Friday, October 29, 2010

A properly functioning library

Knowing what you know about me, how I'm meticulous/anal about keeping movie lists, it may surprise you to know that I don't actually have a list of all the movies I own on DVD.

Or, I should say, didn't, until yesterday.

Upon getting home from work, I piled stacks of DVDs and other disc-sized formats next to me and inputted them into a spreadsheet. It was long overdue, you will agree.

What prompted the project was that I realized I had six different movies loaned out to three different people. Many more, and I'd start losing track of what was where.

And loaning movies to people is one of the primary practical usages I get out of having a film library. Sure, I watch the titles in my own collection from time to time, less frequently than I probably thought I would when I bought most of them. So the value of these movies, in terms of earning their keep by getting watched semi-regularly, is in loaning them out to people, introducing people to (what I consider to be) great works of art they may not be familiar with. I share that mission statement with all the public and private libraries around the country, indeed, around the world.

So I decided it was time to get my library in order, so I knew what I actually had in my inventory (there were some surprises, believe me), and didn't forget which movie I'd loaned to whom. (I created a column to indicate the current status.) There would be no fee for late returns -- I have a friend who's had two of my favorite movies borrowed for going on 18 months -- but at least I'd have a system to help repossess the DVDs in question, at some point in the future.

It actually didn't take very long, an hour all told.

In recent days I had estimated I owned about 100 DVDs. And so I guess I was a wee bit disappointed when there were only 84 titles entered after all the dust had settled. (For the purposes of this discussion, let's exclude the various TV shows, short films, comedy concerts, sports championship videos and other non-movie DVDs that are in our collection.) Hey, I have been trying not to buy so much in the interest of saving money, for going on three to four years now.

The good thing about having only 84 titles means that it's not too many to list on a blog. And so list them I will, guilty pleasures and all. In a way, this could be helping you understand where I'm coming from, cinematically, better than anything I've written here before. What says more about our movie tastes than the movies we've chosen to own? Of course, collections can be diluted by movies that have been given to us as gifts -- we may not love or even like them, but here they are, part of the whole. Also, some movies we love are not necessarily movies we want to own, because their subject matter may have made them difficult enough to sit through the first time.

But I won't bore you with excuses. If you hate any of the movies you see on this list, well, that was probably the one someone gave me as a present. ;-)

Without further ado, here is a complete list of the movies owned by my wife and me, the majority of which are "mine" and a smaller quantity "hers":

