Monday, February 13, 2012

Doug Asks Patrick Questions About Movies

Patrick knows a lot about movies. Doug has seen Wild Things dozens of times. In an effort to expand Doug's cinematic horizons, he'll be asking Patrick questions about movies in a column we're calling "Doug Asks Patrick Questions About Movies."

What were the first movies you purchased on new player formats? Specifically, VHS, LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-ray? For obvious reasons of protecting you from embarrassment, please omit the month you championed DivX.

Ha ha, funny joke. I never really championed DivX, everyone, because I didn't even have a modem until 2002 and the format was already dead. Besides, I've got enough to be embarrassed about for being one of 15 adopters of laserdisc without you having to make up fake format facts about me (Makin' Up Fake Format Factz with Doug).

From the time I was in about 6th grade or so, I dreamt of building a movie library. At that time, VHS was the only thing around, so I would just try and buy the few movies that were released priced to sell (most videos were priced to rent, meaning they would retail for about $100, but a few were only $20). That meant I only had a library of six or seven movies, and practically wore out those copies of Batman and Total Recall and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When I got a job at Blockbuster for a short time in the early '90s, I built up my collection a little more thanks to the store's stock of Previously Viewed Tapes (PVTs). That's how I came to own Army of Darkness and Matinee and Reservoir Dogs, but also how I came to own Prince of Pennsylvania and the first two Mighty Ducks movies. Even then, I could sometimes be about quantity over quality.

By 1994 or '95, I had saved up enough to buy a laserdisc player, and it was then that I became a real collector of movies. My first disc was Natural Born Killers, a movie I liked in the mid-'90s but which I've never felt a desire to return to since (my second? Wes Craven's New Nightmare, because I wanted to hear my first-ever commentary track. It was boooooooring). I built up a collection over the next couple of years, often spending Saturday nights by driving to Tower Records alone, buying a laserdisc and spending the rest of the night watching it, rewatching it, listening to the commentary (in those days, they were more special as not every movie had one), whatever. Because hardly anyone got into laserdisc (they were very expensive and big and you had to flip them over), I only knew two people who also had a player: one was JB, the other was my friend Ken, who was maybe the only other high school kid in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago who collected laserdiscs. I'm pretty sure he now works for Skywalker Sound in California. But, you know, I've got this movie blog, so it's pretty much a wash. Ken and I even ditched school one day to go to a big laserdisc sale at a Camelot music store, but when we got there found only elderly mallwalkers. Turns out the sale was at an outlet store about an hour away, so we did what anyone else would do: killed the mallwalkers and drove to Tower Records to buy When Harry Met Sally... and True Romance on LD -- the latter being one of the few movies I've owned on every single format.

When DVD showed up in '97 or '98, I couldn't believe that it was a) smaller and b) had all the same advantages of laserdisc for about 1/5 the price (plus, it didn't have to be flipped over, unless it's Doug's copy of Se7en). So before I even owned a DVD player, I bought Boogie Nights on DVD as a kind of promise to myself. It was several months before I had saved up enough for a player (which was considerably more expensive for us early adopters), so I would just hold the DVD case at night, wishing I could see the movie again and listen to the Paul Thomas Anderson commentary.

Repeating all of these stories here, it makes me sound kind of sad.

My first Blu-ray was the special collector's edition box set of The Wizard of Oz (for review), which is fitting because the transition from black and white Kansas to Technicolor Oz might as well have been me switching from standard to high def. Or some other really heavy-handed metaphor to describe what is to some a negligible bump in A/V quality. I was also really lucky to find and marry someone who had also always dreamed of building a personal movie library (libary), so that's just what we have done. And if it means owning S.W.A.T. on Blu-ray, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

I know you and I disagreed over the Academy Awards' decision to give their best picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love in 1998. You supported it, whereas I rooted for Saving Private Ryan. Do you still feel like Shakespeare in Love deserved the statuette?

