I can't say for sure that my Friday night viewing of Vanilla Sky was actually the first time I did that. In fact, I reckon that if I scoured my post history on The Audient, I might find that not only have I done it before, I've written about it before. But since I can't be bothered to do that either, I'll just write it again.
It was all the more strange that I did it, because one of the things I was actually looking forward to in my first Vanilla Sky viewing in four years was the DVD menu.
(As a side note, I can't believe I've only written about this movie once before on this blog, considering that I rewatch it at regular intervals -- 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2017 before Friday night.)
Remember how good DVD menus can be? As you contemplate which of your options to select, you may get a little montage of images from the movie, some good music, even an independently conceived interactive experience that builds on the themes of the movie and incorporates the menu options into it.
With the Vanilla Sky DVD menu, the thing I find so compelling is a little melancholic piece of the score that plays on about a 15-second loop, both preparing me for the viewing and amplifying its themes. Even with that four-year gap since my last viewing, I can still remember that music as I sit here typing this.
But Friday night, I just said "To hell with all that."
I had decided to watch Vanilla Sky after contemplating the "sacrifice" Tom Cruise made earlier in the week when he returned his Golden Globes to the HFPA. He didn't win a globe for Vanilla Sky of course -- the film was generally not well received, though Penelope Cruz did get a globe nomination and Paul McCartney's song of the same name got an Oscar nod. But it got me thinking about the "serious" performances Cruise has given, and Vanilla Sky contains one of my favorites.
But instead of going to the trouble of flipping through my DVD folder to find the disc, then making sure there was currently an HDMI cable connecting my TV and the DVD player, I just went hunting for it on my streaming services. And it took until the third service I checked, but indeed, it was playing on Stan.
Obviously we'll soon reach the point where most people don't even own a DVD player, and another great chapter in media history will close. But until that point, it would seem worthwhile to enjoy our DVDs while we can. Especially when they have lovely mood-setting DVD menus like Vanilla Sky.
All is not lost, friends.
Also within the past week I have made my first proper return trip to the library since the start of the pandemic. We've been returned to full normalcy for quite a while now here in Australia, but the libraries were one of the last institutions to drop their COVID restrictions. I'd tried to go on a couple previous occasions, but had been greeted by security guards and librarians helpfully yet aggressively querying what my business was. At that point, they would go to the shelf for you to look for the thing you wanted, while you waited in the foyer. Until recently, it wasn't an environment that supporting lingering and browsing in any way, shape or form.
But on my day off last Friday, I walked home and swung by the local branch, where all the restrictions had been lifted and they were as happy to have me browse as to go put my head down on a desk for a nap, if that's what I'd wanted to do.
I came away with a stack of about ten DVDs. The collection did not feel like it had been recently refreshed -- all the titles seemed to be ones I had considered on my last visit, and none were 2020 movies -- but for the time being, they are still offering these, as well as CDs, to a general public still willing to consume them.
So whether it was for Vanilla Sky or not, my DVD player should get some run in the coming weeks.
I'll also say this: Vanilla Sky did not look "just as good" on streaming. I'm not really sure how these things work, but I suspect that Stan did not get a very good transfer of the movie, either because that would have been more expensive, it wasn't available, or they just didn't care. And since a lot of people don't appreciate this movie the way I do, they probably don't care either. The quality of the version on Stan is not making any new converts, in all likelihood.
DVD/BluRay may continue to have the quality advantage, and I'll remember that the next time I'm faced with one of these scenarios.