Friday, August 29, 2008

Bottle Rocket and Chungking Express on Criterion

I appreciate Criterion but am one of those people who think they are overrated.

By that I mean that I know people who don't know that much about film -- about the movies, whatever -- and yet they collect Criterion DVDs simply because they are expensive and numbered.

And, for various reasons, the Criterion laserdisc selection was much larger than the Criterion DVD collection.

So while I understand and applaud how the Criterion Collection has hipped a lot of younger people to the joys of Ozu and Kurosawa, I also realize that there are a lot of people who simply buy this stuff because it's on the Criterion label and it has a number.

I was guilty of that kind of thinking when I slavishly collected music on the 4AD label -- guilty of buying stuff for the label first regardless of quality. As if that 4AD stamp could make a band like Scheer somehow more memorable?

And the Criterion collection is by no means perfect: two Michael Bay films? the ambitious but middlebrow Chasing Amy?

But the good news is that two of perhaps my top 10 of all time are both coming out on Criterion this November: Bottle Rocket and Chungking Express.

The big news for Bottle Rocket is the amount of extras on the set -- I've seen the film so many times that I am mainly interested in the extras at this point.

The big news for Chungking Express is the transfer -- I've only allowed myself to watch the film about 3 times so as not to ruin it and, while I would have liked to have a few more extras on the set, the new transfer sounds impressive.

I don't think I'll invest in a Blu-Ray player just to get these two titles in Blu-Ray -- I've got hundreds of regular DVDs to watch first -- but it is tempting.

UPDATE: The most important thing that I forgot to mention for Chungking Express fans in America is that, presumably, there will be no Quentin Tarantino on this release! His babbling introduction on the last US edition of Chungking Express was an insult to real film fans who were well aware of who Wong Kar-Wai and Brigitte Lin were. Films of this caliber do not need his fanboy grin to sell them.

And while I'm being sarcastic, it's worth pointing out how many Japanese films Criterion has released as opposed to how few Chinese -- I'm keeping score! -- this will make it 3 Chinese films in the series, eh?