Thursday, March 19, 2009


so... this kinda took me by surprise. but i come here not to bury criterion for not choosing a first-run release that more aligns with their ethic (of recent films, blind mountain, man on wire, there will be blood, spring to mind, as do festival pics like hunger, tokyo sonata, the headless woman, etc... and they are releasing revanche later this year after its theatrical run), but to bury other purists who in some way feel this taints the sanctity of the CC. the same CC that released Armageddon, once upon a time.

now, the furor over this one is going to be confined to relatively small, aggressively nerdy circles. but i feel compelled to address this briefly and then move on with my life. criterion is a company. an EXCELLENT company that does the art world a tremendous service, but a company nonetheless. a company that has to weather a recession. and this dvd / blu-ray is going to sell by the fuck-load (note: 1,340 dvds = 1 fuckload). everyone wins. criterion gets to fund a project like their mammoth upcoming release of The Human Condition, which approximately 8 people will buy, but for everyone that triptych will be grasped from the sinking sands of time. paramount wins, cause they get another company to put out a better package of their prestige film than they ever could. and "prestige" is key here, too, cause... yeah, people are going to think benny buttons is a better film just by virtue of that beautiful CC logo on it. i know i do. i'm weak like that. but seriously... it's motherfucking CRITERION.

the only beef i have with this? the artwork. Criterion packages tend to be works of art in and of themselves. sublimely bridging the gap between art and commodity, and then turning the entire dynamic on its ear. but while this package continues the criterion tradition of presenting half-faces on their boxes, it's plain jane to the max. observe:

compare that to THIS:

but, to be fair, that is probably the best dvd ever manufactured. oh well. i guess for benny buttons paramount stipulated that the blockbuster blokes need to be able to quickly spot it on the shelves... and the names of the ACTORS on the box instead of the director... which is absolute BLASPHEMY in the criterion world... must be a contractual thing as well.

eh, i'll be buying it. and i'll be loving it. and the IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES blu-ray will come out and everything will be as glorious as ever.


Brendan M. Leonard said...

Ha, I agree with pretty much the entirety of this post, up to and including Realm of the Senses on Blu-Ray. And there's an argument to be made that The Rock and Armageddon are worthy films to be included in the Criterion Collection, because while they might not be good films, or "high brow" films, they're important films because of the time in which they were made. I'd even argue that the fuck-all destruction of Armageddon is indicative of a type of disaster movie that doesn't get made any more, post 9/11. Or something.

david said...

um... well, the rock is one of the single greatest works of art of this, or any other era.

but both Armageddon and the rock are on criterion for one reason... the dvd format was young, and they needed some movies with which they could show it off. and they did.

Brendan M. Leonard said...

Yes, that's why I deliberately singled out Armageddon and not The Rock. Because The Rock absolutely deserved the Criterion edition.

Although the Armageddon DVD did give us the story about Ben Affleck asking Bay why NASA didn't just teach astronauts to drill instead of the other way around, and Bay telling him to shut the fuck up. So it has that going for it. Which is nice.

LoquaciousMuse said...

For the record...JJ Abrams wrote Armageddon...

Brendan M. Leonard said...

He's like one of five credited writers on that movie, though. That's one of those movies where EVERYBODY had a hand in it at some point. Aaron Sorkin*, Carrie Fischer, John Sayles, Tony Gilroy, and Scott Frank probably all also wrote Armageddon.

*Sorkin also ghosted on the Rock. I remain convinced he probably wrote the infamous Prom Queen line. The rhythms are there.