' ' Cinema Romantico: Judging Strangers Solely By Their DVD Collection

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Judging Strangers Solely By Their DVD Collection

I just spent a long weekend in the far reaches of northern Minnesota at a lovely cabin nestled right up against Lake Superior a little ways south of Grand Marais with my father and my stepmom. Over the span of four days I never had access to the internet and I never turned on a television set (re-fresh-ing), which is to say I never watched a movie. But that didn't stop me from perusing the DVD collection amassed by the cabin's owners over the years and judging them on it. It's how I roll. Thus, here is me passing cinematic judgement out loud.........


"Ocean's Twelve." Nice start, cabin owners. Nice start. Is it possible they, too, believe it lays waste to both "Ocean's Eleven" and "Ocean's Thirteen?" Is it possible they, too, believe it is a genuine comic masterpiece? Is it possible they, too, believe it contains the best performance of Julia Roberts career? Is it possible they, too, agree with my man Bob Turnbull who calls it "a full bore art film"? Eh......probably not. Someone probably gave it to them for Christmas. But that doesn't matter. It's in the collection, the others aren't, and that is massive, massive bonus points.

Extra massive bonus points for "Sense and Sensibility." A Kate Winslet film! And only a few spaces down, "Mission Impossible III"......a Billy Crudup film. Okay, it's obviously not a Billy Crudup film, it's a Tom Cruise film, but Billy Crudup is in it and even though it's arguably the most phoned-in performance of his career this still means there are films featuring my favorite actress and my favorite actor in this collection. And who knows? Maybe the cabin owners watched "MI: III" and thought: "My, who was that charmingly good actor who played Tom Cruises's handler?"
Billy Crudup, star of "Mission Impossible III"
 Things are lookin' good. But wait......

"Sleeping With The Enemy"? Bad Julia. "Valkryie"? Bad Tom Cruise. "Red Dragon"? Bad Brett Ratner (which is insanely redundant, but still). And by far the worst of the three "Austin Powers" flicks (i.e. "Goldmember"). But wait......

"Sideways" and "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." Two fantastic road movies! And even though I'm not a huge "Total Recall" guy, well, Paul Verhoeven is to my friend Daryl what Michael Mann is to me and so in reference to Arnold's Mars movie we'll just say......classy, cabin owners. But wait......

Is this......it couldn't be......could it......it is!!! It's "For Richer Or Poorer"?! Oh, woe is me. And right next to "Divine Secrets Of The Ya Ya Sisterhood"?! A few places over from the syrupy dreck of "The Cider House Rules"? I need something here, cabin owners! You're losing me! I'm fading! Wait!

"Mars Attacks!" I'll take it, sir. I could do a whole post on the genius of Natalie Portman in that film (she's so understated that she almost becomes overstated), not to mention at least a few lines about the President and the First Lady eating off TV trays, not to also mention several sentences on Tom Jones being able to fly a plane.


"Castaway" has a some game, I guess, and I supposed I didn't abhor "Chocolat" and, well, I dig the opening credits to "For Love Of The Game" (and the music over them) but......

A Gene Hackman "Class Action" / "Runaway Jury" Double Feature DVD? Are you kidding me here? Not to mention the unofficial Brad Pitt "Seven Years In Tibet" / "Troy" Double Feature? "War of the Roses" and "The Quick and The Dead" cancel each other out but seriously, picking the Ben Affleck Jack Ryan with "The Sum Of All Fears" isn't doing anyone any favors.


I don't know, cabin owners, after a nice start you're losing ground. I may not be able to give this collection a passing grade. Unless......wait, what's this? "Reefer Madness"? A three disc collection of films from the 30's showcasing the evil wiles of marijuana use? Including one film called, obviously, "Marihuana" (correct spelling), with the following synopsis (recorded word-for-word in my notebook - I stress this is not made up or embellished):

"A young woman drowns while skinny dipping at a beach party. Another teen gets pregnant after a turn with her boyfriend in the sand. Both horrors are a result of dope smoking. The mother-to-be gives up her baby and becomes a hardened drug dealer."

That's what I'm talkin' about, cabin owners! That's bold! That's outta left field! That's what 1936 guidance counselors must have been showing their students in class! You put "Marihuana" on the same shelf as "Divine Secrets Of The Ya Ya Sisterhood" and you're clearly working on an advanced level!

Thus, on the strength of "Marihuana", "Ocean's Twelve", "Sense and Sensibility" and that Tom Cruise movie with Billy Crudup, I rate these strangers' DVD collection a good solid.........seven and a half. (Anyone?)

21 comments:

Wretched Genius said...

I think The Sum of All Fears is under-appreciated. Sure, Affleck doesn't live up to Baldwin or Ford, but those are two very big shoes to fill. He does good enough, and the film is a solid little action thriller.

And this post immediately made me think of one of my favorite Onion articles.

Nicholas Prigge said...

I'll be honest, I've never even seen The Sum Of All Fears. Or several other titles I mention here. But when did nonsense like that ever stop anyone from unfairly judging anyone else?

Also, that article is freaking hilarious. A classic.

Lexi said...

Now, Now, I am not a big Julia Roberts fan.. But, I would have to say the best film of her career was 'Erin Brokovich" Just sayin'!

