History: Kim and I began collecting movies soon after moving to Italy. San Vito Italy was my first duty station with the Air Force, and it wasn't exactly located in a large urban area with a lot of media choices. Separated from the mainstream American culture, we didn't have a lot of choices when it came to television. There was only one television channel broadcast in English: SEB (Southern European Broadcasting). An AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) affiliate. With a no kidding slogan of 'The One to Watch' - We often found ourselves wanting for entertainment. Military television programming was rather austere back in the 80s. Loaded with family oriented programming, and other 'approved' viewing choices. Needless to say, my wife and I quickly obtained a VCR, and began watching our own alternative 'Channel'. We've been collecting videos ever since. We made the switch to DVD in the early 90's, and hestiantly started adding some Blu-Ray movies in the 2000s. Now (as of 2005) that I've retired from the military, and we find internet connectivity to be a reliable means of media delivery, we've pretty much switched over to digital content. I'm still buying content, because streaming content can't be relied on. Your favorite title may be available today - but it won't be 'popular' tomorrow. I guess you really didn't need to watch that movie again, right?...

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.

My absolute favorite is "Shadow Dragon - The Ninja Movie". Something that my friends and I made back in 1984. We made this movie just before I left for the Air Force. We had a fantastic time making it, and I watch it at least once a year. The movie was originally shot directly to VHS, but a friend (Rob Garrity) edited the footage and produced a master version for VHS. That was back in 1984. It took quite some time, but we've managed to get the movie onto DVD. My cousin (Mike Vaessen) converted it from analog to digital. I edited and remastered the footage. Then I authored the movie, burning it to DVD. It took a lot of work, a G5 powerhouse, and quite a bit of research, but it's now preserved indefinitely in digital format. As of 2018, I've managed to move that DVD version over to the computer in a pure digital form. Shadow Dragon: The Ninja Movie is now a permanent part of my iTunes movie collection.We often quote from it, reliving our younger days with each utterance of the words "I don't know Joe; Sell your farm!".

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.

Action: The chronicles of Riddick
As an action flick, Riddick rises above the tide. A cinematic masterpiece, music that enhances the visual expression, costumes that speak of a deeper vision, sets and special effects worthy of a cinematic experience. There are action scenes unlike any other movie. Combat that is a blur, a montage, a transmogrified visual representation of pain and fury. The characters are swept up in a fast paced story that leaves this audience wishing for more. More background, better acting, and a deeper meaning. The DVD version that I own is an unrated director's cut. The additional scenes add character depth, motivation, and additional background for this sci-fi inferno of non-stop action and thrilling adventure. 5 out of 5.

Adventure: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
An absolute riot. A cult flick unlike any other. I have many friends who quote lines from this movie, and I've been known to do so as well. It's a very funny movie. One of my favorites. The somewhat frenetic pacing of this movie actually contributes to the comedic flavor. Everyone is rushing about trying to pack in one more joke. It's low budget, and the directors (Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones) take advantage of that to great effect (no horses, but we do have coconut shells). The useless prattle of wise-cracking villagers is most amusing. Of course there's a story - and it's one of my favorites; the story of King Arthur and his quest to find the holy grail. Traveling the 10th century country-side of England, the King and his band of misfit knights do battle with the French, a menacing wizard named 'Tim', killer rabbits and the maidens of castle Anthrax. The adventure is classic. Filled with fodder for anyone who enjoys a good story, and comic lines that will leave you reeling with barely concealed guffaws and outright bursts of bellowing laughter. I want to travel the countryside with King Arthur, fighting off the scourge of the workers in the anarcho-syndicalist commune. The ending was classic Python.

Comedy: The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
A spoof on 1950's sci-fi movies. This little gem always leaves me rolling on the floor. The lines! Oh my god. Whoever wrote this knew what they were doing. The cast are complete unknowns, but that's a good thing. The set and locations are perfect. The film style is also well done. A scientist and the doting 'scientists wife' are investigating a meteorite siting. An evil-scientist is trying to revive the lost skeleton of Cadavra, and a pair of stranded aliens must refuel their space-ship and recover their mutant. Put all these characters together for dinner and watch what happens! It isn't just a funny movie, it's a well crafted parody/homage. Incorporating time tested B (for Bad) movie film techniques, and directing style, this one is well worth the watching. Days later I find myself describing the movie to friends, and falling over with laughter at the comic genius of this movie. A genre defining 5 of 5.

