What Films Should Get Into The Criterion Collection? Video Series “Three Reasons” Makes the Case

Most film fans I know have played this game: which movie, if you called the shots over there, would you bring into the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion? While the fun con­ver­sa­tions that result nec­es­sar­i­ly elide all the dif­fi­cul­ties — acquir­ing the rights, find­ing restor­able mate­ri­als, design, dis­tri­b­u­tion — of actu­al­ly get­ting a film onto Cri­te­ri­on’s ros­ter of high-qual­i­ty, fea­ture-inten­sive home video releas­es, they do illu­mi­nate one’s own cin­e­mat­ic val­ues, even if only with idle talk.

Japan-based film­mak­er, artist, design­er, and gal­lerist Robert Nishimu­ra plays the game too, but he does­n’t do it idly. On his blog, he fea­tures the high­ly con­vinc­ing DVD cas­es he’s designed for such dream Cri­te­ri­on releas­es as Kim Ki-young’s The House­maid, Akio Jissoji’s Life of a Court Lady, and Wern­er Her­zog’s Fitz­car­ral­do. He also has a Vimeo chan­nel called For Cri­te­ri­on Con­sid­er­a­tion, where he goes so far as to craft new “trail­ers” of the films he’d like to see in the Col­lec­tion, each offer­ing three rea­sons why they qual­i­fy. His pitch for Bar­ry Son­nen­feld’s 1997 Men in Black cites its sta­tus as a “galac­ti­cal­ly fun­ny block­buster,” visu­als enhanced by “Rick Bak­er’s spe­cial FX,” and a script even more enhanced with “Ed Solomon’s one-lin­ers.”

Evi­dent­ly a lover of less­er-seen Japan­ese pic­tures and the idio­syn­crat­ic qua­si-Hol­ly­wood releas­es of the 1970s (but then again, aren’t all cinephiles?), he’s also made videos argu­ing for films like Hiroshi Teshi­ga­hara’s Kobo Abe nov­el adap­ta­tion The Man With­out a Map (the log­i­cal fol­low-up to Cri­te­ri­on­s’s real box set of Teshi­ga­hara-Abe col­lab­o­ra­tions) and Michael Cimi­no’s faint­ly homo­erot­ic heist pic­ture Thun­der­bolt and Light­foot. And all the way on the oth­er end of the spec­trum from Men in Black, he advo­cates for the likes of Per­fumed Night­mare, Kid­lat Tahimik’s “play­ful cri­tique of Amer­i­can cul­tur­al dom­i­nance,” “exer­cise in mag­i­cal real­ism,” “semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal explo­ration of inno­cence,” and cor­ner­stone of inde­pen­dent Philip­pine cin­e­ma.

Nishimu­ra’s out­put of videos and cov­er designs seems to have slowed in recent years, and I hope for one expla­na­tion and one expla­na­tion only: that he’s spent the time nego­ti­at­ing a healthy salary from peo­ple at Cri­te­ri­on eager to hire him.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Slavoj Žižek Names His Favorite Films from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

Steve Buscemi’s Top 10 Film Picks (from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion)

120 Artists Pick Their Top 10 Films in the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

The Art of Restor­ing Clas­sic Films: Cri­te­ri­on Shows You How It Refreshed Two Hitch­cock Movies

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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