Monday, October 13, 2008


I've been trying to knock out a fascinating exploration of my movie watching life for a half an hour now and have so far come up with nothing, so I'm starting the first post of this new blog endeavor like this: I'm obsessed with The Criterion Collection.

What may you ask is The Criterion Collection?

In their words:

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films, is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements.

In my words:

These are the coolest movies being released, now or ever, in the most pristine quality, with the coolest extras, and the most amazing packages. These are films for film dorks packaged by, well, film dorks. Luckily, I'm a huge film dork.

The Criterion Collection is ever-growing, collection of films, past and present, that I've been scarily obsessed with since I first discovered them my freshman year of college. Over the course of the last eight years, I've spent (wasted?) countless hours not even watching these films, but thinking about watching these films, dreaming about collecting all of them, trolling about various video stores just to staring at their beautiful packaging. Do we even need to talk about the website and the evenings/mornings/afternoons I've spent poring over their "Sortable List", barely able to contain my excitement at what new films they were releasing in the coming months.

My love of The Criterion Collection and all things related to it certainly cross the border of Strangetown, and all of it came to a head two or so years ago, when I came to the decision that I was going to watch every single Criterion film. I wasn't going to skip the recent 15-hour version of Alexanderplatz they released, I wasn't going to jump past any of the bizarre silent features from the late 1920s - I was, starting with the first film in the series, Grand Illusion, come hell or high water, going to watch every single film they produced.

Ambitious is a weak descriptor of this plan. I thought to myself, "I can easily watch one movie every day for the next year and a half. I can get them from the library and for the next 460 days I can forgoe human contact and gorge myself at the trough of cinematic treasure. Lord knows how many films I actually made it through on this first go, but to say the least, life intruded in a major way. Suddenly their was a girlfriend (and let me tell you if I had a nickel for every time I got a look of disdain and vehement head shake over my choice for the evening movie, I could buy the whole damn collection in small, unmarked bills) and a job(s) and a social life and sweet, sweet beer, let alone the ever-growing number of other, non-Criterion films I wanted to see. One movie a day turned to one a movie every other day to one movie every week to, well, nothing.

And that's where I was three days ago when off-handedly mentioned my love for Criterion to a couple of friends on a drive back from the bar.

"You should start a blog," Matt said, "One, where everyday you watch one movie and write about it. It'll be about movies and your life and I bet people will fucking love it." SOLD.

I've spent all weekend thinking about it, how I'm going to do it, how I should address the first 40 movies I've already seen and this is what I've come to, you might call them the rules of this, sigh, Criterion Quest (insert exclamation point here):

1. I'll watch only one Criterion film at a time. I thought at first that I'd try for one film a day, but c'mon, I'm not a fucking movie robot. I have a, fairly busy, life, and I'd like to maintain that life to a certain degree. Oh, I'll power through some films, but if you think I'm making it through all four hours of Fanny and Alexander in a single sitting, you should lay off the bottle.

2. I'll post every weekday. No matter what. Okay, scratch that - I'll make every possible effort to post every weekday ... except for holidays, because that's time for Noah to give his liver the dropkicking it deserves.

3. This will be a blog about many things. Criterion films will be the structure for which I talk about my life, and the world, and this country, and my thoughts on all these things as well as other movies, music, basically whatever the hell I've got going on in my head is fair game.

4. I'm not a perfect person nor a perfect writer. This blog will on occasion be stupid, boring, and possibly offensive. I wish it wasn't so, but, sorry children, that's just how it's going to be.

5. There are 40 Criterion films I've already seen. I'll review these, in mini-form, one a day until I've exhausted all of them. The main crux of the blog will be the new films I'm watching though, so if I pay a little less attention to Seven Samurai then you'd like, please forgive me, there's little time and a whole hell of a lot of flicks to watch.

I'm excited, I hope you're excited.

I'm starting tonight with Laurence Olivier's Henry V. I'm sick, and I can promise you that through snotty nose, hoarse throat, and pounding headache I probably won't make it through all two hours. But there'll be something tomorrow, don't you worry.

For tomorrow: Henry V (Spine #: 41)

To see all the Criterion flicks, go here.


jm said...

Welp, this will clearly affect my time as well. Let's hear it for one more time-suck! Awesome!

Justin said...

Hey! Don't be dissin' Fannie and Alexander!