Some Favorite Moments

Nothing like a film meme to get the desiccated, blog-writing juices flowing again. I found it at CultureSpace.

1. Total number of films I own on DVD and video.

250? Something like that. Maybe closer to 300 if you include shorts, TV shows, and films that have been burned to DVD by friends. I bought my first DVD player in January ’98, when there were only a few hundred titles available and when a slew of soon-to-be-busted dot.coms were competing for market share by offering ridiculous online sales and bargains. Anyone else remember the 3 DVDs for $1 deal? That’s why my collection includes As Good As It Gets, Fargo, and The English Patient, three films that I like but that I wouldn’t consider buying today — not for more than 33 cents apiece, at least.

The bookshelf where I store my DVDs consists of four shelves devoted to English-language films and two for non-English. That distribution seems about right to me. A two-to-one ratio.

2. Last film I bought.

That would be The Princess Bride, which we picked up for $9 at Wal-Mart when our niece was in town. We didn’t actually get around to watching it, but it’ll be a good one for the collection, I think. There are too few family-friendly films that I can stand to watch over and over again. I’m planning to grab a copy of Au Hasard Balthazar (and the new Pernice Brothers CD) later today.

3. Last film I watched.

Napoleon Dynamite. Gosh!

4. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order).

I might be interpreting “watch a lot” differently from how it was originally intended. I have this habit of putting in DVDs and watching favorite scenes in the same way you might put on an album to listen to a favorite song. These are the films I would be most likely to grab right now:

Mirror (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975) — My favorite film, but I seldom watch it from start to finish. Instead, I flip from chapter to chapter, watching particular scenes as the mood strikes me. It’s a good bet, though, that I’ll watch Margarita Terekhova sitting on the fence and the shots of the Soviet ballooners. Man, those ballooners break my heart every time.

Harold and Maude (dir. Hal Ashby, 1971) — Nobody cuts to music better than Ashby. The opening titles and the closing sequence (“Trouble”) are just perfect.

Beau Travail (dir. Claire Denis, 1999) — Denis Lavant dancing.

Lemony Snicket (dir. Brad Silberling, 2004) — At some point, I hope to write a full response to this film, which is more stylish and more beautiful than the material deserves. The shots of Violet Baudelaire tying up her hair get me every time. And even more impressive are the closing titles, which feature fantastic design and great music from Thomas Newman. The closing titles are a short film that could stand on their own.

Solaris (dir. Steven Soderbergh, 2002) and What Time Is It There? (dir. Tsai Ming-liang, 2001) — The pairing of these films might only make sense if you’ve ever watched them while mourning. I can’t quote a single line of dialogue from either film, but I’ve watched all or parts of both twenty times, I’m sure. They’re both beautifully shot and have a sustained mood that I find familiar and comforting. Solaris has the added benefit of Cliff Martinez’s percussive score. I often put in the disc just to hear the music and to watch the ships float through space.

5. If you could be any character portrayed in a movie, who would it be?

Well, except for the broken legs and the falling out of the window part, it wouldn’t suck to be Jeff in Rear Window.

And in the True Spirit of Meme, I’d love to read Girish’s, Rob’s, and Doug’s answers.