For a proper appreciation of the article that follows, you may want to read Bill's review of Road to Perdition from last week at his Movie Emporium.
I really enjoyed your opening paragraph, in which you share the story of your blind purchase of Road to Perdition on DVD a few years ago. Blind buys are still something I allow myself to do every now and then. A bit like yourself, a purchase is rarely, if ever, a true blind buy. One associates one's desire to pick of a DVD or Blu-ray with the involvement of an artist whose talents one respects. I think that goes without saying. Buying a film one has never seen and finding it to be amazing is one of the great pleasures in life. It is similar to the sensation of sipping a perfectly infused tea: blissful. It makes one think aloud 'Yeah, that was a good move! I'm going to pat myself on the back for making that move.' One's instincts have be proven right because, you know, you know who you are, you know? Even so, there are the occasional adventurous purchases that backfire. A few months ago, I was parading the aisles of a video store when, upon entering the martial arts section, my eyes came across something called The Flying Guillotine. It was a Shaw Brothers movie from the 1970s but the DVD was fairly recent, so it had as its paper slip cover one of those shoddy photoshop jobs that try to make the old films look totally modern, you know the sort of DVD cover I'm talking about. I mean, the guy looked completely bad ass, what with his long wavy hair, intense glare and his huge guillotine, ready to chop some mother fucking heads off...The movie was shit. I was so disappointed, I could not believe how weak the film ended up being. Then there was the time I bought, perhaps even despite my better judgement, Predator 2 on Blu-ray. Yes, the reviews I had read did not paint the film in very positive light, but I figured that it was still, after all, a Predator film, starred Danny Glover and brought the titular monster to the streets of Los Angeles where there is more prey to demolish. How bad could it be, right? Wrong! It just goes to show that you need to beware the guillotine equipped predator. However, one can make up for such aforementioned errors when claiming a gem, like the time I bought Suspiria for maybe 8$. Now that's a strange, bold, creepy little movie. Perfect? No, but it hit the spot when I had a craving for some decent horror.
Another thing about buying movies that a lot of people get wrong (and yes, I do mean to write 'get wrong') is they purchase at the wrong place and at the wrong time. I'm always a little bit surprised whenever I arrive at work with a bag from a nearby store (I start work a little bit later than most so I can swing by stores before my day begins), which prompts some of my colleagues to inquire as to what I bought, only to be appalled that I spent 15$ on a film. Seriously, a 15 dollar price tag gets your boxer in a knot? First and foremost, brand new Hollywood releases are usually in the 25$-30$ price range, so I fail to see what the controversy is in buying something for 15$ Am I right or am I right?$$? But that's not all, oh no sir. Buying at the right time is a matter of playing the waiting game. There is nothing which forces people to go to the store on the Tuesday a film is released on Blu-ray and throw up about 30$ for one. All one has to do is walk away from the shelf, wait a few months and sure enough it will go down in price by 5, 10 maybe even half price. That's when you buy! There are ample other ways to get movies for less expensive that many think. There is an HMV store in downtown Montréal which has, on rotation, about 30-40 blu-rays for 10$. You'd be surprised how may good things one can find in there. True enough, for the most part the film included in that section for a little bit old and in some cases are not the best Blu-rays (picture quality-wise) but there are definitely some great finds to be had if one knows how to browse. I think I bought Midnight Cowboy that way even though it had only come out a couple of weeks prior. Seriously, Midnight Cowboy for 10$. That's less than a movie ticket, for crying out loud. How the hell do you think I got all those Rambo movies for that marathon we did a couple years ago?
Of course, there are the films one desperately wants, the ones for which waiting anywhere from 3-5 months is not an option. Some are even a little more expensive than the typical street release price. One example for a film for which I actually reserved a copy that I'll be picking up this week is Casablanca. Warner Brothers just released a few days ago a new, 4K high definition restoration for a 70th anniversary edition. I actually own the previous incarnation on Blu-ray, which came out 4 years ago, but got it cheap in a three-pack ( I think Wizard of Oz was one of the other two) with two other WB classics. In essence, I got it for pretty cheap, I don't know, 7$-8$. It's a good disc, with some really nice video quality and bonuses, but this 70th anniversary edition, which I will not be getting cheap, is the real deal. The early reviews have said it is has a superior transfer, a better soundtrack and, believe it or not, includes more bonuses than on the previous disc. There is a hardcover book and a poster in the package, which itself looks might handsome. Sometimes, you just gotta buy.
So, in conclusion, blind buys are great when they pay off. Road to Perdition makes for a great blind buy, on that we can agree. I mean, you wrote about it yourself in your review last week, right?