'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation Vol.1

The scuttlebutt on Criterion, Eclipse, and Janus Films. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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willoneill
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2401 Post by willoneill » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:11 am

Question I probably shouldn't ask: Thomas J., what is the point of the statistical analysis of the year's releases? And I intend no sarcasm or snarkiness by that question, I am genuinely curious. Is it for informational purposes only, or are you trying to accomplish something contructive. As I said, I'm curious.

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Tom Hagen
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2402 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:15 am

I don't understand begrudging Criterion for releasing a lot of films from France and Japan, two of the four or five countries that have made the largest, most enduring contributions to world cinema. More importantly, I don't understand the statistical significance of breaking down Criterion's releases according to country of release and complaining about alleged overrepresentation. Its not as if French or Japanese cinema is a monolithic cultural whole, that last year's Melville's are of a piece with this year's Akerman.

These aren't the Great Books of the fucking Western World; they are "a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films."

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Thomas J.
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2403 Post by Thomas J. » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:38 am

swo17 wrote:
Thomas J. wrote:
swo17 wrote:never mind that Criterion is finally releasing Marienbad and Human Condition; you would argue that each one is just another film toward the monthly quota of films from that region. Am I wrong?
I shouldn't even bother with you. I'm addressing whether or not Criterion takes risks, you call me out on that, and now you're extolling the virtues of releasing Marienbad and Human Condition. Putting it altogether, I guess you think those are risky releases that I'm failing to acknowledge? :roll: Bottom line: can you please try to pick an argument and stick with it without diverging onto something else?

And Antoine, yeah, I'm not denying what you're saying...which is why I commented in response to the original poster who said Criterion takes risks. Even you're admitting in your post that they don't because of all those factors you listed.
TJ, my posts are only a couple sentences long each. I think I've made exactly two points. So, um, yeah, I guess you could call that diverging. :|

By the way, here's you a year ago, writing off the release of Marienbad:


You seem to like to cherry pick things that people say and then pretend that they are supporting your argument. Two can play at that game, pal.
Once again, what does this have to do with Criterion taking risks? You're off onto a divergent topic, rope-a-doping me, and I'm falling for it.

willoneill, I've explained it so much that it's worn out its welcome. Just to give an example, though, some Criterion forum members are irked by Criterion's aversion to silents despite Criterion's gold-standard reputation, others like Swo17 don't care and will cape incessantly for the company.

And for the record, I like Marienbad as a release. No problem with it as such. That's beside the point. No need to conflate the argument, "Swo."

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Tom Hagen
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2404 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:45 am

I believe the "risk" argument has been previously litigated by Jeff and others, and its facial absurdity has already been thoroughly examined. Again, its less that we are shills for Criterion, and more that we would like to see them maintain a financial model that will, you know, actually allow them to remain in business.

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GringoTex
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2405 Post by GringoTex » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:46 am

Tom Hagen wrote:Its not as if French or Japanese cinema is a monolithic cultural whole, that last year's Melville's are of a piece with this year's Akerman.
Akerman's Belgian. More diversity!

mteller
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2406 Post by mteller » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:49 am

Jeanne Dielman has a whopping 505 votes on iMDB. Yeah, that'll make Criterion boatloads of profit. They'll be laughing all the way to the bank from that cash cow.

And yes, I do like Jeanne Dielman, but I'm probably not going to buy it.

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Thomas J.
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2407 Post by Thomas J. » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:51 am

Tom Hagen wrote:I believe the "risk" argument has been previously litigated by Jeff and others, and its facial absurdity has already been thoroughly examined. Again, its less that we are shills for Criterion, and more that we would like to see them maintain a financial model that will, you know, actually allow them to remain in business.
Yes, they need to stay in business, which is why they don't take risks, and which takes this conversation full circle. Thank you.