Well, here's the thing: I'm going to deal with how stupid and inconsequential the Oscars are in just a minute, so none of this really matters. But, yes, at the time I was glad that Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan, because I have a lot of problems with the latter and think the former works better as a movie (probably because it's less ambitious and sets a lower bar for itself). Having said that, the distance of time has pretty much erased Shakespeare in Love from our collective memory, while the impact of what Spielberg achieved in Private Ryan is still felt today. That movie is a legitimate classic, sticky bombs/old man bookends or not, and is going to be around forever (if for no other reason than Veteran's Day and the people programming TNT). Shakespeare in Love is a cute, clever, very romantic movie, but definitely benefited from the Weinstein marketing machine -- the same machine that's going to make The Artist win Best Picture this year, even though its shelf life will be about as long as Shakespeare in Love. If I'm going to buy into the idea that the "Best Picture" is the one that's going to be around forever, then I'll agree that it should have been Saving Private Ryan. If we're going to say it should have gone to the actual "best" movie that year, then There's Something About Mary should have taken the little Oscar man. The Academy could have put a little bit of jizz on its head.

Five essential romantic comedies in honor of Valentine's Day, go!

Funny you should ask! Here at F This Movie! -- the site that you yourself write for, and the one you're probably reading right now -- we do a weekly podcast called F This Movie! The episode we recorded last Valentine's day was on romantic comedies, and it dealt with this very question. I won't repeat the movies here, but you should check it out.

What movie have you seen the most times? And why do you think you keep going back to it?

That's almost impossible to answer. The one that immediately comes to mind is That Thing You Do!, because it makes me happier than almost any other movie and I have it pretty much memorized forwards and backwards (By the way, when you play it backwards? It's Turner and Hooch). But since that one came out in 1996, I have to believe there's a movie from my childhood that I've seen more times. Time Bandits? Ghostbusters? Yentl? Probably not. Some people don't really believe in re-watching movies; they can see something once and be done with it. I can't quite understand that mentality, because I think almost everything is worth seeing more than once -- to notice something you didn't see before, to give a movie another chance, to see something for what it is rather than what you hoped/thought it would be. That means I've seen even movies I don't even particularly like a bunch of times, probably because I would always rather be watching a movie than not watching a movie.

What I'm saying is this: the answer is Kuffs and only Kuffs.

Unfortunately, I'll be out of town (and away from a TV) during this year's Academy Awards broadcast. Should I be bummed about this, or fuck the Oscars?

Fuck the Oscars. For real, fuck the Oscars. Fuck them in the A. And then fuck them in the other A. I'm not even being mister cynical, I'm-above-the-Oscars, because I'm not "above" them. I just no longer place any value in them. I think I finally gave up when Russell Crowe won Best Actor for Gladiator and I realized that the award had nothing to do with merit. He was winning the award because he hadn't won for The Insider a year before. He was winning the award because Gladiator was on a roll and had the best campaign. He was winning the award because people didn't want to see Tom Hanks win his third Oscar in seven years, even though he made us cry for a volleyball. And as much as I wanted to get excited that at least it's a whole show devoted to movies and it gets people talking about movies for about a month beforehand, it seems like more and more every year it's the wrong movies that people are talking about. Had a movie like The Help been a flop (and, to be fair, I haven't seen it, but Erika just told me that a character in it eats a pie made of poo, so, you know. ONE PLEASE), it wouldn't be nominated for a bunch of awards and be poised to probably to win a couple -- for acting, at least. But it was a huge hit, so now it's considered one of the best movies of last year. Same for The Blind Side a couple years ago. Hell, same for Avatar. There is no sense to what gets picked and what gets shut out. And for all that stupid talk about adding more movies so that up to 10 could be nominated for Best Picture, it's still always a race between two movies: Avatar and The Hurt Locker, The King's Speech and The Social Network, The Artist and The Descendents. It's all so stupid and arbitrary. JB already wrote a very, very good takedown of the Oscars in last week's Shitting on the Classics, so I'll leave the rest of the heavy lifting to him.

If you want to hear us complain more about the Oscars, just follow F This Movie! on Twitter on Oscar night, where we'll be one more insignificant voice in the sea of online white noise making fun of an awards show. #ftheoscars

18 comments:

  1. Ha good stuff. Patrick I too owned a Laserdisc player and have a very heavy rubbermaid container filled with mostly Criterion Collection LDs and crazy Japanese Animation.

