Criterion Corner is a monthly Cinematical column dedicated to the wide and wonderful world of the Criterion Collection. Each edition features an essay, reviews of the month's new releases, and some other fun stuff about Criterion culture. Criterion Corner runs on the last Wednesday of every month, and it will make you poor. Follow @CriterionCorner & visit the blog for daily updates.
When you think about it, the Criterion Collection is a lot like Oprah. Both awkwardly rose to prominence in the 1980s, both fluctuate in size on a monthly basis and both make me weep tears of joy more often than I'd care to admit. Most importantly, both have become hugely influential taste-makers (Criterion with classic films, Oprah with books) whose seal of approval can forever change how a particular work is perceived, or if it's perceived at all. Some releases serve to enshrine established classics ('Modern Times') while others rescue films from the indiscriminate clutches of obscurity and retrofit them with a veneer of importance ('House').
Further still, thanks to a new(ish) partnership with IFC Films, Criterion has recently been distributing a growing number of contemporary movies, thus bestowing stuff like 'Hunger' and 'Still Walking' with an instant significance and cache the moment they first hit store shelves. And so we must raise the immortally stupid question of the chicken and the egg (the egg obviously came first, that's just science): Does Criterion induct films into the Collection because they're great, or are films great because they're inducted into the Collection?