Film As we discussed recently, having access to three different streaming services and my own collection means I can't justify also receiving dvds from Lovefilm-by-post and so once they increase the monthly subscription price I'll be dropping it.
This is a big moment for me.
As this blog reminds me, I originally signed up for ScreenSelect on 29th February 2002.
My first, first, rental by post was a freebie of Le Regle Du Jour from The Guardian's dvd rental service. Then, I'm now reminded by the voluminous blog post from the time, you paid for each rental separately, £3.75 and it took three days to arrive in a plastic snap case which had to be posted back to them afterwards. The idea was to offer an alternative to the more mainstream fare at Blockbuster but now looks unsustainably expensive. The old landing page indicates a subscription service was also offered, two at a time for £13.95.
Anyway, it was enough to indicate the benefits of not having to get a bus to the video shop and back and having access to a massive catalogue and I've used a dvd-by-post service continuously since, watching at least two to four dvds sent to me every week, a lifeline before broadband to a vast range of cinema.
In that original post, I listed the first fifty films I added to the service
A Bout De Souffle, Bande A Part, Le Mepris, Jules Et Jim, 400 Blows, Punch-Drunk Love, Down With Love, Great Expectations, Seabiscuit, Les Enfants Du Paradis, Three Colours Blue, Three Colours White, Three Colours Red, Whalerider, Dirty Pretty Things, La Jetee / Sans Soleil, Cinema 16, Norah Jones: New Orleans, The Hours, American Pie: The Wedding, Chain Reaction, The Mummy Returns, City Of God, Hulk, Malena, Irreversible, The Conversation, Arsenic And Old Lace, The Third Man, Blue Crush, Phone Booth, The China Syndrome, Wrong Turn, Two Weeks Notice, Sheryl Crow... The Videos, Welcome To Collinwood, The Thin Red Line, Perfect Crimes, Buena Vista Social Club, Wild Strawberries, Last Party 2000, 8 Women, U-Turn, Serpico, The Gingerbread Man, McCabe And Mrs Miller and Barry Lyndon
It's quite a mixture and indeed there's a couple I'd forgotten I'd watched this early despite having carried out a boring diary project that year in which I kept a check on when and how I watched everything, a diligent process which often took hours of wracking my brain, information which is now recorded by streaming services as a matter of course.
My guess is I glanced through that month's Empire Magazine or some such. It's certainly the case that this will be the first time I've seen all of these films, yes, even The Third Man and the Three Colours Trilogy even at the age of thirty. Many of them went on to become favourite films, especially amongst the French New Wave.
In subsequent weeks I kept a record of my interaction with the service.
Here's my excitement at receiving the first three discs, The Gingerbread Man, Chain Reaction and Perfect Crimes (which was an anthology series which included a half hour short directed by Stephen Soderbergh).
My initial review indicated that watched thirteen films in the first sixteen days, probably due to them sending three discs at a time and being capable of sitting through three things in the evening. I've also already noticed their old methodology of waiting a day before sending the next dispatch. But I seem very happy with spending £14.99 per month.
After a month, I began to notice the way the algorithm which selected the discs seemed to do so thematically, at that time sending all the Gwyneth Paltrow films. With the inventory now at its third company, this has still been the case. Have a hundred films in the list and it will still send you all French films together.
In May I was moaning about the post which had reduced to one delivery a day and was skipping the weekend altogether. Apparently I'd been getting through six films a week, which is huge. I suspect it's because ScreenSelect worked on a Saturday and would send a new disc out which would arrive at home on Monday and also the post office would do Sunday morning pick-ups at postboxes. Now if I post a disc on Friday it won't be turned around until Monday. Post it on Sunday and it won't get back to them until Tuesday. Sigh.
By July I'd stopped watching television. That's pretty much still the case and now I don't even know when or where anything is broadcast. I completely missed the start of the new series of SHIELD.
Then in November we cancelled Sky. Ironically, it's now the very fact of receiving Sky through an app on my Roku 3 box which has led to the decision to cancel Lovefilm.
Am I concerned? Yes. If enough of us do cancel in March when the price increases, Amazon might decide to cut their losses and close dvds by post which means it won't still be there should I decided to sign back up.
But free time is limited. The combined catalogues of Lovefilm, Amazon Prime and NowTV amounts to over six thousand items and even taking into account the dross and Disney repetition, that should be more than enough films and television installments to keep me busy especially with their rolling catalogues. Yes, I'll have to wait three to six months or longer after the shiny disc release to see some films, but at this point I barely pay attention to release dates anyway.
Bye then, ScreenSelect and Lovefilm and err, Lovefilm-by-post. It's been educational.