The purpose of this particular blog is to review films from the Criterion Collection. This well-respected, some would say infamous, imprint gathers films from around the world and releases them as high-end DVD packages. Like many, I am addicted to this collection and want an outlet that will allow me to put my discs to even greater use.
Following the regular releases Criterion puts out, usually three or more a month, is like a self-contained education in cinema. In the years I have been purchasing these DVDs, I have learned more about film and, more importantly for me, storytelling than I have at any other time of my life. I enjoy finding the connections between films, the shared language of narrative, the thread that connects all art whether the artists are aware of it or not.
Part of what appeals to a collector mentality when it comes to the Criterion Collection are the spine numbers. Each disc is given a specific number on the package's spine, starting with #1, Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion and now continuing well past 400 releases. Yes, I do get them all, and no, I haven't liked every single film the company has released.
I can, however, see the reason why they chose to include the movies they did. Criterion's own mission statement is as follows:
"We aim to reflect the breadth of filmed expression. We try not to be restrictive or snobby about what kinds of films are appropriate. An auteur classic, a Hollywood blockbuster, and an independent B horror film each has to be taken on its own terms. All we ask is that each film in the collection be an exemplary film of its kind."
This is why, for instance, they have released a two-disc edition of Armageddon (#40). It may be Technicolor vomit, but you have to admit, it sets the bar for Technicolor vomit. Sure, I would not own Armageddon under other circumstances, but I also may never have seen movies like Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying (#146) or Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love (#147), both of which are now favorites of mine.
So, "What's the Criterion?" will ultimately be a collection of my thoughts as I work my way through these DVDs. Some of the reviews will be long, some will be short. At times, I'll be cross-posting with other venues. For instance, in addition to writing here, I review movies for DVDTalk.com. You can probably get a broader sense of what my tastes are by following my work there, as well. Likewise, I explore everything under the sun at Confessions of a Pop Fan, my personal space to talk about my work, my life, and whatever else strikes me fancy.
But here...all Criterion, all the time.
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Buying every Criterion movie seems pretty ironic to me considering how many of these movies mock consumerism.
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