' ' Cinema Romantico: Judging a Stranger's DVD Collection Part II

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Judging a Stranger's DVD Collection Part II

Much like the mixtapes of my analogue youth or hanging certain works of art by certain artists on your wall are a means of expressing your taste, so too is a DVD collection, something I fear these kidz, these kidz with their streaming platformz, will never understand. And so, a couple weeks ago, when I slid open the doors behind a giant entertainment center in the semi-remote cabin where I was decompressing on Minnesota’s North Shore to locate the wires connected to the speakers that initially didn’t seem to want to play, and suddenly, unexpectedly found myself face-to-face with a line of DVDs, I forgot all about the wires and just perused this collection for a good ten minutes, analyzing the cabin-owners’ taste. And while you might argue it was just a random collection of hand-me-down discs, contributions to the cause by random people staying over, well, not only would that ruin this whole exercise, but 1.) The DVDs were in alphabetical order, suggesting they weren’t just piled up garage sale-style and 2.) The collection included the complete works of “Harry Potter”, “Indiana Jones” and “James Bond.” Who, I ask, is showing up with the whole “Harry Potter” series in tow and just saying “Here”?

This commitment to collections, though, simultaneously shines a spotlight on collections that remain incomplete. Granted, some of these unfinished DVD assemblages are not necessarily worthy of mention. Yes, the cabin-owners only had the first three “Rambo” movies but so what? The most recent one was just released and who needs to own “John Rambo”? Ditto “Under Siege.” They probably don’t even know there was a second “Under Siege”, “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory”, where Steven Seagal plays guitar. (Did I know there was a second “Under Siege” where Steven Seagal plays guitar? Who’s asking the question? Prank caller!) But then you come upon “Die Hard” and “Die Hard 2” and…..no “Die Hard with a Vengeance.” (No “Live Free or Die Hard” or “A Good Day to Die Hard” either but those are the “Saved” and “Shot of Love” of the “Die Hard” series so that’s beside the point.) “The Road Warrior” is included but “Mad Max ” and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”, never mind “Fury Road”, are MIA. Then there is the strange case of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn? Not on this DVD shelf!
I liked “Terminator 3”, not least for its practical effects, but it’s a bold move, man, to put that one in the collection and leave out 1 & 2; the kind of bold move, love it or leave it, that endears me to your DVD collection. Cheers, cabin owners. Even bolder, though, is the inclusion of “Ocean’s Twelve” and…that’s it; that’s the “Ocean’s” list. Loyal frustrated followers know my eternal adoration of Steven Soderbergh’s egregiously under-appreciated “Ocean’s” sequel – which too many people didn’t like because it wasn’t what they “expected” – and, moreover, really longtime loyal frustrated followers may recall the last time Cinema Romantico rated a North Shore cabin DVD collection it too had “Ocean’s Twelve” and none of the others. Egads! Grand Marais, which we were near, is known as an artist’s community and methinks they, more than much of my overrated Big City brethren, get that “Ocean’s Twelve” is a brilliant art film and so much better than the first one. Rock on, cabin owners.

It is in these decisions of what to include and leave out that the collection’s uniqueness begins to emerge. And if alphabetized collections of art were lightly mocked in “High Fidelity”, this North Shore DVD medley demonstrates how going from A to Z can put such uniqueness into even clearer light. Like “The Road Warrior” sandwiched between “Ratatouille” and “Robots” or “Pulp Fiction” flanked by “The Proposal” and “Quigley Down Under”, which I forgot existed until perusing this collection. Elsewhere, “The Saint” was propped up next to “Singin’ in the Rain” while “Ben Hur” was slotted directly next to “Blast from the Past.” The cabin owners opting for lesser Shue and Silverstone is canceled out simply from these DVDs going side-by-side. (I’m precluding John Wayne’s 1960 “The Alamo” and 2004’s “The Alamo” because I also saw an Alamo history one of the cabin bookshelves and assumed they were merely Alamo enthusiasts.)

But now let’s go to the Hs where we find “Heaven Knows Mr. Allison” side-by-side with “Hot Shots! Part Deux.” You might wonder why there is no “Hot Shots!”, and I wondered that myself, though not for long, simply because pairing Robert Mitchum with Topper Harley is like pairing Lou Reed with “Weird Al” Yankovic on a jukebox playlist. To quote Saul Bloom in “Ocean’s Twelve”, the North Shore’s favorite movie, you’re all aces in my book. This DVD collection, simply, wins.

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