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October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament" 
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Post October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
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Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:37 am
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I mostly rent films from my local video store myself and rarely ever watch them online, mostly because watching films online REALLY eats up bandwidth like crazy, and I simply can't afford to take that risk with my Verizon 4G network. So using Netflix or Amazon is out of the question most of the time, I do watch episodes of TV shows online sometimes though. I also buy quite a few films on DVD, but those are mostly older and more obscure films that I can't find in any video store. I personally strongly disagree about the quality of films declining, there's plenty of films which many people would call mindless that i'd gladly watch a second time over most critically acclaimed films, and I find they usually do stand the test of time for me, give me a choice of watching Transformers and The Departed and i'll pick the former every time. So I don't think it's the fault of the audiences or the films themselves, it's because of the lack of convenience, more video stores are closing every single day, Blockbuster is the only big chain left, and the amount of stores they have open now is less then half of the number of stores that were open at they're peak of popularity, so with so many stores closing, quite a few people have no choice BUT to see the film online or rent from their local library. Frankly, I don't see the issue with pausing a film and finishing it later or watching a film on TV with commercials, that dosen't say anything about the quality of the film to me at all, I rewatch most films on TV on because it's simply more convenient for me, and if I pause a film, it's usually because there's a TV program that I don't want to miss.

Bottom line, I think it's just natural growth which is causing home video rentals to decrease, it has little if anything to do with film quality or audiences, digital is the wave of the future and everybody wants to ride it, if recent films were any "better" in most people's eyes, it would more then likely make very little difference in terms of rentals, digital is simply too powerful for video rental to compete with, however, I do believe that there will be a market for DVD/Blu-Ray owners for many years to come.


Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:24 pm
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
James Berardinelli wrote:
Things are dumbed down and sped up. Dialogue is reduced in favor of visual chicanery.


As much as I respect your view on movies, I lament this aspect of it. I'm sorry you feel this way.

I don't see steaming as a viable replacement for physical media for a few reasons:

1) It's unreliable and leaves you at the mercy of far too many variables.
2) I feel it costs more overall to match the quality and convenience of a DVD/BRD
3) There is something pleasant about keeping a library of media, such as books etc and I just feel better about holding the physical object in my hand.

I used to have similar rules about buying DVDs however they are now cheap enough that in my eyes, they are the 'standard' way to buy and watch any given movie. BRD however is a different thing. To me, a movie should be worth SEEING in a visual sense to make a BRD worth buying. Who wants to see 'The Social Network' in high resolution? Does it make the talking more interesting when you can see people's mouths moving in more detail? Not at all! Just some examples of what I have bought so far: Sucker Punch, Thor, Iron Man, Band Of Brothers, Batman Begins, Batman The Dark Knight, 300 etc. Movies that have visual appeal and are worth paying more for to see the way they should be seen (or as close as we will get anyway, since no format has yet been able to show film in it's full glory). This goes doubly so for The Dark Knight, where buying the BRD is the only way you can see the proper IMAX shots.

I agree that a huge problem is the quality of movies however is it not also true that people are tightening the purse strings anyway, given the 'economic climate'? Maybe those who were on the fence about buying something are just being swayed towards saving their pennies by the possibility of a recession? (or at least the media induced frenzy surrounding it).


Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:37 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I somewhat agree with Dragonbeard, but for different reasons. I've been streaming a lot lately and what concerns is not the lack of permanent media or any unreliability. It's the Hollywood attitude that you do not own digital media, you license it. And they can take it away and/or change it when it suits them. I'm sure if I get a digital copy of Star Wars, I'll wake up to find that, overnight, George Lucas has had Greedo whip out a bazooka.

James, it seems to me that TV these days is for more challenging and involved that most movies. This season's Doctor Who was better than any sci-fi in the theaters. Everyone I knew was talking about "Game of Thrones" or "The Killing" instead of movies. It really is getting the point where if I want something to immerse myself into, I go to TV, especially HBO or BBC America (and until lately Sci-fi). What they're doing is just light years beyond the cinema. I think things have just changed. Video has made long story arcs and slow character development very very viable. And why spend 2.5 hours squeezing down a story to compete with Transformers 4: Brain Dead when you can sprawl over 14 hours and have your audience enraptured?


Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:17 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
So it will end up with Greedo and Han having a 'who's is bigger contest' until they're just launching nukes across the table? :P

One of the reasons I dislike Facebook is the same as what you've said, except that Facebook try that shit with YOUR photographs. Turns out the law doesn't apply to the internet!


Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:30 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
You hit the nail on the head pretty well here. People aren't buying DVDs because the movies suck. I may end up buying a copy of Drive, but of the newer stuff, that's probably it. Then again, I'm the type that will buy my DVDs used; I figure why spend 20 bucks for one film when I can get three for about the same amount of money?

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Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:46 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I'd buy more modern movies if Hollywood stops with the whole remake, reboot, re-imagine, unnecessary sequel, etc. trend. The problem with a lot of movies today is a lack of a sense of awe and wonder. When was the last time you went to the movies and were really blown away by a film? When was the last time an audience got that great feeling of knowing they're watching a masterpiece unfold on screen? If Hollywood would get its act together, stop being lazy and take risks again I'd consider buying more current films.


Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:48 pm
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
This attitude that somehow films today are worse than they were in previous eras is misguided, I think - I mean, look at 2010. We got Dogtooth, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Restrepo, Red Riding 1974, Carlos, I Am Love, Incendies, 127 Hours, True Grit, The King's Speech, Uncle Boonmee, Everyone Else, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Lourdes, Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, Armadillo, Mother, Another Year, The Ghost Writer, Sweetgrass, and The Social Network, to name a few. And that's only what I saw personally; I'm still working through seeing all the films that have been recommended to me. That's a fair amount of great or near-great films in one year. And even this year, I've been lucky enough to see The Tree of Life, A Separation, The Artist, Drive, Pina, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Moneyball, and Once Upon a Time In Anatolia, all great films; there's even a few stone-cold masterpieces in there. And as far as Hollywood popcorn fare goes, I greatly appreciated Rango, Harry Potter 7 1/2, and 50/50, if that last one can be counted as popcorn fare (it's certainly crowd-pleasing).

So, I ask, in light of all these great films being released, why all the complaining about the move industry's apparent lack of good material?


Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:49 pm
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
Ickibod wrote:
This attitude that somehow films today are worse than they were in previous eras is misguided, I think - I mean, look at 2010. We got Dogtooth, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Restrepo, Red Riding 1974, Carlos, I Am Love, Incendies, 127 Hours, True Grit, The King's Speech, Uncle Boonmee, Everyone Else, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Lourdes, Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, Armadillo, Mother, Another Year, The Ghost Writer, Sweetgrass, and The Social Network, to name a few. And that's only what I saw personally; I'm still working through seeing all the films that have been recommended to me. That's a fair amount of great or near-great films in one year. And even this year, I've been lucky enough to see The Tree of Life, A Separation, The Artist, Drive, Pina, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Moneyball, and Once Upon a Time In Anatolia, all great films; there's even a few stone-cold masterpieces in there. And as far as Hollywood popcorn fare goes, I greatly appreciated Rango, Harry Potter 7 1/2, and 50/50, if that last one can be counted as popcorn fare (it's certainly crowd-pleasing).

So, I ask, in light of all these great films being released, why all the complaining about the move industry's apparent lack of good material?


JB's ideal movie would be four men discussing David Eddings for 3 hours, in Shakespearian English wearing WW2 uniforms. All filmed in the same room ;)

Very few movies satisfy JB's lust for the polar opposite of a 'silent movie' (all talk, nothing to look at) so to him, the whole movie industry is a pile of dross.

I cannot wait to see what he makes of 'Anonymous'!

Please don't ban me :P


Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:59 pm
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
ck100 wrote:
I'd buy more modern movies if Hollywood stops with the whole remake, reboot, re-imagine, unnecessary sequel, etc. trend. The problem with a lot of movies today is a lack of a sense of awe and wonder. When was the last time you went to the movies and were really blown away by a film? When was the last time an audience got that great feeling of knowing they're watching a masterpiece unfold on screen? If Hollywood would get its act together, stop being lazy and take risks again I'd consider buying more current films.

The "remake" trend actually goes back for decades, and people were complaining about lack of originality in films as far back as the 70s, Hollywood has always been about money first and foremost, so I fail to see how today's films are worse then any films released several decades ago.


Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:34 pm
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
Ickibod wrote:
This attitude that somehow films today are worse than they were in previous eras is misguided, I think - I mean, look at 2010. We got Dogtooth, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Restrepo, Red Riding 1974, Carlos, I Am Love, Incendies, 127 Hours, True Grit, The King's Speech, Uncle Boonmee, Everyone Else, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Lourdes, Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, Armadillo, Mother, Another Year, The Ghost Writer, Sweetgrass, and The Social Network, to name a few. And that's only what I saw personally; I'm still working through seeing all the films that have been recommended to me. That's a fair amount of great or near-great films in one year. And even this year, I've been lucky enough to see The Tree of Life, A Separation, The Artist, Drive, Pina, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Moneyball, and Once Upon a Time In Anatolia, all great films; there's even a few stone-cold masterpieces in there. And as far as Hollywood popcorn fare goes, I greatly appreciated Rango, Harry Potter 7 1/2, and 50/50, if that last one can be counted as popcorn fare (it's certainly crowd-pleasing).

