OK. This one is just for me.
I have been in and out of the video production business since 1979. During that time, I have worked on the radio, as a newspaper columnist, a news producer, creative services director and on and on and on. I have made hundreds of commercials and thousands of promos, directed nationally televised live sports in the fledgling days of satellite networks, and even created and produced my own entertainment program for a local TV station. But that was then. The “now” is very different.
Entertainment has changed since 1979. Back then, if we wanted to see a movie we had to go to the theater. That or wait for it to air on commercial TV in a year or so. Not many people know this, but for years my favorite place in the entire world was inside a dark movie theater waiting to see the next great movie. While living in Baltimore I discovered art films and revival houses. The hours I spent in The Charles Theater, among others, in Baltimore, Maryland are still some of my favorite memories. It might have been the company I was keeping and it might have been the feeling of discovering something that I only vaguely knew existed. Either way, I wouldn’t have traded those days for anything.
But going to the movies isn’t what it used to be. It is a $100 trip out for the family to see some over-hyped, underwritten blockbuster that may or may not be worth seeing. The odd thing is that the movie industry has had to compete against itself ever since the first Betamax and VHS machines made their way into the homes and hearts of Americans. Why spend nearly $100 bucks to sit in a tiny multiplex with sticky floors, crying babies and nitwits yammering away on their cell phones when we can wait a couple of months and buy a copy for less than $20? To keep people into the theaters, movies have gotten bigger but not necessarily better.
But the truth is, to a movie fan, VHS just didn’t cut it. Can anyone imagine watching “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in their living room? What’s the point? I’ve heard the argument that nobody really liked “Eraserhead.” But I did. Every frame, every bizarre turn. And I will never see it again because it won’t play at the Regal Cinema 16 Multi-Gigaplex and I think that where I was and who I was with had as much to do with my fond memories of that film as the film itself. Feelings like that just can’t be recreated on a 27″ Phillips TV. Fast forward a few years and DVD is now the standard home video format. The picture is better, the sound is better and the discs last longer than tapes. But the theaters are smaller, the tickets cost more and the movies are just not as good. The last movie I went to a theater to see was Ironman. I took the kids and they loved it and I loved it. So we bought the DVD as soon as it came out. And it just doesn’t hold up to repeated viewings. The pacing falls off, the climax is missing something and the last scenes are out of place. Still like it. Just don’t love it. And that just might be the problem with DVD.
Are movies really designed to be watched over and over again? Is there a single movie that can hold up to repeated viewings without some of the luster being lost? “Casablanca”? (On a side note, the first time I saw “Casablanca” was at the The Charles.) “Saving Private Ryan”? “The Empire Strikes Back?” Any ideas?
Anyway, this isn’t about the death of film making. It actually started out as a celebration of a very specific kind of art. The DVD cover. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite DVD covers. Nothing special, no great revelations here. Just some really good design. It started out as the 10 best and became the 11 best. I will most likely add to the list as something strikes me. Like whenever I find something else I like.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters For DVD
This is Spinal Tap.
The Bad Sleep Well
The Last Seduction.
Star Wars Trilogy