Criterion Corner: Show Boat (#1021)

What is it I look for in a Criterion release? Why do I not just get every single film released by the Criterion Collection? It would certainly save me some time – upfront, at least, though not necessarily afterwards, when I actually have to watch these films. Not that it’s a chore, but my various media backlogs and the increasing unlikelihood that I’ll actually get to finish all the films, series, books, games etc. that I’ve amassed in my life to date are already making me more anxious than I like. (#firstworldproblemsamirite?)

So, what is it that makes me buy a Criterion release? Obviously, the first reason is that they release a film that I already like, or the work of filmmakers and actors that I already enjoy. Next, sometimes it’s a film that I’ve heard a lot about, one of those stone-cold classics that I’ve never got around to watching on TV, and what better way to first see a classic than a good remaster with interesting extras included on the disc? (Okay, the correct answer to this is often: at the cinema. But while I’m very happy with our local cinema releases of classics, they will never cover everything I’m interested in.) Sometimes it’s simply that I’ve never heard of a certain Criterion release, or perhaps only snippets and a still here and there, but what I read makes it sound intriguing, strange or fascinating in some other way. I mean, if it’s Criterion, it’s gotta be good, right?

The final type of Criterion purchases I make comes from me feeling somewhat guilty that I’m not more broadly interested in the history of cinema. Obviously I am interested, but then I look at Julie or Alan, our two resident movie historians, and I see their fascinating with and breadth of knowledge on classic Hollywood, whether we’re talking about the classics of silent movies or pre-Code Hollywood, and there’s a part of my movie-fan ego that feels vaguely inadequate.

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