DVD Question

A question for the assembled multitudes here: 
I received a very generous gift — a honkin’ big Amazon gift certificate — from a friend who I helped out some time ago (got him out of a big trade just before it went very bad).

My Audio collection — CDs, MP3s, AACs, etc. — is fairly ginormo. What I don’t have much of are DVDs. I have a few TV collections Seinfeld 1-6 and BBC’s Coupling), a dozen or so concerts, and a few dozen movies. That’s it! (My now defunct VHS collection was many times Couplinglarger).

And yes, I am very much concerned that DVD is a dying format.

So Question #1 for y’all is this: If money were no object, what DVDs would you have to own?  Films, concerts, TV shows, anime, porn — anything on a silver disc is fair game. 

Question 2 is more subtle — do you wait for the next format, or is that still years away? BluRay or HD DVD?Jj_greek


Some DVDs I already own are:

Television shows: Coupling (UK 1-4), Seinfeld (seasons 1-6)
(I also have Cody’s Entourage that I must return!)

Films: Bladerunner, Sin City, Princess Bride, Ronin, Grosse Point Blank, The Fifth Element, High Fidelity, Groundhog Day, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bills, 50 First Dates, and lots of Hitchcock (mostly off of TCM) and a few others;


Concerts: Jack Johnson Live in Japan, Peter Gabriel (Growing Up Live and Secret World Live), Led Zeppelin, CSNY, Sarah McLachlan (VH1 Storytellers and Mirrorball), Talking Head’s Stop Making Sense, James Taylor (Live at the Beacon Theatre and Pull Over) and a few others I am forgetting.


HifiWhat are the MUST OWNs — not just the stuff to see, but the works that MUST be on your shelf for instant viewing 24/7, the stuff thats work so much better on DVD than on Cable/HBO, the discs with with all the great extras — or the simply must own disc that no video loving home should be without?

The oddball and eclectic are welcome!

What say ye?


UPDATE: January 26, 2006 5:53am

Thank you, everyone! I love the suggestions — I’ve seen nearly all of the mainstream and cult flicks suggested (Young Frankenstein, Big Lebowski, Repo Man, This is Spinal Tap, Thin Men Series, Usual Suspects, Caddyshack, Braveheart, Koyaanisqatsi, Matrix, LOTR, 10 Things I Hate About You, Shakespeare in Love, etc.), and everything by Tim Burton.

Two under-rated sci-fi flix are Serenity and Chronicles of Riddick. Of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail was formative (the wife dragged me to Spamalot this week, which was cute in a derivative way, but not a must see). I love Arsenic and Old Lace, and anything else with Cary Grant. I can watch anything by John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder. I saw the re-release of Lawrence of Arabia at the Ziegfeld (astonishing evening).

I am also a big fan of Arrested Development and Futurama, two
prematurely cancelled Fox shows; Sport’s Night is another cancelled too
soon show I adored.


Suggestions: Some of the things I hadn’t thought of were the documentaries, Pink Floyd at Pompei, I did not know about Naqoyqatsi, Firefly (the series), The Devil’s Backbone (Spanish), The Seduction of Mimi (Italian), Kundun, Meet the Feebles, Dogville, Rescue Me, One Giant Leap, Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Magnolia, Horowitz Live in Moscow, The Machinist, Hendrix at Monterrey, Ben Harper Hollywood Bowl and Dave Matthews Band in Central Park, U2 Live @ Red Rocks.

The many suggestions for documentaries were also quite good: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and Clarke’s Civilisation both look great.

A few people suggested the Amazon page titled DVD Essentials; In clicking around, I discovered Browse DVD Genres.

Got quite a few suggestions for The Wire; The American Film Institute 100 is also a great idea. And I am amazed how many people privately emailed me to gush about the Shield — that has a real cult following.

As a Brit-pop/BBC fan, the Sandbaggers sounds very interesting; And I loved The Larry Sanders Show, but I know I missed a few, so that goes on the list.

Great suggestions all.  Thanks!

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  1. Aaron commented on Jan 25


  2. fatkid commented on Jan 25

    the departed.

    butch cassidy & the sundance kid.

    the graduate.

    pearl jam – single video theory.

  3. Marcus commented on Jan 25

    DVDs: Most of the seven “Prime Suspects,” starring Helen Mirren.

    Given your film choices, a sleeper you might like is “Dark City,” w/Keifer Sutherland and Jennifer Connelly

    “Concert For George (Harrison)” is pretty awesome, as well. It’s in my top 3, along with “The Last Waltz” and “Stop Making Sense…”

    Have fun shopping!

  4. Eric B. commented on Jan 25

    My must have’s

    -Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble Live from Austin, Texas
    -Pearl Jam – Live at Madison Square
    -Ben Harper – Hollywood Bowl
    -Dave Matthews Band – Central Park

  5. RB commented on Jan 25

    OK, it is still audio, though.

  6. HVH commented on Jan 25

    A Musicares Person of the Year Tribute to James Taylor

    Roy Orbison: Black & White Night

    Procol Harum: Live at the Union Chapel

    ELO: Live at Wembley

    Concert for George

  7. BCS commented on Jan 25

    Big Lebowski
    Resevoir Dogs
    Matrix (Just the first one)
    At least on John Hughes Flick
    At least one Christopher Guest Flick (Best in Show probably)

    Given your taste in music:
    Allison Krauss DVD (not my favorite type of music, but she is amazing)

    One offbeat recommendation: Jack Johnson’s surf video September Sessions. (It is more art than surf video and features a lot of his original work and also include G Love etc… You can have it on during a party as atmoshpere, works surprisingly well and shows off not only your sound system, but also your nice televsion.)

