantino’s most complete film to date: an adaption of Elmore Leonard’s famed Rum Punch. The characters are whole and seem to sing Tarantino’s dialogue."
"It’s a modern-day Jean-Pierre Melville picture, with Gosling reminiscent of Alain Delon’s Samurai."
"Friedkin in my opinion is the most misunderstood director of the ’70s."
Dressed to Kill
"Pure Brian De Palma. I wonder if he’s over his obsession with Hitchcock?"
The Long Goodbye
"I am convinced that the Coen brothers watched this while writing The Big Lebowski."
I’m not sure how I feel about American Horror Story: Asylum, you guys. Because either we are in a world where Satan can inhabit a boy—and when he dies, transfers itself over to Sister Mary Eunice—OR we are in a world where the horrors are confined to barbaric hospital conditions and Academy Award nominee James Cromwell trying to rape a prostitute after dressing her up like the aforementioned nun. It can’t be both! Because as terrible as rape and electroshock therapy and BLOODY FACE all are, we are now on some next-level paranormal shit, and that will always take precedence over mortal problems. I’m sorry, Chloe Sevigny. You picked the wrong reality to try out your feminist theories about gender relations and sex, and how come men have as much sex as they want but when women do it, they’re called sluts? Take it to Mad Men, lady, because Briarcliff has some real problems.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First off, our cold open takes care of Lana Winters’ only link outside of Briarcliff, as BLOODY FACE murders her lesbian girlfriend. (Who I’m now recognizing as that chick from all those early 21st century classics like The Faculty.) Oh man, and she was planning to go recant the commitment forms she signed after Sister Jude threatened to out her! Does that mean BLOODY FACE is working with Sister Jude, or that the show didn’t want that loose end hanging over our head all season? Maybe both. Either way, I am convinced the screeching has started to get more intense in the opening sequence. Right?
I think next season they should get these girls to do a cover, since they’ve nailed it. (Skip to 1:11 to skip weird Australian accents.)
Now that girlfriend is dead, Lana is really stuck up in Briarcliff. Though, ostensibly, neither Lana nor Sister Jude know about the murder, which really makes you wonder what the nun’s long-term plan was, here. She caught Lana snooping around and locked her up to scare her, fine. But now she’s stuck with her, and Lana is writing a bunch of notes about the terrible conditions of the hospital, which she keeps in her pillow until they are found by the U.S. Marshall from Lost who was always trying to catch Kate. You know he is going to be a really bad guy, because he has one of those faces, like Robert Patrick or the guy who played RoboCop.
"I don’t need those sister, I have an excellent memory!" Lana boasts to Jude’s back, because she is an idiot. "Yeah, we’ll see about that," Sister Jude replies. Lana Winters just earned herself one round of electroshock therapy!
Which again, what is the point here? Sister Jude is obviously reticent to order ECT on a patient, even if it’s only because she has to go beg her mortal enemy, Dr. Science Arden to perform it. So her plan was to just keep Lana locked up forever with her nosy journalist’s brain that’s now a little less nosy because it has the demons tased out of it? That’s a remarkable lack of foresight, especially when the grounds are swarming with state officials, like the aforementioned psychiatrist, Dr. Oliver Thredson. He’s there to determine whether Kip (Tate) is mentally fit to stand trial for the murder of three women that he allegedly skinned alive as BLOODY FACE. But we know Kip isn’t BLOODY FACE, because BLOODY FACE killed Lana’s girlfriend when Kip was locked up. Still, when he tells his story of the little green men abducted his African-American wife, Dr. Thredson gives his opinion while doing the whole Carrie Bradshaw voiceover-while-smoking-while-typing thing: "Diagnosis: Acute Clinical Insanity. Would I never run into Big, and would there ever be a good time to see him? When it comes to relationships, is it smarter to follow your heart or your head?" (Not to nitpick, but "acute clinical insanity" has never been a thing. You are a terrible psychiatrist, Thredson!)
