From the contents of my collection you might be able to learn something about me. There are some really good movies in there, with a few lumps of coal scattered about. Check out the ones rated 5 stars to find my favorites. I've presented the movies in alphabetical order.
I'm sure you're getting tired of listening to me reminisce about my days back home on the farm (I didn't really live on a farm, but I spent a lot of time at the farms of my friends). O.k. on with the list already, without further delay, I present: My Collection of movies. Perhaps you'll find something interesting amongst my pile of ferric-oxide coated mylar, laser encoded plastic and digital ones and zeroes.
Movie Musings: A few disconnected thoughts regarding some notable movie offerings. What I didn't like. See if you can follow this formula... Time Machine (2002 version) = Planet of the Apes (The re-imagination/2001) = Pearl Harbor (2001) = Yuck!
Indeed; I despised all the above films. They were all cheap romance novels disguised as adventure themed movies. The original Planet of the Apes was a fantastic movie, full of social subtext, and political overtones. The original Time Machine was an imaginative romp, which filled viewers with a sense of wonder and hope. Pearl Harbor should have been about the horrors of war and man's ability to overcome adversity. All the movies listed above (in the formula) sucked (in my opinion). They were cheap ticket draws, duping the public into the illusion that they might contain something worth watching. They were merely sappy romance novels, peppered with beautiful people, exploding eye candy, and a watered down excuse of a plot. The remakes listed above are worse than Pearl Harbor. Titanic is one of the few exceptions to my formula - The story and exceptional cinematic work were blended perfectly by a master. The overall experience rose well above the sappy love scenes and overhyped publicity.
Movie Ratings: How do I rate the movies I've seen. I use a five star rating scale (built into the DVDPedia software). I initially used a 1 - 10 rating scale (as used on IMDB), but I switched to the less precise scale used by Netflix in the early 2000s. I didn't adopt the 1/2 star ratings (picked up later by Netflix) - because I found it unnecessary, and it would simply constitute a return to a 1 - 10 rating scale. Movies rated with one star are garbage, horrid movies, not worth watching. Movies rated with five stars are the best movies. The kind I would like to own, or watch multiple times. Movies rated 3 stars are movies that I like. More than three stars? I liked a lot. Less than 3 stars? I didn't like the movie. Of course Netflix no longer uses a five star rating system (or even 1-10), they use a percentage scale, and you only get to mark thumbs up or thumbs down on a movie. If you ask me that's dumb... Actually it's designed to facilitate their 'recommendations' engine and a mass market of consumers. If you're still wondering how to rate movies with 1 - 5 stars, perhaps WikiPedia can help?
What I look for: What exactly is it that makes me like a movie? I think I've figured part of that out. First of all, the acting must be believable. I should never find myself thinking about how this person isn't believable in the role they're playing - and any movie that features an action figure who's well into his 50s or beyond just isn't believable (hello), especially if he's paired with an actress who's 20 or 30 years younger! I should be able to forget that they're acting. Casting is very important. Secondly, is the director using the characters, set, and plot in a way which helps convey the story? Are all my senses utilized, tantalized, engrossed? By the way, I cannot stand movies where post production sound washes the environment (or music) over the characters lines. It sucks. I don't care whether it's more realistic. The objective is entertainment, and telling the story is more important than realism. If I want realism over story, I'll walk outside the theater and participate in it, or I'll watch an episode of cops (the original 'Reality TV'). When I'm in the theater watching a movie I want to hear what the characters are saying. I want to know what's going on. Thirdly, I enjoy movies with an original and engrossing plot. If I'm constantly predicting (accurately) the plot lines five minutes ahead of the action, then something is definitely wrong with the plot. I like surprises, I like being stumped, I like it when I'm shocked, surprised, scared shitless and forced to emote. Personally, I really enjoy movies where the plot is twisted and complicated.
As an example of a movie I really liked, see π: Faith in Chaos by Darren Arnofsky. I liked it so much that I took notes, and committed them to hard copy. Sometimes I review those notes, or share them with friends. It's one of very few movies, where I found myself rewinding in order to listen to the dialog again. Not because I missed something. But, because I wanted to examine it, to make sure I got it right. Savoring the incredible content of each line. A fantastic movie. Maybe you'd like to read the notes (in pdf format) as well.
