Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. It is a warm early summer day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 81°F (27°C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 87% and the wind blowing from the west-southwest at 4 MPH (7 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 80°F (26°C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers to affect the area during the day. The high will be 92°F (33°C). Tonight, scattered showers will continue. The low will be 74°F (23°C).
For the Love of Movies….
I love movies. I always have, and my fondest memory (albeit a somewhat bittersweet one) of my older half-sister Vicky is that she took me to the first movie – The Great Escape – I remember seeing in a for-real cinema in Bogota, Colombia when I was six years old.
That experience, now 53 years in the Land of Ago, shaped my life in more ways than one. Watching The Great Escape in that Bogota movie house (I think it was in the Teatro Almirante, but I am just guessing) in 1969 not only began my lifelong love for the moviegoing experience, but it also fixed my path as a writer and film reviewer. When I wrote for my high school’s student paper, I chose Entertainment as my “beat” both as a staff writer and page editor. In college, my first article published in the student paper back in 1985 was also an Entertainment beat story; it wasn’t a movie review, but later I would write my fair share of those, especially when the campus would have free showings of older movies.
And, of course, after Star Wars became my all-time favorite movie, I also wanted to write my own scripts, a goal that I eventually achieved when I wrote my first short, A Simple Ad in 2018.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that my love of the film medium includes a penchant for collecting movies, books about movies, and movie-related memorabilia. In the beginning, my collection consisted mainly of Star Wars “stuff.” But when VHS videocassette players started becoming affordable in the early 1980s – I bought my one-and-only VCR in the summer of 1984, an American Home Video player, for $400 and Florida sales tax – I started adding movies and created a modest video library of almost 100 titles on VHS.
My movie collection “blew up” – as the saying goes – with the introduction of the Digital Video Disc (DVD) in the late 1990s. I bought my first DVD in late 1997, and since every so often I still must buy some titles that are not available on Blu-ray, I now own (per my own database on Blu-ray.com) 240 titles on that format.
And since 2009, when I purchased my first high-definition digital television set and a corresponding Blu-ray player, my video library expanded to include – as of today – 490 2K HD Blu-rays and 87 4K UHD Blu-rays. (Of course, many of those titles are either duplicates or “dupes” or come in box sets).
(What) To Watch or Not to Watch, that is the Question
Just as I have a To Be Read (TBR) stack – a literal one, at that – when it comes to books and reading, I have a figurative To Be Watched (TBW) stack. I say “figurative” because I like to keep my movies on their proper shelves and not in piles scattered hither and yon in my small room.
Also, in sharp contrast to my TBR stack, my TBW list is often more of an aspirational “thing” than it is a real one. Especially as I grow older, when my movie-watching habits now depend on how I feel “in the moment” and not, as was my habit, dependent on long-term planning.
I’ll give you an example: Last week I added Joe Dante’s 1984 sci-fi/horror/dark comedy film Gremlins to my 4K/2K Blu-ray collection – it’s one of those multiformat releases that includes two types of Blu-ray and a digital copy. I received my order from Amazon on the evening of Thursday, June 2, but I was too tired to watch the feature film then, so I just looked at some of the extras and promptly fell asleep.
The next day, I decided to watch the movie, which is one of those “Steven Spielberg Presents” titles that “America’s storyteller” executive produced in the early Eighties. I went to the family room, put the 2K disc in the player, sat back in my usual spot on the couch – it has a recliner with a footrest! – and hit the Play button on the Blu-ray player remote.
Now, you’d think that since Gremlins was a new addition to my video library – and it was, after all, a movie I had not seen in 38 years, that I’d be excited and enthralled by the shenanigans of Gizmo the Mogwai and the evil titular creatures created by screenwriter Chris Columbus (the same guy who would go on to direct the first two Harry Potter film adaptations) and director Joe Dante.
I thought I was, but 20 minutes into Gremlins my mind started wandering to places I didn’t consciously want to go to, and I was not enjoying the movie. So, even before Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) breaks the three rules of caring for his Mogwai and inadvertently unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town., I hit the Stop button on the remote, ejected the disc from the player, put it back in its case, and went to my room to watch a documentary on World War I instead.
Mind you. This was a new disc – albeit the 2K version that is part of the “multi-format bundle” in the package – and of a movie I liked when I saw it as a 21-year-old the summer before I started attending classes in college. I chose the movie – it wasn’t a randomly-given gift like a few of my DVDs or Blu-rays are.
And yet, because something was bothering me, I ended up watching something else.
So, yep. Any TBW list I draw up is never truly set in stone or “actionable.” It’s an aspirational thing.
My Current “To Be Watched (TBW)” List
Note: Today’s TBW List will include Obi-Wan Kenobi, a title that is not part of my “home media” library because The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiary Lucasfilm Ltd. stopped releasing home media (DVD and Blu-ray discs) of Star Wars content created for Disney’s streaming service Disney+ after Lucasfilm released its first original live-action TV series, The Mandalorian, in November 2019.
On Wednesday, June 8, 2022, this is what my TBW List looks like:
- Episode Four of Obi-Wan Kenobi
- The Thing (1982)
- Gremlins (1984)
- When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
- The Maltese Falcon (1941)
- 11.22.63 (2018)
- The Untouchables (1987)
And remember, Dear Reader: This list is aspirational and highly dependent on my whims, so except for Obi-Wan Kenobi, I may watch all, some, or even none of the titles on it.
 Because The Great Escape was originally released in 1963, I’m sure that this was a reissue rather than an extremely delayed premiere in Colombia. Even though videotape was a tried-and-true medium in the television broadcast industry and had been in use for 18 years, it had yet to be introduced to consumers for home use. In 1969, only a few videotape players existed, and they were so pricey that only people in the film industry had access to them. As a result, movie studios often re-released popular movies, such as Gone with the Wind, West Side Story, The Longest Day, The Great Escape, and – in the late 1970s and early 1980s – Star Wars.
 As of June 8, three of those titles (Red Dawn, Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season Two, and The Thing) are either in Ordered or In Transit but not yet Owned.
 Unlike Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS, which releases Star Trek-related content to home media eight months – on average – after a season’s worth of episodes have “streamed,” Disney+ content (with the exceptions of theatrically-released films such as West Side Story or Marvel Studios’ MCU movies) stays on Disney+. Some piratical entrepreneurs have tried selling illegal DVD copies of the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, but unless the public convinces Lucasfilm/Disney to relent – via petition, I would imagine – I doubt that we’ll see home media releases of The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season, or Obi-Wan Kenobi.
 Provided that it gets here at a decent time this afternoon and not, like Gremlins did, at 7 PM.