  8. DavidB commented on Jan 25

    extended edition of LOTR adds a lot of depth to the story. You probably have to be a fan of the books though. Not too much of a fan though considering they stray from the story somewhat

  9. Cornerkick commented on Jan 25

    This is Spinal Tap

    Not only is it one of the funniest movies ever made, but the DVD (special edition?) has an extra audio track where the actors discuss the movie as it runs – but they stay in character. So you get to hear “David St. Hubbins” and “Nigel Tufnel” discuss “Marti’s” documentary. If you like the movie, you will find the commentary just as funny.

  10. J. Bridges commented on Jan 25

    This is Spinal Tap– Sheer brilliance. Even if one doesn’t get half of the rock & roll references, it remains one of the funniest films ever made. Plus, there are a few gems in the deleted scenes (Tap at the Zoo is a personal favorite). Word of warning: Do not eat or drink anything near the Stonehenge performance. The last thing we need is another death by vomit.

    If one enjoys the Guestian Weltanschaung, Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show are also hilarious.

  11. Jason M commented on Jan 25

    I believe that the following movies get better and better with repeated viewings:


    Good luck!

  12. douglass truth commented on Jan 25

    you like rock, right? plus a hilarious, poignant story = Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

    Rustler’s Rhapsody – get it for a couple of bucks. A cowboy movie along the lines of Airplane, but subtle, beautiful, dumb. Andy Griffith plays the corrupt, gay cattle baron .

    One of the greats: Little Big Man.

    Re format wars: who knows. Bet the hardware manufacturers sure are tired of it. I’m going to wait a bit, but I need to start burning HD in the next 6 months or so.

  13. BettinaZ commented on Jan 25

    Pat Metheny Group’s live concerts:
    Imaginary Day
    Speaking of Now
    The Way Up

  14. howard commented on Jan 25

    oh my goodness, what a difficult question.

    based on your tastes that you’ve revealed, i’d say:

    music: “straight, no chaser” (documentary on thelonious monk); hard day’s night (i’m assuming it’s on DVD!); “jazz on a summer’s day” (the famous ’57 newport jazz festival where paul gonsalves tore it up for ellington); “last of the blue devils” (a warm tribute to the Kansas City jazz tradition, featuring basie, mcshann, joe turner, jo jones, and many more); that pretty cool documentary that came out last year on the canadian train adventure in 1970 with janis joplin, the band, the dead, and sundry others….

    tv: the recently issued first season of perry mason; the sandbaggers (fabulous ’70s brit spy); the original black-and-white roger moore saint; the complete mrs. peel avengers; larry sanders show….

    movies: recent maltese falcon 3pack (including the “classic,” which was the third version made); the altman run that includes MASH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Thieves Like Us, and California Split; a billy wilder collection (i’m sure there are several); the greatest ’50s B movie of all time “kiss me deadly;” “on the waterfront….”

    and many more, but that’s top of head.

    and no, i have no clue what to do about format….

  15. King commented on Jan 25

    Godfather I and II (you can skip III)

  16. Paul Schrank commented on Jan 25

    As a film maker I would say you must own both

    and Powasgaatsi

    Another more literal movie along these lines is

    One Giant Leap

    I am also watching the HD format wars closely. I was ready to declare Blu-Ray the winner since it is a Sony format and Sony releases the films. But the ne wild card is the porn industry has selected HD DVD because Sony doesn’t want any porn on Blu-Ray. Now, I dunno…

  17. Robert Coté commented on Jan 25

    HD DVD and BluRay are transitory. There is no investment value in either. I recommend the Firefly Sci-Fi series on DVD, the CD “Fig. 15” from Human Sexual Response, the totally watchable with the Mrs.; Grey’s Anatomy, Your existing collection scares me as I have much the same. “Lost Boy’s” CD or DVD but preferably both are important. Braveheart DVD but NOT the music. Another incorrectly labelled “chik flik” is “Shakespeare In Love.”

    As to the investment prognosis vice formats? Don’ luk at me mannn. All my CDs are on the Mac OS X 10.4 Server and I expect that the DVDs are likewise destined. Content will ultimately depreciate and take down the CPI. Our host correctly highlights the mispricing of CDs as exposed by Amazon’s top sellers.

  18. wnsrfr commented on Jan 25

    Western (long) – the Lonesome Dove miniseries

    For an alternative angle, in my opinion, the best “Ski Movie” Video ever produced is Groove, Requiem in the Key of Ski by Greg Stump, great music, the first boardercross competition, attempted backflips on surfboards by Laird Hamilton and juxtiposed with the first Iraq war, which was happening during filming and editing…

  19. Sammy20 commented on Jan 25

    Office Space, Gladiator, Good Will Hunting & Braveheart should be staples of any DVD collection. All are 10’s in terms of “rewatchability”.

    And if you haven’t seen any of the seasons of 24, The Shield, House or Rescue me I would highly recommend as well.

  20. Mr. Beach commented on Jan 25


    Happy New Year!

    This is a question I know something about. (being a film and tech geek living in Los Angeles).

    DVD vs. BluRay/HDDVD
    Short answer: buy HD where possible or wait.
    I’ve seen very, very nice home HD installations and done back-to-back DVD vs. HD tests. Although everyone talks about the high resolution of HD, one other benefit is the larger color space. Skin tones, for example, are more complex and richer on HD.