    I would be happy to donate them to the fthismovie movie library as they have been sitting in that rubbermaid container for about 5 years now! Hit me up on the private email if you are interested.

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  2. I saw "Independence Day" at least 40 times (lost count after 27 times) in theaters when it was released back in '96, plus a few more times on TV since. It was the first summer I had moved to NYC, it was a hot summer (didn't have AC in my apartment) but I also genuinely liked the movie. Maybe its why I haven't bothered getting it on BD. I have the beats/dialogue practically memorized, plus I'm not proud to admit now that I ever liked a Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin movie as much as I did this one. What can I say, I was dumb back then.

    First movies I bought on VHS were Cronenberg's "The Fly" and Donner's "Superman: The Movie." Didn't really buy too many VHS movies though (ten tops, including "ID4") because I was aware of pan-and-scan robbing home cinema of more than half the original picture. Skipped Laserdisc. When I got my PlayStation 2 game system (a lot of young people's first DVD player back in the day) I got used from the same Gamestop that I bought the system from my first two DVD's: "The Kentucky Fried Movie" (still one of the funnier commentary tracks you'll ever hear, often funnier than the shitty flick Landis and ZAZ are talking over) and "MST3K: The Brain That Wouldn't Die" (Mike Nelson's first experiment as host).

    I'll never forget my first HD-DVD (after I bought the add-on for my just-RRoD-bricked XBox 360 system), James Gunn's "Slither." Not because the flick was memorable, but because I ordered it online from Target and I haven't stopped receiving junk mail from them since. Had I known I'd spend eternity deleting Target junk mail I would have gladly paid more and purchased "Slither" elsewhere. For the life of me though, I cannot remember what my first Blu-ray was (bought or watched) when I got my PS3 (a launch 60GB system that's backwards compatible to all PlayStation/PS2 games) the Christmas after it was released. Since I was an HD-DVD fanboy back then I must have blocked that horrible traumatic experience of buying/watching BD for the first time.

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  3. I've been searching for the "Other A" for years - could you send me a map?

    It's funny - I had no real interest in having a movie collection until blu-ray and then I went kinda nuts - about 300 in the past few years - I guess the added enjoyment I get from movies just looking and sounding so great put me over the top in terms of cost-benefit. I also do kinda look at it as an "art collection" of sorts and when someone questions the value of re-watching movies, my response is to ask if they would only look at a painting once? Or only listen to a song once and say, okay got that one, don't need to hear that ever again? Yeah that's right you don't - check and mate, douchebag! What's that? My mother's a what? Why I oughtta...

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  4. Now, see, I *DO* think that Shakespeare in Love was -- and still is -- deserving of every accolade it received. But saying it deserved them more or less than SPR is tough, because they're such completely different movies. I respectfully disagree with your assertion that time has erased Shakespeare from our collective memory. I find myself coming back to it a couple times every year, and it's still just as delightful as ever. I've seen SPR once, and that was when it was in theaters. I appreciated it, but once was enough for me.

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    1. I guess it all depends on how we want to define what constitutes a "Best Picture," which is not a conversation worth having. I think Private Ryan is going to outlast Shakespeare (the movie, not the guy; he seems to have caught on), but I don't mean to take anything away from Shakespeare in Love. I think a lot of people thought Private Ryan should have won because it's a more IMPORTANT movie (which is directly at odds with the momentum of The Artist this year; some years it's ok for cute to win, others it's a travesty). I liked Shakespeare in Love better then, and I still like it better now. I think it works as a movie from beginning to end, whereas I think Private Ryan only works in pieces (where it REALLY REALLY works). If I'm going to rewatch one, it's going to be Shakespeare in Love. But I think we might be in the minority there.

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  5. I've had this conversation quite a few times over the years, and each time it's been not so politely suggested that I turn in my man card. *sigh*

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    1. BPope-

      This is my favorite version.

      http://images.cryhavok.org/d/18560-1/Man+Card.jpg

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  6. Besides True Romance, what are other movies have you bought in every format? I've found that my Blu-ray library only contains recent movies and movies that I love.

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  7. I have purchased Singing in the Rain twice on VHS, once on laserdisc, twice on DVD, and I am eagerly awaiting the Blu-ray.

