Stuck on Movies

Like last week’s programs and newspaper pile, another inherited collecting habit from my parents, and indeed a common habit of many, is movies. I have like most people, a biggish DVD collection and, due to my move overseas when they were still in vogue, a biggish collection of video cassettes too. After going through university with other impoverished but tech-savvy, much younger students and living a year in a hostel among travelling backpackers, I also have acquired an additional 400 odd movies for my hard drive too. Combined, I have amassed a huge amount of films. Don’t even get me started on the TV show collection! Thankfully I have turned the leaf and my iTunes collection is quite manageable. I have 12 films, 4 of which are favourites and 4 more are documentaries I enjoyed and will refer back to. Ok, I have a few more TV shows but that’s because you can’t rent those.

My new thing for managing films is online rental. Not completely new, I have rented tapes and DVDs over the years as well but I love renting films on my phone that disappear after 48 hours like evaporated steam. No returns or postage necessary. It’s a very workable solution for me.

But why? Because in my post-university thinking time I have come to realise how much my tastes have changed over my adult life. I am just not interested in the vast majority of films out there, and I have noticed many movies outdate or tire very easily. Plus I rarely go to the cinema anymore, I definitely haven’t been in over a year. In fact I almost never even watch films in the first place, aside for rental treats when we travel – the closest I get to relaxing.

Make no mistake, I still love a good rom-com after a long day when I can’t think anymore and I just need something easy to watch. But these days I am less into action blockbusters at the cinema and more into wonderfully acted, great and believable stories of cinematic beauty, and thought-provoking documentaries that inspire appreciation and change. Things that make me enjoy the art form. Take my hard drive collection, for example. So many films to pick from and a great majority are films I would watch once to admit in social circles of various types that I’d seen it, or to satisfy some curiosity or intention to see this or that. I’m not particularly interested in them though. Most of those films are meant to be deleted soon after, but do I watch them? No, because it is simpler and more pleasurable to sit with my phone somewhere and see what’s new and interesting then download the rental. Then pfft, gone from my life.

So what to do with my great collections? How much do I value them now? Well when I think about my collection of 90s films, at once I realise how much things outdate, and how worthless most of the films are to me now some 20-years later. When I look at my inventory film list there are many I can do away with without any further thought. The hard drive collection, I determined, can easily be minimised in a year of watching three movies a week, if I so desired and had the time. Watch and delete. Watch and delete. Yet there’s some odd emotional cord of attachment preventing me from deleting them or even throwing out DVDs and cassettes without watching them first. It’s the simplest answer, letting go of the need to find joy in watching meaningless films and video. So why is it so hard?

There’s no simple answer for films in my opinion. And TV shows are worse because they require an investment of time and interest, and marathons are hard to do, yet so many people talk about them that I feel like I have to see many talked about shows. What about all those nostalgic favourites? I think I love watching those the best of all. Definitely worth a second watch if I don’t keep them.

In this case am I really giving up television just because I don’t own one? Is it really best use of my time? Will I look back at the end of the year and say gee, I wish I had watched more? Never.

I am tempted to just delete things once and for all and throw out all but a few discs, but that attachment cord is tight. I don’t understand it but I’m determined to get past it and spend my life on a better use of time. On my next return home I have some hope to deal with it – most DVDs can go to the library. I’ve seen them all. My favourites I can put on iTunes. My videos I will take to my mum’s house since she has a player, and I can review each tape to decide what to scan to hard drive or buy online. I don’t hold out hope of scoring many memories. Except the Sydney 2000 Olympic Opening Ceremony. That will be a gem find.

So what is my conclusion here? I need to commit to either watching or removing collected films from my life? Gulp. It’s hard when minimalism hits an emotional stump. I’d rather say it was easy and toss them all. Perhaps once my last university subject is done this month I will allow myself a month to watch a few and make some decisions from there, and also make some firm plans for those I will face at home. A job begun is half done right?

Watch this space.

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