    Nearly all television is now being shot on HD and downsampled. Earlier libraries are being redigitized for HD.

    I can’t tell you who will win between Blu-Ray and HD, but standard definition is dead. (Early rumblings here in Hollywood is that the Blu-Ray replication houses are balking on running adult content. This potentially points to HDDVD being the eventual winner.)

    11 suggestions for your library

    1. Die Hard
    2. Fight Club
    3. Terminator & Terminator 2
    4. Cape Fear (with De Niro)
    5. Bound
    6. Boogie Nights
    7. Magnolia
    8. The Matrix
    9. Fargo
    10. Batman Returns

    I could watch any of these movies anytime.

  21. Andrew Schmitt commented on Jan 25

    Many good recs. above I would add.

    Apocalypse Now
    The Incredibles
    The Song Remains the Same (Zeppelin)
    Battlestar Galactica (so much better than crap standard def TV)
    Band of Brothers

  22. Eclectic commented on Jan 25

    Go here and read about it first:


    Then go here for the cd sampler:


    (the sampler may erroneously attribute every piece to Chopin)

    Then go here and get the DVD:


    I don’t have to, because I got up it seems like before the regular time slot for CBS’s “Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt” to watch (and tape) Horowitz’s triumphant return to Moscow, live as it happened, along with every little muffled cough and teardrop from the packed audience that evening in Moscow. I’ve still got the VHS tape and I wonder how it’s lasted for so many playings.

    Get the DVD; the humanity is near as worthy as the magnificent music.

  23. Isaac commented on Jan 25

    Many good recommendations above, may I add:

    Army of Darkness/Evil Dead I & II
    Pink Floyd live at Pompeii

  24. Mike commented on Jan 25

    A personal favorite is the Criterion Collection version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The commentary with the good Dr. is amazing.

  25. Leisa commented on Jan 25

    Has no one said Pulp Fiction?
    Pulp Fiction
    LA Confidential
    Best in Show (Oh, I see it mentioned BCS)
    The Devil’s Backbone (Spanish)
    The Seduction of Mimi (Italian)
    La Cage au Folles (spelling!)

  26. JKB commented on Jan 25

    Firefly (defunct TV series) (It was filmed in letterbox)
    Wonderfalls (one season wonder that is really odd but really good)

    Serenity (Firefly movie)
    Leon, The Professional (European cut of The Professional much better)
    The Thin Man movies
    The Score

    B-movie indulgence
    Cannibal Women of the Avocado Jungle of Death (if you can stand Bill Mahr)
    Welcome to Planet Earth (Hey, you can’t help laughing when a guy is beaten to death with his own leg, what’s not to like)

  27. Ray commented on Jan 25

    U2 Rattle & Hum
    U2 Elevation

    Ferris Buellers Day Off

    The Patriot

    Movies for traders
    Trading Places
    Glengarry Glen Ross

  28. dave commented on Jan 25

    Nice high-quality problem you got there Barry.

    I went with BluRay because my kid’s PS3 came with it. I bought two DVD movies in BluRay format. Expensive at $27.00 and $34.00. I’ll just say there is a reason DVD players can be had for under $30.00 and movies are in the bargain bin. 56K modems got pretty cheap too before the migration to broadband.

    It’s hard to describe how the BluRay picture is superior to broadcast HD movies but as soon as I saw the picture I immediately realized how much it looked like a theater screen. HD broadcast is stunning in its clarity but when you get an HD format DVD you will see it. Price points are still too high and the two movies I have are going to be it until prices come down. But I did want to see a BluRay movie since I’ve been using an HD camcorder for a year. Still storing it on my hard drive in HD format (10 Gbs/hour) and waiting for affordable BluRay DVD burners to watch it in the living room and send to grandma.

    I’m not too worried about the format wars. I’m hearing there are dual-format players already being demonstrated. Think DVD/VCR decks.

  29. dirge commented on Jan 25

    The Wire
    The Wire
    The Wire
    I could go on…

    Arrested Development Seasons 1-3

    Throw in the complete Sports Night for delicious pre-West Wing Sorkin candy
    and season 1 of Veronica Mars to meet all of your teen-noir needs(I would argue that it is one of the best season-long story arcs ever on TV).

    Oh, and HD all the way.

  30. Leisa commented on Jan 25

    The oddball and eclectic are welcome!

    Are you talking to me? The Taxi Driver

    Oh…and ALL of the PINK Panther movies with Peter Sellers (yes I know some are better than others, but get the boxed set)

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    Edward Scissorhands

    The In-Laws (sellers/arkin)

    The Nightmare Before Christmas (I like Tim Burton’s stuff!)

    I just went out to see Notes on a Scandal. Extraordinary acting. Dark, dark story line.

  31. joe commented on Jan 25

    many have already been said, but definitely go with:

    Usual Suspects
    The Wire
    Shawshank Redemption
    Fight Club
    The Matrix
    The Matrix 2
    Godfather 1
    Godfather 2
    Dumb and Dumber
    Die Hard
    Arrested Development

  32. paul commented on Jan 25

    No Monty Python? Need the Holy Grail at least…

    There’s a boxed set of anime by Hayao Miyazaki that’s just brilliant. [“At Pixar, when we have a problem and we can’t seem to solve it, we often take a laser disc of one of Mr. Miyazaki’s films and look at a scene in our screening room for a shot of inspiration. And it always works! We come away amazed and inspired.” Lasseter]
    Don’t wait for the Disney releases.

