Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ground Rules?

The blogs I have seen tend to set themselves some ground rules and operating parameters.  Some have really strict hurdles they set for themselves.  So, rather than what I will do, it may be better to list what I won’t be doing.
1.      I will not be buying all the movies I watch.  There are two reasons for this.  The obvious reason is that I’m not independently wealthy.  The Criterion Collection is not known as being the gold standard for nothing.  If you check out used prices on Amazon for Criterion editions of DVDs, you’ll notice that a used copy is often not that much cheaper than a new copy.  And in the world of mass production, Criterion editions are not cheap compared to releases put out through studio distribution.  I’m perfectly aware of why this is (restoration, extras, high production value), and if I do ever become independently wealthy, Criterion will certainly be hearing from me.  The second reason why is I belong to Netflix (not just membership, but I adore them and pledge them a portion of my soul).  I can get disks from them or stream content.  Some purists will snort at this contention because
2.      I will not watch every single piece of extra content.  I am the first to advocate that Criterion’s extra features are invaluable to truly appreciating a film, and (most of the time) they do an outstanding job in gathering a wealth of materials to package with their releases.  However, when you stream content, you don’t get the extra features.  And if you get the DVD sent to you from Netflix, they do not include the bonus feature disks.  I called and asked if it was possible to get the extra features disks sent out separately, but Netflix does not make all of them available (a select few are).  That stands to reason, as the goal of the inclusion of all that luscious content is meant to entice one to buy the whole package.  Roger Ebert recently wrote about this.  So, I get it and why this non-rule is evil, but that doesn’t mean I won’t access additional commentary, essays, usw. about the films I watch.
3.      If a movie is out of print or difficult to acquire, I will watch another existing version.  The world of licensing can be a cruel and greedy mistress, and I know I will run into instances where getting ahold of the Criterion edition of a film on the collection’s list will be tricky if not impossible.  If at some point Criterion found a film worthy of their treatment, then an expiration of a license is not going to keep me from it.
4.      I’m not watching them in spinal order.
5.      I’m seriously kicking around the idea of including the laserdisc list.  No, I don’t own a laserdisc player (anymore), but again, as noted in #3, those films were worthy of Criterion’s attention at some point, so the laserdisc list is canonical in my estimation.  Most of that list made it to DVD and the spinal numbering system, but those that did not are not off my radar.
I believe that takes care of things.

For they say every why hath a wherefore.

What I propose to do is by no means original.  There are already several blogs that discuss The Criterion Collection, including Criterion Confessions, Criterion Reflections, Criterion Affection and The Criterion Contraption.  So, if this is ground well-traveled, why bother?

I love films.  They engage me in a way no other art form can.  I want to have a dialogue with them, just as so many others comment on literary works, art, and popular media.  Do I necessarily add something to the discussion?  Just another voice.  Its worth is relative.  I see it as an exercise, a mental workout, and one whose routine I might actually keep up with.  It is pretty daunting.  There are a lot of films on the list, and more are added periodically.

If anything else, I think it will be fun.  Certainly there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fun.