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Apr 11, 2010

My Desert Island DVDs

Fandango Groovers Movie Blog put out the call - send me your weak, your tired, your Desert Island DVDs. Eight of them to be exact. I am heeding that call. Additionally, he's asked me to include this link, so I done did that, too. Here's the setup, followed by my picks:

"The idea is a variation on the radio program Desert Island Discs: For those who don’t know the show has been running on the BBC for nearly 70 years. Guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island with only eight pieces of music to listen to. Being a movie blog obviously we are having a twist on the idea. Simply pick the eight DVDs that if you were stranded on a desert island (don’t ask how you would play them) you could happily watch over and over again. For some people this will be their favourite movies for others it will be subtly different."

Ok. I'm on a desert island. I can take eight DVDs. For starters, I'm going with known quantities; sure, it might be noble to take a "classic" that I've never seen along for the journey - a chance to broaden my horizons, learn something, all that jazz. No way. It I hate it, or even vaguely dislike it, I'll be regretting said decision for my own personal eternity. So I've seen everything here, and in most cases, more than a few times. More than anything, these choices will make me eternally happy, and that's more important than anything else.

So I'm taking one of my all-time favorites; a film that, depending on the date and time, fills one of the top three spots in my list. The other two are Pulp Fiction and Fight Club, but a) I've seen them enough times that I can recall them at will, and b) they aren't tremendously deep. Well, Fight Club might be, but I've read the book as well, so I've gleaned as much of the meaning as I'm probably going to. Instead, I'm taking Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I know, original choice. It'll likely be on at least half of the participants' lists. I care not. I've purposefully limited my viewing of it in the six years since its release so as not to tire of it and retain some of the joy that's renewed upon each viewing. As a bonus, it's lengthy (sure to be a recurring theme for this list; given the choice of an 85-minute movie I love and a 140-minute one, I'm taking the latter).

Being on this island with not much to do besides swim, run around, build shelters, and whatnot, I'm sure I'll be in good shape bodily in no time. But what of the mind? This next section is intended just for that. I'll take along 2001: A Space Odyssey for its beauty, its length, its brain-altering content, its "How'd they do that?" special effects - the whole shebang. Additionally, I'm bringing two true mind-benders; Chris Nolan's breakout hit Memento, whose DVD houses not only a great movie but enough material on the menus to keep me busy for some time (double bonus: I can watch the movie in chronological order, which will make it seem as though I'm watching a different flick), and Shane Carruth's 2004 time travel thriller Primer, which I've seen just once, but already know I need to see about 100 more times before I fully comprehend it (and even that might not do the trick).

Of course, I will need to laugh while stranded, sans friends or family, on this island. I'll be stuck in a place with no entertainment to speak of, no one to talk to, basically nothing of interest to do (aside from movie watching, of course). In other words, my existence will be rote and monotonous for the most part. How meta of me, then, to choose Groundhog Day. I'm sure I'll take intense pleasure at watching someone else live the same 24 hours over and over again, though I suppose in this case, the end will now be a tad depressing, since Phil Conners will escape his prison and I won't be so lucky. Still, all I have to do is re-start it and he's back in jail with me. Who else could go for some flapjacks?

I'm cheating a little with my next pick, though not as bad as I had originally planned on. I'm taking a TV show. I was going to say that I would take the entire first season of Arrested Development with me (only chosen over the latter seasons due to more episodes), but that was going too far, since the package is comprised of three discs. No fair. Instead, I'll make myself a custom DVD, jamming on as many 22-minute episodes as I can onto a single DVD. If I'm going to be miserable at all on this island, at the very least I know I'll be better off than the Bluths, and no piece of comedy has made me consistently laugh more.

Two left, and they're both wild cards of sorts.

The first is Paul Thomas Anderson's masterpiece Boogie Nights. Why? Why the hell not? It's got it all - drama, comedy, soft-core porn, one of the best casts ever assembled, enough cheeseball (and otherwise) hits from the 70s and 80s to fill at least three CDs, Burt Reynolds - I mean, what more could you want from a movie?