    By the way, the NY Times ran a recent piece, _In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real_. Some of the folks are having more cosmetic surgery and apparently razor burn is a big problem in HD. Enough said…

  33. Vega commented on Jan 25

    What a great list of movies everyone is making. Besides what’s already listed, I also like:

    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    U2 Live @ Red Rocks
    Time Bandits
    Airplane, Animal House
    The Professional

    But that’s just me. Take care….

  34. winjr commented on Jan 25

    Many, many excellent choices from above — you can’t go wrong with any of them. To really take advantage of 5.1, Matrix is a must. Das Boot is excellent, as well.

  35. SINGER commented on Jan 25

    lord of the rings trilogy

    city of lost children

    full metal jacket

    boys from brazil


  36. howard commented on Jan 25

    just to jump back in with a few more (and kudos to everyone’s excellent suggestions);

    more music: “gimmie shelter;” “hendrix at monterrey;” the recent documentary about new york doll arthur kane whose name is escaping me

    more tv: “peter gunn;” the classic 39 honeymooners episodes; the twilight zone

    more movies: in my altman list above, i missed “the long goodbye;” “breathless” (the original); “weekend;” “jules et jim;” “rashomon;” “the day the earth stood still;” “2001;” “last tango in paris” (brando is unbelievable); “the thin man;” “north by northwest”

    ok, i’ll stop now!

  37. Idaho_Spud commented on Jan 25

    These are pretty eclectic and dark (some are dark comedy), but they are all “must see”, if not quite “must have”

    American Beauty
    Very Bad Things
    Drop Dead Gorgeous
    Fight Club
    The Machinist
    Reservoir Dogs
    Four Rooms
    Arsenic and Old Lace

  38. Sherman McCoy commented on Jan 25

    Sopranos – that’s really nice to have on DVD, and much easier than trying to watch a whole season on HBO, even with TiVo.

    And anything by Lars Von Trier, you’ll never see this stuff on TV and it’s soooo good: esp. The Kingdom (I only saw Series One), Breaking the Waves, and especially- best of the bunch- Dogville.

  39. Kirk Spencer commented on Jan 25

    re the format question, the answer’s got to be “It depends.”

    There will be a window during which either winner is going to be backward compatible with standard format. Not least because a lot of people aren’t going to pay a few hundred dollars for a new player that won’t play any of their current collection. Just as a basic point of reference, last year was the point at which there were more DVD players purchased than VCR players – barely. cite. And regardless of who wins, there’s going to be a period during which there’s nothing available – look at how many movies and TV shows and so forth are STILL not available on DVD.

    Bottom line – if it’s something you want to watch more than once, that you want in your video library, go ahead and buy the DVD while you’re waiting for SONY to decide if they’ll repeat their BETA error.

  40. wcw commented on Jan 25

    Things you might not buy, but should:

    Meet the Feebles

    Peter “LOTR” Jackson before he became directs this.. this.. thing. It has to be seen to be believed. In short, it’s the Muppets, more or less, if they were real. They have a variety show, they fall in love, they lie, cheat, and steal, they have drug addictions and ‘nam flashbacks, the works. They even shoot porn on the side to make a few bucks. And since this was the old, unreconstructed Peter Jackson (of “Dead Alive” fame, still the single goriest gore film I have ever seen), they snap and go on shooting rampages. The budget was low in the first place, the DVD transfer is not great, the sound was never good, but you simply must own it. Among my favorites, ever.

    Three thumbs and a severed puppet’s head up.

    Wonderfalls box (seconding suggestion above)

    A directionless youth starts having inanimate objects tell her to do things. Hijinks ensue. Rather unbelievably, it absolutely works. The casting is nice, the writing tight and solid, and there is a satisfying season arc. Fox buried it after two episodes, for no good reason. The mirror image to Idiocracy, which should have been good, wasn’t, and got buried because even Fox has no business releasing a feature-length SNL skit.

    Two thumbs up.


    A cubicle drone at Showtime somehow got his script made, which few have seen, more’s the pity. The plot is simple: in an oddly hallucinatory setting not unlike the 1950s of television, a very odd little boy starts to notice some even odder things about his parents. “What were they before they were leftovers?” is the catchphrase, but this is more than a one-note horror gimmick about cannibalism. While not perfect, it delivers a surfeit of little delights to anyone whom the regular world and the normal people in it occasionally befuddle. I put it up with Blue Velvet and Heathers as the late-’80s triptych of critical glances askance at the dominant culture.

    One thumb up.

  41. jim commented on Jan 26

    My 2C’s, inflation adjusted:

    *Spirited Away
    Evil Dead
    *Grave of the Fireflies
    All Quiet on the Western Front
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    *Rules of the Game
    Dark Star

  42. HankP commented on Jan 26

    Repo Man (1984)

    There are a lot of good suggestions above, but this is one you should see.

    BR You’ll find one in every car . . . you’ll see . . .

  43. Chief Tomahawk commented on Jan 26

    I kind of like getting dvds from my library – they’re $1 for a week. They handle the popular new titles by purchasing 4 or 5 copies.

    Someday I see dvd titles going the way of book rentals from the library. Right now, my library has downloadable titles people can have for 3 weeks. Thereafter, your access to the copy ceases and the next person is able to download it. No need to return, and no overdue fines. As server space becomes cheaper and more folks have high speed connections, either my library will do the same they now do with books, or contract out the service with a third party vendor. Which leads to my purchase suggestion…

    BR, I’d save the wampum until Sling Catcher and/or Apple’s iTV come to market (June?) Both devices will pipe internet content to your TV. They will allow you to watch hours on end of YouTube content (gotta love that Abbiegirl “Catwoman” audition tape!) and gobs of other wonders.

