Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Great Unwatched DVD/Blu-Ray Project or The Quixotic Foibles of a Cinephile: A Collector's Lament in A Minor

Too many movies, not enough time!" The sad cries of the movie collector. As someone with such compulsions, I too lament the lack of time in each day to actually enjoy the fruits of my hobbies. Of course I treasure time with my wife, dog, family and friends, and I understand that if I do not work, my junkie habit will shrivel up, but there's got to be some solution? Doesn't there? Making matters worse my little treasure trove of DVDs and Blu-Rays must compete with such other temptations as theatres, the Netflix queue, Netflix instant watch and my DV-R (currently using 76% of its capacities storing television shows and films in glorious HD). And that's not to mention the ever luring presence of that whore, the internet.

So I will embark on a foolhardy mission, one that you could probably gauge by the title of this post is doomed from the start, to increase the number of films in my collection that I watch. I am betting you would think step 2 would be to decrease the amount of films I buy, but c'mon, a man needs to know his limitations, and what else am going to do at the Pasadena City College flea market?

I have as of September 6th, when I started compiling a list on my Rate Your Music, 445 movies total on DVD or Blu-Ray that I have not watched since purchasing (or receiving as gifts), some of these are DVDs with multiple films on them, such as the Universal Horror collections which normally feature six films on two discs. To clarify, I have seen the majority of the films on the list before, I'd say a good 80%, but I have not watched them on their current format yet. For example, I have watched my American Werewolf in London DVD multiple times, but upgraded to the Blu-Ray which I found used and cheap at Amoeba, so it's on the list. You may think looking at that number that my collecting as gotten a little out of hand, and while you are probably right, I have inherited something like 120 from the passing of my father and cousin Brian. So in actuality, the total would be 325 or so, which is totally not out of hand, right?

What I decided to do is track my progress, or probably most truthfully, lack of progress. I will be updating this constantly on this Rate Your Music page if you are that interested, but I thought for my blog readers I'd post a monthly update on the progress and Twitter-sized reviews for what I did watch. Comprende? Bueno, let's get started.

Starting Number (as of 9/7/2010): 444

Added: O

Watched: 5

Total Remaining: 439

The Brood (79, David Cronenberg)--The most realized of Cronenberg's 1970's horror films (Shivers and Rabid being the other two) when his filmmaking and conceptual prowess perfectly mesh, a scary treatise on the effects of divorce and the way people externalize internal pain. (2nd Viewing)

The Card Player (04, Dario Argento)--My first post-Opera Argento, and it was an awful slog. So sad to see the master craftsman's complete discretion of his skills as he tries vainly to recontextualize the tropes of earlier films like Deep Red to the modern day, never realizing how uncinematic online poker truly is. (1st Viewing)

Let the Right One In (08, Tomas Alfredsson)--First viewing since theatre, and it has now skyrocketed to my best film of 2008 honor (sorry In Bruges, you're number two now), and probably top 10-15 for the decade, as the themes of the violence within us resonated even stronger as did Alfredsson's complete control of mise-en-scene and editing. And the CGI cats were less troubling on Blu-Ray than they appeared on 35mm. While Matt Reeves's remake certainly looks to be a quality endeavor and advanced word is positive, it still strikes me more and more as completely unnecessary. (2nd Viewing)

Ball of Fire (41, Howard Hawks)--Just so damn delightful. Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck are a class course in chemistry, with Stanwyck giving what would be for most actresses a career highlight performance but for her is just another great job in a career full of highlights, as the titular ball of fire Ms. Sugarpuss O'Shea. The last act does drag just a scooch in comparison to the clip the rest of the film was paced at. Who knew the entomology of slang could result in something so hilarious and sensual. Well, Hawks and screenwriters Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, that's who. (2nd Viewing)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (88, Renny Harlin)--Upon the release of the Platinum Dunes remake, which I still haven't seen yet and hear nothing but toxic word of mouth about, I was prompted to revisit the original series for the first time since the halcyon days of VHS. This was such a huge release in the day, it premiered at number one in the box office it's opening weekend and was greeted with an all-out media blitz which included such stunts as Freddy Krueger hosting MTV video blocks. Dream Master amps up the special effects and kills (though gore and actual on-screen violence is exponentially decreased) and director Harlin is probably the second most recognizable name to direct an Elm Street film. Unfortunately, it also increases Freddy's one liners to the point where he's no longer scary except in a unhinged Robin Williams talk show appearance sort of way. The nightmares lose their dreamlike nature as they become too specifically ironic to a characters' predilection: don't like cockroaches, well Freddy's going turn you into one and make a roach motel quip! The film's ambitious scope and some clever visuals make up a bit for the film's faults, but not being able to get Patricia Arquette, replaced here by Tuesday Knight (named after her birth or conception date? I wonder.), costs the film it's intended continuity and emotional response. (Probably about the 6th or 7th viewing as I watched these a lot when I was a teenager, but it's the first viewing since it was released on DVD)


Mummbles said...

I like your idea, I hope you can keep it up. Is that the Nightmare with the girls who arms are bent back and cockroach arms come out? I remember I wouldn't watch that when I was younger for some reason. I believe you also wouldn't watch it, if I am remembering correctly.

Colonel Mortimer said...

Yep, you are correct sir, Elm St 4 has that cockroach scene, the one that was always tough for me to watch, I have something about elbows and feet (the most terrifying scene for me as a teenager was when that little shit severed Fred Gwynne's achilles in Pet Sematary).

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