A while ago, I finished sorting out the small spare room we call ‘The Office.’ Julie bought some nice units, with bookshelves above and cupboards below. I began to unpack some of the boxes that have sat in the garage, untouched for over three years. One of the shelving units was to be for the DVD films in my collection. I started to open the boxes, stacking the films horizontally, with the titles showing. I did it this way, as I could get more on each shelf.
I soon filled the available space. On the smaller shelf, they are stacked sixteen high, and three deep. There are nine stacks. The next biggest shelf has only four rows of films, arranged twenty high. The largest shelf allows them to be stacked twenty-five high, and again there are nine rows. Jotting the total on the back of an envelope, I arrive at 449. I have about twenty films out on loan to friends and family, so let’s say a conservative estimate of 465.
This doesn’t include the box sets. There are about fifteen of those, including some never opened. It also doesn’t allow for any more that are still to be discovered, as there are more boxes in the garage. On the top shelf, alongside some non DVD items, are the films I have yet to watch. Still in their plastic wrappers, they are gifts, unseen bargains, and some region 1 films awaiting a suitable DVD player, or the chance of finding the one I used to have before we moved here. Total, 48.
So, that comes to 513, and that’s just the ones that are in this room, that I actually know about.
I thought that it might be interesting, at least to me, to take the first six films from the first stack, on the second shelf. A completely random selection, as they are in no order, whatsoever. Some people are very good at arranging DVD films and music CDs. Some do it by genre, some by title, alphabetically. I like to be surprised. This makes it hard to find a particular film though, as I have to break down every stack to search for it. This is time consuming, but reveals some exciting discoveries, and fond memories of films loved, or otherwise. The six films I took down to write about in this post are indicative of the eclectic mix of titles that I have collected over the years. I don’t have space for a full review of each, but here’s the list, in the order as they came off the shelf, with a brief outline. You can easily look up any that interest you.
1) Nil By Mouth (1997)
This is an uncompromising British film, set in the part of south London where I originally came from. It is a tale of domestic violence, drug use, dysfunctional families, and no happy endings. Not for the faint-hearted, it features a magnificent performance from Kathy Burke as the abused wife, and the familiar hard-man persona of Ray Winstone, as her abuser. It was written and directed by Gary Oldman, and also stars his actress sister, Laila Morse. Burke won best actress at Cannes for her role, and if you can stomach the violence and swearing, you will see why.
2) Black Hawk Down (2001)
Ridley Scott’s film of the ‘Battle of Mogadishu’ needs little introduction. It is on TV almost every night, and I cannot think of anyone I know who hasn’t seen it. If you haven’t, it is a relentless tale of fighting between American special forces and local militia groups, during a real event that took place in Somalia, in 1993. It is devoid of political correctness, and looks at events primarily from the point of view of US soldiers and helicopter pilots. There is a stellar cast, including Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, Sam Shepard, Tom Sizemore, and Eric Bana. It is more or less two hours and twenty minutes of constant battle, with little in between to slow down the action. As a war film, it is pretty damn good.
3) The Disappearance Of Alice Creed (2009)
Another British film, this time about a kidnapping. It has a cast of just three, with Gemma Arterton as Alice, and Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston as the kidnappers. Mainly set in a small flat, and mostly in just two rooms, it puts the claustrophobic set to good use. The kidnappers met in prison, where they became lovers, and hatched an intricate plot to kidnap the daughter of a rich man. But one of them is also the former boyfriend of Alice, so they must keep their identities secret. There is an unpleasant scene, where the girl is stripped and photographed, (but not molested) and some violence later in the story. I won’t betray the ending, but it is enough to say that things rarely turn out too well in films of this type. It is actually quite good, and the excellent cast keep the tension going.
4) American Gangster (2007)
Another film produced and directed by Ridley Scott, and it shows. This is the based-on-truth tale of a successful drug dealer and gangster, Frank Lucas, (Denzel Washington) and the detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) who investigates his activities, forming something of a bond with him. This is a top-notch film in every way, with great performances by the cast, especially Washington, who are all never less than believable. The filming in New York feels authentic, and the different time periods are all perfectly recreated. No complaints from me.
5) This Is England (2006)
A British film, written and directed by the brilliant Shane Meadows. It is set in 1983, and follows a group of skinheads going about their everyday lives, in and around a depressing housing estate. The disparate group are brought together by their love of West Indian music, and the undercurrent of racism prevalent in disaffected white youth at the time. The small group disagree about politics, and with one faction shying away from mindless violence, they eventually split up. It doesn’t sound like much does it? But it is. It is simply marvellous, with terrific performances from Stephen Graham, Vicky McClure, and Joseph Gilgun in the leads. It spawned an equally good, if not better, TV drama of the same name that is soon to have its third series.
6) The Host (2006)
This is a film from South Korea, (original language, with subtitles) about the arrival of a sea monster in Seoul, the capital city. The monster has been created by the dumping of chemical waste into a river, and it grows to an enormous size, and can move very fast too. As a an added horror, the monster carries a deadly virus, which can affect anyone who comes into contact with it. The monster takes a girl hostage, storing her in a tunnel, and the film becomes a quest to find her, often with amusing consequences. It has the lot; spooky scientists, quarantines, viruses, a monster swallowing people, and unlikely heroes trying to get the girl back. Great fun, for two hours.
So there you have it. A snapshot of years spent collecting and watching films on DVD. I enjoyed this excursion onto my shelves, and may well do it again.