  44. fiat lux commented on Jan 26

    In no particular order:

    Chariots of Fire
    Big Trouble in Little China
    Henry V (Branagh version)
    Much Ado About Nothing (ditto)
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Master And Commander

  45. John F. commented on Jan 26

    along with

    Koyaanisqatsi and

    don’t forget


  46. haraldb commented on Jan 26

    well if you are at all into skiing…then I would have to say the greatest ski movie of all time:

    The Blizzard of Ahhhs.

    Scott Schmidt, Glenn Plake, Mike Hattrup, and of course, cookie the sweede.

  47. Kevin Rooney commented on Jan 26

    In the great sci-fi department, the movie “Serenity” and the TV series “Firefly”. Combines the dark vision of Bladerunner with the fun of Fifth Element.
    Compare “Serenity” and “Star Wars”, then write us a column on the destructive impact copyright laws have on art.

    12 Monkeys
    I love “My Name Is Earl”, but that’s because I’m a Buddhist.
    Just get your DVDs. The format won’t die anytime soon. When it does, just copy all your DVDs to the 100 terabyte hard drive you’ll have by then.
    And if you do get Braveheart, every time you read about a drive-by shooting, remember that there is direct cultural lineage from the Anglo-Saxon vs. Celt wars on the Scots border.

  48. Dave commented on Jan 26

    For starting a film collection, Bop on over to the American Film Institute and browse the 100 best film lists (there are more than best ever list because of genre definitions) and pick a few dozen.

  49. Kevin Rooney commented on Jan 26

    I would second
    Big Lebowski
    The Matrix movies (I liked all three; a lot folks only liked the first one).

    Best American Shakespeare movie: 10 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew from the shrew’s perspective)
    If you and your wife ever have a girl, then “Mean Girls”.
    The LOTR extended editions add a lot of character development. Unless you are Koranic about Tolkien’s written word.

  50. Jim Bergsten commented on Jan 26

    I don’t collect movies as there are virtually none I’d want to see more than once (as opposed to music which I can play until the laser eats through the plastic). The corollary to this is, only buy movies you CAN watch more than once (or twice, or n times).

    If it were me, I’d buy things I would want to see that are otherwise unavailable (or may soon become permanently unavailable), for example, old 30’s/40’s movie serials, “classic” TV shows (meaning 40 years old or more — Ernie Kovaks, Monty Python…).

    For music, with a windfall I’d buy a genre that I had no familiarity with, but figure I could stand (or at least appreciate, or at least potentially enjoy), say classical. Anything you know nothing about, or never had time for.

    HD/BlueRay/etc.? Dunno. Have both. So far, used neither. Makes the nonsense prettier, I suppose.

    Remember those clever ads sometime back by a company whose name I never even paid atention to? The ones that said, all versions of everything, delivered right to you through the net, any time you want?

    If the powers that be stopped fighting long enough to implement such a thing, your question would be moot.

  51. Bedemere commented on Jan 26

    I’ve been buying DVDs since the early days and have 300-400 now, but most of them I’ve only watched once. Here are the ones I actually pull down to watch again and again.

    The Maltese Falcon
    The Big Sleep
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Top Gun
    The Hunt For Red October
    The Matrix (just the first one)
    Enemy of the State
    Love Actually
    Sex and the City (all of them)
    First Knight
    Almost Famous
    Eddie Izzard, Dress to Kill
    This is Spinal Tap
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the 3rd and best so far)
    Bull Durham
    Men in Black
    Groundhog Day
    The Princess Bride
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    I intend to replace all of these in HD as soon as the format wars are over. If I can’t wait that long I’ll probably just buy a PlayStation 3 for the kids and use it to play BluRay disks. I bought an HD TV about a year ago and literally don’t watch TV anymore unless it’s on in high def.

  52. wyler commented on Jan 26

    How about some great mysteries not of Mr. Market’s making: The Complete (1st through 6/7th Seasons) Columbo. [More enjoyable — to say nothing of efficient — without the commercials.]

    Or, a couple of documentary-type DVD features that provide (could it be called contrarian?) food for thought: “The God Who Wasn’t There” and “The Corporation”.

    Maybe the recent DVD feature (as differentiated from the old audio CD): “Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man”.

    “A Little Romance” from George Roy Hill with a teenage Diane Lane plus Laurence Olivier and Sally Kellerman.

    And, just in case, some CD vocals/songs that might go along with your taste but were too young to catch or appreciate the first time around: Jane Olivor, Billy Vera, Jennifer Warnes, and Karla Bonoff.

  53. Greg commented on Jan 26

    Good-to-great movies that benefit immensely from a big quality screen:

    The Right Stuff
    Map of the Human Heart
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Apocalypse Now

    For ideas see:

  54. pj commented on Jan 26

    chk out these two also,
    Falling Down,
    Romeo is Bleeding.

  55. monoglot commented on Jan 26

    The ones I watch often?


    Can’t go wrong

    **Don’t really watch it often–wrenching, but too thoughtful to not have on hand.

  56. wunsacon commented on Jan 26

    Most media shelves are full of entertainment, just like on cable. So, why buy more entertainment? How about some documentaries instead?

