The Criterion Collection saved my life. It's not as if I was shot in the chest only to have the bullet stopped by the 'Grand Illusion' DVD I keep over my heart at all times or anything like that (although everyone knows that the U.S. army used laserdiscs as shields during the Gulf War), but ... Okay, the Criterion Collection never saved my life, but it sure played a role in shaping it.

A chance encounter with their initial 'Seven Samurai' disc some 11 years ago sparked a voracious and domineering appetite for film that -- 500+ Criterion releases later -- has still yet to be fully satisfied. That formative experience spurred me toward a number of film-related pilgrimages, including a quest to Ozu's grave in Kamakura, Japan which became the basis of my college admissions essay. Criterion -- as I would soon discover -- has become a more reliable, expansive and cost-effective education than the most esteemed film studies programs.

With that fanaticism in mind, it's my overwhelming pleasure to welcome you to Criterion Corner, a new monthly Cinematical column dedicated to the wide and wonderful world of the Criterion Collection.