13 March 2006

"I'm Dancing As Fast As I Caaaaan!!!" (Confessions Of A DVD Addict)

"Video Watchdog" is the finest film journal being written today (and it comes from Cincinatti, no less)--pity that it's so damned hard to find. This monthly independent compendium of reviews, retrospectives, and interviews is the work of the seemingly indefatigable Tim and Donna Lucas, with occassional contributions from film director Joe Dante, comics artist Steve Bissette, and horror writers Kim Newman and Ramsey Campbell. Tim's name you may recognize from his articles for the UK's "Sight & Sound" and many-a-DVD/laserdisc commentary or liner notes (among them, "Danger: Diabolik"). Somehow, Tim's able to free up a few minutes a day for a blog which is always entertaining and informative. But this past Sunday, he posted something that struck a nerve with me, and I'm sure, countless other ravenous film buffs and collectors.

In "DV De Profundis", Tim questions the whole notion of collecting: ""What am I buying all this for?" he wonders after loading up on a discount DVD web auction. "I'm already well over my head as regards things to watch, even in things that need to be watched...so why do I spend so much money on titles that I know will be put into bankers' boxes to sit around unwatched for an indefinite period?" (and to that I'll add: "If ever?")

"...as I surveyed the damages, I noted that maybe half of what I ordered I already own in some form or other: VHS pre-record, off-air recording, laserdisc..." (I confess, I've owned "Planet Of The Apes", "Star Wars", John Carpenter's "The Thing", "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind","Dawn Of The Dead", "Manhunter", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and "The Blues Brothers" in just about every home video format known to man, including some on Super-8 digests).

Tim gets a little touchy-feely Freudian in his analysis of why we collect: "When I was six or seven years old, my mother married a man who, a week or two into their short-lived marriage, sold every toy and comic book I owned in a yard sale and used the money to get drunk...I suspect that all of us who are compulsive DVD collectors are working through feelings we grew up with..."

For me, he nails it here: "...having them is a way of ensuring that these titles will be available when we, or someone close to us, needs to see them again. But considering that, say, CITIZEN KANE is now frequently shown on TCM and other stations completely uncut and commercial-free...why do so many of us need to own it?...the only valid answer to this question is that, someday, at some ungodly late hour of the night or early hour of the morning, we might feel the need to see CITIZEN KANE right now." (not terribly unreasonable: I've been hosting my own mini-"The Prisoner" marathon every night at 11 for a week now, even though the A& E boxed set has been sitting on my shelf the better part of three years)

Lucas admits: "...as I continue along this strange path of acquisitiveness in life, I do sometimes think of what's in my attic, still in shrink-wrap, and calculate how many trips to Europe, how many adventures, I might have had instead...I've seen CITIZEN KANE at least 20 times.I've never been to Europe".

Well, I've been to Europe, Asia, Australia, the U.S. and Central America, so I guess I can be pardoned for having recently purchased David Lynch's "Dune" for the fourth time on home video. And no, I haven't watched it yet.

You can read Lucas' sermon in its entirety here.