    I’m not referring to edutainment like Crocodile Hunter or more remastered clips of WWII that find their way into titles like “Guns that Won WWII”, “Secrets of WWII”, “WWII in Color”, or “Hitler’s Women”. That’s available 24×7 on basic cable.

    I submit these for your consideration:
    Manufacturing Consent
    The Corporation
    Fog of War
    Control Room
    Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
    The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
    An Inconvenient Truth
    Jesus Camp
    Who Killed the Electric Car?
    The Road to Guantanamo
    Bowling for Columbine

    I further submit for your consideration all B&W Twilight Zone episodes, because they are so rich in wisdom and teach the viewer much about the human animal.

    Again, I suggest buying these things because:
    – They’re rarely shown on TV/cable. (One of your criteria.)
    – All your friends already watched Goodfellas, History of the World (Part I), The Matrix, Apocalypse Now, every Ahnuld movie, right? Now, when they come over for dinner, you have something new and different to watch, lend them, or argue about.

    Lastly, I recommend watching (not necessarily owning) these recent films:

    Thank You for Smoking
    The Last King of Scotland

    and these older ones (if u haven’t):
    Monsters, Inc.
    Toy Story II
    Time Bandits
    The Kentucky Fried Movie
    Spirited Away
    Howl’s Moving Castle

  57. Nathan Rive commented on Jan 26

    Ditto on The Wire.

    Arrested Development.
    Did I mention The Wire?

  58. Nathan Rive commented on Jan 26

    Oh, forgot to mention my favourite director, Terrence Malick. In order of preference:

    Thin Red Line (brilliantly shot war film – it’s three hours long but I’ve seen it easily 10 times)

    Days of Heaven (another brilliantly shot film, well paced)

    Badlands (early Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek)

    His recent, The New World is decent too – Christian Bale rescues what Colin Farrell ruins.

  59. pol commented on Jan 26

    Another call for the Wire. Given the relatively modest viewership of this series surely notable just how evangelical Wire-heads are. It really is *that* good.

    Not convinced? Head over to Metacritic and check out the reviews of what is routinely referred to as the best thing on TV.

    Series one is the most gripping police procedural on TV. The later series are less structured, arguably more ambitious but utterly absorbing.

  60. Leisa commented on Jan 26

    Classical music is my preferred musical content, but Alice in Chains is one of my fav band. I recommend you buy at least one: MTV Unplugged.

  61. Turbo commented on Jan 26

    If you like British humour (note the correct spelling here), the Black Adder series is a hilarious sleeper.

  62. Josh commented on Jan 26

    -What about Bob?
    -The Song Remains the Same
    -The Royal Tenenbaums
    -The Song Remains the Same
    -Lost in Translation

  63. Jason G. commented on Jan 26

    You still buy DVDs? I’d skip buying them and just subscribe to Netflix or BlockBuster’s thing… that way when the new formats take over you’re ready to switch over, and you can watch whatever movies you want in the meantime.

    Amazon gift certs are good for many other things — think about getting a new digital camera, or some other big ticket item.

    Otherwise, the Matrix boxed collection is nice with all the making-of videos for each episode. I’d also spring for the West Wing boxed set (for me) and the Sex and the City boxed set (for the wife). I’d do a search for anything “director’s cut” and start adding things to the list…

  64. rhodium commented on Jan 26

    Gold Diggers of 1935, for the Lullaby of Broadway number
    La Jetee
    Battleship Potemkin
    All that Jazz
    Dracula (1931) with a new Philip Glass score
    The 400 Blows, or the 5 Antoine Doinel set

  65. jj commented on Jan 26

    Vera Cruz

    List of Adrian Messenger

  66. Craig commented on Jan 26

    Considering your musical leanings, the Blu-ray format will likely suit you better, but then we have availability/compatibility issues, so the Phillips dual format machine would be my choice, if A/B side by side picture and sound were comparable.

    You would be surprised how electronics (the quality and construction of components) makes a difference in quality of output.

    Once long ago while shopping for a CD player, I did an A/B comparison between a high end Denon and a mid line Magnavox.

    I was blown away when thw sales guy switched from Denon to Magnavox and the soundstage extended about four feet wider on each side of the speaker placement. Much wider soundstage. You may find similar differences between Blu-ray, HD DVD and amongst players from different manufacturers. IOW, go play!

  67. Steve commented on Jan 26

    I find that I don’t have enough time to actually watch DVDs that I would own, too many new movies that I get on Netflix. But these are the movies that I can’t help but watch when they are on cable:

    The Magnificent Seven
    Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    Singin’ in the Rain
    How to Succeed in Business without really trying
    High Noon

  68. Leonid commented on Jan 26

    If you like BBC comedy, you may want to check out “I’m Alan Partridge” and “Black Books” – first class comedy those

    As far as the nextgen stuff is concerned – I do get a feeling that HD-DVD is a good enough solution, and does seem a more cost-effective option, whereas Blu-ray in my view is something similar to 3G a few years aback – a lot of potential but so far premature and not working horribly well – either way I will not rush in to either and stick with the DVD for the time being and eventually adopt to whatever Apple introduces in the iMac. Although that is mostly because I’m still bitter about the whole LaserDisc fiasco, being stuck with that mammoth of a player for well over a decade now (letting go is obviously not an option).

  69. Goldbug commented on Jan 26

    The BBC productions of John Le Carre’s novels starring Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley.

  70. BB commented on Jan 26

    The Last Waltz – a movie of the last concert of The Band, directed by Martin Scorsese.

