Friday, October 01, 2010

My new Criterion collection

Regular readers of this blog will know that Criterion Collection DVDs have been a big part of my movie-watching experience in recent times - they've helped me rediscover old favourites as well as other films that I wasn't too enthused by when I first saw them years ago (on grainy videocassette prints, most likely). Most of all, they've shown me that DVD packaging (which, as I define it, includes the quality of the print transfer, the look of the menu and the cover artwork, and the supplements on the disc) can be nearly as important as the quality of the the actual film.

And so, today's a special day for me: it's the first time, after years of buying these DVDs from Palika Bazaar, that I'm holding original, legitimately purchased Criterions in my hand. A loud burble and whiffle of thanks to my longtime blog-friend Tipu for facilitating this. The backstory is that a few weeks ago, in the comments of this post, Tipu gently chastised me for buying pirated DVDs (and boasting about it), and then offered to help me part-redeem my soul by purchasing Criterion originals for me at the 50 percent discount Barnes & Noble was offering. So I went through the list and selected a few, and now here they are, gleaming in their covers.

Just for the record, these are the titles I've bought:

- The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel)
- The Earrings of Madame De... (Max Ophuls)
- The Sword of Doom (Kinachi Okamoto)
- The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges)
- Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey)
- Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville)
- A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes)
- White Dog (Samuel Fuller)
- The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice)
- The Naked City (Jules Dassin)

The only films I haven't seen on this list are the last three, but I plan a viewing marathon of all 10 titles sometime in the coming days. Blogging may be scant during that time, though the sabbatical may also be interrupted by one-line posts that are nothing more than incoherent whoops of joy.


  1. :) Cool. Look forward to the one line whoopees.

  2. Jai, if possible, please let us know what you thought about 'White Dog'. As someone with an extremely friendly dog in our home, who I love to death, I feel very uneasy with the fact that dogs can be trained to hate a certain demographic of people.
    I must say though that there is one dog in my jogging route, who may be kind of er..racist and/or sexist. On doing a google search, just to tell myself that my theory about this dog was too preposterous, I came across the White Dog movie. Interesting that you listed this movie in your blog right around the same time!

  3. Jaideep: will try, though I probably won't be seeing the film for another week at the very least. Generally speaking, though: considering that human beings can "train" or condition other human beings to be racist or intolerant towards various types of people (parents routinely do this to their children), it isn't so surprising that dogs can be trained as well.

  4. Jai,

    Let me leave my first comment on your marvelous blog as a promise that I'll be a regular here. Have been only sporadically reading your articles, but thoroughly enjoyed them. There is a rare "fluidity" in your writing that I elsewhere find only in Rangan's.

    Again, Wonderful work here...


  5. Just Another Film Buff: good to have you here, and thanks! Have been following The Seventh Art on and off too, and it's very illuminating - lots of good stuff about films it isn't easy to get hold of.

  6. Wow. That must have been quite a rush, seeing them all there in their packs.

    If you whoop, do try and whoop about The Earrings of Madame De... Was seriously thinking of ordering that title in the future.

  7. Or maybe I should forget about the film and just do a review of the 70-page booklet that's come with it! But seriously, I watched a couple of scenes from the film and the quality is several grades above the video print I saw many years ago.

  8. I am very selective in the originals I buy. My youngest brother comes from the US 2-3 times a month and I get a lot of treasured stuff. Haven't bought any Criterion originals yet but I have bought classics from Masters of Cinema, Kino Video etc - Blu Rays of The General, Sunrise. Next on my list is Psycho which is releasing in blu ray this month. Check out it's cover - looks great.

  9. "Most of all, they've shown me that DVD packaging (which, as I define it, includes the quality of the print transfer, the look of the menu and the cover artwork, and the supplements on the disc) can be nearly as important as the quality of the the actual film."

    So true Jai. I want to make a collection of footages of your murders too. Irrespective of the source of the video, be it a hand-held mobile device or an expensive video camera or an obscure roll in the wine cellar of a French billionaire, the transfer will be of superb quality. The menu will be user-friendly and of course there will be an extra where you elaborately describe the atmosphere of the murder moment. I guarantee you that.

  10. I am curious about the average price at which you bought each title. The reason i am asking is, in March, when i was in the bay area in US, i discovered an awesome second hand DVD store named Rasputin and got some titles at fabulous prices. Even there, the Criterion Collection titles were on the expensive side in spite of being discounted.

    To digress a bit, I am proud to say that i got a few much coveted Film Noir titles at Rasputin at about 5 dollars each.

    (this is not a plug, though it sounds like one. It's just i randomly discovered this place and am excited about it)