Friday, June 08, 2007

DVDs and (the Woeful Lack of) Accompanying Texts

In his latest Global Discoveries on DVD column for Cinema Scope magazine, Jonathan Rosenbaum discuses why he's never rented a DVD-- namely that they lack the accompanying booklets or special features that come with so many reissues. Criterion DVDs, for example, often includes lavish brochures or booklets with scholarly essays, photographs and other enlightening materials. And with box sets, as Rosenbaum points out, "the differences become more pronounced," with the sets including "larger booklets and even book in some of these packages."

Of course, for those of us who aren't film critics for a living but have insatiable appetites for film, to say nothing of salaries that don't exactly encourage the rampant buying of all that we'd like to see, renting DVDs is usually our only option. But what a bummer to not have those accompanying texts.

One of the many things I adore most about film, especially those works that challenge me, is to read what others, especially those with more time, resources and insight than myself, have to say about it. After watching Michael Haneke's masterful and devastating debut film, The Seventh Continent, a few weeks back, for example, I was lucky enough to find a couple highly astute essays that greatly enhanced my own muddled understanding of the film. It's one of the great joys in my life, and clearly I'm easily gladdened-- to luxuriate in a piece of film criticism that manages to direct all my inchoate thoughts (of which there are many) about what I just saw, that takes the raw emotional charge of the film as it's still reverberating through me, and begins to give it structure or, with the best criticism, adds depth and texture to my nascent understanding of the film. So obviously I miss those accompanying texts that Netflix removes (where do they the trash?) in order to keep its overhead costs in check. But I'd be willing to pay a couple extra bucks a month to have them make quality scans of this material and make it accessible to members through their website.

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