By Michael Dean Benton
Frustrated by the dearth of decent films in the theater that I can review I have decided to start a new column dedicated to bringing to attention film on DVD that should not be missed. We may, currently, be seeing the slow strangulation of collective cinema viewing of thought-provoking films in the communal theater, as 3-D spectacles, action blockbusters and infantile narratives dominate the cinemaplex.
Thankfully, though, at the same time, we are also benefiting from the worldwide online explosion of a “collective cinephilia” (Jonathan Rosenbaum) brought about by the technology of the DVD format and the global scope of online film criticism/studies. So, while still recognizing the benefits of theater screenings, we should also turn toward the potential of films on DVD and the possibilities for cultivating the appreciation of film through these new technologies.
The premier DVD company is Criterion Collection (http://www.criterion.com/) whose mission is to release film classics, forgotten masterpieces, important cult films, and the best of current world cinema “in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements.” Adding to the prestige of Criterion, is their online global forum and film screening space The Auteurs (http://www.theauteurs.com/) where you can watch high-definition films for $3 and start threads in their online forums for discussing your favorites with people from around the world. Most of us cannot travel the world to attend major film festivals, and unless you live near a major metropolitan center, most of the films they screen will never come to a theater near you.