Since the days of Laserdisc, the Criterion Collection has dedicated their efforts to collecting the greatest classic and contemporary films from around the world, and make them available to the general public at the highest quality possible. Today, they release their first wave of Blu-ray titles, which represent some of their most popular releases since the collection began.
Over the past few weeks, we have reviewed all four of today's releases - 'Bottle Rocket', 'Chungking Express', 'The Man Who Fell to Earth', and 'The Third Man' - with each of them representing top-notch Blu-ray releases. As staff reviewer Dr. Svet Atanasov noted in his review of 'The Man Who Fell to Earth', "This really is what Blu-ray is all about, and in the hands of competent distributors the format is capable of delivering miracles."
Yesterday Criterion was doing something with their website, because I caught a couple of other scans of what appeared to be Future Blu-Ray releases in their Coming Soon section. The two I noticed were both Truffaut films: The Last Metro (which I've yet to see) and The 400 Blows, which is one of the greatest films ever made and a first day purchase for me (as if my icon didn't tell the tale). The 400 Blows was listed as being a late March release. They took these both off almost immediately, so I'm not sure what to make of it.
El Norte, which I've also never seen, has recently been removed from their Blu-Ray Coming Soon section as well.
Did anyone else have trouble finding the Criterion releases in brick and mortar stores? I tried every store in Olympia, Wa. that carried a decent selection of Blu-ray's and not one of the stores carried the Criterion releases. I eventually purchased it on Amazon with next day shipping...what gives?
The only B&M Store that I know of that routinely carries Criterion DVD is Barnes & Noble. A little more of an upscaled crowd maybe. I've never seen Criterion anywhere else, but I don't really shop that much.
I'd also fall under Region B, but I took the trouble to import a Region A player -- and now, with Criterion having to be region-locked, this trouble is paying its dividends.
What a great day for the format. With the Criterions finally available, as well as strong dramas like "Into the Wild", hopefully all the sneering about Blu-ray being a format just for the PS3 gamers will quickly fall by the wayside. I've had a few filmmaker friends come over yesterday, and it was the first time they saw a Blu-ray presentation in a home environment -- needless to say, they were floored. Hopefully 2009 will bring the total public awareness to the format.
I had trouble finding the Criterion BDs in normal stores. I live in Denton, TX, which is a pretty good-sized town with a Best Buy, Circuit City, Hastings, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. THe only one of those 5 stores I named that carried ANY of these titles was Hastings, but they only had one copy of Bottle Rocket and The Third Man. They told me they were not carrying Chungking unless it was special ordered. I ultimately had to drive to a neighboring town that has a store called Movie Trading Company. They had received 1-2 copies of each Criterion BD release. I bought their only copies of Bottle Rocket and Chungking. Actually, I traded in about $60 worth of older stuff, so I only paid the $4 tax with my own money.
Thanks Moniker and BluDomain, we don't have Hastings in Washington and I didn't even think to go to Barnes and Nobles. I have found quite a few Criterion in B&M stores. Surprisingly, Borders carries a huge selection of Criterion release on their shelves, just not the Blu-Ray releases.