For those of you who didn't get a text from me (because the only people who read this damn blog are people I have direct contact with and can bother to read my blog), Barnes and Noble is having a sale on Criterion Collection DVDs. For the next couple of weeks all DVDs released by Criterion will be 50% off. To say the least, I think I went a little bit loopy at the store today. Maybe it was the huge discount (augmented by my friend giving me access to his Barnes and Noble membership) or maybe it was just the high of cashing my second paycheck in a year or two, but I walked out of the store tonight fifty-five dollars poorer-- or one-hundred ten dollars in DVDs richer, as I'll tell anyone that accuses me of being capricious with my new found non-wealth.
With one exception, everything I bought I've seen before (and I only bought four DVDs, so I guess that isn't such a marked statistic) and of the movies I bought, I only own one of them.
Anyways, here's the list.
The Friends of Eddy Coyle is one of these movies that I find to be inexplicably ignored. It's brilliant. It's really fucking brilliant. Not in a showy, changing cinema kind of a way like a Kubrick or a Godard or Noe or whatever other darling you want to pick out of a hat, but in that it is a wonderfully written movie that is acted with the best possible people you could want. Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle look like the kind of criminals that might actually exist, and they talk like criminals that might actually exist. They're tired, they're kind of doughy, and they're capable of really shitty things if it will get them out of a jam. I could go on and on about this movie (and someday, maybe I will), though I'll spare you that punishment and leave you with this: The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a really well done crime film, the kind of which couldn't ever be made after 1978.
It's basically the kind of crime movie I don't want anyone to catch me alone with.
Buying The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was a no brainer. It's one of the best movies I've ever seen and at eight dollars, I couldn't say "No." I've also stolen at least eight dollars worth of characters, story, dialogue, aesthetics, and plot to give the owners of the movie at least some of that back.
I thought about not buying it because it is on Instant Watch, but the quality on that is so shitty, it really is a noticeable step down. Also, I dont' want to ostensibly be renting a film that I'm such a big fan of. It'd be wrong-- WRONG-- of me not to buy it.
The Thin Red Line is another movie I've written about ad nauseum. I don't think there's much that I can say about it that I haven't already said (or has been said by other, wiser individuals), but I am glad that it has finally received a proper DVD release (complete with Criterion's new marketing gimmick, a sicker proclaiming the DVD to be the "Director Approved Edition). I already own The Thin Red Line, but its previously release left me somewhat wanting. While it did allow me to rediscover the film, it came with no features to speak of and was packaged in a two-DVD set with Platoon, which is a fine film, but being crammed in with another movie like that is not exactly befitting a movie such as this one.
Lastly, I bought W.C. Fields 6 Short Films (which actually ran me a few bucks more than Colonel Blimp), and is made entirely up of shorts I have no seen before. It was a gamble, but it was the kind of gamble that reminded me of less lean years, back when I would buy three disc versions of Orson Welles flops or lesser Kurosawa movies just to see what they were all about. In reality it can't be that much of a gamble, though, since it's W.C. Fields, one of the greatest drunks/film-makers of all time. We should be so lucky as to gamble on Mr. Fields.
Side Note: It needs to be stated that the Criterion Collection not only has some of the best movies of all time in its line-up, but it also has some real top-notch graphic designers putting out their products. The men and women at Criterion obviously give a fuck about presentation and succeed in delivering all of the boutiquey goodness that you expect from a company that sells all of Godard's good movies. The covers and the booklets included are all rather beautiful and distinct. What's interesting with the covers of most of the DVD is that they're original works of art or pieces of design. They're rarely just reprinted posters of movie stills with the title thrown over it.
On the occasions where the interior booklet supplies little more than just the obligatory chapter listing, it at least includes that little bit more that makes these DVDs stand out.
Even the back of the DVD slip has images printed on it. Now that is paying attention to details. That's pretty damn cool.
Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself that when I look at my bank statement this week.
Sub-Sub Note: Apparently "The Essential Art House" imprint of Criterion DVDs also means "We Took Out all of the Good Criterion Collection Features, Sucker." Damn. And Colonel Blimp had a Martin Scorsese commentary.