What I really despise: Oh how I hate movies where I have to constantly adjust the volume! If the cast is whispering in a night club, I still want to hear what they're saying. I absolutely hate it when I have to hold the remote in my hand, and adjust the volume throughout the movie. O.k. a plane is flying overhead; turn the volume all the way down or become deaf. Oh, they're whispering again; turn the volume all the way up, or I might miss some plot point in the dialog. It's a movie, not reality! Knock it off with the ambient sound already. I know that airplanes are loud, I know that whispering is hard to hear. Stop torturing me already! Any movie that has this problem automatically loses one or two points. Wouldn't it be nice to hear what the actors are saying? I'm trying to follow the plot, but the god dammed crickets are too loud! Another thing I detest is violence for the sake of violence. I'm a non-violent person, and I don't care to watch movies that are simply exhibitions of physical violence. ps: I've taken to watching most (~80%) movies with the subtitles turned on. Not because I'm deaf...
Reviews: Here's a list of movies I've seen this year (agghh! I'm way behind). The list contains a short review, synopsis, commentary on each movie. Something like that. The movies are rated 1-5. I subscribe to NetFlix, am an Amazon Prime member, watch movies from my own collection, and rarely get out to the theater. The movies from my collection are titled in italics. The rest (unless noted otherwise) are sourced from NetFlix, Amazon Prime or iTunes rentals. I used to update this listing throughout the month - but I've fallen hopelessly behind. Hopefully you can still find a movie or two to watch after perusing my reviews.
Favorites: Back in June of 2005, some friends asked what my all time favorite movies were. Well, I hadn't though much about it at the time. But I've been thinking about it ever since. I guess I'd have to categorize my favorites by genre. I don't have a favorite picked for every category, but I definitely have a few picked out. I'll list the first few here, and I'll add to it as my opinions solidify around the best of each genre.
The 'Must Watch' List: Movies I'd like to see. Some are in the theater now, some will have to wait until they become available on one of the streaming services (Thankfully, the 'JustWatch' service/website will let me know when they become available), and some I may never see; but here they are anyway. Hopefully I'll get to see some of them. Note: Some of these movies aren't even available on DVD (see movies in green italics), many aren't available on any of the streaming services that I subscribed to (Pay for), or they were once available, but have subsequently been removed from the popular streaming services. ...Yes, it's an out of date list... I've seen some of these already, but I'm leaving them here until I'm sure I've watched them, and posted a review. I'm working on it.
Why would I bother watching some of these movies? Who knows, many reasons - pick one. For some it's because of the actor/actress, for others it's the director. Maybe I read a favorable review, or saw a preview that looked good.
How's that for a lineup? Looks like there'll be a lot of movies worth watching in the coming year. Some of the titles have links to trailers, if you've got DSL or cable, check 'em out. Other links are just IMDB listings.
The 'Must Buy' List: Movies I plan on purchasing. I probably won't buy all of them, some I'll buy as soon as they become available. Some I'll wait a while for. Some I'll hope for as Christmas gifts. Anyway, I've seen all of them, and liked them enough to put them on this list. Some I'll buy pre-viewed, some I'll buy retail, some I'll buy through Amazon. Some will stay on the list until I find them in the DVD bargain bin. Yes - I'm an old school 'Capitalist' - I still see value in owning my own content/media. Thankfully, I can still watch my DVD copy of Blazing Saddles or Blu-Ray version of World War Z, without some ISP or streaming service selling my viewing habits to a third party for advertising purposes, or finding the content subject to censorship by some politcally sensitive 'woke' corporation (Obviously, I shouldn't be allowed to watch anything so 'offensive').
Why would I want to buy any of these movies? For the same reasons I'd want to watch them. Movies I've seen, loved, and rated highly. None of these are impulse buys. These were selected from movies I've rated highly. Only the really good stuff makes it's way to this list.
What have I acquired lately?: As of 2018, I've pretty much given up on the purchase of physical medium movies. If I purchase movies in a physical medium it'll be for some special reason: I can find a good deal in a bargain bin (at the grocery or department store), I'm doing a little browsing at a garage sale, someone is offering up some must have gems on Facebook or some other online forum or I get DVDs using credit card/airline reward points. I've slowed down considerably on my purchases of movies (in all mediums); as a matter of fact, I'm beginning to wonder why I should purchase movies. Netflix (and other streaming services) maintains 'my library'. Any time I want to watch a movie, I put it in my queue (If I don't already own it) and watch it instantly. If it isn't available for streaming, I might have to wait a couple of days for Netflix to deliver the DVD. Why do I need my own copies? It's a difficult concept to embrace (the not 'owning' concept). Being the good Capitalist that I am; I've always been taught that I must own something to derive enjoyment from it. Slowly the American public is beginning to realize that digital content makes access far easier, and ownership less of a necessity when it comes to media, or cars, or software, or... Argggh - I still despise the 'Subscription' model for software and other media.
