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VIDEO ESSAY: Robert Nishimura’s THREE REASONS series is a Criterion buff’s fantasy

VIDEO ESSAY: Robert Nishimura's THREE REASONS series is a Criterion buff's fantasy

The Criterion Collection is known for delivering the highest quality standard in video distribution. Their mission statement says it all; it sells “important classic and contemporary films” to cinephiles of all genres and interests. For many DVD collectors, having the Criterion edition of certain titles justifies throwing other versions in the bin. From digital transferring to final package design, Criterion strives to bring the best possible elements to their buyers, often with the director’s own seal of approval. Naturally this kind of attention to detail inspires fanatical devotion among the company’s audience. — and in the sincerest form of flattery, it has inspired imitators. Part of the appeal in seeing a Criterion release is its ornate packaging. The company has an amazing team of in-house designers, as well as a keen eye for independent illustrators who are brought in to give their own unique spin on projects. It truly feels like the golden age of DVD cover design, and with that, Internet forums and tumblr blogs sprang up seemingly overnight with their own fake Criterion covers; simply typing those three words in any search engine will provide hours of visual enjoyment (or disgust, if you are a cover art snob like myself).

In the beginning of this year Criterion began a video essay campaign called, Three Reasons. Each video highlights one title in their collection, providing three reasons why they think the film deserves your attention (and money). As soon as these videos started rolling out, fans were quick to make their own Three Reasons for their favorite Criterion titles. Being a fake Criterion cover artist myself, I felt it only natural that my disturbing devotion should extend to fake Three Reasons videos. And I am quite proud to proclaim the introduction of yet another cultural meme, Three Reasons For Criterion Consideration. These videos are, of course, intended to sway Criterion into acquiring titles for the collection that are not available in the US as of yet (if anything, for my own selfish benefit), but also to expose important films that are in dire need of critical attention.

Below are some of my personal favorites. I realize that I can be a bit glib in giving my three reasons, but rest assured my heart is always in each video. If you enjoy them, please check out my back catalogue at, For Criterion Consideration I will be premiering subsequent installments here at PressPlay, so any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. And if you’re so inclined, I suggest you make your own videos.

Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Ko Nakahiro’s Yuka on Mondays (1964)

Robert Nishimura is a Japan-based filmmaker, artist, and freelance designer. Born and raised in Panamá, he then moved to the US, working at the University of Pittsburgh and co-directing Life During Wartime, a short-lived video collective for local television. After fleeing to Japan, he co-founded the Capi Gallery in Western Honshu before becoming a permanent resident. He currently is designing for DVD distributors in Japan and the US, making short and feature films independently, and is a contributing artist for the H.P. France Group and their affiliate companies. His designs can be found at Primolandia Productions. His non-commercial video work is at For Criterion Consideration.

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