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How do you decide which DVD to watch from your collection?

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#1 of 39 OFFLINE   kenNew


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Posted July 06 2009 - 10:04 AM

I have a collection of about 800 movies.  Not an enormous amount compared to some but I am starting to encounter a slight difficulty which the owners of larger collections must surely have found to be a real puzzle:  How do you select which movie to sit and watch tonight?  Do you have some sort of system and, if so, how does it work?

Some people might think: "Why have a system?  Just watch whatever suits your mood."  Well, I do that, often.  Trouble is, then I tend to gravitate naturally to my favourites or to acknowledged classics like 'Lawrence of Arabia' or 'Lord of the Rings' and might overlook other, less famous titles.  To ensure equal play for all my DVDs, blockbusters, B movies, independents and otherwise, I started watching them in chronological order starting in the 1930s but, at my current rate of viewing three or four discs per week, it's going to take me years to reach 2009 - and beyond!

So, if anyone has a suggestion or a system I'd be interested to hear about it.  Or do I need to get out more?

#2 of 39 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted July 06 2009 - 10:57 AM

I share your same concerns all around. I've toyed with the idea of creating "Theme Weeks", at least during Monday - Friday, where I'd pick any subject and get five films on during the week. The subject could be a Director, an Actor, a certain movie franchise, a genre, a specific decade --  whatever. And the goal would be often to try and get those forgotten DVDs on that we don't always pull out on a whim as we tend to with many of our favorites. As I say, I've "toyed" with this idea because I never manage to stick with it.

I agree with you that just waiting to have the "urge" to watch a certain film will not work. If you have near 1000 movies, you can live to be 100 and still NEVER get the "whim" to see each and every one of these several times; you need some prodding, and some fun with it. This need not be a "job", though it does require some type of a commitment yet still can be a good time.

#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Richard M S

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Posted July 06 2009 - 03:52 PM

I have a confession to make, I still have a few laser discs I have yet to watch.

My system focuses on watching a few films over an available weekend, so the summer is by far the best time for me, there seem to be no family birthdays or holidays. 

I usually decide to watch several films of a particular star or director over a weekend. However I also confess the death of a star is always a major deciding factor in what I watch next. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE will probably be screening in my home during the next week or so. 

#4 of 39 OFFLINE   ScottHM


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Posted July 06 2009 - 04:53 PM

Starting in January of 2008 my wife and I began to watch our DVD movie collection in roughly chronological order.

We found that after several years of collecting we just weren't getting around to watching a lot of our movies, so I decided that chronological ordering would allow us to get around to watching everything, and also give us some sense of how films evolved over the years.

We started with 1927's The Jazz Singer about 18 months ago, and this evening watched 1940's The Mark of Zorro and Christmas in July.  We do shuffle things up a bit from time to time, mostly to watch a shorter (or longer) movie, or because we're in the mood for a specific type of film, but we try to stay in the ballpark chronologically.

We have about a dozen more DVDs to watch before we're ready to move on to 1941.


#5 of 39 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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Posted July 07 2009 - 12:20 AM

Thanks to the stocking up I've done during various sales through the years, I have an enormous backlog of unwatched  discs at any given point in time. Those generally take precedent. Every so often I get the urge to dip deep into the collection to re-watch something, but in a perverse way, I feel guilty that I'm not plowing through the unwatched pile when I do that. If anything, it should be the opposite- I should be even happier that I'm finally justifying owing something, but I feel like I need to make headway through the un-watched stuff to justify further upcoming purchases.

I had also had big plans for this spring/summer since I was going to have so much downtime, and this is an anniversary year for what was probably my favorite year of theater-going and movie watching. I had planned to screen a bunch of films over the months, in the order I originally saw them- along with some TV stuff from the same period during the week to really set the mood.
Unfortunately that never panned and there isn't much time left to do that before work starts up again.

Last year I flirted with sticking to some set schedules- mostly for TV DVDs. Certain days of the week were set aside for certain shows. That worked out pretty well, but I fell out of rhythm at some point, and it's hard to get back in now.

#6 of 39 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted July 07 2009 - 01:35 AM

I usually watch new purchases first. If I have nothing new to watch, then the adventure begins. If I'm watching with my wife, we usually go through a ritual of each suggesting movies that the other one declines until we settle on something. This can take some time, and sometimes we just give up and watch a couple of TV on DVD episodes.  If I am watching alone, though, it usually only takes a few minutes to decide on a title that fits my current mood.

Right now, I have zero unwatched films, but still have a lot of unwatched TV on DVD shows. We never seem to get through all those episodes.

#7 of 39 OFFLINE   David Mahlan

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Posted July 07 2009 - 01:53 AM

I definitely can empathize with this plight.  All to often I return to familiar favorites, while large portions of my collection sit neglected. 

Many, many years ago (20 or so) I wrote a small program for my Dad to run on PC to catalog his movie collection - at the time, all on VHS.  I think I used ToolBook or something like that.

