Monday, June 24, 2013

#518: By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two

(Stan Brakhage, 1954-2003)

This is ostensibly a review of the double collection of By Brakhage that Criterion released in 2010, just five months after I began this blog. What it really is, however, is a post about how nearly four years later, after 476 posts, I have now seen every Criterion movie with a spine number up to #654. Of the movies released or announced, I only have eight spine numbers left to check off my list - only two of these are currently in stores (and I'm halfway done with Pierre Etaix, which would bring me up to #660).

I honestly never thought I would get here - I started this blog in 2009 with the intention of watching maybe three or four a month and never really getting anywhere. But with the addition of so many Criterion movies on Netflix - and then the explosion when they joined up with Hulu - along with the increasing pleasure of being exposed to so many of what are now my favorite movies ever, I quickly escalated my pace until I reached this point. When you have a number like 250 or even 75 staring at you, you start to wonder if you'll ever get there (and if your marriage will survive - thanks for staying with me, Audrey, even if it meant one more samurai movie!) and if you really didn't bite off more than you could chew.

Since I started this journey I bought a condo, became a father (and watched all 15 hours of The Human Condition while he napped on me!), and wrote approximately 200,000 words on the films I love - five times the number of words in my first draft of my book on Illmatic and probably 20 times the number of words on Penguin. This is a staggering amount of work when I step back and look at it, one that amounts to my intellectual journey over the past four years as both a film watcher and a writer.

I will continue to post here, but I assume it will be less frequently (something that's really already happened) - I hope to keep up with new releases as they come (I have the rest of Etaix cued up, and then Marketa Lavarova when I find enough time to carve out), and I'm excited to see what the future holds for Criterion in the all-digital age. I hope anyone who has dropped in here at any time has at the very least gotten my enthusiasm for what value the Collection provides and my willingness to have an open mind towards even the least-likely appealing films I have been subjected to.

Anyway, this all seems a little out-of-proportion for my silly little online journal, but after so long, I knew I needed to mark this ending in some way. As a wiserich man once said, "Done, on to the next one!"

Links to individual reviews:

Volume One
Volume Two


  1. Congratulations! Bravo! Standing ovation! I'm seriously happy and impressed to see you at this point in your blogging journey. My pace is much more deliberate and ponderous, but I someday hope to make a claim similar to yours... maybe I'll have to just let go of the need to write a deeply reflective essay on each film and just watch them in more rapid succession, try something new ;) but as for you, I think it's wonderful that you've reached this point and live to tell about it. Thanks for the inspiration and insight you've provided to me over these past several years. And keep it up! lol

  2. Thanks for the kind words, David, it is certainly a big feeling of accomplishment to finish something so massive! As for your methods, there are obviously huge pluses for the route you are taking - and not just for us folks who get to read your much more in-depth evaluations. There were a number of movies that I felt I didn't give a proper shake, simply because I didn't take the time to watch all of the supplements and take in other available films from the director outside of the parameters of my journey (though I did try to read every essay). The film education you are receiving is undoubtedly richer - something reflected in your posts, for sure. That said, there's nothing like seeing that huge, unbroken list of spine numbers checked off. :)

    Either way, good luck, and you'll get there someday!