Indiewire’s CriticWire blog sparked an opinionated dialogue this morning when it asked film critics to name the film most deserving of a DVD release from the Criterion Collection, the label known for its in-depth, top-notch treatment of movies that range from the really really artsy to semi-artsy to the somewhat mainstream. While the results were skewed somewhat toward the work of David Lynch, they also ranged from the obscure (“How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman”) to the deliciously unexpected (“Pootie Tang”) to the surprisingly current.
“Can I go ahead and pick ‘Looper’ for this?” asked Eric Havens of the Web site Downright Creepy. “Is there a rule against that? Did I mention ‘Looper’ is really good and you should see it? ‘Looper.’ ”
This conversation — brought to my attention by the Twitter feed of Slate’s Dan Kois, who, for the record, selected “Chocolat” and “Tampopo” for Criterion consideration — prompted me to think about which Criterion release I am still dying to see, aside from the never-going-to-happen “Star Wars,” which writer Matt Cohen already dibbed. It also reminded me to raise a question I have been wondering about for quite some time: Outside of film geek circles, does anyone still care about DVDs?
In a trend that will surprise no one, DVD sales have been sliding steadily downward for the past several years. However, as Reuters reported this year, the growth of Blu-ray discs and digital downloads have offset that decline.
In other words, there is still plenty of interest (and money) in the home entertainment business. But the novelty of, and perhaps interest in, the DVD as a product — a tangible thing filled with hours of directors’ commentary tracks and making-of featurettes, housed in a cumbersome case that looks uber-pretty while sitting inside that Ikea tower that took seven hours to assemble — is something that faded some time ago.
I still insist upon hoarding numerous box sets, for several reasons, including: a. I am old; b. because I am old, I still value pop culture that I can actually hold in my hand, and c. I used to review DVDs as part of my job and must validate their existence to validate my own.
Therefore, I’d like to note that the work of Quentin Tarantino is in dire need of Criterion Collection treatment, starting with his game-changing “Pulp Fiction.” But I’d also like to ask: Do you, voracious consumers of news about celebrities and entertainment, still purchase or rent DVDs? Do you ever watch the bonus features on them? Is there a Criterion Collection release you’ve been craving? And,. most importantly, would you purchase a Criterion Collection version of “Pootie Tang,” especially in light of the fact that Louis C.K. wrote and directed it?
Please bear in mind that your answers to these questions could impact the future of quality home entertainment as we know it. That said, comment away. But don’t bother suggesting that “Dazed and Confused” needs to be a Criterion release, because that already happened in 2006 and was, indeed, as spectacular as a party at the moon tower.