    Outlaw Josey Wales

  71. Vega commented on Jan 26

    Chinatown (!) :)

  72. Fred commented on Jan 26

    I watched Festival Express (again) last night — a MUST own! The Dead, The Band, Janus, etc, all partying and playing on a train in Canada!

    From Amazon.com
    The vintage concert footage alone makes Festival Express a memorable and worthwhile endeavor, offering scintillating performances by Janis Joplin, the Band (their rollicking version of “Slippin’ and Slidin'” is particularly mind-blowing), the Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, and others (remember Mashmakhan?). In 1970, during the heyday of the rock festival, promoter Ken Walker decided to organize a traveling musical revue, bringing the mountain to Mohammed, as it were. In five days’ time, the festival played in three Canadian cities with the entire conglomeration traveling, playing, and getting smashed together the whole way. Nearly as rewarding as the live performances are the candid scenes of the train ride itself, an endless jam session and party during which musicians of all shapes and sizes let their hair down–musically and otherwise. The contemporary interviews with Walker and some of the surviving musicians aren’t particularly noteworthy, except as a way to prove that it all actually happened. Walker comes off as a hero in the film: he treated the musicians like royalty and insisted that the train roll on even though he was losing his shirt. (His financial failure is a large reason why this material stayed in the vaults for so long.) Perhaps the most remarkable scene is an off-the-cuff, LSD-fueled train jam featuring Joplin, the Band’s Rick Danko, and the Dead’s Jerry Garcia playing the old chestnut “Ain’t No More Cane.” Danko is so obliterated that even Janis has to ask him if he’s OK–when Janis is worried about your state of mind, you must be pretty messed up. –Marc Greilsamer

  73. joe commented on Jan 26

    The Apu trilogy, by director Satajayit Ray. I watch it every 2 or 3 years for what it can teach me about the world.

    The 7-Up series by Michael Apted

    Freaks and Geeks, the late, lamented tv series

    The Wire, all seasons–needs, and stands up to, repeated viewing

    Killer of Sheep–an early,haunting Charles Burnett film, tough to find.

    Freeze, Die, Come to Life–a Russian film that kills me very time I see it. Someone burned me a coy…don’t know if you can find it on DVD.

  74. Joel Files commented on Jan 26

    For Anglophiles:

    Little Britain – Half stupid, Half brilliant.
    Kumars at No. 42 – Best talk show parody since Larry Sanders.


    BR I love Kumars at No. 42, but its no Larry Sanders!

  75. metroplexual commented on Jan 26


    Firefly (the series) is one of the best kept secrets out there. Joss Whedon at his best. Truly a masterpiece. Treat yourself, it is an anti government polemic of sorts and is very quotable. Especialy when you learn to curse in Mandarin from watching it.

  76. jj commented on Jan 26

    Trees Lounge


  77. Gary commented on Jan 26

    I searched through through the comments but did not see one of the greatest of all time:
    The Third Man

    In the comments, but excellent and very relevant:
    Lawrence of Arabia

    Buster Keaton: one Week and The General
    The Russians Are Coming
    It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World


  78. crack commented on Jan 26

    If you haven’t seen The Wire, that has to be on the list.

    I got Charade and it came with Penny Serenade.

    A&E’s Pride and Prejudice.

    Infernal Affairs, the HK movie that The Departed was based on.

    Blu-Ray is going to be in every PS3. Even if it doesn’t win outright there will be a big enough market for movies to be made on it. Wikipedia says there have been 111 million PS2s sold world wide, 37 million in the US. If PS3 does a third of that that means 12 million blu-ray players. That’s a lot of audience built in.

  79. diana commented on Jan 26

    Buffy (high school IS hell)

    and and almost forgotten but nonetheless sci-fi masterpiece: Babylon 5

  80. Ted Craig commented on Jan 26

    I’d recommend Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and Clarke’s Civilisation. Large-scale documentaries like those are perfect for DVD.

  81. beachbum commented on Jan 26

    Having a feel for your tastes, these lesser known items will knock your socks off:

    Top Movie: Dead Man with Johnny Depp

    Top Music/Concert Movie: Lightning In a Bottle, A One Night History of the Blues

    Music: John Lee Hooker – The Healer; Jonny Lang – Wander this World; Dave Matthews – Live at Luther College; Pink Floyd – Pulse and Division Bell; Santana – Supernatural; Van Morrison – The Healing Game.

  82. Jan Elberse commented on Jan 26

    To add a few things not listed by others:

    BBC series:
    – I, Claudius (not the greatest production values but an engrossing storyline…)
    – Reilly, Ace of Spies
    – Heat of the Sun (a BBC mystery series set in Kenya)

    Surely someone listed “The Office” (the British version)?

    My favorite all-time movie is the Maltese Falcon. I also recommend “Soldier of Orange”, Paul Verhoeven’s first “big budget” movie that launched a lot of careers in the US (Verhoeven, Hauer, Krabbe, de Bont (camera)) Worth seeing…

  83. Andrew Shalit commented on Jan 26

    Regarding Blu-Ray, hadn’t you heard that Sony decided to concede the format wars to HD DVD? Oh, they’re still producing Blu-Ray stuff, but it’s a dead-man walking.

    As for must-have media purchases from Amazon: Ulysses read by Donal Donnelly. If you have any interest in spoken word, this is an experience that you will treasure.