Crime/Gangster:: Heat
An epic crime drama where the characters are very realistic, very humanistic, and very well acted by Al Pacino (as Lt. Vincent Hanna), Robert De Niro (Neil McCauley), Val Kilmer (Chris Shiherlis), Jon Voight (Nate), Tom Sizemore (Michael Cheritto) and others. The writer/director (Michael Mann) did a phenomenal job of bringing this story to the screen. The movie is set in Los Angeles, California, the characters are just as important as the story. Here are two people dedicated to their professions. One (the criminal) has developed a personal code that eschews personal commitment; "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner." As a result he has no connection to his human side, he is a criminal, always will be a criminal. The other (the lawman) does his best to maintain a human connection, but his exposure to the criminal element constantly seeps through to poison his relationships - His wife said it best; "You don't live with me, you live among the remains of dead people. You sift through the detritus, you read the terrain, you search for signs of passing, for the scent of your prey, and then you hunt them down. That's the only thing you're committed to. The rest is the mess you leave as you pass through." These two men dance a macabre dance as they plot and stalk - as their paths grow closer each suffers the consequences of their personal codes. The heist, a seemingly simple crime caper is a simple mechanism designed to bring the characters together for a tragic ending. A means to close the circles of their character's cycles. The performances are truly outstanding, and the direction sublime. The sets, costumes, lighting, and technical perfection are superb. Heat is the sort of crime drama that seeks to humanize the genre and succeeds

Documentary: Dogtown and Z-Boys
A documentary about surfers turned skaters. The revolutionary Zephyr team and how they created the Skate culture in America. A great documentary. Well directed, great narration, excellent music, and a visual style that complements the rebellious nature of the subject. The video production contained some really good fades, cuts and scene effects. Very well done. Mixing live interviews, vintage film footage, stills and narration - You don't have to be a skate punk to enjoy this documentary. These innovators tore up the pavement with more than polyurethane. This was a documentary about boys who would be kings. Alpha males one and all. They lived the life, became the legends and led a revolution. 5 out of 5.

Drama: Cool Hand Luke
Magnificent film. Truly classic. Paul Newman's performance in this movie goes way beyond the standard performance. Understated and flippant; Newman plays the character like a concert pianist. The writing (Novel and screenplay) by Don Pearce was fantastic. The directing by Stuart Rosenburg (aka Alan Smithee) was outstanding. The main character is convicted of destroying public property and sent to a rural southern prison camp, where he works on a chain gang and strives to maintain his identity in a destructive atmosphere. He attempts escape on several occasions, and the warden is not happy. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." This one gets a 5 out of 5. Netflix sure has me figured out. It recommended this movie based on my rating of the following movies: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, On the Waterfront, Deliverance, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Dirty Dozen, Dog Day Afternoon and Chinatown. I rated all these movies 5 out of 5. Keep up the good work Netflix.

Epic/Historical: Bridge of Spies
I'm a Cold War warrior - Having served during the 80s and 90s, I saw the effects of Soviet control over eastern Europe and the American psyche. I remember the May Day parades and nuclear arms race. It was a time of confrontation, fear and propaganda designed to instill a sense of patriotism and support underlined by fear, trepidation and intimidation. I was stationed in Berlin (a brief TDY during 1990), and saw the Soviet threat up close (Soviet military were stationed in East Berlin and permitted access to our Military support facilities (Commissary, BX (Base Exchange) and a few other facilities). I remember the Hammer & Sickle being painted on the cars of American service men by Communists in Southern Italy. When this movie came out I was immediately taken back to the tales of one former 'Hostile Interrogator' who I lived next to during the cold war. His tales of covert actions, infiltration and narrow escapes probably weren't entirely truthful, but they certainly illustrated the level of brinkmanship and spy vs spy power plays depicted in this movie. Starring Tom Hanks as an unlikely negotiator in a high-stakes game of political brinks mans hip, this historically accurate action, adventure movie brings back the cold days of autumn during the negotiations to swap Francis Gary Powers for Rudolf Abel. A thrilling and perfectly paced spy thriller, filled with political intrigue and Machiavellian maneuvering by both sides in this taught drama featuring superb direction, sets, locations and acting. I rate this slice of cold war intrigue a 5 out of 5 and I bought a copy.