So, I ask, in light of all these great films being released, why all the complaining about the move industry's apparent lack of good material?

Agreed, people are acting like they're weren't tons of terrible films in the 50s,60s,70s, etc, there were plenty of awful and mediocre ones, only those were mostly forgotten. It wasn't until the internet came along that people started making a big deal over "awful" films, nowadays seemingly everyone with a computer loves to acentuate the negative and ignore the positive. I can't help but roll my eyes whenever I read yet another article about the "downfall" of Hollywood, like it's SOOOOO shocking and unexpected, I for one like quite a few major studio films and I don't see any real point in getting worked up over unncessary remakes and/or sequels, after all, it's not like they displace the original films or anything.


Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:42 pm
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
Vexer wrote:
ck100 wrote:
I'd buy more modern movies if Hollywood stops with the whole remake, reboot, re-imagine, unnecessary sequel, etc. trend. The problem with a lot of movies today is a lack of a sense of awe and wonder. When was the last time you went to the movies and were really blown away by a film? When was the last time an audience got that great feeling of knowing they're watching a masterpiece unfold on screen? If Hollywood would get its act together, stop being lazy and take risks again I'd consider buying more current films.

The "remake" trend actually goes back for decades, and people were complaining about lack of originality in films as far back as the 70s, Hollywood has always been about money first and foremost, so I fail to see how today's films are worse then any films released several decades ago.


Funnily enough, Nolan's Batman franchise, Harry Potter and Iron Man are what I've been looking forward to the most (sequals etc) since LOTR. One reboot and two adaptations :)

As for original material, Sucker Punch will be my movie of the year at this rate.


Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:49 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
Of the 100 or so DVDs I own, a few were released in the past 3 years or so. There are a couple instant classics I ran out and bought the minute they became available (Precious, The Departed) and a few I received as gifts (Sin City, Inglorious Basterds). I also have about 35 VHS titles which are primarily James Bond movies, 80s-90s action mainstays like Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon movies, Speed, The Last Boy Scout and a few classics (Bullit, Almost Famous, Dazed And Confused) I have yet to upgrade to DVD.

Of movies released so far in 2011 that I have seen there have been exactly 2 that I liked enough that I would consider owning them on DVD: Super 8 and Drive (and possibly Contagion). The Ides of March and The Help are good dramatic movies. As to whether I like them enough to want to own them on DVD is another matter.

Last year there were 2 movies I liked enough that I ended up buying on DVD: those being The Social Network and Inception (I may also end up at some point picking up True Grit and possibly 127 Hours). In 2009 there were three: the aforementioned Precious and Inglorious Basterds as well as Up In The Air. In 2007, there were (give or take) about 5-6. Same goes for 2006.

Quote:
(1) I love the film and intend to re-watch it at least once, and likely more than once.

(3) I respect the film and filmmaker enough to show my appreciation by buying his/her work.

Over the years, most of my DVD purchases (and VHS and Laserdisc before that) have fallen into this category. I own a copy of every one of my personal Top 100 films. I buy a movie if I want to have the convenience of watching it at any time, including when the Internet is down, and without having to worry whether a streaming service like Netflix is offering it this month. The problem is, there aren't many of those movies coming out any more.


Most of the movies I own fall into the first category. There are a few that fall into the number 3 category. Monsters Ball is a prime example. It's a good movie. But it's one I respect and admire more than love. Usually once or twice a year is the maximum dosage for me since I bought the film about 3-4 years ago. But it's one I'm glad to have if I feel so inclined.

While I would say that the economy does (for some people anyway) have something to do with the massive decline in sales, I agree with the point that the main problem is too much product and not enough movies that people are going to want to go back to again and again. While there are people who do like the Transformers "movies", those movies are best watched in a theater on a large screen. Viewing them at home highlights the overall lack of substance (as was the case with Avatar. Watch that one at home minus the 3-d and the camp acting and cornball dialogue become a lot more obvious). A blockbuster like Aliens which actually has characters and a story can still hold up, still be watched and enjoyed at home while the substance free sound and fury signifying nothing fests that have become the norm nowadays lose a lot of their power to absorb when removed from the big screen. While studios would argue that dramatic films don't sell as many tickets as the blockbuster films do and there is truth to this, when it comes to DVDs, they're the ones that ultimately have legs.