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  8. @Mark Ahn -- That's all kinds of awesome. Although seems there should be something about deflowering a dozen virgins and starting/finishing a bar fight. On second thought, those probably fall under "be 1/10th as manly as Steve McQueen."

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    1. And by "Steve McQueen" we mean the director of _Shame_.

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  9. Oh em gee! My first VHS tapes were very close to yours. I think mine were Batman, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, and Home Alone. Batman holds a really special place in my heart. But of those tapes, I REALLY watched the crap out of Robin Hood. Robin Hood became an obsession for me when it was released on video. I had gotten on the honor roll at school and as a reward my parents allowed me to buy it because every Friday after school we were going to Blockbuster and renting it. Looking back, they probably decided it was cheaper to just buy it. There were days when I would literally watch the movie, rewind it, and immediately watch it again. I actually would count how many times I watched it, but lost count somewhere in the 50s. Something about that flick really captured my imagination and actually had a profound influence on some of my interests as an adult. It was and is a tremendously flawed, silly movie with some pretty crappy performances and casting (except for Rickman, who owns), but I think it is my all time favorite movie. It's not the best, but this is my Back To the Future. While it's been mentioned on F This Movie at least once, God help me if it ever earns a full discussion. I honestly wore the VHS tape out and had to buy another one a few years later. Did I mention I love Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Because of this movie, when I have sex with my wife and take out my cock, I say "Recognize this? It belonged to your father. Appropriate, don't you think, that I now use it to send you to meet him." I also crash weddings and say things like "Hold! I speak. I will not allow this wedding to proceed...unless I am allowed to give the bride away." Then I tell the bride she looks radiant and call her "cousin." People seem to dig it. 2 people get these references, but that's okay.

    Also, I'm requesting Patrick's comments about "The Help's" poop pie to be read at my funeral.

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    1. Funniest thing I've read all day.

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    2. Based almost entirely on this comment, a full show devoted to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is definitely now in the works. Expect it soon.

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  10. Oh, and my first DVD was either The Matrix or Blade. I'm proud of my love for Robin Hood, but kind of embarrassed about those. Go fig.

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  11. My first DVD was The Wedding Singer (a gift; don't judge), which I got after I bought my first player. Patrick tried to get me to buy a DVD at the time I bought my player, but I was too shell-shocked to spend any more money. I'm sure his version of the story is much funnier (i.e., makes me seem like a giant wuss). My first Blu-ray was The Dark Knight. My first chip-implant movie (I predict) will be The Vow 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold.

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    1. The Vow 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold! Brilliant!

      You know, of all of Adam Sandler's earlier movies (and most of his later ones, too) i think The Wedding Singer is one of the only few that I remember fondly and would watch again pretty much any time. I had a crush on Drew Barrymore and I appreciated that Adam Sandler wasn't doing his man-boy schtick. I know he's done more "mature" acting roles, but I think that's my favorite Sandler role.

      As for DVD price shell shock, I'm with you. I remember finding Batman on DVD in Circuit City for 25 bucks circa 1999 and that being an ungodly amount of money for a movie. I think that was a flipper disc, too.

      My first Blu-Ray was Hancock. My second was Hand Meet Cock. O! Badaboom!

      *reaches arm around head to smoke cigarette, Andrew Dice Clay style*

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  12. The first video I bought with my own money was Reservoir Dogs, I say I bought it but as I was fourteen I gave the money to my uncle and he got it. It was an ex-rental copy from Blockbuster in the big case. The first DVDs were L.A Confidential and Lethal Weapon, I’m still yet to upgrade to Blu ray.

    As for the film I’ve seen the most it’s between The Wizard of OZ and Total Recall. When I was around eight of nine my grandparents got a special edition VHS of The Wizard of Oz that had a making of feature on it, and some days I would watch both the film and the documentary and then rewind it and watch the whole thing through again. I must have seen it nearly a dozen times some weeks. That look behind the scenes was a real first for me, and fairly apt given the film itself, and I think really help me to realise i was interested in all the mechanics of the film making process.

    In my teens I was obsessed with Arnie and every weekend would watch at least one of his films. My favourite by a mile is Total Recall, while it will never be considered a classic I can watch it over and over again. Last year I must have seen it at least ten times.

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