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Jun-Dai
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2408 Post by Jun-Dai » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:56 am

Tom Hagen wrote:I don't understand begrudging Criterion for releasing a lot of films from France and Japan, two of the four or five countries that have made the largest, most enduring contributions to world cinema. More importantly, I don't understand the statistical significance of breaking down Criterion's releases according to country of release and complaining about alleged overrepresentation. Its not as if French or Japanese cinema is a monolithic cultural whole, that last year's Melville's are of a piece with this year's Akerman.

These aren't the Great Books of the fucking Western World; they are "a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films."
I don't think the issue is that Criterion releases a lot of films from France, Japan, or the U.S. (or Sweden, for that matter); it's that they do so at the expense of the breadth of the collection. It's not as if anyone here is arguing that each country or region should have a number of films proportional to that country's population or otherwise (are they?)—it's just that there's a general lack of the kind of diversity that Criterion claims to represent in their mission statement. And more than the lack of diversity itself, I think the concern is that Criterion seems to be moving away from diversity rather than towards it.

Statistics are a good way to measure things like diversity. The trouble comes when you start to apply statistics as a goal (e.g., ethnic quotas). The goal itself is understandable, and while I would love to see Criterion become more diverse, I hope that that will only ever be but one of several factors in their decision-making about what to release. At the moment, however, it doesn't even appear to be that.

I do think we should give them the benefit of the doubt, however. I assume Criterion has a limited range of films they can choose from, since they don't do restorations themselves, and most of their contemporary films seem to be filmmakers approaching them rather than the other way around. While I imagine Criterion could go a little further out of their way to diversify their collection, there seem to be certain things that have slowed down their output as Antoine Doinel has pointed out.



On a separate note, it would be interesting to compare Criterion's statistics to those of they shoot films, don't they.

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swo17
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2409 Post by swo17 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:58 am

Ditto everything Hagen said. TJ, I can't believe we are still having this argument after the news of the deal with Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation, which would seem to specifically address your concern about more obscure countries being represented in the Collection. What's it going to take to please you TJ? Does Criterion have to go bankrupt releasing films only a couple people know about so they can die as martyrs for your cause?

P.S. For the record, I would like to see Criterion put out more silents, but thankfully, they are not the only DVD company in the world.

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Gregory
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2410 Post by Gregory » Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:56 pm

ThomasJ, if films from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East really matter to you, why do you never discuss them (or any other films, for that matter) on the forum?

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aox
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2411 Post by aox » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:03 pm

because Criterion prevents him from seeing them since they refuse to release them?

I'm starting to get pissed at Criterion now, too.. They have been holding me back for years.

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oldsheperd
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2412 Post by oldsheperd » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:17 pm

I'm cool with the stuff criterion releases.
For every Benjamin Button the release like 5 or 6 other films that have been at least one forum members' want list for awhile.
As for African cinema I will say again, it would be nice to see Sembene's Camp de Thiaroye.
Speaking of Jun Dai's reference to ethnic representation I think we should sue for discrimination! Like firefighters in New Haven! :roll:
Last edited by oldsheperd on Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tribe
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2413 Post by Tribe » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:20 pm

Gregory wrote:ThomasJ, if films from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East really matter to you, why do you never discuss them (or any other films, for that matter) on the forum?
Thank you! It's about time someone called Thomas J out on what he does every two months or so. It's high time his posts and the threads that result from his few posts be relegated to the Infighting and Navel Gazing section. Simply put, Thomas J's posts regarding Criterion's neglect of third world cinema (and now, whether Criterion is "risky" enough) have been hashed and re-hashed and contribute absolutely nothing to the Forum.
Last edited by Tribe on Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Thomas J.
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2414 Post by Thomas J. » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:53 pm

Gregory and Tribe, check your PMs. Tribe, next time you have a personal issue with somebody, use the PM. Save public posts for public matters.