  84. Mark Gorman commented on Jan 26

    The only DVD set I own is ‘Firefly’, and I highly recommend it. ‘The Sandbaggers’ was also a very good British show.

  85. Kurt Musselmann commented on Jan 27

    the lord of the rings series, especially the extended editions

    if you like nature documentaries, “the blue planet’ seas of life is an AMAZING documentary, with a lot of never before filmed material, eeryone that has seen it loves it

  86. DavidB commented on Jan 28

    If you are a fan of Cary Grant Barry then you’ll probably want to get the movie Penny Serenade if you haven’t already seen it. It has Irene Dunne in it and it has to be one of the most human stories you’ll see. The nice part is you’ll probably be able to get it for a few bucks. It definitely belongs in every movie collection for that price. It’s also a great movie to throw in the box if you have family over and want something general for them to watch

    Penny Serenade

  87. Amanda G. commented on Jan 28

    Some good ones that haven’t been mentioned:

    Three Days of the Condor
    Fawlty Towers (hilarious 80s British comedy series with John Cleese)
    All The President’s Men
    Body Heat
    Harold & Maude
    Twelve Angry Men
    Paris, Texas
    The Prisoner (60s British drama series with Patrick McGoohan)
    Double Indemnity
    The Verdict
    Dr. Strangelove
    Lone Star
    Schindler’s List
    Crimes & Misdemeanors
    Malcolm X
    Silence of the Lambs
    Apollo 13
    Sid & Nancy
    The French Connection
    The Last Seduction
    Sunset Boulevard
    Rain Man
    Notorious, or anything by Alfred Hitchcock

  88. Jason G. commented on Jan 28

    Here are some as well…

    A Clockwork Orange

    About Schmidt

    American Psycho

    Cinema Paradiso


    Conversations With Other Women

    Cool Hand Luke

    Dazed and Confused

    Der Untergang (Downfall)


    Fast Times At Ridgemont High

    Gosford Park

    Hardcore Logo

    Hurly Burly

    Igby Goes Down

    In America

    In The Company Of Men

    Killing Zoe

    Laurel Canyon

    Monty Python’s Life Of Brian

    Mulholland Drive

    Point Blank (not Point Break… this is Lee Marvin/Angie Dickinson)

    Risky Business

    Roger Dodger

    Saturday Night Fever

    Sexy Beast

    Short Cuts



    The Hustler

    The Omen (trilogy)

    The Outsiders

    The Player

    The Proposition

    The Squid And The Whale

    The Taking Of Pelham 123

    The Usual Suspects

    The Warriors

    Welcome To The Dollhouse
    Storytelling (Todd Solondz super dark humor)

    Wall Street

    We Don’t Live Here Anymore

    Wonder Boys

    You Can Count On Me

    Your Friends And Neighbors

  89. Doug W commented on Jan 28

    Touch of Evil

    Orson Welles’ dark, atmospheric story of crime and corruption. The movie begins with one of the most famous shots ever made.

  90. fatdave commented on Jan 29

    I would really recommend just two; City of God, about a couple of kids growing up in a Rio favela, and La Haine, about a day in the life of a couple of kids from the Parisian banlieue. They are two of the best foreign language movies made in the last 10 years and well worth owning.

    As for Blue Ray Vs HD I’m not going to upgrade until this one settles down a bit first, there is no first mover advantage for consumers.

  91. matt m. commented on Jan 29

    The Pope of Greenwich Village

  92. Ralph Sevush commented on Jan 29

    My Top 100:

    7 faces of Dr. Lao
    7 Samurai
    12 Angry Men
    2001: A Space Odyssey
    5,000 fingers of dr. T
    Adventures of Robin Hood
    All that Jazz
    Annie Hall
    Apocalypse Now

    Atlantic City
    Beauty and the Beast (French)
    Beauty and the beast (Animated)
    Bicycle Thief
    Blade Runner
    Bull Durham

    Citizen Kane
    Clockwork Orange, A
    Court Jester, The
    Crow, The
    Das Boot
    Double Indemnity
    Dr. Strangelove
    Duck Soup

    Empire Strikes Back
    Enter the Dragon
    Field of Dreams
    Ghost & Mrs. Muir
    Godfather II

    Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    Great Escape
    Harold & Maude
    Here Comes Mr. Jordan
    His Girl Friday
    It’s a Gift
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Jason & the Argonauts

    King Kong
    La Strada
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Local Hero
    Mad Max 2: Road Warrior
    Magnificent 7
    Maltese Falcon
    Man who Would be King
    March of the Wooden Soldiers

    Miracle on 34th St
    Modern Times
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    National Lampoon’s Animal House
    Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
    Night of the Living Dead
    On the Town

    Pulp Fiction
    Quiet Man
    Raging Bull
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Rear Window
    Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
    Rocky Horror Picture Show
    Rules of the Game

    Sherlock, Jr.
    Sin of Harold Diddlebock
    Singin in the Rain
    Some Like it Hot
    Stairway to Heaven
    Star Wars
    Stunt Man
    Sullivan’s Travels
    Sunset Boulevard
    Sweet Smell of Success

    Thief of Baghdad
    Third Man
    This is Spinal Tap
    Where’s Poppa
    Wild Bunch
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    Wizard of Oz
    Young Frankenstein

  93. Ed commented on Jan 30

    High Plains Drifter

    You have to love the spaghetti westerns and this is my favorite.

    I now have a great list to load up my netflix queue – thanks!

  94. Bruce commented on Jan 31

    I suggest _Mirrormask_ for outstanding visuals.

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