Monday, January 04, 2010

Imagine a world without Criterion #40

What goes into Criterion's selection of recent titles, and does it hurt the chances of still neglected older films getting their shot? A decline in DVD sales may be the best thing to happen to Criterion junkies since Wes Anderson. Green's George Washington was the first Criterion I ever owned. (Indie Eye)

The DVD boom was a mixed blessing for Criterion, which was able to blossom beyond the roots of its forebear, the world cinema distributor Janus Films, and their incredible collection of Bergman and Ozu movies, among others. Criterion was able to evolve and champion new filmmakers like Wes Anderson, David Gordon Green and "Ratcatcher"'s Lynne Ramsay while putting together killer packages for canon-approved titles like "Rules of the Game" or the first American home video release of Visconti's "The Leopard."

Meanwhile, other studios realized the value of their back catalogs and were more reluctant to license their films -- in the laserdisc days, Criterion was able to give their full treatment to Warner Bros.-owned titles like "Casablanca" and "Citizen Kane," with the latter boasting an incredible collection of interviews with 35 filmmakers and collaborators that has yet to be replicated on any format since. (And don't even ask about "The Magnificent Ambersons" laserdisc, the only place where Welles' original vision of his butchered classic could be deciphered, still not available on DVD.)

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