Nicholas Prigge said...

Erin Brockovich?

OVER-RATED.

That Oscar belonged to Laura Linney for You Can Count On Me, and I'm not open to debates on that one.

Rory Larry said...

The man who owns Serendipity is judging those who own Divine Secrets?okay.

Nicholas Prigge said...

I would love for someone who has no knowledge of my taste in movies to peruse my DVD collection and judge me for it. I feel as if there would be a distinct sense of bewilderment.

Castor said...

Woohoo, I do have Ocean's Twelve although it was more of something I bought on a whim (it's my least favorite of the Ocean's movie).

I haven't bought a DVD in a few years so what does that make me? :)

Nicholas Prigge said...

One of my friends in New York was actually actively giving away his DVD's for free when I was visiting! (I would have made out with All About Eve, amongst others, but I left them at his apartment and was too intoxicated later in the night to go back and get them. So it goes.) His argument was entirely valid, in that he can watch anything he wants at any time online. Personally I just like having a DVD collection. I want mine to make a statement.

Simon said...

I honestly can't imagine any normal, casual-movie-watcher buying a three pack on the evils of The Marihuana (which, thanks to fucking Family Guy, is how I pronounce it anyway). Someone might've given it to them as a gag gift, or a real gift, and they might've unwrapped it in case said giftgiver happened to be in the neighborhood.

DVD collections are boss. I mean, what's the point in watching a bunch of understated, obscure foreign films if nobody can marvel at how cultured you are? But then, if you're gonna have that attitude about it, there'll be nobody around for that anyway. Sigh...

Nicholas Prigge said...

I especially can't imagine any normal, casual-movie-watcher buying a three pack on the evils of Marihuana when the entire decorating scheme of their lakefront cottage revolves around moose.

And in regards to your 2nd point, that's why my DVD collection has Serendipity right next to Meet Me In St. Louis. I like to show I can go either way.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ugh, Ocean's Twelve all the way. That film is way smarter and hilarious than it should be. Definitely the best of the lot, which is saying something because I love the first one.

And, anybody with a copy of Sense and Sensibility deserves consideration.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Yes! Another "Ocean's Twelve" fan! That makes, what, five of us? That's a start.

Dan said...

Nice post. Sometimes I wonder how certain movies sell so many DVDs. I'm not even too rough on them owning Ocean's 12. I thought it was a pretty big failure, but it's not boring at least. I'll admit that I'm fascinated by what DVDs, CDs, and books people choose to own, and especially to display. It's an excellent way to get a gauge on a person, even if the assumptions aren't always true.

Alan said...

DVD collections say a lot about the watcher. Sometimes it's "I shop the bargain bin at Walmart," sometimes it's "I'm trying too hard to impress people" in the same way a collection of leather bound books does. No matter what it says, there's always a message. Great post!

I vote booh on Ocean's Twelve. That whole Julia Roberts' character passing off her "resemblance" to Julia Roberts had me fuming. It killed the franchise for me.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Dan: I must admit my assumptions are fairly ridiculous. I'm pretty sure they didn't buy "Sense & Sensibility" because of Kate or "MI: III" because of Crudup and like Simon said they probably got "Marihuana" as a gag gift. But you never know.

Alan: I like to think of my DVD collection as a nicely poured Sam Adams. Which is to say it's a little snobbish, but not TOO snobbish.

Also, the Julia Roberts as Julia Roberts was my favorite part! Whether intended or not I thought it was a brilliant commentary on how she's become a star by just essentially playing herself.

Duke said...

Honestly since starting my own collection, I only buy films that are great - not just good.

Of course, some are gifted to me - that I may or may not enjoy ... "Grandma's Boy" for example.

Nicholas Prigge said...

I hear ya, man. Years ago I used to be less judicious but these days only a very few DVDs make the cut.

5plitreel said...

Haha all the movies mentioned here are very discount THREE-FOR-THE-PRICE-OF-TWO films.

Great, fun post though! : - ) And yes, I do this too, but as I'm not the biggest collector (I only have about a 100 films and 10 tv-series) I can't judge that bad.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Yeah, you're right. Nice catch. They do all have that feeling, don't they? Raiding the discount DVD bin at Walmart to stock up the cabin.

Bob Turnbull said...

Nicholas, thanks for the link and name check in your post...B-) I'm always thrilled to see other Ocean's Twelve fans (we should start a support group). Soderbergh is obviously playing with the form and having a whale of a time with it. Beyond all the goofiness, it is still perfectly consistent within its own reality too (ie. once you realize that not only can The Night Fox see EVERY move they make, but that Ocean and his team KNOW that he can see every move, it fits together).

Great post too. I totally followed your logic all the way through and admit to doing the same with other people's collections (kinda like what Rob Gordon does in High Fidelity with music collections). Personally, I see my own DVD shelves as a perfectly dispensed Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but that's just me...B-)

Nicholas Prigge said...

Ye gods! Not ONLY do you like "Ocean's Twelve" (and I love that idea about the support group), but you're ALSO a Sierra Nevada fan? Is it possible only Sierra Nevada drinkers like "Ocean's Twelve?"