Finally, a movie that I can guarantee will make no one else's list. No, it's not The Room, though that's a tempting option. Instead, it's the critically loathed and commercially ignored Southland Tales. Why on earth am I taking it, you might be asking? That's a very good question, and I'm not even totally sure that I know the answer. I know it intrigues me. I know that it, too, combines elements of action, comedy, and drama - even some sci-fi, too. I know that, of all the things it can be - poorly acted, byzanitinely written, overwrought with not ready for prime-time players - the one thing it never is is boring.

And the last thing I want to be on this desert island is bored.

22 people have chosen wisely: on "My Desert Island DVDs"

Paragraph Films said...

Great list there. Memento and Primer just missed out on my one and although I'm a massive Arrested Development fanboy The Wire snuk in as my TV Show of choice!!

Aiden R. said...

Man, if I had one more pick it probably would have been Groundhog Day. Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right? Right? Right?

Great list, man. Gonna have to watch Primer again myself, only this time I'll actually pay attention.

Castor said...

Outstanding list Dylan. I haven't seen Southland Tales yet so I can't even criticize you on it. Eternal Sunshine is one of my favorite romance movie but it might a bit too depressing for someone on a desert island ;)

Kai B. Parker said...

This is the first love I've seen shown to PTA so Kudos for that. As far as Primer, repeat viewings really don't help but it's still just so damn good!!!
As for Southland Tales, I agree... no one else is picking that! :)
Great post, my man!!!

Kai B. Parker said...

OH, one more thing... just recently have been reading and love the blog. Threw it up as a favorite on my Facebook Fan Page for my site: THE LIST!
Keep up the good stuff!

Alex said...

Interesting choices! Primer is a smart one, since you can definitely just watch it over and over and still be trying to figure things out. It'll keep your mind sharp for the days ahead! And even though it might be "cheating" to get Arrested Development in there, it's too good of a decision to matter.

I have to question the Southland Tales thing though...

Darren said...

Good choices - haven't seen Southland Tales out there (the Room did pop up on one island though). I also love the style, where you don't have headers, but paragraphs narrating stuff.

And you're not the only one to "cheat" with a TV show :)

rtm said...

Oh, all the love for Eternal Sunshine, makes me feel left out as I haven't seen it! Haven't heard of Southland Tales either, but you're right, a flick might not be award-worthy to be enjoyable. Like you said, if it retains your attention then that should be good enough reason for liking it. Yeah, I've got a TV show as well, but it's in one dvd set so technically it's not cheating :)

Fletch said...

Paragraph - Thanks! I'm one of the those that never got into The Wire, but from everything I'm heard, I'm surprised that more people didn't put it on their lists.

Aiden - Groundhog seemed the perfect Shadenfreude (sp) pick for me. Sure, I could take Requiem for a Dream and give an evil laugh at their predicament vs. mine, but Groundhog would enable me to really empathize with Phil, while giving my current situation a bit of hope (or something like that). Bing!

Castor - Eternal Sunshine depressing? The hell you say! I'm no hopeless romantic, but it proves that love conquers all - a pretty inspiring message.

Kai - Indeed, I'm shocked at the lack of PTA love. Aronofsky, too.

And thanks much for the compliment and FB add. I need to familiarize myself with your site more, but I like what I've seen so far. Any lover of Roadhouse is the tops in my book.

Alex - someone else had Synecdoche, NY on there and I cursed myself for not having thought of it. Another great flick that would keep you coming back for more looking to understand it better. But, I've got a couple, so I should be alright.

Don't worry - I question my sanity for picking Southland Tales as well.

Darren - with the TV show, at least I held it to one disc rather than a complete series. So I don't think I'm really cheating all that much (not like the person with the LOTR trilogy as one pick!) ;)

rtm - If you haven't seen Eternal Sunshine, I won't be the 1000th person to tell you that you really need to, but I'll just say that I want to say that. :D

Heather said...