Another reason for the decline in sales is one I contemplated elsewhere on this forum: the classics of previous decades have been acquired by most of the people who want them and they don't see the need to keep buying new editions of them. JB's Citizen Kane is a good example and one from my own collection is Apocalypse Now. To date, there have been several DVD versions of it: the 1979 original, the 2001 redux and ones that combine them. In 2006 there was the "Complete Dossier" edition which combined both the original and the redux into one package along with a load of extra material. I bought that edition not long after its release. Last year came another edition which contained all of the material contained on the "Complete Dossier" along with the documentary Hearts Of Darkness about the making of the film. While Hearts Of Darkness is a very good documentary, I didn't see any need to replace the copy of Apocalypse Now I already have.

Basically there is a law of diminishing returns at work here. The more pure product the studies keep putting out, the more the coffers will fill. But there is a downside to this that I'm not sure they realize. When the novelty of these blockbusters wears off, what's going to replace them? Tastes change day by day. By cranking out pure product, they're not only alienating a large audience that likes work with some substance to it, they're also setting themselves up for failure later on. To quote the late Robert Altman:

Quote:
It's disastrous for film art, disastrous for the film industry.

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Last edited by Jeff Wilder on Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:36 am
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
Two thoughts:

One, how much of a movie collector's acquisitory paradigm is affected simply by advancing age and maturing taste in film entertainment? I know that as I've grown older (and I'm starting to hit that "long in the tooth" age), my perception of what's worth keeping and what's revealed itself to be dross has altered considerably.

Two, one factor unmentioned so far is the rise of online gaming entertainment, which as I understand it is getting huge. Its participatory nature would seem to leave "mere" film-watching in a struggle to keep up.

Anyway, great discussion, and as always, thanks, James, for your continuing efforts to elucidate the world of cinema.


Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:48 am
Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I'm in a similar position of buying very few new movies. Part of the reason is that I try to keep the size of my library down to titles that I view to be essential. The movies in my entertainment area have to coexist with music, books, games, and comics. I also don't want to throw a lot of money around unless I know I'm really going to get a lot of mileage out of it. It's an expensive habit, and unless a video store is having a going-out-of-business sale, there aren't any occasions when I feel comfortable splurging.

Another part of the reason is, as JB pointed out, a lot of new titles aren't worth it. I have Inglourious Basterds, A Serious Man, The Social Network, and maybe a few other recent-ish titles, but aside from that, I don't have a whole lot of stuff that was made after the turn of the century.

There is a factor that I don't think was mentioned in the original article, and that's the mindset that movies have to prove themselves worthy. Once you've had time to gain perspective, it's easier to figure out whether or not something is going to be worth the price of long-term ownership. Obviously, movies that have been out for a while have the benefit of that perspective. I don't know if that's something that anybody else thinks about, but I do.

Ickibod wrote:
This attitude that somehow films today are worse than they were in previous eras is misguided, I think - I mean, look at 2010. We got Dogtooth, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Restrepo, Red Riding 1974, Carlos, I Am Love, Incendies, 127 Hours, True Grit, The King's Speech, Uncle Boonmee, Everyone Else, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Lourdes, Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3, Armadillo, Mother, Another Year, The Ghost Writer, Sweetgrass, and The Social Network, to name a few. And that's only what I saw personally; I'm still working through seeing all the films that have been recommended to me. That's a fair amount of great or near-great films in one year. And even this year, I've been lucky enough to see The Tree of Life, A Separation, The Artist, Drive, Pina, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Moneyball, and Once Upon a Time In Anatolia, all great films; there's even a few stone-cold masterpieces in there. And as far as Hollywood popcorn fare goes, I greatly appreciated Rango, Harry Potter 7 1/2, and 50/50, if that last one can be counted as popcorn fare (it's certainly crowd-pleasing).

So, I ask, in light of all these great films being released, why all the complaining about the move industry's apparent lack of good material?

The difference is that in "previous eras" (I'm assuming the discussion here is primarily referring to the '60s/'70s), there was room for all kinds of movies. Financiers had not yet fully transformed into market analysts and media event makers. There was still an element of "If you film it, they will come" to the way that projects were put into motion, and even if the producers fought with the creative team, the team could often prevail.