Foreign: The Seven Samurai
(Japanese - Shichinin no samurai) Black & White, produced in 1954 and directed by Akira Kurisawa, this movie is a magnificent piece of cinematic art. Fantastic acting, great direction, masterful choreography, outstanding music, and a terrific story. This movie has been remade a few times, most notably as The Magnificent Seven, but the original version is the best. 17th century Japanese farmers hire ronin Samurai to protect them from a group of marauding bandits. This 3.5 hour movie contains plenty of drama, comedy, and action. A great epic. A classic. This movie started me on a path of director appreciation. Before this work, I used to follow actors nor directors. That all changed after I saw two movies by Akira Kurosawa. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Horror: Alien
You might be wondering why I've got a sci-fi movie in the horror slot. It's simple. This movie created a dark mood, a claustrophobic horror flick that chilled me to the bone. This is one of those movies where I just couldn't get to sleep afterwards. I must have jumped out of my seat a hundred times. The music, the lighting, the sounds, the story, the Monster! This movie scared me more than the exorcist. The work of H.R. Giger, the colors, costumes, textures, sweat and violence created a world of fear that the crew couldn't escape from. This is the kind of movie that makes your heart quiver in your chest, you're breath comes in shallow spurts, and the adrenalin runs rampant through your bloodstream. I felt like a train wreak after watching this horror masterpiece! Genre defying 5 out of 5.

Independent: Pi - Faith in Chaos
Brilliant - A brain twister. Part sci-fi, part history, part documentary. This movie is a shining example of what happens when the right person directs the right film. Shot in black & white, this cerebral thriller confounds the senses. Pleasing to the eye, enthralling to the ears and captivating the mind. The mysteries abound in this strange movie about math and religion. Can someone find god through science? Great casting, great acting and absolutely unstoppable writing. I enjoyed this movie so much that I analyzed it from beginning to end and took copious notes. A solid 5 of 5.

Musical/Dance: Fiddler on the Roof
This movie deservedly captured three Oscars, and now I know why. While I've never seen it before, I've heard of it. Of course I heard how great it was, and I have to admit - I wasn't surprised when I watched it. I was entertained, captivated, emotionally rewarded and thoroughly pleased by the time the movie ended. The first lines of dialogue do a great service to this film...

Tevye: A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask 'Why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous?' Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!

Filmed on location in Croatia, this musical is a movie based on a stage play, which in turn is based upon the stories by Sholem Aleichem's, about life for a Jewish peasant and his family in Czarist Russia. This humble milkman does his best to provide a home, food and proper parenting to his three daughters. All the while social pressures are building in his nation, his community and the world at large. The movie contains numerous layers, a struggling political background, a local community canvas, a strong ethnic framework, a loving family, and a conflicted personal engagement. The acting/actors were fantastic. Especially Topol as Tevye in the lead. The music was warm, sweeping, inspirational and moving. The violin work was truly memorable. 5 out of 5 and I've added it to my 'must buy' list.

Mystery: The Game
A paranoid masterpiece of suspense and mystery. Directed by David Fincher (Alien 3, Fight Club, Seven), this stylish, dark and moody movie is a non-stop head game. Wealthy financier, Nicholas Van Orton (played by Michael Douglas) is a high powered executive. Haunted by the suicide of his father, he is quickly approaching a fateful rendezvous with destiny. As his birthday approaches, his brother (played by Sean Penn) offers him an unusual gift. For the man who has everything... Consumer Recreation Services offers a variety of tailored experiences to their clientele. Nicholas Van Orton's adventure begins with a rigorous series of physical and psychological tests. Followed by the 'Insurance Release' waiver. That's when the action begins. This movie accelerates forward at a breathtaking pace, sweeping the viewer up in a paranoid, twisted tale of deception, danger, and death defying endings. If you can ignore some of the minor inconsistencies (this is Hollywood), you'll be swept away in a fantastic flurry of truly dizzying, non-stop excitement. Michael Douglas was outstanding in his portrayal of a man frayed by events out of his control. The direction was excellent, as was the lighting, sets and costumes. The best part of this movie was head twisting story. 5 out of 5.

Science Fiction: Blade Runner
My favorite sci-fi movie. Directed by Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James and others. This movie is based on a novel by Philip K Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), the quintessential cyber-punk author. Many of his books have been made into movies (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, Minority Report, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly), and this is one which received some excellent attention. Ridley Scott's direction and the screen play writers did an outstanding job, as did the actors. Harrison Ford plays a less than heroic detective in a seedy, down-and-out dark future, where clones, robots and people are packed together in an increasingly tense and violent existence. Rutger Hauer and a group of his friends? play model 6 replicants, searching for mortality and morality beyond their programmed termination dates. This movie isn't a simple, single genre, single theme movie. It's deep, layered, subtle and complex. The brooding, moody, 80's music was as dark as the film, and fit as snuggly as a synthetic hand. The performances in this movie were exceptional. The sets, lighting, and costumes helped created a vision of the future that has been often emulated but never duplicated. The special effects for their time were astonishing. A technological achievement seldom equaled, never exceeded. A great movie. A genre defining/defying 5 out of 5.