Of course, Sister Jude does not like the new doctor, because she is a woman of God and all doctors are something, whatever, you know how nuns be acting crazy. It is interesting how the show is setting up a triangulation between faith, science, and psychology with Sister Jude, Dr. Arden, and now Dr. Thredson respectively. None of them like each other, and it’s probably a metaphor for how uptight the nation still was back in the day when saying "The National Lesbian League" was still a horrible diss and not an awesome kickball team name.
Dr. Arden runs into "his favorite little helper" out in the woods, as Sister Mary Eunice is feeding the invisible monsters he keeps as pets. He wants to thank her for being such a good little double agent, so he’s brought her a candy apple. She demurs, because we all remember what happened when Eve took that caramelized fruit from the serpent. Dr. Arden insists. She demurs again. Then he’s like "Eat. The. Apple." That does the trick, and is also really uncomfortable, as are all Arden’s scenes this episode. It is deeply disturbing that the man who won an Academy Award for Babe (don’t bother, I’ve already Wiki’d it) can be so rapey!
Lana gets a new friend while getting some pampering in hydrotherapy. It’s the same French girl who befriended Kip. Her name is Grace, and she is so intensely loyal to her new blond boyfriend that even when the journalist tells her she knows of a secret way out through the death chutes, she refuses to come along without him. Lana says it’s non-negotiable because she thinks Kip is crazy and also BLOODY FACE. They part ways amicably enough.
Sister Jude gets a visit from two concerned parents. They say their teenage son has been acting out. Jude says she’s had great success curbing the problem of chronic masturbators. That doesn’t relieve the parents much, as their son’s problems are less about diddling himself and more about ripping open a live Guernsey cow and eating/smearing it all over his body. Dr. Thredson decides to poke his nose into this, because he has all the time in the world to piss off nuns. It’s not like a murder trial hinges on his diagnosis or anything, so he offers his medical expertise as they visit lil’ Jed. He’s strapped to a bed and at first seems normal before totally Linda Blairing out, speaking fluent Latin in a deep satanic voice without even a trace of the Baw-ston accent that at least half the characters on this show have.
"This boy needs to be immediately medicated!" says the psychiatrist. "No doctor, that’s not what this boy needs," says the nun. Jed just earned himself an exorcism! Unsurprisingly, it does not go well, especially when SATAN turns off the power in the asylum and Lana tries to make her escape with Grace but inadvertently tips Kip off. You’ll have to excuse me for finding her betrayal captivating. She called the guards and Kip got beat in the face, big whoop. Did you guys know that there is a literal demon upstairs right now?
And in its homage-y way, AHS has Demon Boy follow the exact script from The Exorcist. He throws priests against walls, and taunts the religious with their darkest secrets. InThe Exorcist, the demon pretends to be Father Karras’ mother, knowing that the priest blamed himself for his her death even though it wasn’t his fault. In American Horror Story, Jed knows Sister Jude feels kind of bad about the time when she was a slutty, drunk, nightclub singer and ran over a kid with her car. Totally the same thing.
Look, I’m not saying all Catholics should have a guilt complex, but maybe Sister Jude should feel a little bit more terrible about being a child murderer and also still kind of a slut, since she wants on Monsignor Howard’s scepter so damn bad? Or maybe she should act a little more sorry when she informs Jed’s parents that instead of helping their son, her staff has killed him? Nah, she has bigger problems to deal with. Like making Lana pick which instrument of torture Jude will use to punish Kip and Grace for trying to escape. (Even though it was all Lana’s idea! Bitch-Judas!) Lana’s "gift" for being a good tattletale is watching her friend suffer, except Kip cops to the whole thing and takes all the whippings. Poor Kip.
But even more poor Sister Mary Eunice. Not only is Dr. Arden secretly obsessed with her up to the point where he hires prostitutes to pretend to be her and show him their "mossy pods," but now she is also possessed. We know this because she kicked back her covers in the hospital’s recovery room, and a cross fell off the wall. Well, these kinds of things take time to develop. No one just starts crab-walking up and down staircases after the spirit of Satan enters them. I’m pretty sure it takes a couple weeks of Pig Latin and peeing yourself till you reach that stage. Can’t wait though!