Nowadays, getting a serious, intelligent, artistic movie financed is like pulling teeth. A fair number of titles you mentioned have a lot of crossover appeal, whether it be through recognizable stars, being part of a popular series, being safe "prestige" movies, etc. Sure, if your name is Boyle or Fincher or Tarantino, some financiers are going to jump aboard readily, because they know that your name is money in the bank. But if you're a Lynch or a Schrader or, hell, even an Aronofsky on occasion, your crossover appeal is much more limited. For every project you do, you're going to have to spend years roaming the western world beforehand, hat in hand, trying to scrounge up enough money.

That's not healthy for the state of movies. It means that the mediocre sure-thing movies get much higher priority than ever before, and it means that even good movies that do get made are usually required to be superficially similar to the mediocre ones.

Furthermore, the health of the critical establishment has historically gone hand-in-hand with the quality of movies. They form a feedback loop. These days, the critical establishment is a shambles. We've already seen Variety fire McCarthy, and that's just one example of the common trend in movie journalism. When the most prestigious publications in the business are casually downsizing the brightest stars of the critical galaxy, the shit has hit the fan.


Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:26 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
Quote:
Many directors, especially those who make films with limited depth and artistic value, know that American multiplexes represent only a fraction of the overall market. So, when they "craft" a movie, they do so with consideration of foreign distribution and home video sales and rentals. Things are dumbed down and sped up. Dialogue is reduced in favor of visual chicanery. Viewers suffering from ADD need to worry about being unable to sit through an entire feature because the films suffer from the same condition. This sort of production adapts easily to being watched in four or five chunks.


Marcus Nispel...I rest my case.

For my part, i usually get my movies in the discount DVD bin. You can get some good movies for cheap if you're willing to wait (and for the reasons stated by JB, I'm usually willing to do so). Often times, buying them is cheaper then renting them.

I too have worried about this. The problem is that by trying to make the movie accessible to everyone, they minimized every aspect that makes it its individual movie. It becomes so broad that its bland. Jack of all trades, master of none.

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Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:07 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I used to buy DVD's a lot. In recent years, not so much. For me, it's a simple answer: too much else to do. I work full time, I work out daily, I play video games, bowl in a weekly league, watch sports, hang out with friends, blog on sites like this one, and occasionally see a movie in theaters. Sorry, but unless we could slow down the Earth's rotation and create 26-hour days, there's just too much out there for me and something has to go. There's not enough of a time investment for the money of DVD/Blu Rays to be worth it for me. Renting is the better way to go.


Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:23 pm
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
The last dvd's I bought were Fast Five and Scream 4. I like those franchise's and most of them which is the main reason why I bought them.

I don't much buy dvd's because I can usually find what I want to see through either netflix or on the internet. No need to buy the dvd.


Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:36 am
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I used to buy DVDs all of the time, but I haven't bought one in at least a year. My set up I use now is infinitely better.

1. 50 meg internet. I can download any movie I want through rapidshare servers in 720p in 20 mins or less. (Try to find .mkv files because they are the most efficient).

2. My samsung LEDtv hooked to my router. It has this media play feature utilizing dlna that will find any movie file on my macbook through the network and stream the movie. My xbox would do this too but it would only stream .avi files. This tv will play ANY movie file I throw at it.

Probably won't ever buy a dvd again.


Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:28 am
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Post Re: October 21, 2011: "The DVD Collector's Lament"
I never bought movies until I had invested in a home theater with video and audio quality good enough to justify collecting them (well, I had bought a number of Disney VHS and DVD's for my kids, but they don't count in this discussion). Today, I never buy regular DVD's, only Blu-Ray. If I'm going to collect a movie, it has to be the highest quality audio and video; I will not waste my time and money on anything less.

My collection is modest (maybe 75 total), but like JB, it certainly emphasizes older titles. My most recent purchases were Apocalypse Now and the original Alien. Looking over my collection, I don't see many newer titles. I see Dark Knight and Children of Men. I see Departed and There Will Be Blood. The first Pirates movie. That's about it. I don't have the Star Wars movies yet, but I'm confident they'll go on sale around Black Friday. I'm always looking for bargains.

I do have another category for newer films: the guilty pleasure. In my collection, that would include 2012. No, I won't argue with those who say it is a POS movie. But nobody can end the world better than Roland E. When my wife is away, I turn my audio up to toxic levels to make the whole house shake, pop the tops on a couple of adult beverages, and sit back to enjoy John Cusack whip his limo around LA as the West Coast sinks beneath the waves. Don't care what you say, that's real entertainment. :D


Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:19 am
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