Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First DVD of the year

As you probably know, I am perpetually involved with ranking my favorite movies of the current calendar year. As soon as one year finishes, it's on to the next.

But the first half of the year is always pretty slow, since your only option for seeing new movies is the movie theater. And I tend to be pretty disincentivized from hitting the theaters unless a) the movie is likely to be really awesome (which often is not the case with early-year movies), or b) I'm just desperate to start working on the new year's list. B gets me out to probably five or six more movies in February, March and April than I'd otherwise see. The fact that they'll be available on DVD in plenty of time before my end-of-year ranking deadline further discourages me from seeing them in the theater just to get them ranked.

So that brings me to what I want to discuss today -- that magical moment when the first of the current year's titles hits DVD. It's usually late April or early May. The first one I noticed being available this year was Contraband. The first one I myself watched was Haywire, on Saturday afternoon.

From here, the list can really take off. In the first four months of the year, I saw a measly 11 titles. But I could see my next 11 in the next six weeks -- if I weren't moving in about three weeks, that is.

There has become something ceremonial enough about the first DVD I see from the current calendar year that I remember what it was last year, too. Actually, last year it was not technically a DVD but an itunes rental. Last year I watched No Strings Attached on my ipod on our trip back east for a wedding. (This year it was not technically a DVD either -- I rented Haywire on BluRay from Redbox.)

My No Strings Attached viewing was nearly a month later on the calendar than May 12th, when I watched Haywire (because I couldn't find Contraband at two different Redboxes). Does an earlier start this year mean that I might break my record for titles in a calendar year, which I set last year by watching a total of 121 before my late January deadline?

Probably not. See my previous comment about my life being thrown into chaos by moving houses in about three weeks' time. That'll set me behind again.

But I loved the passing of that ceremonial moment on Saturday, even if I did not love Haywire. I feel somewhat compelled to write a whole post about this, but let's just get it in here at the end of this one instead. I've been feeling this for awhile, but Haywire really brought it home for me: Steven Soderbergh is a cold, clinical filmmaker who will sacrifice character development for plotting and sleek visual presentation. I didn't give a flip about any of the characters in this contract killer thriller, and that doesn't have a lot to do with the fact that Gina Carano is a mixed marial arts fighter, not a trained actor per se. That's all on Soderbergh, for not caring if we care.

All I really cared about was that it was a 2012 movie, one I was planning to see no matter how good it was, and that I didn't have to go to the theater to see it.

From here on out, any early-year movies I wanted to see, whose quality might be highly suspect, will be only the price of a rental.

Let the good times roll.


Nick Prigge said...

You didn't like "Haywire"? Ah man, I finally just saw it last week and I LOVED it. I can't disagree, though, when you term it as being cold character-wise. That is true, and yet I personally don't mind (not usually, anyway) when an action film ignores character for style. I got a thrill out of the way he staged his sequences and I also thought it was fairly self-aware of the genre it was in.

Vancetastic said...

My problem with the film probably goes back to an essential issue I have with spy films in general. I just don't really care who's double-crossing whom and what their reasons are. I have never really liked spy films, and have finally begun acknowledging that to myself in the last couple years. Of course there are exceptions, like James Bond and Mission: Impossible, but those are kind of in a category of their own as franchises with recurring characters. One-off spy films are definitely not very interesting to me.

Also, I didn't really understand why this was a film Soderbergh wanted to make. His "one for me, one for them" career has involved big studio films and pet projects, and this doesn't really seem like either. I guess the cast would suggest it's a big studio film, but it also utilizes a non-professional actress in the lead. It was a hybrid of Soderberghian impulses that just didn't work for me. I thought there was no reason for its existence and that it basically vanishes into thin air.