From Books to Movies
Since yesterday I posted about my infamous To Be Read (TBR) list and how I tend to read different books about the same topic (for instance, the invasion of Japan that mercifully did not take place), today’s installment of A Certain Point of View, Too will be about the To Be Watched (TBW) list.
Although my current TBR stack is a bunch of books piled – somewhat precariously, I must say – on top of the IKEA “cubby” that the Caregiver gave me as a “dresser” when I first moved in back in 2016, my TBW list is more of an aspirational concept than it is a physical “thing.” Although I’m not – to my late mother’s constant disappointment – the tidiest of humans, I do keep my movies either on media shelves arrayed on one side of my small room or on shelves in my IKEA Billy bookcase, which, by the by, are placed on the opposite side of my small room. (I do have a bit of overflow, and at least two box sets of “complete TV series” Blu-rays or DVDs are sitting, unceremoniously, on my bedroom floor.)
What to Watch? And Why Can’t I Make Good Choices?
For me, choosing what to watch on any given day can be a struggle, especially if – as is all too frequently here in Lithia – I am feeling unhappy or irritated about something or another. It doesn’t matter that I have over 500 Blu-rays that span a shit-ton of genres that range from family-friendly Walt Disney animated movies like Beauty and the Beast or Fantasia to softcore erotica like the Emmanuelle trilogy. Buying or owning a movie is not automatically synonymous with watching it.
A case in point: I purchased the Emmanuelle trilogy late last month; I saw that the price had been slashed by 50% on Amazon, and since I liked the late Sylvia Kristel in a 1980s sex comedy, Private Lessons, when I saw it as a high school senior on the then-indie WDZL-39 during a brief period when the station aired it relatively uncensored, I thought Why not? I’m single, bored, and I still get turned on by attractive women, and it’s a 1970s classic, and bought Emmanuelle, Emmanuelle 2, and Goodbye Emmanuelle.
That was, what? Two weeks ago, now?
Well, even though I tried, half-heartedly and at the least convenient time for movie-watching, to watch Emmanuelle in its entirety, I’ve only watched roughly half of the 1974 movie, even though it was one of the few softcore adult films released in the U.S. by a major studio and France’s biggest box office hit of that period.
I also recently acquired the Blu-ray version of Frank Darabont’s horror chiller, The Mist, a 2007 adaptation of one of my favorite Stephen King novellas – one that I read when I was a college freshman in the author’s anthology volume, Skeleton Crew. (My mom gave me the original hardcover edition for Christmas in 1985.) I bought it not just to “upgrade” from an older format to a newer one, but because I wanted a horror movie to watch this past weekend before Halloween 2022.
So, sure. I received my package with the two-disc set of The Mist on October 15, well before Halloween, and I’ve had several opportunities to watch it on the family room set when the Caregiver goes off to hang out with her new beau in the Tampa area. But even though I watched the “making of” stuff and started to watch both the color and black-and-white versions of The Mist, my mind began to wander and I “checked out” of the movie, even though I liked it a great deal when I first watched it in 2008 on DVD back in Miami.
And it’s not just these “out of character” genres that I have trouble focusing on, either. I have owned The Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture since late September. Of all the versions I’ve seen of that 1979 science fiction film, 2001’s The Director’s Edition is the best, and therefore my favorite.
But, aside from watching – yep, you guessed it – the behind-the-scenes stuff on the Blu-ray, I have yet to sit down with a bag of popcorn, a can of Coca-Cola, and watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture or any of the other six films in the box set (Yes, I said six films, because Paramount included the original 1979 cut on a separate disc, it’s a significantly different film even though it has the same title, cast, director, and story.)
Use the Force…or…Maybe Not
Hell, it even happens with Star Wars movies these days. Not so long ago, if I wanted to boost my spirits a bit by watching a movie, my go-to films were the nine films of the Skywalker saga and/or the two standalones, Rogue One or Solo. It didn’t matter what had dragged me down into the valley of the shadow of sadness; if I was blue, I’d put on a Star Wars movie, and almost as soon as I saw that card with A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… on it, I’d snap out of it.
Now? Well, I’ve watched the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor “streaming series” on Disney+ and liked them. A lot. They’re well-written, well-directed, and feel organic to the story told in the films. And I plan to rewatch them on Disney+, even though I’d prefer to have them on Blu-ray.
But it’s been months since I sat through an entire Star Wars feature film, and trust me on this, that is not like me at all.
Of all the new titles I’ve added to my movie library recently, I have only watched two in their entirety: The U.S. and the Holocaust, and the HBO Documentaries production of Manhunt, based on Peter Bergen’s best-selling book about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
To Be Watched: An Aspirational List
Even though I tend to stick more to my reading stack than I do my aspirational movies-to-watch lists, here’s my TBW list for early November:
- The Emmanuelle trilogy
- The Mist
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (4K UHD)
- The Color Purple
- The Terminal
As I write this, the package with my copy of Hell to Pay is, according to Amazon, only a few stops away and should arrive here within the next 10-20 minutes. By the time you read this, Dear Reader, I will have brought my package inside, taken the paperback copy out of its packing material, and started browsing through it.
Like I said last night, what-if scenarios about pivotal historical events, especially World War II battles or campaigns, fascinate me, especially if books like Code-Name Downfall and Hell to Pay are written by historians and researchers rather than novelists. The invasion of Japan, particularly, grips me because many liberals – my political tribe, as it were – often say that dropping the Bomb on Japan (twice!) was wrong and unnecessary. The more intelligent “A-bomb critics” will say that we should have demonstrated it with Japanese observers present, or that Japan would have surrendered without either an invasion or the use of atomic weapons. Others, who are more cynical and at the same time more obtuse, will claim Japan was willing to surrender by July of 1945 and that the U.S. dropped the Bomb not to scare Japan into giving up the war, but to warn Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union to stay in its lane and not mess with the U.S. after the shooting in the Pacific stopped.
None of these arguments holds water, especially since declassified documents from 1945, including Japanese diplomatic messages to and from Tokyo that were intercepted and decoded under the project code-named MAGIC, show that the leaders of the Imperial Japanese Empire were willing to fight to the bitter end until (and unless) the Americans offered Japan better peace terms than unconditional surrender.
I’m not going to delve into the line of thinking that Truman used in the decision-making process that led to the use of nuclear weapons in August of 1945. When I review any of my Downfall-based books, I will do that. For now, suffice it to say that I think Truman made the right call, tragic as its consequences were for those people who were killed or injured at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The casualties in those two cities, horrible as they were, pale in comparison to the millions of deaths, on both sides, that would have happened had Douglas MacArthur’s plans to invade Japan come to pass.
Well, my book is here, so I’ll go ahead and get this up on WordPress so I can go check it out. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.