Just recently (December of 2023), I purchased/downloaded a bunch of movies. All of these movies (acquired in December of 2023) were purchased from Apple (via the TV application on my iMac/macOS desktop). I have to be careful with the downloads/purchases. I have a data cap on my XFinity internet plan. My plan caps out at 1,229GB. According to XFinity (as of Sunday morning (Dec 31, 2023), I've used 943GB of my 1,229GB alotment. That's shortly after I downloaded three movies at 2.36, 3.0 and 2.33GB. Even if they counted that after the last count of data used, I should still have plenty of download allotment for the remainder of the month - Today! Despite the fact that XFinity's 'Usage' statistics indicate that I have plenty of download available, I don't trust them any further than I can throw a Baby Grand Piano. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they are lying about how much data I've used, how much I have remaining and how much I will download between now and midnight. O.k. the movies. This month (and don't expect me to update this every month - the last update was years ago...) I purchased and downloaded the following movies from Apple. Perhaps you've seen a few of these titles?
With these new purchases, I updated my main movies page and the listings in my movie collection. Unfortunately, I haven't updated my reviews, the collection (posted online) or the associated alphabetical index that I used to maintain (last updates contain reviews from 2015) quite regularly. Hopefully my next movie purchase won't be an impulse buy at the checkout counter. The movies on my 'Must Buy'' list are much better choices, but they can't always be found in the discount bin of a grocery store.
Value: From Nov - Dec of 2012, Kim and I saw 20 shows on DVD, and 128 on a streaming device (see below). That's a total of 148 shows! If you calculate the cost per movie (Plan (at the time) was: $21.20 / month w/tax in 2012), that comes out to approximately $0.14 per show; an immense savings over the other rental options (Netflix has dropped (as of 29 Sep, 2023) their DVD option, and nearly all the other DVD rentals have dropped out of the race, but there's lots of streaming options). It's convenient - No need to drive to the rental place (there's some more savings!). It's got a vey large assortment of shows available for the U.S. subscribers. You can watch Netflix on your computer or any number (depending on your plan) of different streaming devices (phones, tablets, smart tvs and more). As of September, 2023, we don't watch as many shows/movies on Netflix as we used to (ref stats above from 2012), because there's so much more content available on other services, and I've subscribed to several of those services. Despite the fact that they discontinued their DVDs by mail service in September of 2023, I still see the service as a good value.
The quality of streaming: Frankly, I'm rather disappointed in the streaming content; in general / not just on Netflix. The content increasingly seems to be one of two things: Designed to make me feel like a social outcast (for my political/societal views), or it's overtly violent or sexual in the extreme (hyper-realistic violence, where characters seem to have no remorse or reluctance when engaging in such violence). There are a few exceptions to this problem (social decay of streaming content), but they seem to be few and far between (Criterion Collection being one such example).
Other streaming services: Netflix isn't the only way we watch movies. Kim and I used to rent movies (discs) from Netflix, but that ended in September of 2023. Unfortunately, I lost access to a lot of quality material. Hard to find, black & white, foreign, intellectual, documentaries, etc. I guees we'll have to start looking for that material amongst the myriad array of streaming services (or garage sales). We also watch Amazon Prime streaming (now includes IMDb streaming w/commercials (This service is now called 'Freevee' fka IMDb TV)). We rent movies from Apple using the AppleTV (the physical device which has an embedded service called AppleTV+). We also watch movies through the MAX streaming service (which is a merger of HBO and Discovery+ streaming services), the Paramount+ streaming service (now subscribing to the ad-free tier), the Criterion Collection streaming service, the AppleTV+ streaming service and others. We occassionally use other services (such as Tubi, Vimeo, Crackle, Kanopy, Pluto TV, and others. We even watch plain old TV (over the air broadcast!) using our Tablo TV device w/DVR functionality. Our personal collection of movies and shows consists of more than 1,000 titles on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital. How do you watch? What's your favorite streaming service?
Author: Robert L. Vaessen e-mail: