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What a Strange Trip It's Been

15 Dec, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

I hate to get all corny and sentimental on you but let's face it: a) it's my natural state most of the time and b) well, it's the time of year for it.

For full dramatic effect, I will put it this way: This year DVD changed my life.

It's corny, but it's true in a lot of different ways.

It started out on New Year's Day, with back-to-back viewings of the entire The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition trilogy — a pre-planned event executed as the integral ingredient in recuperation from the previous night — for the first and so far only time.

Having grown up with the Lord of the Rings books, coming to the end of the film series (which was really only final after the DVD releases thanks to the extended editions) was very nostalgic for me. I know I will watch them again and again, I know my family will share these DVDs with future generations, but no one, no other generation will likely discover these tales, these characters through pure literary exploits and imagination. The movies will likely spawn the new horde of Tolkien fans. It's the end of an era for Lord of the Rings and I remember thinking this as I vegged out the first day of 2005.

The spring brought many new DVD discoveries for me, and made me realize just how behind the times I was. A particularly rainy February found me once again camped out in front of the screen, this time with a box of tissue and “Band of Brothers.”

I also rather shamefacedly admit that this season brought about my first viewing of several classics, including Rosemary's Baby and The Godfather, Part II.I discovered Jane Fonda (outside of aerobics and 9 to 5) for the first time, watching They Shoot Horses Don't They and Coming Home. I also made my first forays into the world of Woody Allen with Annie Hall, Zelig and New York Stories.

Summer brought with it a trip up the central coast of California and a visit to Hearst Castle, before which I made my inaugural viewings of Citizen Kane, RKO 281 and The Battle Over Citizen Kane.

I realize how awful it sounds that I had never seen some of these movies. I realize just how incongruous it seems that a person reporting on the movie industry was so woefully underexposed to so many of the greats. In my defense, I will say that my preferred immersion has always been and likely always will be books.

DVDs are starting to come in a close second, but always will be lapped by books because you can read and listen to music at the same time … not so much with movies.Speaking of my other passion, music, some really great music DVD lit up my life this year. I can't remember what life was like before DIG and all the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club CD purchases it spawned.

The release of Live Aid on DVD provided not only great background sound and visuals to my apartment but a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Having seen Bob Dylan in concert for the first time this year made me keenly excited to watch Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home documentary on the music legend as soon as it hit DVD.

Also on the documentary tack, What the Bleep Do We Know? quite literally changed the way I think about so many things — including how I think, what I think and how I talk around my water. Thank God for DVD as this film practically demands repeat viewing.

The Corporation was the same story for me — it's one of those movies you have to pop back in, remind yourself who said what. The extra features on this disc, all the extra footage, topics and interviews included only further helped change the way I look at American commercialism.

Fall found me in something of an emotional crisis, one that was greatly healed by holing up in bed for several days with the first two seasons of “Nip/Tuck” on DVD to keep me company and make me forget my troubles.

Over Thanksgiving, an advance copy of Cinderella Man on DVD resulted in my whole family (including Grandma!) discovering something new about my grandfather. Apparently, at 9 years old he was selling extra editions of the newspaper on the street the morning after the Jim Braddock fight in the film and also later when Joe Louis beat Braddock. It's a story we may never have heard if we hadn't popped in that DVD after gorging ourselves on turkey dinner.

Speaking of family and the holidays, I hope this finds you and yours happy and healthy this season.

Take a minute to rifle through your own DVD memories of the past year and see if you find something that makes you think, make you smile, makes you feel good.

I just did.

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