Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Hello and welcome to my swing at a new format for a challenge I have been participating in for about 9 months now. It's something I'm extremely passionate about and that has built up more and more of an audience over the year I've been participating in it. This challenge has been fun, enlightening and also financially demanding (in the best way). I've come to discover quite a few new films that I would have never given the light of day had I decided to abandon it before the year was up.
A little bit about me, a lot more about my project. My name is Paul Deeter and I've been an aspiring film buff since the year of five when I first saw Jurassic Park on VHS. It was my first PG-13 movie and it sparked my interest in two things: being a paleontologist and becoming a director. Unfortunately the former was far more difficult a venture and one that waned as I got older. The director goal stuck around however, and evolved in such a way as I am here now writing this opening blog post. I've written blog reviews, newspaper posts in HS to College, and directed two short films, one of which was shown in a small theater in Iowa (of which I embarassingly was not present). I graduated with a degree in Media Studies and English-Creative Writing and used the latter to write a full length screenplay. As I am sitting here now I have unfortunately left filming and writing behind, until today.
During the month of December 2019 two wonderful things happened. One was the meeting of my current girlfriend who has changed my life in the most progressive ways and has been the Siskel to my Ebert on the couch next to me during the majority of the films I've seen throughout this challenge. She's also been in the corner of my ring, through tough and good times, and forgiving times as well, when my wallet judged me more for my decisions in this challenge has then she ever will.
The second wonderful and cornier thing was the start of my collection. I had been familiar with the Criterion Collection and its changes throughout the life and birth of various formats, DVD and Blu-ray and the presence in my father's place covering each shelf with various genres of films new and old, foreign and classic and of no discernible limit or classification. These movies are reflected culturally and relevantly throughout history of film and TV all over the world. It's nothing less than an esteemed achievement to have your picture featured in the Criterion catalogue. I could go on for quite some time about the history and importance of this library of film, but I will save that for future posts.
Working at Barnes and Noble during the holiday season sparked a more obsessive desire to own these titles, years after having watched some with my father on DVD. The Blu-Ray format especially does wonders for the restorations and quality of preservation of some of these films. So I felt intrigued to own some favorites of my childhood along with what I learned would be called "blind-buying" by a few threads in Criterion Facebook pages. These would be films I had never seen, but was interested by only for the description or even the always stunning cover art. After about 10-15 purchases, I was hooked.
It was in January of this year that the Criterion Challenge was born. I had decided to start this through my many purchases and large collection, along with the access to many more titles in the Criterion's streaming service and a suprising amount of library availability for rentals. It would be birthed as a challenge with at the time seemingly wide and nearly unpredictable goals: to watch 100 films or more in the Criterion Collection catalogue. The challenge started after a month of viewing some incredible titles. The rules would only dictate that it would have to be a feature film I had never seen before on the Criterion format, or at all. Other than that, it could be drama, documentary, foreign, arthouse or any classifaction of feature length cinema within the more than 1,000 films in the collection.
It's today, I start a brand new site, after spending months on Instagram and Facebook building a following and posting my updates and various blurbs of reviews. It is more than 90 films into my challenge, and expect a post that will probably increase the goal very soon. I will use this site to expand on some of my new favorites, update lists and reviews on some of the features watched in my progress. I have been extremely lucky thus far, with very few duds watched in the catalogue. A couple movies in the 100 I would actually consider to be new all-time favorites of mine. So please and thank you come and visit and enjoy one aspiring and obsessive film buff's journey into the rabbit hole that is this wonderful series.
- Paul Deeter