2001 A Space Odyssey? You are asking to go all Wilson on that island! Hahahaha.

I'm surprised to be seeing Memento so frequently, but such an awesome movie and well put together script that I could see repeat viewings giving it a new perspective and something different to learn each time.

Olive said...

Some more great choices here. Groundhog Day seems to have made its way to several lists, can totally understand why, it's such a great film. But, as you say, it may be a little ironic, if you don't get to leave the island!

Tartan Review said...

Primer would definitely be one film that would be needed to keep your brain busy while stuck alone on a desert island!

Nick Prigge said...

Boogie Nights is a nice call. Great movie. I could totally watch that one over and over.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

Hey Dylan, great list! I'm stoked to see "Eternal Sunshine" on there; I confess that I didn't think twice about adding it to mine. I can't live without that movie and I've seen it more times than I can count -- just a poignant, funny, bittersweet, beautiful timeless love story.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" is an interesting choice. I hated it when I first saw it, but I can appreciate its technical and visual genius. Maybe it would be a good way to keep the mind alive with possibility on a deserted island?

Ross McD said...

You can bring TV series? Of all the gaul!
Groundhog Day - lol. You would go insane.
And Southland Tales? Wow. I've never had anyone recommend it, even though I was admittedly a little curious. I might swim over for a peak?

Fletch said...

Heater - hopefully, all this brain candy will keep me from "going Wilson" (love that phrase). Who knows, though - it could have the opposite effect.

Olive - If there's anyone that will be able to understand Phil Connor's frustration, it'll be me on my island.

Tartan - indeed. The only downside? No one to talk through it with afterward. That's almost essential.

Nicholas - me too. Every time it's on...

Meridith - Eternal Sunshine was my first and easiest choice.

Ross - Hey man, anything on a single DVD, that was my line of thinking. Perhaps there's a DVD of "1001 Ways to Get Off a Desert Island" out there somewhere; that would have been an inspired choice...

RE Southland Tales - not a soul has recommended it to you, not even for the train wreck factor? Well then, allow me to be the first. It's the best terrible movies ever. Or the worst good movie ever. It is everything and nothing, the sun and the moon. A craptastic piece of media vomited from Richard Kelly's brain to the screen. It has cars fucking, for chrissakes - what more can you ask for in a film?

Brian said...

Kudos on the cramming of Arrested Development onto a single disc. I would too and if I couldn't I would just say fuck it and not take 2 other movies because nothing is as rewatchable as AD. I am going through season 2 again for the 18th? time and am still hearing new jokes. Nothing will ever compare. Many will try, some will come close but in the end there will only be room for one.

Anonymous said...

While there where some good things about Southland Tales and it didn’t deserve the drubbing it got, it is a long way from the eight films I would take. Otherwise a solid list. Thanks for joining in and for the plug on the lamb.

Daniel said...

You know until your last sentence I didn't realize how important it would be to make these DVDs really, REALLY entertaining and rewatchable.

Good calls all the way around, though I'd toss Southland Tales to the curb and switch Arrested Development for Seinfeld. Not because I don't like Arrested Development, but because I haven't seen it. In fact I haven't really seen anything on TV since 1998, hence the Seinfeld choice.

The Film Cynics said...

Primer? Really? Way to stretch your brain while on a permanent vacation! I've only seen it once too - as a personal challenge to myself... a hundred watchings required at least.

I see Brian's already offered up the Cynics' blessing on Arrested Development being on your list. Well played, sir!

But Fletch, dear Fletch. Why you gotta start shit and include Southland Tales? Perhaps your years stranded on your island will offer you the time to compose your own graphic novel to fill in the gaping plot holes in the film... and maybe you can craft some kind of visual companion out of coconuts, seagull brains and snail goo.

filmplicity said...

Hope I don't have to test this out.

When I watch that film it makes me wish I was on a desert Island :-)