On a whim, I added a button that would pick a film at random from the database, figuring it would help out in just this sort of situation.  While Dad loved the search, categorization, and reporting features of the program, he said his favorite feature by far was the "Choose a Film to Watch" button.  I always meant to go back and add the ability to set some parameters (limit selection to a certain genre, actor, decade, etc), but the program is long gone now - the victim of a hard drive crash somewhere along the way.

I know there are a number of DVD cataloging tools out there - I wonder if any of them have a similar feature.  I'd think it would be a popular one for owners of large collections, and shouldn't be difficult to include.

Although I don't have my collection cataloged at all, I've toyed with the idea of using a set of dice to help pick a film at random -- one die to indicate the shelving unit, another to indicate the specific shelf, and another couple to indicate the paritcular DVD on that shelf.

#8 of 39 OFFLINE   Martin Teller

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Posted July 07 2009 - 02:53 AM

I'll be honest: I almost never watch anything in my collection.  I watch it when I buy it, then it goes on the shelf for eternity.  The only exceptions have been:

1) When someone is visiting (this happens rarely) and wants to watch something (even rarer)

2) One time I felt like watching Stop Making Sense

3) Recently I decided to rewatch all the Ingmar Bergman films

Other than that, they haven't been in the player since I bought them.  And I don't have one of those massive collections with everything from the $3.99 bin at Wal-Mart either.  My collection is only about 250-300 movies, all ones that I really, really love.  There just isn't enough time, and given a choice I'd rather watch something I've never seen before.  I keep looking forward to that day when my quest to expand my cinematic horizons has ended and I can cuddle up with all my old favorites.  I just don't know when that day will come.

#9 of 39 OFFLINE   cineMANIAC



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Posted July 07 2009 - 03:57 AM

This is an interesting topic. I have 1200 movies (not including TV series) and I've kind of given up on a "system" of trying to watch movies. Actually, I dreamed up an idea of watching everything in my collection in alphabetical order but I quickly lost interest in the scheme. I think it had something to do with being in a mood to watch a specific genre at any given time. One day I might want to see a three-hour epic like the King Kong remake and the next I'll only be in the mood for a 22-minute episode of a tv show. Time constraints are also a factor, I guess. One thing is for certain - I'll never NOT have anything to watch! Also, does anyone else just sit there and stare at their collections admiring the artwork? I do this sometimes
Edited by Luisito34 - 7/7/2009 at 08:10 pm GMT

#10 of 39 OFFLINE   Steve Armbrust

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Posted July 07 2009 - 04:19 AM

If it's me alone, I watch the unwatched titles first, and at the rate I buy compared to the rate I watch, this will probably take forever.  If we have friends over, the guys go to the stack and pull out possibilities, and the gals pare it down or make us go back and choose more.  If it's just my wife and me, she picks a set of movies she'd be interested in, and I pare the list down (such as, "no, I don't want to watch Charlies Angels again.")

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#11 of 39 OFFLINE   MattFini


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Posted July 07 2009 - 04:36 AM

I'm going to be moving next month so I've started packing up my discs.  I've got a collection of roughly 1200+ titles and I stand by most of those purchases.

Once I get settled into my house, I plan on saving a lot of money by revisiting most of the films in my collection.  I don't have a system, per se, but I do find that when I get new stuff on Netflix, I often find myself wishing I'd just watched something out of my collection.

Then again, my collection is mostly horror and I find the most modern horror films really suck - hence the urge to just re-watch my old collection.

Universal, please release Streets of Fire on Blu-ray.

#12 of 39 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted July 07 2009 - 07:17 AM

It's odd, but I often find myself in the mood for a certain genre, or something. Like a week or so while I'm only watching films from the 40's, or horror films, or comic book films. Mostly that's inspired by reading about a certain title or genre on the internet, and it can be gone from one moment to the next. Special holidays like Christmas or Halloween help too, as do the seasons.
I also have no problem with rewatching a movie. I used to have watched every title in my collection at least a couple of times, but I've bought way too many titles recently. So, the list of titles I still have to watch is increasing too.
And sometimes I just pick a title I don't know and watch it. That's fun as well :).

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#13 of 39 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

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Posted July 07 2009 - 10:35 AM

I suppose a sort of related question is, "how do you sort your discs on the shelf?"

Mine are boring, left over from my library days, in alphabetical order.  No genre, date, or anything like that.  The only variations are all of the Star Treks are in one place.  All of the Lord of the Rings are in one place.  Bond is together.  Obvious sequels, such as Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile (both filed as if they were "Romancing The Stone I, II")

Sometimes for us, it becomes a question of, "we don't want to think."  Or "Comedy"  Or Something Strange, and then browse through the alpha titles.


#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Martin Teller

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Posted July 07 2009 - 04:26 PM

Originally Posted by Leo Kerr 

I suppose a sort of related question is, "how do you sort your discs on the shelf?"
Ingmar Bergman in chronological order
Akira Kurosawa in chronological order
Satyajit Ray in chronological order
All other movies in alphabetical order
Stand-up comedy in order by comedian
TV shows in alphabetical order by series, chronological by season
Blu-Rays in alphabetical order

BR's on the bottom because the bottom shelf isn't quite tall enough for regular DVDs.  I really need a new shelving unit, I'd prefer to have the BR's on top.

