Monday, June 21, 2010

criterion copier.

when i started criterion quest almost three years ago, i assumed that like the bolt of lightning that struck me whilst sitting in the back seat of light in the attic records founder matt sullivan's beat-up car, that the idea was, sigh, and original one.  i, wrongly, believed that the idea of climbing to insurmountable peak that is the criterion collection was one that though possibly thought of before, had never been attempted.

today though, i received a lovely comment from a reader named "criterionaffection".  comments in general are rare on the old criterion quest, thus, i've come to acknowledge and recognize the various members of the peanuts gallery who on a bi-weekly basis lambast me in some way.  thus, the sheer idea that someone whom i'd never spoken to at great lengths was reading my blog and had been inspired, for good or for bad, to comment on it.

that in mind, i followed the comments url thread back to a website called criterion affection, a blog, that for better words, is doing exactly what i'm doing.  sure, yes, they, whomever they might be are diving in to the criterion collection in alphabetical order, opposed to my numerical order, but still, criterion affection is attacking the criterion collection, film by film, just like me.

baffled, bewildered, even saddened by the sheer fact that my dim hope that what i was doing was original in any way, i peered, through salty tears at the sidebar, realizing that a slew of other criterion related websites loomed at the edges.  i quickly, curtly even, clicked through the other criterion-ed monikers, finding, to my dismay, that a slew of other folk were attempting a similar feat.

criterion confessions.  criterion contraption (endorsed by none other than one of my cinematic heroes, roger ebert).  the list went on and on.

stunned, wide-mouthed even, i jotted down a few reactions which i would like to share with you:

1.  happiness.  it's nice to know that other folk are also as obsessed with this amazing cinematic collection.  it's nice to know that other people have spent countless hours of their lives watching a handful of esoteric foreign films that only another small handful of people have seen, let alone enjoyed and would be willing to talk about.  hearing that there's one, two, maybe countless other websites dedicated to this, perks me up a bit, gives me hope when the lights are dim and a pile of carl th. dreyer films loom in the distance.

2.  relief.  matthew dessem, the wildly recognized author of criterion contraption, he who lord ebert lauded with praise, has only watched 98 of the films in the criterion collection. yes his reviews are insightful and foot-noted and filled to the brim with interesting observations steeped in a worldly knowledge of cinema, but nonetheless, he's been doing it for four years and he's barely cracked the three digit mark.  i, on the other hand, have been watching criterion films for an equal period of time and am already in the mid-teens.  turns out obsessing your way through a five hundred film collection is tough work for me, and for everyone.

"if I live to be 80, I'll end up writing about 902 of criterion's 2,350 titles. i think i'd be happy with that." - matthew dessem


i don't need to blindly march through these films, the finish line always in sight.  i need to live life and watch the films when i can and enjoy and interpret them as i see fit.  that's what watching films, criterion aside, is all about, and i'll happily step outside the stress ring and just let the films fall as they may.

3.  shock and dismay, awe even.  i am truly embarassed and stupified that for even an instance i thought that this idea was somehow original.  i think alex was shocked at how shocked i was.  she asked questions like, "did you search the internet for other criterion-related websites?" no. "are you doing okay?" yes, just a little red-in-the-face. "do you need me to hold the hankie while you blow your nose?" no, no thank you, i can do it myself. 

4.  full of scheme.  what's great about finding a group of like-minded people is that a group can always do more than a single person.  i'm already planning, scheming about how to break the barriers of solitude we criterion nerds have imposed upon ourselves and try to make something else out of this. what? i have no fucking clue.

in the end, i feel inspired.  thank goodness i'm not the only one out there slogging through some of these films.  i've found a support group for my obsession and though it knocked me for a loop, i'm already feeling better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. It was definitely not my intention to cause any existential crises! My drive-by comment the other day was really my way of saying hello. When I started my own little blog some months ago, the first thing I did was look for people with the same impossible goal. And isn't that just the wonderful and terrible thing about the internet? On the one hand, you can always find someone who's doing what you're doing. On the other hand, well, ditto. But I'm glad you're feeling better about it, and I'm all for some grand coalition in the future.