You make so many good points DKid I almost dont know where to start. On Suzuki you're absolutely right imo, someone in there at Janus/CC certainly has/had a huge love for the man and his works (there;s a whole thread somewhere around here devoted to grousing-- and defending-- the label for what is perceived as a bias towards a director whose work is obviously not as universally accepted by some as "worthy" as say a Renoir or Ozu). Of course it's their company and have every right to do whatever the hell they want... some disagree owing to their dollars being an investment i e shareholders. In the end it all comes out in the wash as facts are facts & thats that.
But you mention something which is indeed the "rub" here. The mere fact of a certain film's inclusion in the CC line gives it a cache and attention and veneer of cinematic magnificence that cause people to fetishize them as blind buys, when they haven't heard of the title. A title like Blast of Silence is a perfect example. Stick that film in the Kit Parker/VCI Forgotten Noir, or Image Ent line, and 3/4 of the buyers hereabouts wouldn't even think about buying it.
So a combination of almost random circumstance and happenstance-- what films they can get their hands on in terms of rights, the taste of producers, what films get the thumbs up from the Janus roundtable when a producer comes before the group with an idea (many get voted down I'm sure, and many for reasons having to do with economics and not the film itself), what films have elements in the condition acceptable for their General Release QUality.
The byproduct of the line is that it is indeed, as you said, as powerful if not MORE powerful than any college curriculum or critics written works in sum or arthouse cinemateque or retrospective in creating The Accepted Sum Picture of Quality Cinema. The default impression for many is the combination of the commentaries, extras, and literature included constitute their primary means to accessing "arthouse" cinema, or just plain old Best Movies Ever Made. The unfortunate byproduct for other companies is that consumers grow used to the technical properties of a CC release, since it is their primary venue of accessing arthouse, and therefore poo poo more adventurous releases (or silents owing to elements) because there is not extensive MTI'ng, progressive transfers, DL discs, included booklet, etc.
One issue that plays heavily into both the above discussion about The Picture Afforded By The CC Line of World Cinema, as well the discussion over the last few pages, is something that I haven't addressed specifically but is something which I'm a big baby about and simply refuse to accept: Criterion and silent cinema. They're probably the only line out of the arthouse majors-- Eureka/Eureka-MoC, The British Film Institute, Milestone, Kino, Image Entertainment, Edition Filmmuseum, Arte, Artificial Eye-- that simply just completely and totally poops all over silents. They just don't seem to care, or they're just scared to death of going there. And I don't for the life of me understand it. If they can push out something as marginal as Symbiotaxiplasm or Equinox or Crazed Fruit or some of the more freaked out and sleazoid Suzuki, I just don't understand what the problem is here. If Nick Wrigley, Trondsen and Cummings et al can find a way to make MoC work with the number of silents in their line (however "safe" the titles notwithstanding, at least the statement is "we cannot propose to give a Big Picture of Important World Cinema and not include silents, because there is a portion of the silent cinema that has yet to be matched by sound cinema.. so ignoring them would result in a line We Could Not Personally Be Proud Of In Sum") while including the bevy of extras, certainly there is no reason why CC is not releasing them. Enough time has gone by, they've had plenty of chances to release crucial titles, and they just don't: they are just the world chumps of silent cinema, and it's a shame. The result is that their primary, flagship line of The Most Beautiful & Important Films Ever Made is doomed to be incomplete, with a huge hole omitting some of the purest cinema and some of the most moving images (and some of the most influential over directors such as Renoir, Ozu, Bresson, Bergman, Kurosawa, etc) ever committed to celluloid. It's like creating a line of literary classics that begins with Burroughs and Pynchon, yet ignores Celine, James Joyce, TS Eliot, Proust, etc. To insightful historians, the omission of these unsurpassed masterworks would be extremely bizarre, especially for "the premeire purveyor of quality presentations of classics". In one sense folks say "be glad you're getting them at last" but I don't (or didn't) equate silent= Eclipse. Eclipse is for overlooked material in arthouse... and the only people in arthouse who ignore silents are CC. So in terms of the company, sticking all coming silents on Eclipse now makes sense to me... but prior to this month it made no sense to me. Silents are dealt with heartily all over the world by a bevy of companies far poorer than CC, and in cinemas and arthouse retrospectives every week in major cities all over the globe. SOme silents are overlooked, some are not.
The tantalizing mention of the Eisenstein silent box, the Ozus, and a few other enticing rumors kept me hoping, along with the fact of Nanook, Pandora, King of Kings (???, truly one of the strangest entries in the line, and a two-discer too), Haxan (fantastic release), Joan (fantastic release), and the slipping in of Weeds, kept me hanging on that the line would at last get in sync with the rest of the arthouse world in the overall picture afforded of world cinema.
I'm being totally honest, I never thought I'd see Ozu or Bergman on Eclipse. If that makes me a dooface, I'm a dooface. I thought Eclipse would be some wild sci fi, avant garde, directors from the shadows. I thought it would include oddities like Equinox, lost masterful stuff like Gremillon, Bernard, Klein. Truly marginal stuff. I would previously not have thought von Sternberg's silents would have come out on Eclipse either. That's primary, classic material I thought would have made a great CC box. I would have thought Lubitsch's musicals would absolUTEly have come out on CC. It's Lubitsch furchrissakes.
Of course what this means is that, unlike other labels, in terms of CC, silents are out. Officially, it would seem. Of course in the big picture it's awesome to get silents in any form, anywhere, so this is good news, strictly in those terms. Hopefully we will get some more adventurous silent material in terms of Japanese cinema. My only lament is that, since this is going to be the spigot for all those other Ozu (maybe Mizo?) silents and mid-period films, not to mention a-list classics like the Sternbergs, and all the other "less known gems from CC-brands", some of the freaky shit (remember we thought we were getting an Eclipse Jodorowsky box?)we've been praying for over the years is going to come at an intermittent drip.