Monday, March 2, 2015

Thoughts on removing clutter and the Popeye movie

Some time last year I had the realization that I had two options:  start paying for a storage unit or start getting rid of things.  I've had the collector's mindset for quite a long time, but my house is only so big and I can only hold on to so much.  So I've been going through purges on and off, donating some things, putting others on eBay, or even just flat out throwing things away when necessary.

The process has not been as difficult as I originally thought it might be.  I've found that I've lost that "gotta have it all" collector's mindset, and it's really helped.  My biggest hurdle is that there are things, especially media, that I would like to review before just flat out getting rid of.  The main project of the last few months are the DVDs, Blu rays, and video games that take up an entire wall in my living room.  I'm skipping television series for the moment and focusing solely on movies.  There are some I know sight unseen that I've either outgrown (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) or were an impulse purchase I really shouldn't have made (I went through a period of thinking I needed every Disney animated film, and I don't), but I'm also forcing myself to review old favorites to see if it's really a movie I need to have on hand to watch whenever I might want to.

Some movies are good, but just not something I'm going to return to.  The first Pirates of the Caribbean film, for instance, is a really fun romp, and there's good parts in the sequels as well.  But it just doesn't hold a lot of emotional importance for me, and the CGI effects are no longer as exciting to me as they were when new, and holy crap why did we think all movies had to be two and a half hours around the turn of the century.  So since I had a hard time sitting through film one, I made the executive decision to get rid of all four.  Similar decisions have been made down the line, as well as ones I kept without reviewing, because no way am I getting rid of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Last night I watched Popeye, a film I had purchased on DVD because we had it on VHS when I was young and I remember us watching it repeatedly.  Watching it again as an adult, I'm amazed I sat through it as a kid.  The film just sort of meanders from scene to scene.  I think they were trying to go for something that would recreate a bunch of Popeye shorts, perhaps, but he only eats spinach once at the very end of the film, so it doesn't exactly work.  I think as a kid I must have mostly sat around waiting for the songs, which while not exactly the best musical score ever recorded, are quite cute and clever in places.  Ray Walston and Robin Williams playing off each other toward the end when they finally meet again is also quite funny.

One of the pieces of advice I've seen in articles encouraging you to reduce your clutter is that the memories are far more important than the objects associated with them, and you don't need the object to keep the memory.  That's certainly very true, but in the case of film, you have to admit that without viewing it, you're not always going to think of those things.  So here's some recollections of what I remember about the Popeye movie:

  1. I remember thinking it was so odd that the film version of Popeye didn't like spinach when he always loved it in the cartoons.  Even as a child, I was judging adaptations against their source material.
  2. This was, as far as I know, the first time I saw a proper reproduction of an octopus.  I was so used to the cutesy simplified version you always see in cartoons, and I didn't understand why the one they used here looked so strange.  His eye looks so very mean too, that even though it looks super fake to me now, I remember being scared of it then.
  3. Even though it's explained by the characters in the film, I remember asking my parents about Bluto's clothes turning yellow as he swims away in the final scene.  "Why would it make his clothes turn yellow?"  My extremely logical child brain wanted to know.  Funny enough, the way Bluto sees Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Sweetpea all in red when he's angry didn't seem to bother me as much.
  4. There's a background cast member (I don't think he's ever named so I can't identify him via imdb) who Bluto smooshes down when he's angry.  The scene was striking enough that he looks odd standing up straight to me.  I also have really clear memories of the way the guy Popeye uses like a punching bag shaking.  The attempts at making cartoon violence real in this movie are actually pretty freaky.

That's not a very long list, I know, and that's probably why I won't be keeping this one.  By comparison, I decided to hold on to Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella, because that one is a lot more fun through out and has much better songs.  It's another one I visited repeatedly on VHS as a child, but I think holds up a lot more to viewing as an adult.  Short Circuit is another that will be coming up soon enough, and that one is going to be tough to decide on for very different reasons (hello, uncomfortable Indian stereotypes being portrayed by a white man, why did you still exist in the 80s?).

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