It’s My Birthday And I’ll Buy The Movies I Want To

July 8, 2015

Criterion
My spending habits are like George Constanza’s: “We’re cheap.” Well, not really in the same way. I’ve just been watching a lot of “Seinfeld.”

Unlike George, bargain shopping is a hobby of mine. Thrift stores, antique stores, garage sales, department stores — I’m always on the hunt for a deal. But there’s one sale above all others that rewards me for being such a cheapskate: the Criterion Collection sale. Barnes & Noble and the Criterion Collection hold a 50-percent-off sale at random during the year. The Criterion Collection announces a flash sale on their website, leaving us Criterion fanatics a short amount of time to take advantage of the deal.

Barnes & Noble, on the other hand, gives you at least a week to strategize. I find myself either making extensive lists that I have to narrow down day by day, or just going with my gut and making an impulse buy. I think of this sale as my reward for being a bargain shopper, because these movies are not cheap. I spend more on buying movies than most people. The B&N sale announcement was made yesterday, and it just so happens to be my birthday this weekend (hint, hint).

Here are three reasons* why I love The Criterion Collection:

• The art design
• The supplements (special features, yo)
• The quality of the transfer

After buying a Criterion movie, unwrapping and opening the DVD case feels like the excitement of opening a gift you really wanted. The cover art is abstract enough to minimize preconceived notions of what the film is all about. It completely changes the way you shop for a movie. It entices you to look further. There isn’t any tacky element, such as “Academy Award Winner,” “Two Thumbs Up,” or a goofy picture of actors in the movie. Side note: I always wondered if people involved in those films are as embarrassed by these as I am of those covers.

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Before: unflattering Jimmy Stewart picture and terrible font.

I’m well aware that DVDs or Blu-rays will never achieve the cross-cultural saturation of the VHS tape, because owning a movie is no longer a shared privilege. Streaming services are great. But it’s not the same as owning a physical copy of the film. Especially when the films are carefully selected and given the best care for a re-release.

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After: spare and striking art design.

There are a number of distributors who are re-releasing films beside Criterion: Janus Films, Cohen Media Group, Kino Lorber, to name a few. They are all going to keep my collection going. And instead of being a cat lady, I’ll be a movie lady. I can live with that.

*Three Reasons are like trailers except they don’t show you the entire movie. Check out the Three Reasons for the first Criterion movie I bought.