Over the past month or so, it seems as though glancing references to Criterion are popping up everywhere. This morning, I saw Bob Stein, one of the original founders of Criterion, in New York magazine, being interviewed for his fashion sense. And the other night, both actresses in the stage musical of Grey Gardens (spine no. 123), Mary Louise Wilson and Christine Ebersole, won Tony Awards for their performances. As Little Edie, Ebersole won for best leading actress in a musical, beating out Donna Murphy, who plays Lotte Lenya in LoveMusik, which concerns the love affair between Lenya and composer Kurt Weill. Their shared breakthrough came with Bertolt Brecht and Weill's The Threepenny Opera. Pabst's film of Threepenny, featuring Lenya, is soon to be spine no. 405 in the Criterion collection. And last week, Middlesex author Jeffrey Eugenides wrote a beautiful piece in the New Yorker’s summer fiction issue about his mother taking him to see Walkabout (Spine no. 10) as a kid, neither of them having any idea what they were going to see.
And, of course, there was the Cannes sixtieth-anniversary tribute film, Chacun son cinéma, for which thirty-three filmmakers each contributed a three-minute short evoking something essential about cinema. The film was stuffed with references to the warhorses of world cinema, so there were plenty of spine numbers in evidence, but no reference came as a bigger surprise than the presence, in the Coen brothers' segment, of not one but two posters for the Essential Art House retrospective that has been going around as a celebration of Janus Films’ fiftieth anniversary. One features Jules and Jim (spine no. 281), the other The Seventh Seal (spine no. 11). Both are clearly visible through most of the film, as a cowboy who doesn't know his way around art-house cinema chooses between The Rules of the Game (spine no. 216) and a Turkish film called Climates that Zeitgeist brought out this year. No one could have been prouder than we—except maybe Zeitgeist. Spoiler alert: the cowboy picks Climates.