Archive for July, 2008

The X-Files: You’d Better Believe It!

July 26, 2008

I want you to believe there are little to no spoilers below.

Ten years ago The X-files hit theaters in a big way. Trailers depicted cavemen, aliens, corn fields, men in black suits, explosions and little boys falling into holes. The X-Files: Fight the Future was a serious summer event. Having latched onto the series in it’s fourth season, I did the best I could in late night reruns to catch up on the first few seasons and get an idea of the overall mythology of the series before seeing the movie. I’ll admit, I still don’t really get it. I remember black ooze, aliens, a syndicate and Mulder’s little sister going missing. Oh yeah, and Skully was supposed to be immortal. Some of those pieces to the puzzle fit into Fight the Future, and the film acted as an arc between seasons. As a newcomer to the series with half an idea of the overall story, the film was quite entertaining.

Now, this summer Mulder and Skully return in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. The subtitle of the film comes from a poster seen in Mulder’s office and was a common catchphrase of the series. Another phrase of the series, “Trust no one”, appears in the opening credits for many episodes. It is in these conflicting phrases that the dynamic of Mulder and Skully is revealed. Mulder wants to believe the unbelievable while Skully trusts logic and rarely trusts anyone. The series relied and thrived on this dynamic. And despite the aliens, garbage monsters, detachable conjoined twins and telepathic death row inmates; Skully continued to be skeptical of the paranormal up until the series end.

Picking up six years after the last episode, The X-Files: I Want To Believe drops the alien mythology that either fascinated or confounded viewers. Rather, the film relies on the dynamic of Mulder and Skully in a much smaller, personal and still very creepy X-file. Mulder and Skully are still their old selves yet are a little closer than they were in the series. After six years together in hiding, the two have a questionable relationship. The words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are never used, and yet they live together. I think they’d like to think it’s because Mulder is still wanted for his actions in the last season, but really they can’t live without each other. Mulder and Skully are a perfect example of yin and yang, dark and light. And while Mulder truly thrives in the dark and Skully seeks the light, they both have a bit of the other in them (that’s what those little dots in the yin and yang mean). The focus of the film isn’t so much the case, the case is what’s necessary to bring Mulder and Skully together and to bring back their old dynamic. In working through the case, a deeply personal story is told of belief and disbelief. The X-Files: I Want To Believe is simply that at its core, an allegorical tale of belief and how wanting to believe can lead to the light or the dark.

For viewers looking for a huge summer event movie, look elsewhere. The X-Files: I Want To Believe is cold, creepy and deeply touching for those who know the characters of Mulder and Skully.

Four out of Five pencils stuck in the ceiling

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How to start a DVD collection on the cheap and not feel (as) guilty

July 9, 2008

Hi friends! If you are doubting the promise of the title above, leave this page now.

Ha ha, I’m only kidding. But did you consider hitting that little “back” button for just a moment? Well, considering you’re still reading that means you have commitment. And no fellows, I’m not talking about the big “c”-word in the sense that the ladies use. Ha ha! (And just to clarify, the “c”-word is commitment, not that OTHER “c”-word).

I mean commitment to a collection, a group of things that are similar and that can be placed together for viewing and occasional use. In this sense we’re talking about DVD collections. Now I hear you saying “But Barry, DVDs cost up to $30 each! AND that’s just the single disc editions!” Don’t fret, because there are ways around this pesky pricing problem, and here they are!

Step 1 “What do you like?”

The first step in starting an inexpensive DVD collection is to ask yourself what you like in film and television. Are there particular genres you find yourself drawn to? If you love “The X-FIles”, “Close Encounters” and that documentary “Trekkies” you just may be a redneck. Ha ha! No, joking, you actually may be a sci-fi nerd (which is almost as bad as being a redneck).

Step 2 “Is it worth a ‘3-peat’?”

Once you have a handful of genres that you like, start to list all the movies within these genres that are either notable or personal favorites. Then ask yourself, “Is it worth a ‘3-peat’?” meaning you’ve seen it once (hence you like it), if you owned it you’d see it again AND you’d definitely see it a third time. If this is the case, you should probably buy it. If this isn’t the case, it’s probably easier to rent as you’ll only watch it once more then let it collect dust. Also, the price of two rentals is almost equal to buying the movie.

Step 3 THE HUNT

Now that you have a vision of your inexpensive DVD collection, you gotta buy the suckers! AT this point you have to ask yourself if you’re comfortable with owning a used DVD. If you aren’t, you’d better change your attitude. Used DVD’s are the secret to a stellar DVD collection. I’m not saying buying new is a bad thing, in fact I’d prefer it! But unfortunatly as stated above it gets expensive.

Tips for buying NEW

  • Read up on sales. Vendors often offer online weekly ads, so you can skip picking up a newspaper (do they still make those?? Ha! ha!) Best Buy, Target and Circuit City are prime examples for dirt cheap DVDs, often going for $5-10 each.
  • Buy 2, get one free. While you may be buying two DVDs at a high price (roughly $15), you pay less (roughly $10) when you take advantage of these deals. Do the math on your cellphone calculator in store to see your savings.
  • Coupons! Ah yes, the OTHER “C”-word. Few stores offer DVD specific coupons, but snatch these up when you see them. More often you’ll find 10%-30% off one item coupons, Borders is an excellent example. Keep an eye out for their occasional 40% off DVD boxed set coupon.

Tips for buying USED – Here is where you strike GOLD!

  • Scour record stores. Many record stores buy and sell used DVDs. Since people are usually there for the music, they skip the movies. I’ve found many gems at record stores, and prices are right for the most part.
  • Shop independent rental stores. New releases are bought in bulk and boxes are kept in the back while the discs are rented out. Once the release is considered old, the leftover discs (except one which the store retains for renting) are sold in new boxes at used prices.
  • Avoid Hollywood Video and Blockbuster. Rental stores will usually put the used DVDs in an ugly rental box. The funky looking box, rough surface, rental stickers and missing inserts aren’t worth the $9.99. If you could care less about the case, then go for it. But your library at home will suffer.
  • Go to FYE and Suncoast. The amount of used DVDs nearly rival the new, and many rarities can be found. Prices are usually reasonable and the case and inserts are often intact.
  • Try ebay. $1 DVD auctions abound. Don’t get caught up in bidding, give yourself a stopping price (I aim for under $8 total including shipping). Read condition notes carefully and check seller ratings.

And there you have it, a DVD collection on the cheap! Sorry to drop the kooky salesman speak halfway through, but that was the important stuff. Ha ha! Now that you know the secrets, get out there and start buying (responsibly). Ha! ha!