The Rant has a new bestie: The Criterion Channel. Movie lovers have known Criterion for years as they produced high-end DVD and Blu-Ray editions of films loaded with extras and beautiful art work. They also own Janus Films, which holds the rights to nearly every classic art-house movie you can remember. Quick, think of one. Yes, they have that. But Criterion has never been snobby, championing all the corners of international cinema and the pulp masterpieces that deserve a second look.

The streaming service grew from the rubble of the short-lived marriage of Criterion, Turner Classic Movies, and Warner that formed FilmStruck. Warner, like all media behemoths wants some of that sweet streaming pie, and The Rant is sure the thought of launching a service without having to produce costly new content made the suits in corporate dream of starting their own vanity mezcal label and owning a club in Malibu called Nubile.1

Apparently Warner believed if the content was free, the infrastructure should be as well, and appeared to invest around $18 to launch FilmStruck. The Rant tried to love FilmStruck, we really did, but we had better luck downloading software updates for Netscape over our AOL dial-up service than we ever did watching a movie on the site. Constant crashes. Missing content. The most enjoyable part of the whole experience was customer service, a group of plucky kids absolutely devastated each time you informed one the fix they guaranteed would make FilmStruck work failed once again. The Rant would have subscribed to a service that provided a daily transcript of the customer service calls with these sincere and doomed technology idealists. Never have such young heroes labored so tirelessly to make a Fellini movie demandable.

But Criterion has their act together. The Rant has actually contemplated buying Criterion editions for the spine art on the slipcase alone. Just a couple of viewings on the channel elicits this reaction: what the hell has happened to movies? The current noir series has a collection of B-movie wonders that at the time simply helped to fill the staggering amount of content that had to be shipped out to the astronomical number of single-screen theaters around the country. Which renders moot the hand-wringing over too much Peak TV. You want the spigot wide open so all the new voices and ideas have a chance. We have plenty of terabytes to discover the hidden gems later.

The Burglar, featuring a very young Jayne Mansfield that makes you wonder What Might Have Been, has a framing shot from inside a just-looted vault that would cause A.O. Scott to swoon and write six think-pieces on film, crime, and the American soul. Which would then be collected into a best-selling book. Not that The Rant is bitter.

The ratty apartment in the movie makes you reach for a couple of pumps from the Purell. Today a ratty apartment in a movie looks like something a botoxed director, nursing a hangover from Nubile2, heard about third-hand from a beleaguered member of craft services in between his complaints about the quality of the lox. The apartment was CGI’d and went $6million over budget. On the press junket the director referred to his obsession with “authenticity” to explain away the overage.

The Rant thinks nostalgia is for suckers, but good is always good. There’s plenty of good in pop culture right now, but movies have become little more than world-wide branding releases. We suggest you sign up for Criterion to fill that void. Each time someone subscribes, a former FilmStruck customer service rep gets her wings.

  1. Since you’re wondering, Nubile would feature cocktails made from the mezcal and served over ice made from water sourced within three hundred feet of the agave plants that gave birth to the booze. Since you’re further wondering, mezcal is made by smoking the heart of the agave (pina) and tequila isn’t. Philistine. Nubile’s drinks would be served by beautiful humans so androgynous patrons spend the entire evening in a state of high sexual confusion. Various Kardashians would be linked to several mysterious deaths there
  2. That’s right. The Rant created a fictitious director that had a wild night at the fictitious club we created in the earlier note to demonstrate the banality of Hollywood. You have nothing on us A.O.!

One Response to “Rant on Demand”

  1. Johnny High-Hat

    Mighty fine and informational, Mr. Rant. Thanks for this. Glad you’re still writing.


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