Sunday, October 24, 2004


Hello, and welcome to The Criterion Contraption, the newest project in my campaign against spending any of my free time outdoors. Here's the way we play the game: I just subscribed to Netflix cause they lowered the price. I've put the entire Criterion Collection of DVDs into my Netflix queue, and I'm going to watch them all; I figure $20 a month is a fair price to pay for a basic grounding in world cinema. If you're not familiar, Criterion is a company that's been releasing high-end laserdiscs and DVDs for years; they're known for incredibly lavish extras, and beautiful film transfers & restoration work. The DVD part of their collection (I won't be watching the laserdiscs) can be found here. Here are the rules:
  1. I'm going to watch the movies in more or less catalog order (except the first one, which I'd been really wanting to see).
  2. If I can't find the Criterion edition, I'll watch whatever I can find. If you have any out of print titles you want to loan me, I won't say no.
  3. I'll watch all the extras and commentary tracks. Since I'm getting them from Netflix, however, I won't have access to any of the essays included on the DVD inserts.
  4. I'm going to write somewhere between 500 and 1000 words about each one. This is not, not, not film criticism, just trying to organize my thoughts after watching these movies.
  5. For the short-attention-span crowd, I'll head each post like it's coverage, e.g., RECOMMEND, STRONG CONSIDER, CONSIDER, MILD CONSIDER, PASS. From good to bad.
So. Welcome! UPDATE: Added a few rules, linked to the collection's website (H/T: Rog).


Rog said...

Awesome idea. I've only seen about 30 of them, so I'll be looking forward to your reviews. Here's a link to the Criterion Collection in catalog order.

Rog said...

Also, I see Armageddon is on the list. THat's ... interesting.

Matthew Dessem said...

Yeah--that one I'd love to track down but it's not in print and Netflix doesn't have it. I'm sure that some video store in L.A. does, just have to find it. It's actually supposed to be a great DVD for process--if they want it to be a really eclectic group of films, they have to include big budget Hollywood, like it or not. Also, I'm adding the link to the collection to the original post.

anatomatic said...

Most (if not all) of the essays in the accompanying pamphlets are available for free on the Criterion website. Hate to give you more work, but figure you want to be completist about it.

Matthew Dessem said...

Oh, believe me, I want to be completist about it—I've been reading them on the website as I go. Thanks for the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Matthew, I have a spare copy of Armgeddon. Drop me your mailing address and I'll put it in the mail to you: patdunne at email dot com.