I felt a wave of nostalgia when Netflix announced it was ending its subscription DVD-by-mail service.

My husband, Paul, and I had been members for years. I remember thinking when we signed up how wonderful it would be not to argue over what we were going to rent in the middle of the video store.

We could calmly discuss our next selections at home.

This was an important development, as we take our movies seriously.

Our first date, in fact, was to see “The Big Chill.” Paul had already seen it and enjoyed it (it was a landmark film for our generation) and wanted to see it again with me. I was honored. The movie had been out for a while by then so it wasn’t playing in the big cinemas anymore. We had to trek out to a small town, single-screen theater. Luckily, I knew a nice little fern bar nearby. …

And that’s how it’s gone for us ever since. A marriage marked by movies.


Dinner and a film is a cliché date. But not just any movie would do for us. We wouldn’t see something just because everyone else was. We didn’t look at what was playing at the multiplex and pick something just to have a movie night.

The cinema was a destination. We always planned in advance.

We weren’t such snobs that we avoided the multiplex. No, we went to see plenty of blockbusters. But, we also liked to frequent the art houses, of which there were two in Providence, Rhode Island, where we were living.

Then the VCR arrived on the scene. This seemed like a miracle. Watching movies at home, uninterrupted by commercials. And being able to see the movies clearly at home — wow! My interest in films began when I was a teenager. Our television received two Providence channels and one Boston channel clearly. The other Boston stations were iffy. Still, if they were playing a movie I desperately wanted to see, I’d try. I watched “The African Queen” in snowy black and white on a portable TV, punctuated by ads. I got the gist of it, but it was a disappointing experience for a Humphrey Bogart fan.

At first, VCRs were clunky, hard to use and expensive. But you could rent them, and Paul I did. We ordered videos via mail, because stores had yet to arrive. It wasn’t long before the whole industry was up and running, and we were in our glory. Movies, whenever we wanted.

It was then that we discovered a problem. We’d get to the video store and start looking around. I’d show Paul something. He’d make a face. I’d put it back.


He’d show me something. “Nope,” I said. I admit I’m tough when it comes to viewing. I refuse to watch anything I don’t think I’m going to like.

On the positive side, I never try to get Paul to watch something he is clearly uninterested in, even if he pretends he is, just to be nice.

Over the years, we have agreed to rewatch each other’s favorite movies occasionally. I don’t suffer through “Glory” and “The Last of the Mohicans.” It’s just that they’re violent. And I actually like “Master and Commander.” I just don’t need to see it more than once a year.

Paul has to endure “Sideways” annually, as I like to watch it on my birthday. I know he is dreading the day when he will have to watch “Lost in Translation” with me. Again.

He can fall asleep if he wants to. I hold no grudges.

The worst of our video store disagreements came when we were visiting Paul’s parents. We needed to have a movie to avoid watching Lawrence Welk reruns. Of course, we had the added burden of trying to find something they would like, too.


It’s interesting how, in a decade or so, the unlimited possibility of the VCR so quickly became limited. At least in our heads.

The next phase was the Netflix subscription. We had time to make our selections, and sometimes even had a list going. But at the end, I didn’t think there were enough movies that we really wanted to see. Hollywood had finally let us down.

Soon enough, streaming came along and a whole new world opened.

But much of what we were streaming were limited series. If we binge-watched the best of them (“The Queen’s Gambit,” “White Lotus,” “The Crown”), it was like watching a movie. Except it wasn’t.

A few weeks ago, Paul shared an article from The New York Times listing great movies available on Amazon Prime. I selected the ones I wanted to watch. So far, Paul has agreed to my choices. There are only a couple of repeats on there: “Lost in Translation” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

We are watching one a week. We started with “The Magnificent Seven,” and went on to “The Big Lebowski.” Our latest was “The Graduate.” I’d never seen it. I loved it. I’ve decided it’s one of the best movies ever. I felt I was back in 1967.

Except that, then, I was tweaking the TV’s rabbit ears and going to the drive-in with my parents. Look at me now, in my recliner, devouring “Lost in Translation,” while Paul struggles to keep his eyes open nearby.

Liz Soares welcomes email at lizzie621@icloud.com.

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