“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.” ― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

I’ve been rearranging my entire DVD collection lately. It’s been a big project, because I had fifteen shelves worth of movies that needed to be divided into “mine” and “yours”, gathered over seven years. That is a lot of consideration. How do I decide who gets the copy of Ghostbusters? I mean, really. Ghostbusters. No one should ever have to make that decision. I ended up putting it in his pile. At the end of the day, the movie means a lot more to him than it does to me. This got me thinking, “If you could only have one shelf of DVDs for the rest of your life, what would go on that shelf and why?”

So that’s what I’m looking for from all of you. For the next few days, I’ll be bumping this as a “Getting To Know Your GTers” post, as we have a lot of great new authors and commenters floating about, and I want to know what you’re about...filmically speaking, anyway.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. A photo of your one shelf of DVDs that you cannot live without (my shelf is about 18” long, and yes, I cheated by adding a few on top, so sue me)

2. List your top 5-10 from that picture and tell us why you chose those ones in particular. What inspires you about them? Comforts you? Gives you a deep seated urge to eat popcorn?

Advertisement

For example:

1. Brazil - This is what I feel like whenever it seems like I’m living my life the way people think I’m “supposed” to.

Advertisement

2. 8 1/2 - The entire movie is like watching a ballet unfold. Every movement, the pacing, the camera choreography, the cadence of the dialogue, the editing. It’s the definition of lyrical.

3. A Few Good Men - If I catch it playing anywhere, no matter where it is, I get sucked in and watch until the end.

4. Jaws - This film became exponentially better overall because everything went wrong on set and they had to figure out how to press on anyway.

Advertisement

5. Labyrinth - Because it’s motherfucking Labyrinth.

6. Mildred Pierce - This is the movie that garnered Joan Crawford her Oscar for Best Actress in 1945, at a time when she was convinced that her career was totally over. To credit her own sense of self awareness (or possibly self-fulfilling prophecy), she didn’t do anything of real note again until 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with Bette Davis, and spent the last ten years of her life occasionally appearing on television (she actually appears in the pilot episode of The Night Gallery, Rod Serling’s best known post Twilight Zone series). Eve Arden was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and seriously, if you haven’t seen and heard pretty much absolutely everything Eve Arden ever did (especially the radio series Our Miss Brooks), you have some homework to do.

In truth, I rather like the movie because it is, what I feel, a controversial example of the nature of adaptation and whether a film inspired by another creative work (Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain) is allowed to stand on its own and how faithful should it stay to the original text? Highly, highly recommend watching this and then comparing it to the 2011 HBO version with Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood before having the discussion, however. Because the HBO version had so much more scope to unfold the layers of Cain’s novel, it achieved something very different from the 1945 film, but whether or not you think that’s “better” is the fun thing to talk about.

Advertisement

Uhhhh...not that I have enough notes for a thesis on this exact topic and this particular film, or anything.

7. Rear Window - Grace Kelly is perfection. That is all.

8. The Right Stuff - A beautiful example of how single minded dedication to achieving an impossible idea is perhaps the most worthy pursuit of humanity. Even when the people involved with the project are deeply, deeply flawed.

Advertisement

9. Stranger Than Fiction - Because I honestly cannot decide whether I’m Walter Crick or Karen Eiffel.

10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Breakthrough technology, brilliant writing, even better acting, breathtaking story construction and holy hell, do the effects still hold up over time. If you can get the 25th anniversary version of the DVD, every single bonus feature in this compilation is worth watching.

So there you have it! Little bit more about me via the movies I love. Your turn!