DVDs!

I like DVDs. I collect ’em. But I’m cheap. I try not to spend big money. So I spend a lot of time browsing the collection at Edward R. Hamilton, they usually have good deals.

Like this one, only $7.95 for 12 movies:

OK, so maybe this one is just twelve versions of the same movie, but you catch my drift. I like bargains.

I usually won’t spend more than five bucks for one movie. But I make exceptions if I find something interesting. I’m interested in what they call “classic film noir” which means Hollywood-made low-budget crime melodramas from the 40s and 50s. So if I find something like Woman on the Run or Too Late for Tears, I’ll spend a little more.

Movie art was very different then! Here’s what I mean:

By the way that’s the inimitable Lizabeth Scott being abused. If you are looking for the archetypal femme fatale, look no further.

Roger Corman is enjoying a renaissance with many of his 60s and 70s films being re-issued, like this enduring classic:

We just watched a mash-up of horror and comedy called Creature From the Haunted Sea which was hilarious and had a spectacularly wacky plot. No one will ever accuse Corman of making deep, thinking-man’s movies. He liked action and scantily-clad women. But that doesn’t mean the films lack any sort of theme or meaningful intent. Those things should be subordinate to the movie itself anyway, don’t you think? Corman’s goal was to entertain, and he did that on-time and under budget, which means he made money on almost all his films.

Movies are the ultimate collaborative art form. They require, at the very least, dozens if not hundreds of people to make. The big blockbusters cost tens of millions to produce. Over the years I’ve found that cost and quality are not necessarily connected. More expensive films look and sound better, but they aren’t always better films. Much of the appeal of classic film noir is the restricted palette. The producers and directors had to be brisk and efficient and work with what they had. They learned to create tension and urgency in the story-telling with a minimum of fuss.

I’m perfectly capable of being a movie snob. I took a film class in college. We watched (and analyzed) Jean-Luc Godard and Michelangelo Antonioni and stuff like that. I can discuss auteur theory and semiotics and Russian Formalist Criticism if I have to.

But mostly I like to watch movies in the comfort of my own living room. I need breaks for things like using the toilet and re-filling my bourbon glass, and you can’t do that in the theater. Plus you have to be around a lot of noisy people and you have to watch what’s being shown instead of what you put in the DVD player.

Now I don’t mean to say anything bad about the theatrical experience. I still remember watching An American Werewolf in London in a packed theater and everyone in the place screaming and jumping at the same times. It was like being at a ball game! And I’ve made a point to go see a few movies when they came out, like Pulp Fiction (fabulous) and Eyes Wide Shut (terrible), but you can see how dated I am. If I go to a movie theater more than once in a decade that’s a lot! I think the last two films I saw in person were Master and Commander and The Simpsons Movie, and those were 2003 and 2007 releases.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Those are only the most recent major motion pictures I’ve seen in person. I have been to our local film festival in the Scott Valley which unfortunately focuses on documentaries (which I can’t stand) instead of feature films. I did see the excellent Bullit County in 2018, though.

So you can see I prefer the humble DVD. I don’t even stream movies or use Netflix or Prime or Hulu or any of that stuff. I like the actual, physical plastic box with its disc nestled inside. Believe it or not I keep up on some contemporary cinema. My lovely bride is a big Star Wars fan and we’ve watched all the latest films in that series. We both like the Mad Max franchise and we own the latest, Fury Road (2015). The most recent movie in the collection is probably 2017’s Small Town Crime. You usually have to wait a few years for recent releases to find their way to the DVD market and then a few more years until they show up in the bargain bins.

Now if Jason Statham and Amy Smart would get off their asses and make Crank 3 all will be right with the world!

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