300 (2007, Zack Snyder)
The 13th Warrior (1999, John McTiernan)
8 Mile (2002, Curtis Hanson)
Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
Amreeka (2009, Cherien Dabis)
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009, Sacha Gervasi)
Bedazzled (2000, Harold Ramis)
The Bourne Identity (2002, Doug Liman)
Bowling for Columbine (2002, Michael Moore)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992, Francis Ford Coppola)
The Cable Guy (1996, Ben Stiller)
The Cell (2000, Tarsem Singh)
Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuaron)
A Christmas Carol (1984, Clive Donner)
Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
Code 46 (2003, Michael Winterbottom)
The Dark Knight (2006, Christopher Nolan)
Donnie Darko (2001, Richard Kelly)
Easier With Practice (2009, Kyle Patrick Alvarez)
Election (1999, Alexander Payne)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
Fargo (Joel Coen, 1996)
Fathers' Day (1997, Ivan Reitman)
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001, Hironobu Sakaguchi)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988, Charles Crichton)
Flirting With Disaster (1996, David O. Russell)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1995, Mike Newell)
The Full Monty (1997, Peter Cattaneo)
Gentleman's Agreement (1947, Elia Kazan)
Get Christie Love! (1974, William A. Graham)
Ghostbusters II (1989, Ivan Reitman)
The Girl Next Door (2004, Luke Greenfield)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992, James Foley)
The Godfather Part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola)
The Guru (2003, Daisy von Scherler Mayer)
Hair (Milos Forman, 1979)
Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
Intermission (2003, John Crowley)
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973, Norman Jewison)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003, Quentin Tarantino)
Kissing Jessica Stein (2002, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld)
L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)
The Lady Vanishes (1939, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
The Living Wake (2007, Sol Tryon)
Lost in Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola)
Memento (2001, Christopher Nolan)
The Messenger (2009, Oren Moverman)
Misery (1990, Rob Reiner)
Moon (2009, Duncan Jones)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004, Jared Hess)
North by Northwest (1959, Alfred Hitchcock)
Once (2007, John Carney)
The Others (2001, Alejandro Amenabar)
Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, Tom Tykwer)
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009, Lee Daniels)
The Quiet Earth (1985, Geoff Murphy)
Raising Arizona (1987, Joel Coen)
Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008, Darren Lynn Bousman)
The Ring (2003, Gore Verbinski)
Run Lola Run (1999, Tom Tykwer)
The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)
Southland Tales (2007, Richard Kelly)
Superman: The Movie (1978, Richard Donner)
Superman II (1980, Richard Lester)
Superman III (1983, Richard Lester)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987, Sidney J. Furie)
Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, James Cameron)
Thelma & Louise (1991, Ridley Scott)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984, Rob Reiner)
Toy Story (1995, John Lasseter)
Up (2009, Pete Docter)
Vanilla Sky (2001, Cameron Crowe)
The Vicious Kind (2009, Lee Toland Krieger)
Wake in Fright (1971, Ted Kotcheff)
Waking Life (2001, Richard Linklater)
War of the Worlds (2005, Steven Spielberg)
WarGames (1983, John Badham)
When Harry Met Sally ... (1989, Rob Reiner)
Where the Wild Things Are (2009, Spike Jonze)
Wonder Boys (2000, Curtis Hanson)


Some other stats that may interest you:

Breakdown of formats: 74 DVDs, four BluRays, two HD DVDs and two Region 4 DVDs. That's right, my wife bought an HD DVD player a couple years ago on the cheap as a replacement for our broken DVD player, which is how we ended up with 300 and The Bourne Identity, two films I don't care about all that much. They were sent to us free with the player. Also, we can't watch Ghostbusters II and Wake in Fright because my wife's sister and father (respectively) gave them to her on Region 4, that being all that was available to them in Australia.

Breakdown of "ownership": 57 movies originally owned/purchased/received as a gift by me, 22 DVDs originally owned/purchased/received as a gift by my wife, and only five that are best described as "mutually owned"

Broad genre breakdown: 12 Action Adventure, 5 Animated, 1 Christmas, 19 Comedy, 2 Costume Drama, 2 Documentary, 29 Drama, 7 Horror, 4 Musical, 4 Suspense

Multiple copies owned: Raising Arizona, one standalone and one as part of a three-pack with The Full Monty and Fargo (great three-pack, eh?)

Multi-packs owned: The aformentioned three-pack, and a package of all four Supermen, which is the only reason imaginable for a person to own Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Director most represented: A tie between Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys) and Rob Reiner (Misery, This Is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally ...)

Year most represented: 2009, with 10 (Amreeka, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Easier With Practice, Inglourious Basterds, The Messenger, Moon, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, Up, The Vicious Kind)

However, that's primarily because ...

Movies received for free as screeners because of my wife's involvement with Film Independent: Amreeka, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Easier With Practice, The Messenger, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, The Vicious Kind

Movies we own that I haven't seen: Get Christie Love! (a blaxploitation film given to me by my wife as sort of a joke), The Lady Vanishes (watched two minutes once but was then distracted and never returned -- I saw little enough of it that I didn't feel "committed" yet), Wake in Fright (see aforementioned DVD region problem)

Movies gifted to us as a joke, though in some cases I may actually like them: Get Christie Love!, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Southland Tales

