Monday, February 13, 2012
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