New from Sarah Welch-Larson on Substack: 18: Vinyl and LaserDiscs

My husband and I went to a couple of record stores yesterday evening. I like vinyl, and we have a decent collection, but the real draw for me is the used movies section. Reckless Records—a Chicago chain—sells a significant number of used DVDs and Blu-rays. The location we went to last night also has a solid selection of VHS tapes and even LaserDiscs; I found not one but two copies of Aliens (one theatrical, one extended) on LD this time. I couldn’t justify buying them, because I have no way to play them, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted.

I did find a few movies that I will be able to play: a special edition Blu-ray of Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness, and a DVD collection of Vincent Price and Christopher Lee horror movies from the 1950s and 60s that is almost certainly out of print. Used DVD sections are often populated with multiple copies of whatever briefly dominated the conversation before fading away. (I’ve seen so many copies of The Artist and The King’s Speech on used DVD shelves.) They’re interesting on an anthropological level, both as an indicator of what was popular a few years ago, and as a resource for movies that are going to become increasingly hard to find because the rights to stream or screen them are tied up somewhere. Record stores are pretty good about selling media that will actually play—they’re more reliable than thrift stores, which might be cheaper, but which don’t always bother to check for scratches or marring. It’s satisfying to walk into a shop and find something unexpected.

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What I talked about:

This week on the Seeing and Believing podcast, we ditched the movies to talk about TV! Kevin and I are both Lord of the Rings people, so we took the opportunity to go long on the series opener of Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power. I also introduced him to the delightful Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall. If you haven’t seen it, now’s the time: it’s barely over two hours long total, and perfect for watching when autumn starts to roll in.

Also on Seeing and Believing, we released a bonus episode about the movies we’re most looking forward to this upcoming awards season.

What I watched:

Over the Labor Day holiday, my husband and I revisited Michael Mann’s Heat. I’ve never met a Michael Mann movie I didn’t like, and this one packs a wallop. On its face, it’s an unstoppable-force-meets-immovable-object crime thriller, with cops and robbers chasing each other all over LA. But because this is a Mann movie, both the cops and the robbers are very, very good at what they do, and there’s a joy in the process of watching them work. Mann is also conscious of the consequences of his men being very good at only one thing; the movie is a sleek machine leaving shattered glass in its wake. Ground zero is a not a bank or a high-speed chase: it’s a quiet diner in which Al Pacino’s cop and Robert De Niro’s robber meet over a cup of coffee, acknowledge each other’s work, and come to terms with the fact that they’re both going to keep chasing each other, because it’s the only thing they know how to do.

What I’m reading:

The hosts of Perfect Organism podcast had me on recently to talk about feminism in the Alien movies (watch this space for the episode in a couple of weeks). I took the opportunity to brush up a little on my feminist theory and revisited a few sections of Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine. It’s on the academic side, but if you’re interested in horror movies and/or feminism, it’s essential reading.

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