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Gregory
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2415 Post by Gregory » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:34 pm

My question was not intended to call him out, although I do think this whole bit has gotten pretty repetitive. I would sincerely like to see more interest in Latin American cinema (etc.) in the actual discussions of film here. I've made many tentative mentions of non-Buñuel Latin American films and have gauged little interest. I did recently find a member who's a fellow fan of Herod's Law, but what most urgently needs reassessment and discussion is the New Latin American Cinema of the 1960s and '70s, and its forerunners.
Regarding Criterion, the Mulvaney statement that they're releasing Macunaíma has not been borne out, but it looks like Limite (and/or many of those Antoine Doinel mentioned) are on the schedule, so let's just be thankful for that. Haranguing them on this forum really does no good at all. People here have been complaining about the lack of silent films for years and what has it achieved? In the last 12 months they've released nothing at all from the silent era, except for one of the films in the Shimizu set.
Emailing Criterion about specific titles and writing informed and detailed pieces about them somewhere online seem much more constructive. Interest in films that are riskier than what Criterion releases is relatively sparse, and it needs to be cultivated.

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Cinephrenic
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2416 Post by Cinephrenic » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:40 pm

Criterion is releasing several Siodmak noirs, The File on Thelma Jordon and Cry of the City, but The Dark Mirror is not on DVD yet. It seems to be Universal property. Anyone think Criterion would be interested to release this as well? I haven't seen it.

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swo17
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2417 Post by swo17 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:47 pm

Gregory wrote:People here have been complaining about the lack of silent films for years and what has it achieved? In the last 12 months they've released nothing at all from the silent era, except for one of the films in the Shimizu set.
There were five silent films included in the Painlevé set. Just sayin'. :-"

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2418 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:50 pm

Wasn't greg the one who asked about the meaning of the whistling smiley?

Very sly of you, swo...

AfterTheRain
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2419 Post by AfterTheRain » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:58 pm

Cinephrenic wrote:Criterion is releasing several Siodmak noirs, The File on Thelma Jordon and Cry of the City, but The Dark Mirror is not on DVD yet. It seems to be Universal property. Anyone think Criterion would be interested to release this as well? I haven't seen it.
I would like to see The Dark Mirror out on DVD as well - if not by Criterion, then by Universal. By the way, are there any plans for Criterion to release any of these other Siodmak noirs: Phantom Lady, Criss Cross, The Suspect, and The Spiral Staircase

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Thomas J.
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2420 Post by Thomas J. » Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:01 pm

Gregory wrote:My question was not intended to call him out, although I do think this whole bit has gotten pretty repetitive. I would sincerely like to see more interest in Latin American cinema (etc.) in the actual discussions of film here. I've made many tentative mentions of non-Buñuel Latin American films and have gauged little interest. I did recently find a member who's a fellow fan of Herod's Law, but what most urgently needs reassessment and discussion is the New Latin American Cinema of the 1960s and '70s, and its forerunners.
Regarding Criterion, the Mulvaney statement that they're releasing Macunaíma has not been borne out, but it looks like Limite (and/or many of those Antoine Doinel mentioned) are on the schedule, so let's just be thankful for that. Haranguing them on this forum really does no good at all. People here have been complaining about the lack of silent films for years and what has it achieved? In the last 12 months they've released nothing at all from the silent era, except for one of the films in the Shimizu set.
Emailing Criterion about specific titles and writing informed and detailed pieces about them somewhere online seem much more constructive. Interest in films that are riskier than what Criterion releases is relatively sparse, and it needs to be cultivated.
Well reasoned. In light of this, I promise that from here on out, I will not groan about any Criterion releases ever again except in posts that contain statistics that cannot be factually questioned. As far as my continued concern about this topic goes, I will leave that to emails and other Web outlets. At the same time, I have never once bitched about cover art like a lot of people do, but whatever. I guess that's allowed. Hey, it's not my forum.

*turns over a new leaf*

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Tom Hagen
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2421 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:27 pm

Cover art bitching is only allowed in the designated cover art bitching thread. (Right, Matt?) If the public demands it, maybe the mods will create a cultural diversity bitching thread. Though for some reason, I doubt it will be as amusing as the cover art bitching thread.

