Home Movies – Create your own personal movie library

By Christian Chensvold

That week in June 1988, I graduated from Santa Rosa High School and the next morning embarked on my first solo road trip to the underworld of Los Angeles. I left for five days and I only remember two things.

I spent the first day in Santa Barbara and decided to save some money by sleeping on the beach. The sand tortured my back, while the sand fleas tortured the rest of me, and the sound of the waves almost drove me crazy. I finally gave up at 4 a.m., and there, on a dark and desolate 101 road, I remember looking at the stars shining above the sea and feeling a strange sense of destiny, as if I was on a hero’s journey to discover an important piece. in the puzzle of my life. Looking back on all these years later, what I discovered on my trip is clear, because it’s the only other thing I can remember.

I found a movie.

Walking around Hollywood two days later I found a single screen movie theater showing Alan Rudolph The Moderns, which is set in the Parisian art world of the 1920s. It’s an original gem with a fantastic cast – it’s also a favorite of more than one person affiliated with this newspaper – and I walked out of the theater with the film poster, the vinyl album and an intoxicating on the magic of cinema. Already suspecting that my soul belonged to the past, The Moderns gave a 1.21 gigawatt bolt to my inner time machine, and I’ve watched it many times since, always finding something new in it, especially in the wake of growing maturity and slingshots and arrows of the twists of life.

The past few years have been euphemistically referred to as “difficult times” and I have tried to share my own coping strategies with cover stories in this article about escapism and using ancient wisdom teachings to create your own reality. And here I am with another, pleading to cut the cord from your streaming services and build your own Alexandria library of your top 100 movies of all time, and just watch them.

Think about it: could you really name more than a hundred movies that have left a lasting mark on your soul, that have made you the person you are today, that have been so many cornerstones of the castle of the imagination that you have slowly built up over your lifetime? Plunging ourselves in exhaustion into a chaotic underworld of endless possibilities suggests a lack of self-awareness, as if we really don’t know ourselves at all.

A hundred films seem like enough good stories for a lifetime.

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They say you never get over your first love, and upon close inspection, I would dare say that most of the movies I watch over and over relate to one of the first three stages of life. To childhood belong things like The sound of music and the star wars and the IndianaJones films, while in adolescence belong the Back to the future series and Romanticize the stone. Then, starting with The Modernsto young adulthood belongs the realm of world-building, classic and foreign films and historical escapism, with Francis Ford Coppola Dracula and Martin Scorsese The age of innocence on top. So either I just like revisiting old favorites, or movies from the last 25 years just aren’t as good as they used to be. If it’s the latter, why torture yourself with perpetual disappointment?

Science has shed some light on the matter with the Baskin-Robbins Theory of Happiness, which goes like this. If you stop someone on a hot summer day and offer them ice cream, they invariably respond, “I’d love some ice cream!” They choose from the three you offer – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry – and glide into a good mood that can last all day. But give people 31 flavors to choose from, and it turns out they’re not too happy with the ice cream they stumbled upon. This is because a specific part of the brain is activated: the area associated with the emotional response known as regret. Choosing the wrong ice cream – or the wrong movie to watch – descends into the mind realm of roads not taken, haunted by the refrain “If only…..”

Before I realized what I was doing, I started by eliminating streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. I started noticing that when faced with endless choices, all lined up for me, I invariably clicked on something that looked interesting, watched it for 15 minutes, then tried something else, leaving my recently viewed list with five times as many abandoned movies as movies I’ve finished, let alone enjoyed. Then there was the homepage interface itself, which I’ve come to think of as some kind of devil-designed casino. I started going for two well-chosen DVDs a week in an effort to make watching movies feel special again. But things really took a turn when I bought a $5 VHS player at the thrift store and loaded up some 25 cent video tapes.

According to our esteemed editor and filmmaker Daedalus Howell, the video comes to your eyes in a series of waves. This probably explains why the old tapes looked more engrossing than contemporary Blu-ray movies shot digitally, without even being released on film, let alone transferred from film to video. These hazy videotapes seemed to unfold more like dreams, much like classic Old Hollywood storytelling is filmed and edited in a way that feels like turning the pages of a picture book, with your imagination as co -author of what you live. Research has shown that modern fast-cut, shaky cinema bypasses the imaginative part of the brain while stimulating the visual cortex, the part used for something like watching dazzling but meaningless fireworks. If all the entertainment you consume is done this way, then you’re literally making yourself dumber by blunting the most important ability you have.

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If you can still enjoy – in fact, increasing enjoyment – watching certain movies over and over again, what does that tell us about human nature, and why we put up with so much self-imposed mediocrity? And not just in the stories we watch – the ancients had myths revealing timeless truths, we have “entertainment” that makes profit – but in our lives themselves. I feel like asking my late grandmother why she saved the right dishes for special occasions, instead of eating her finery every day? Good God, grandma, carpe diem. What if you were knocked down by a bus tomorrow, waking up at the pearly gates hoping to get in, and Saint Peter’s first question is, “You based your life on things you knew were second order, and you expect to enter paradise?”

In the middle of writing this little meditation, I bought a copy of The Moderns, and I can’t wait to put it on the shelf with the other 99 films comprising the story of a man’s life in cinema and what he learned about himself. I think the next one will be Visconti’s 1963 epic, The leopardstarring Burt Lancaster as an Italian prince watching the world change around him, but unable to change his spots.

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