Column, Movie Diary

‘Play it again, Sam’

By Dom Cioffi

I have a friend who has collected movies for years. He’s amassed a huge array of films on multiple formats that has literally commandeered an entire room of his house.

I’m an obvious movie-lover but I’ve never felt the need to collect physical copies. In fact, I’ve never been much of a collector of anything (outside of 12 guitars… gulp).

For me, many years have to pass before I’m ready to watch a movie a second time. Generally, I want to entirely forget a film before I revisit it. And then, if I feel the need to see it again, I’ll track it down somehow.

On rare occasions, a few select films have intrigued me enough to see them immediately after a first viewing. “Pulp Fiction” was so verbally interesting and had such unique characters that I had to see it again days later. And the first “Toy Story” was so genre defining and historically significant that after one watch, I knew everything in the world of animation was going to change, so I went again the next day.

My friend’s movie collection started with VHS tapes when we were in our 20s. Even then, when it was sort of normal for everyone to have their own personal library of films, I remember thinking that I wasn’t interested in the investment involved with such an endeavor. I had a few films that I received as gifts (remember when you always got a movie in your stocking?), but other than that, the copies I had were limited.

When DVDs arrived on the scene, he claimed to only want his absolute favorites on that format. But upon each subsequent visit to his house, I noticed the DVD rack slowly overtaking the VHS tape rack. And, not surprisingly, the same upgrade began again after Blu-Rays were unleashed.

When Netflix first arrived on the scene, I quickly realized that my approach was more financially prudent because now everyone could have access to practically any movie on earth with a $10 monthly subscription.

I don’t speak to this friend as much these days since he and his wife moved away, but the last time I did, I brought up his movie collection, wondering if he was ready to succumb to the future of movie watching via online streaming. He very matter-of-factly told me that he would not; there was no need since he had his pristine DVD collection and a high-end player and display. He argued that no streaming service could match his home theater set-up.

He then sent me a picture of how he had reworked his basement into an epic cinema-enhanced man-cave, with all the walls neatly lined with his collection of movies and a cushy theater chair front and center to relax in.

Of course, it’s easy to think that it’s more economical to join an online platform like Netflix or Hulu, but with all the services now popping up – HBO Max, Disney+, YouTube TV to name a few – you can easily overspend just to see the content you desire.

I’m one of the idiots that still has cable (even though I threaten to cancel it every month). Add in the few streaming services I belong to, and the cost of my internet connection, and I pay over $250 a month just for digital entertainment.

Out of the very few DVDs that are kicking around my house, there is only one that seems to get played on a regular basis. It’s a holiday film that my wife and I first watched almost 20 years ago and have steadfastly revisited every December since.

The film is “Love Actually,” and the storyline begins during the first week of December. Consequently, this is when we always make it a point to pull out the DVD. My wife and I love this movie as it always seems like the catalyst to start our holiday season.

I reviewed “Love Actually” when it was first released in 2003 and was enamored with it after that initial screening. I went back and read my review prior to writing this column and saw that I had given it a grade of “A-,” and I still stand by that grade.

Every year I hope to find a new holiday film that is as entertaining and bewitching as “Love Actually,” but it never happens. This year, I noticed that “Holidate” was gaining traction as a viable Christmas film, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Unfortunately, it was run-of -the-mill at best.

The premise is endearing with a young man and woman deciding to be each other’s date for every holiday simply because they were both tired of the relationship drama involved with “real” dating. Of course, they are both ridiculously good looking and charming and you spend the whole movie trying to believe they don’t really notice each other.

This has Hallmark Channel written all over it – which is fine if that’s the sort of entertainment you’re looking for. Unlike Hallmark movies, however, this one gets pretty risqué at times.

Check this one out if you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit. Just don’t expect another “Love Actually.”

An egg-noggy “C” for “Holidate.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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