Thriller: The Limits of Control
Isaach de Bakolé plays an enigmatic assassin in this art-house release from Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise, Night on Earth, Broken Flowers, Z-Channel - A Magnificent Obsession). An very odd/unconventional film. Isaach is a hired assassin, but he doesn't know who he's supposed to kill, and neither do we. He doesn't know where he's supposed to be, and neither do we. As he goes about his day, various shady figures/interesting characters approach him, engage him in conversation (even though they know that he doesn't speak Spanish) and provide him with his next clue - A short five letter cipher; which he looks at, then eats. Filled with odd characters, amazing camera work, perfect pacing, editing, lighting, color and sound. Wonderful architecture, rich location shots, a great sound track and a puzzle as twisted as they get. The nude scenes with Tilda Swinton were unexpected but appreciated! and the quiet introspective primary character was a joy to puzzle over. This serene, sublime movie contained no narrative, no exposition, and very little dialogue. If you love cerebral mystery, art, and independent film, you'll find a gem in this amazing work. 5 out of 5. Not for everyone. This movie is rated quite low on Netflix, but I give it high praise. If you know me, you'd understand what's going on here. You couldn't force me to watch Transformers II. As a matter of fact, I'd rather watch grass growing!

War: Band of Brothers
Technically, this is not a movie. It's a 'mini-series' or 'television series', but it constitutes my favorite in this category... The true story of WWII based upon a best selling novel by Stephen Ambrose. Based upon the profiles of the men of Easy Company, an airborne infantry regiment that was dropped into occupied France on D-Day. These soldiers fought the Battle of the Bulge and captured Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest mountain redoubt. The story carries on through VJ day, capturing all the most important details. The stories are torn from personal journals, interviews, and written correspondence of the men who lived these battles. Drenched with bravery, heroism, pain and misery, here is a monumental tale in ten episodes (including a documentary about the men depicted by the actors) over six discs. Originally aired as a mini-series, I’ve purchased the entire collection and I’ve seen it multiple times. As a television series it is unparalleled. It ushered in a new era of television production levels. HBO set a new standard for television dramas, and this will stand as the benchmark of excellence for many years to come. This series was made when many of these men were still alive, and the writers, producers and actors were able to draw upon their personal experiences in telling these tales. Unfortunately, now (in 2014) many of these Veterans are now passed away. Thankfully, we have a series as truthful and genuine as the Band Of Brothers to recount the honesty and tragedy of these brave men. One of the very best WWII stories ever told on film. The writing was outstanding and the acting lacked guile or pretense. Honest portrayals by an uncompromising group of actors (too many to mention), directed in a superb manner by multiple Directors. Despite the disparate cast and multiple directors, the production (by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg) stayed consistent and the writing was a constant in the narrative, making a whole out of several different stories. The style of the movie reminds one of Saving Private Ryan, and this is the epic of an entire war as told in that style. Filmed on location in various different European settings, the authenticity is depicted in the sets, dressing, costumes, and effects. Despite the outstanding technical efforts evident throughout the film, it is the human element of the actors and the characters they portray that really marks this movie as a hallmark in character based dramas. A historical masterpiece. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Western: High Noon
Masterful movie work by Fred Zinnemann. This movie featured brilliant casting - Starring Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Grace Kelly, Otto Kruger, Lon Chaney Jr, Lee Van Cleef, Robert J. Wilke and many others. The story of a lawman about to retire with his new wife. As he's about to leave town and settle down, he learns that his arch-nemesis has been released from prison. Due in on the noon train, he's looking to settle an old square. The Marshall decides to stick around for the final show-down. Knowing that it may spell certain doom, he sticks to his gun for what he know's is right. If he high-tails it the town will pay dearly. He attempts to recruit some help, but in the end it's him against the gang. This is a fabulous movie. The pacing is absolutely fantastic. A real-time drama that unfolds in a little under 90 minutes. As the clock counts down, the tensions rise and the outlook gets dimmer. The ending is fantastic, and I've got to get a copy of this movie. The writing was simple, tight, taught and thoroughly enjoyable. The camera work was great and the music was truly exceptional. Especially the Tex Ritter ballad. 5 out of 5.


