Criterion Catch-Up: Introduction

If you’re a cinephile (or movie addict – use whatever nomenclature you feel comfortable with; we’re not snobs here) tell me if this rings a bell: A new release gets announced, you rush to pick it up…maybe while you’re there you have some extra cash to spend so you get that reissues you’ve been meaning to see, and there’s a sales and that movie isn’t available for streaming, so you decide to take the plunge. You get home, all set to watch, promising yourself no new movies until this batch is watched. But then that new episode is streaming today! And your kids are hogging the television! And you’ve got an early day tomorrow for work!

And then dammit, wouldn’t you know it – there’s a other sale, another release…and you find yourself caught in a strange loop where the backlog of titles grows and grows, and you keep telling yourself you’ll get to it…eventually.

That’s my basic relationship with Criterion in a nutshell. For every amazing release of theirs I pick up and actually watch, there’s probably 2-3 others I bought and have every intention of getting to, only to have life interfere. And that pile grows; has been growing in fact since the days when they only released DVDs – the header snapshot above is only the tip of the iceberg I grabbed from there past few months. And sure I can blame their frequent Flash Sales and the twice-yearly 50% sale at Barnes & Noble, just like I can blame their excellent film curation…as long as I don’t blame my utter lack of impulse control I’m happy to be caught in the collection’s insidious web.

But what do I do about it?

Way back in the day I was a huge fan of The Criterion Contraption, a film blog by Matthew Dessem where he would attempt to watch every single Criterion DVD (if that tells you how long ago it was). Of course he didn’t succeed, but over the course of the 130 or so films he did cover he became a fantastic film writer who went on to bigger and better things than a small blog. My ambitions aren’t nearly so grand: I just want to get through this backlog, and maybe in the process learn a little bit about the films and filmmakers that left and are still leaving a cultural impact on the way we view the world.

But like I said: I’d be happy to simply cut down the existing backlog. So you can think of our latest episode of the podcast as the formal kickoff, and over the course of the next year I’ll be here, working that pile down.

See you on the other side.

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