#15 of 39 OFFLINE   PatW



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Posted July 07 2009 - 04:56 PM

I have a larger collection as well. When I had only about 200 titles I would draw titles out of a hat and that determined what I would watch. Now that I have close to 900 movies, I let movie pick ( an element of dvd profiler) choose for me. Otherwise I would be watching the same few titles over and over again.

#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Frank Ha

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Posted July 08 2009 - 03:00 AM

I usually just look through my collection for something that appeals to me at that moment.  It would take some discipline, but I like the idea of creating themes such as genres or directors. 

Watching films chronologically sounds good, but that would take a long time to get to later films.  Maybe a good idea would be to watch chronologically just one or two films from each decade.   (two from twenties, two from the thirties, etc.)  When you get to 2009 you could just start over.  That way you can see a large variety of films that have been made over the years and not be stuck slogging through your collection.  This seems like a good way to watch genres of movies to see how they have developed through the years.

"And in the end, the only thing you really own is... your story.  Just trying to live a good one" - The Drover 

#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Jeff Job

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Posted July 08 2009 - 03:49 AM

A very interesting topic - I've been having the same problem with decidinig what to watch.

I recently went through my collection and decided to downsize over the last year - from 625 movies to about 350. I pulled all the movies that were on the potential chopping block and watched those to decide if I would keep them. That was a good experience - I watched these films more critically than I normally would, and gave a me list of films to go through.

Now that my collection number is stable, I decided to watch them in alphabetical order. That ended after about 20 films - I started skipping over titles to watch something I was more in the mood for. My new method is to pick any movie, and then mark it off on my list. Then I'm limited to watch what hasn't been picked. That way I have the freedom to watch anything in my collection without being locked into a schedule, but also makes sure that I go through my entire collection. We'll see how this works out.

#18 of 39 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted July 08 2009 - 06:14 AM

The alphabetical order thing doesn't really work, for reasons some of you have stated -- you just eventually run across a movie you're not intereste din seeing at the time its letter pops up. Which is one of the reasons why my goal is to pick a topic for any given week, depending on what I'm presently interested in. If I'm into Charlie Chan films for the moment, it can be a Chan Week. If an actor passes away, that actor may be featured the next week.  

My new method is to pick any movie, and then mark it off on my list. Then I'm limited to watch what hasn't been picked. That way I have the freedom to watch anything in my collection without being locked into a schedule, but also makes sure that I go through my entire collection. We'll see how this works out.

I did this one time... I had all of my movies on file on index cards in a box. When I was in the mood for a movie I'd only pick from those which HAVE NOT BEEN WATCHED YET, and then after watching a fresh title, I'd retire that index card to the "Watched" pile.  Each time I wanted to see something else, the pick would have to come from the "unwatched" cards.

This method didn't last long either! 

#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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Posted July 08 2009 - 07:07 AM

 discounting new/unwatched discs, what usually prompts me to re-visit a title in my collection is  some variation of hype. When you are talking about hype in relation to catalog titles, this can take many forms- a filmmakers death;  the anniversary of an event that was the subject of the film; or maybe a certain filmmaker is currently being hyped for another project; or the latest in franchise is about to be released.
I've noticed that once the hype dies down for new theatrical releases, what had been something I was certain I would make it a point to see all of a sudden seems like something I can easily wait to netflix.
Making use of my library, it does help to harness any little extra bit of awareness that might crop up.
Some times it even just comes down to reading posts here or there. That's why I enjoy threads with people listing movies for whatever reason. Seeing the title in print, jogs something and kindles that urge to want to see it again more so than running across it sitting on the shelf. If you look through your shelves so often- and don't periodically rearrange things to shake it up- the titles become like white noise almost.
It might just be some goofy mental thing with me, but I've found it really helps to rearrange the shelves every so often so that when I revert to the rote behavior of going through them looking for something, the difference in the terrain will cause me to be more alert. And seeing certain titles removed from whatever earlier context they were grouped in, highlights them- if that makes any sense.

Using a projector, you get to be conscious of striking the bulb too often which decreases the lifespan. So I've gotten used to only watching movies when I could devote at least 4 or 5 hours straight. That meant a lot of double features. I would usually go in knowing what I was going to watch for the first one, but the choice of the second would usually be more off the cuff- usually it would have some connection to the first film I'd watched- maybe a supporting actor, or a something from the same era, or a similar genre or theme.

#20 of 39 OFFLINE   kenNew


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Posted July 08 2009 - 07:13 AM

Thanks for some very interesting suggestions.  I might investigate Pat W's movie pick/dvd profiler.  Actually, we are fortunate in having this problem which no previous generation could have dreamed of: We are each masters of our own cinema.  Just like professional movie houses we have the movies, the screens, the sound.  All we need now is an enjoyable and reliable method of emulating the way in which cinemas put together their programmes and seasons.

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