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.

Dragon (2011)      
Zonad Trance    
Jane Got a Gun Colin Fitz    
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography Money Monster    
Lebanon Man In the Chair Dog Sweat  
Trumbo (2015) Killing Them Softly Tenderness Diablo
13 Hours Confidentially Yours The Pact (2012) Aferim!
Captain America: Civil War The Last Metro Exposed (2016) 400 Days
Suffragette The Complete Metropolis Taken for a ride (available on Kanopy) Heleno
The Legend of Tarzan My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Alice through the looking glass (2016) Prescription Thugs
Towards the end of the movie "Cinema Paradiso", there's a scene where the main character is looking for a note written on the back of a film shipping receipt. As the main character reads off the titles on the receipts, it's apparent that this was the director's way of listing some important movies. Movies that helped create the character portrayed in the film. The shipping receipts constitute a list of movies that I'd like to watch. Unfortunately, many of these movies are not available on DVD yet. Here's a list of the movies that were mentioned.
The Challenge (Italian - La Sfida (1958)) - Not available on DVD Dreams in a Drawer (Italian - I sogni nel cassetto, I (1957)) - Not available on DVD The Searchers - (1956) I already own this, rated 4 of 5.
Magnificent Obsession (1954 version) Seen (Comcast on demand) and reviewed in May of '07. It got a 4 of 5. Not available on DVD The Cry (Italian - Grido, Il (1957)) - Seen and reviewed in March of '05. It got a 4 out of 5. Moby Dick (1956 version) - Viewed in Aug of '08. Rated it 5 out of 5.

The movie "My Voyage to Italy" was a fantastic auto-biographical documentary by the director Martin Scorsese. In this movie, Scorsese talks about early Italian cinema, and the films that helped shape his life's work. As he analyzes and waxes on these classic movies, we see into the soul of a native American son. We see the heritage that lives in all of us, the tragic, dramatic and powerful images that shaped our generation. While I've already seen some of the movies he mentioned, I learned of many more which interest me. I can only hope that these great works will one day be recognized by the American audience at large. Here is a list of some of the movies mentioned in the documentary. These are the movies that I'm planning to watch. There are many more mentioned, but I've already seen some of them, and others are unavailable on DVD. If your a fan of well crafted movies, despite their origin or age, do yourself a favor - Enjoy your own 'Voyage to Italy', rent some of these movies. The year of release is original release date, not the U.S. release date.

La Dolce Vita (1960) - dir. Federico Fellini. Seen and reviewed, Sep of 2007. It got a 4 out of 5. Umberto D. (1952) - dir. Vittorio De Sica. Seen and reviewed, Feb of 2008. It got 4 out of 5.
La Terra Trema (1948 / Terra trema: Episodio del mare, La) - dir. Luchino Visconti. Seen and reviewed, Jun of 2008. It got 4 out of 5. The Flowers of St. Francis (1950 / Francesco, giullare di Dio) - dir. Roberto Rossellini. Seen and reviewed, Aug of 2008. Rated 3 out of 5.
Germany, Year Zero (1948 / Germania anno zero) - dir Roberto Rossellini. Mar of 2008. 4 out of 5. Ossessione (1943) - dir. Luchino Visconti . Seen and reviewed, Feb '08. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Cabiria (1914) - dir. Giovanni Pastrone. Seen and reviewed, May of 2008. It got a 2 out of 5. Shoeshine (1946 / Sciuscià) - dir. Vittorio De Sica. Reviewed Jul of 2011. I gave it a 4 out of 5.
The Crowd (1928) - dir. King Vidor (not yet released on DVD) An American film. Not available on any streaming services (that I know of). The Damned (1969 / La Caduta degli dei) - dir. Luchino Visconti . Seen and reviewed, Feb of 2008. 4 out of 5.

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').

The Station Agent Japan's Longest Day    
Mindhorn (only available as region 2) When the last sword is drawn Ex Machina  
The Mouse that Roared Seven Days in May Greyhound (Free on AppleTV+) The Liberator (mini-series)

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?