AisleSeat
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2422 Post by AisleSeat » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:01 pm

Not to rehash what has already been hashed out in previous posts, but it's difficult to see Criterion ignoring cinema from a particular region, genre, or period--the silent era, to mention one example. Many of the films that Criterion releases, if not the vast majority, are extremely obscure and absolutely unknown to the average moviegoer in the United States and Canada. Criterion releases are directed toward a very small audience of film connoisseurs, whose numbers total a tiny percentage of the general population at large. The company, as well as Janus, seem to be in business more for the love of film than to make big bucks. If a release happens to sell well, so much the better as that helps to offset the cost of a DVD that doesn't make back the money invested in its production.

It's instructive to take a moment and glance through the bestseller lists at Amazon.com for, say, the top 100 sellers of Japanese film on DVD. Criterion dominates in this category as you might expect, but if a title doesn't have the Kurosawa name attached or is a samurai film, the DVD plummets in popularity. Even the films by Ozu struggle to reach the upper levels. Naruse, Imamura and other lesser known directors are way down the list, if they're on it at all. What this tells us, simply, is that a great number of Criterion's releases don't take in all that much money. Nearly all the big name classic films such as Seven Samurai and The Seventh Seal, to name a couple--the titles that do bring in steady income--are already in circulation. Moreover, new, potential big bread-winners are now harder to get a hold of as studios are reluctant to part with noteworthy titles unless the deal is too good to pass up. The DVD market, too, even for the classics, is currently saturated with releases, as opposed to 10 or 15 years ago when almost anything newly released garnered considerable attention.

What is frustrating to many is that Criterion is in possession of the rights to so many quality titles, but releases are seemingly dribbling out at a snail-like pace. It's been more than two years, for example, since the one and only Naruse release. A box of Sternberg silents is supposedly forthcoming, but exactly when. And so on, and so on. At the current rate, it will take at least two years for all the films now on the "Forthcoming List" to find their way to DVD. The Eclipse line has increased the overall number of titles released per year, but the number of sets issued under that label has slowed of late as well.

Criterion is wonderful company for those of us who value serious, eclectic cinema. But it is only a small corporate entity among only a select few that specialize in so-called "art house," which just happens to be the kind of cinema that most North Americans avoid as if they might catch some disease--like having to think a wee bit. Sad, to be sure, but true. Criterion's yearly revenue of about $6 million is substantial but not overwhelming, and a stream of non-selling DVD releases could really squeeze the budget. The best we can hope for now is for the company to stay financially healthy, in whatever way that might be (i.e. Benjamin Button, etc.) and to continue their high-quality releases as they have and presently do. If we're fortunate, Criterion will grow in the years ahead, leading to an increase in the quantity of its offerings as well as more depth and diversity.

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foofighters7
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2423 Post by foofighters7 » Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:02 am

Aisle-

considering they released, what, about 370 give or take on Laserdisc from 1984 to 1998 I think they are ahead on the dvds.

Sure many of the dvd titles were once on LD but still pretty good.

370 in 14 years on LD

around 490 in 11 years on dvd

I too would love for them to throw out everything I would ever want in a matter of 6 months, but that is not realistic.

Clearly that have to pace themselves with their 'better' titles, making sure they keep people interested who are continuing to follow what they release.

Sure I would like more diverse world cinema from them. I think as they get further in they will release more as rights are acquired and ways to make them profitable are evident.

This is one reason why people shouldnt complain when they release a 'The Rock', or to a lesser extent a 'Button'.

For every 'Rock' they make I'm sure that will afford them the ability to make titles that will bring in far far less.

Plus, I have nothing against them being there anyway. They represent a slice of cinema.

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Ashirg
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2424 Post by Ashirg » Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:03 am

Cinephrenic wrote:The Dark Mirror is not on DVD yet. It seems to be Universal property.
It's Republic property. Remember, it was one of those noirs announced by Paramount but cancelled when they gave rights back to Lionsgate. This was 3 years ago...

beamish13
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Re: 'Forthcoming' Lists Discussion and Random Speculation

#2425 Post by beamish13 » Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:28 am

I'd love to see more Dutch cinema on Criterion. Is it within the realm of possibility that they could acquire "De Aanslag" (The Assault), which won an Oscar back in '87?

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