Movies you'd think I'd own, but don't: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, National Lampoon's Animal House, Three Kings, Toy Story 2, Galaxy Quest, Dumb and Dumber, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Unforgiven (just to name a few)

Oldest movie we own: The Lady Vanishes (1939)

Newest movie we own: Easier With Practice (2009, though the film actually had a theatrical release this year despite being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award last year)

Movies currently "checked out" from the library: Children of Men, Code 46, Donnie Darko, Glengarry Glen Ross, Moon, Run Lola Run

Had about enough of my library for one day? Okay.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it -- what you're glad to see included, what you think sucks, anything you might want to comment on. After all, this is another practical function of having a film library: sharing its contents with the world. At least virtually, in the cases where I can't do it physically.


moviesandsongs365 said...

Thanks for sharing your dvd collection.

I’ve been through it, and seen a lot of them, maybe 50 or so, and the ones I haven't I probably don't want to see.
I found one I didn't know about, I might add the indie about a writer “Easier With Practice” to my “to see list”. Do you recommend it? I saw it got 86% on RT. Or are there a couple of other obscure indies you can highly recommend(which you don’t own) ?

I see you have some really good ones I love such as “memento”, vanilla sky, or “The Vicious Kind”, I can understand you want to own them, they are very easy to rewatch.
Bram stokers Dracula sometimes gets forgotten I think among Coppola's director efforts, alway alway always people talk about godfather godfather, glad to see that 1992 film get a mention. My dad loves that line where gary oldman greets with : "Welcome to my home" ha ha( :

dvds as gifts, I have this thing which I’m not so proud of that I buy them, watch them 1 or 2 times, and then give them to people as a present (used). I figure, why not let the discs be of some use, if I enjoyed them, instead of letting them take up storage space, or worse yet, get thrown away, which is kind of what you were saying in your post about loaning out like a private library. I just go a step further and wrap them up ( :

I am actually a little surprised you don’t own more dvds, I was imagining you were the kind of person who had 100s ( :

Vancetastic said...

Thanks MAS!

I don't really recommend Easier With Practice. It has its moments, but it's ultimately pretty predictable and leaves you feeling hollow at the end.

It's funny that you list The Vicious Kind as a film you love -- it's barely known at all over here. I actually thought it was really good. Adam Scott was great and his chemistry with that actress was incendiary. It's a good film, but it's funny because it strikes me as a very SMALL film, which makes me wonder how it's come to be so important to you. I'm glad it has.

I just love the production design of Bram Stoker's Dracula. LOVE it. It's one of my favorite "wax stamp movies," which I wrote about once on my blog.

That's very generous of you to turn over your collection to others when you're done with it. Me, I'm too attached to material things ... not in the sense that I'm a materialist (I barely ever own the newest of anything -- just got my first BluRay player), but that I attach sentimentality to objects like DVDs, and I like having them as part of a collection that says something about who I am. And then I can still do good with them by loaning them out.

However, I don't own more because I am also very pragmatic, and have to see the exact value something could potentially have. "Is 2-3 more watches worth $21.99?" That kind of thing. So I am actually hesitant to splurge on a DVD, which means the ones I do buy are all the more special. Since I invest thought before I do it, it means I must really like them.

moviesandsongs365 said...

What I liked was how "The Vicious Kind" depicted an angry character so well, and how his anger is ambiguous. I agree, the acting was awesome.
It reminded me of another small indie film I love called Roger Dodger (2002), about a messed-up and rude individual, also with great acting by the lead.

Since you liked "The Vicious Kind", you should probably hot-foot to a copy of Roger Dodger ( : (I reviewed it by the way on my blog)

I'll take a look at your "wax stamp movies" piece ( :

Thanks, maybe I am generous giving my dvd's away. The good thing about it is, I know the films I'm wrapping up are good, because I've already watched them.
Although some would argue I'm cheap for not shelling out on a new disc.
But there is logic in giving something you no longer need, but liked, as a gift.