Who Needs Birthday Presents?

Once upon a time, I used to be a guy who com­piled lists — obses­sive­ly, even — of the movies and music I want­ed to acquire in some phys­i­cal for­mat. It made birth­days and Christ­mases so easy for every­one in my life. Dis­trib­ute the list and — voila — instant gifts!

Now it’s not so easy. I still real­ly enjoy music and film, but there’s just no press­ing need for me to “own” any of it. Does this mean I’m fac­ing a future of ties for every gift going forward?

A Lesson in Accumulation

Remem­ber when you used to eval­u­ate prospec­tive friends by the books they read, the movies they watched and the music they lis­tened to? Feels like a long time ago, right?

Less than 10 years ago I would still scur­ry to book­stores and record shops, or spend beyond my means on DVD sales online. Then that sud­den­ly stopped.

Now, as I try to make sense of my home with­out being over­run by my tod­dler’s toys, I find myself wish­ing I’d made bet­ter use of the library. Where’d all this stuff come from? When did I ever think I’d read all the books I bought on whims, or watch all the DVDs I hoard­ed. Let’s not even talk about the music that accret­ed in my apart­ments over the years.

Since things start­ed going dig­i­tal in one form or oth­er I’ve been reluc­tant to go all in. For those of us who’ve had phys­i­cal media all our lives, a hard copy is a reas­sur­ing thing. Now I wish I’d tak­en the plunge sooner.

This is all to say I’m purg­ing vast swaths of my cul­tur­al col­lec­tions. If you’re some­one who still likes these things, be in touch. You get dibs.

How Do You Decide to Buy Criterion Collection DVDs?

Great lit­tle post over at Pul­lquote about how to ratio­nal­ize adding even more Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion titles to your per­son­al DVD library. Trust me, I feel this guy’s pain. When I was real­ly a movie hound, espe­cial­ly when I start­ed tak­ing advan­tage of Deep Dis­coun­t’s mas­sive bian­nu­al sales, I would ago­nize over which titles to buy. To wit, I still haven’t pur­chased a copy of Resnais’ Hiroshi­ma Mon Amour because I felt it was too expen­sive for one disc AND that it would sure­ly go out of print when a new print was invari­ably dis­cov­ered. This is the exquis­ite pain that only tru­ly insane observers of the DVD remas­ter mar­ket can feel.

Con­verse­ly, how stu­pid do I feel for hav­ing ever bought Equinox, which I watched exact­ly one time? I think I’d has­ten to add a fol­low-up to Pul­lquote’s post: how many DVDs do you own that sit on a shelf or in a draw­er that are untouched? I con­fess to more than my fair share of these.

I feel sheep­ish even tak­ing part in con­ver­sa­tions like this now. I used to eager­ly await reg­u­lar emails from Cri­te­ri­on about their lat­est titles and then make notes in pri­or­i­ty order about which I’d buy when they went on sale. Now that I’m less bull­ish on buy­ing any sort of phys­i­cal media, they’re hard­ly a blip on my radar. I will admit that I near­ly jumped for joy when I read that they were releas­ing Red Desert, which is pos­si­bly my favorite Anto­nioni movie, even though I always say it’s L’Avven­tu­ra.