Newest movie purchases:
* The Cable Guy: This purchase/download was made in order to replace a poor digital backup that I had. I originally bought (still own) a VHS copy of this movie. In 2004, I started making digital back-ups of those old VHS tapes. They won't last forever, and they're not as convenient as a digital version. Unfortunately, for whatever reason (and there are plenty), the digital back-up just wasn't any good. Some of the back-ups won't stay synched when I play them. The video and audio get out of sync, the playback stalls, the picture quality is poor, the sound is poor, there's no subitles, the image is dim... As I said there's lots of reasons why the digital back-ups that I made are no good. In this case (like many others), I decided to commercially procure a digital copy from Apple. The digital copies from Apple are much better quality, and they often include special features.
* So I married an Axe Murderer: This purchase/download was made in order to replace a poor digital backup that I had. See 'The Cable Guy' above for more details on digital back-ups to VHS. Michael Myers at the top of his game.
* Burn After Reading: This purchase/download was made for multiple reasons. Although I purchased this movie as a Blu-Ray from Amazon (For $9.33), it came with a digital download code. I added that digital version to my Amazon library, but I can’t transfer that to my computer, it’s locked up with DRM under the Amazon account. I tried to make a digital back-up of the Blu-Ray, but that didn't turn out. The video and audio were out of sync, and the copy was unwatchable. I can still access the Amazon version, but that’s no good. I want a portable version that I can add to my personal collection, and any of my devices. Unfortunately (as I write this), Apple has changed the format of the movie downloads (now in an HLS format, where file names end in .movpkg), and the movies aren't quite as portable as they used to be. The good news is, I can access and view this new digital download using any of my Apple TVs and the TV.app on my Apple devices.
* Time Warp - Volumes 1-3: The Greatest Cult Films of All Time. The 'Time Warp' movies are a series of documentaries about 'Cult' movies. Midnight Madness focuses on the general category of Cult movies. Then there's the Horror & Sci-Fi and Comedy & Camp categories, each with their own feature. Three different movies. I paid $9.99 for each of them. I'm a fan of the 'Cult' movies, and these documentaries gave me plenty of fuel to feed my habit. I originally watched (rented) the first feature (Vol 1 - Midnight Madness) back in 2020. I liked that documentary so much, that I decided to purchase and download the entire series of films.
* Grease: Grease is the Word. A movie, based on a play, based on a song by Frankie Valli (written by Barry Gibb) of the Four Seasons. The film is fantastic. I've seen it many times, and finally decided to purchase a copy of this high-energy, positive, uplifting story of youth and love in the California summer of 1958.
* Star Wars - Episodes 1-III: Three Star Wars movies - The Prequel Trilogy. Yes, I've seen them before. I love the entire series (episodes I-IX and the Stories), but I didn't own/have copies of all the movies. I was hoping that Disney would release these three as a trilogy, a bundle that I could purchase for a slight discount. Apparently they have other ideas when it comes to marketing... Yes you can download all nine movies as the 'Skywalker Saga', but I already had the other six movies. In any case, I was tired of waiting for a Prequel bundle. The first of these three (The Phanton Menace) was released in 1999, the final released in 2005 and I saw them when they originally came out. I've seen a few of them since their original release, but it's been quite a while since I was able to really soak in the movies. I had to purchase all three separately, at $19.99 per movie. These movies don't represent the best of the Star Wars franchise, but I wanted to have digital copies of all the movies. Unfortunately, like all my recent digital downloads from Apple, these movies are HLS type movies (HTTP Live Streaming). See 'Burn After Reading' above for more info.

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.


Netflix is awesome (Still! - I've been a member since January of 2003). It's easy to use - Point-N-Click to pick your movies on the web. It's inexpensive - As of 22 Sep, 2023, we're paying $15.49 per month for unlimited, ad-free, streaming (on up to 2 screens simultaneously) of Standard HD content (that's the Standard Plan). There are cheaper plans, and a more expensive plan, but there's only two of us (I'm not sharing with other people/outside my household), and we don't need/want that Ultra HD (4K) content.

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.

Note: As of 29 Sep, 2023, Netflix discontinued their DVD/discs by mail service. We were subscribers of that service, and I loved it. I was able to watch rare, foreign, cult, and less than 'popular' movies. On the streaming service, you only get what the masses demand. Less access to documentaries, foreign movies, intellectual movies, cult movies, even black and white movies (not to mention silent movies) are few and far between on the streaming services. It's possible that Netflix was losing money? on the discs by mail option, but it was a great service. I would have paid more. Unfortunately (yes I've looked), I can't seem to find a service with the same model. There are a few 'disc' by mail services out there, but their selection is very limited, the prices high (higher then Netflix was charging), and they don't have the same 'return a disc get a new disc' model. If you know of one, please let me know so I can investigate.

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:
Last Updated: January 2, 2024