The Road to Criterion Collection Completion
Collecting has always been a passion of mine while growing up in the Philippines which officially started when my dear father brought home some comic books ( DC > Superman, Batman and the Justice League and Marvel > X-Men and Spiderman ) from his travels as a military man. I vividly remember always looking forward to his arrival after months without seeing him and letting my imagination go wild as comic book heroes came to life upon reading them. My loving sister then introduced me to the world of science fiction when she bought me those classic Star Trek Fotonovels which I truly loved and enjoyed!
Entering adolescence in the 80’s, I transitioned to collecting vinyl and cassette tapes often creating my own mixes a la High Fidelity and just enjoying and appreciating all types of music although I kind of gravitated to jazz ( Earl Klugh, George Benson, Alphonse Mouzon and Mike Francis)
Upon entering college, any form of collecting took a backseat as undergraduate and post-graduate education became the primary goal for next nine years. Basketball being the primary sport back home was my main source of entertainment and was enriched further by my exposure to the NBA ( LA Lakers and Celtics Rivalry) and the MLB ( LA Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays) in the late 80’s during my senior undergraduate internship at Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines. This started a phase of basketball trading card collecting most especially my favorite players during this time ( Magic, Bird, Jordan ) . This continued in the early 90’s with the entrance of Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 and also coincided with my immigration to the US in 1994 after getting married to my lovely wife in 1993.
During the post-graduate residency years which started in 1995 in Arizona, The University of Arizona Wildcats won the 1997 NCAA basketball championship and The Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 MLB World series. I have already chronicled how this particular World Series in 2001 started my son’s passion for playing baseball and started my baseball coaching career and helped to fuel the collecting bug more.
Through all of this, I have always admired both classic and contemporary films. I remember watching movies in big theaters with the family back home and in the US mostly by watching rented VHS tapes and collecting some Disney VHS for my then 1-year-old son ( Aladdin was the only movie that can make him stop crying). I made a few laserdisc purchases but it was too expensive at that time. Watching movies has a lot of benefits but more importantly for me is bonding with the family and getting my mind off the daily grind. Movies entertains you irrespective of your social strata.
As I started to work in 1998 , The home media market saw the introduction of the Digital Versatile/Video Disc which fueled the DVD boom for collectors and which hooked me into hopefully my final collecting phase. I remember shopping at Costco during that year and I noticed 2 films by Mr. Jon Woo with a Criterion label which piqued my interest and purchased it. I started to build my movie collection but at that time The Criterion Collection was at a higher price point I could afford and with a young and growing family to take care of , had to curtail the desire for completion.
In 2008, Once Blu-ray had emerged as the industry-standard high-definition home video format, Criterion expanded into releasing Blu-ray editions of select films from its collection, beginning with the Blu-ray release of Wong Kar-wai‘s Chungking Express ! I consider myself a little lucky for not being able to afford those Criterion DVDs as I was able to start collecting Blu-grades right off the bat. Of course, Out of Print DVDs came with a premium but it was all good. I started to collect more starting in 2011 and gradually plugged along the holes and waiting for famous Criterion Flash sales ( February/March & October) ,the Barnes and Noble 50% off sales ( July and November), the occasional sales at Amazon and Best buy and hunting for more bargains especially for out of print titles at EBay.
On July 8,2014, the Criterion Completion Facebook Group was born and am very thankful to have been a member since. This opened the doors to meet new friends with the same love for film ( Criterion Reflections ) and collecting ( Criterion Completion, CriterionCast). I was able to participate in the First Criterion Blogathon which was hosted by the Criterion Blues, Speakeasy and Silver Screenings in November of 2015 and was noted in the Criterion Current News Feed.
To bolster my film knowledge, I was also able to complete 2 courses sponsored by Turner Classic Movies and moderated by Professor Richard Edwards ( Executive Director of iLearn Research at Ball State University) the last 2 years namely Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir in 2015 and Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies this year.
On October 27,2016 I was barely able contain my happiness when I woke up with a message from a friend John Albert that Philippine cinema finally had a major breakthrough and as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Criterion Cast News that ” Manila in the Claws of Night” directed by the late Lino Brocka will be added to the Criterion Collection Canon in 2017. This is a really big deal back home and thanks to the efforts of Mr.Martin Scorcese , World Cinema Foundation, Janus Films and of course the Criterion Collection this may help open up opportunitie for other talented filmakers in the Philippines 🇵🇭 and share it to the whole world!
Finally with much celebration from all cinephiles , Turner Classic Movies in close collaboration with the Criterion Collection introduced and formally launched Filmstruck a new subscription streaming service designed for people who love independent, art-house, and international cinema. They are currently mainly US-based but with plans of exploring International opportunities as well ! For film fans, you can start a free 2 week trial and decide which plan would suit you.
The Film Closet
The Criterion Tower ( I figured the Collection deserves its own place)
The Bottom Line
It took me eighteen years ( a little faster than a century it took for the newly crowned 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs to finally win it all) to be able complete the Criterion Collection and it is definitely something more satisfying than all my previous endeavours . Now I just need more time to watch them all and makes me look forward to my retirement someday.
Amidst all of life’s trials this past year, I would like to thank The Lord and all of our family and friends from all over the world for all the support and prayers to help us get through this year. It is very much appreciated. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and Have a great 2016 Holiday season ! Peace!