Lovefilm obsession.

Film I'm well aware by now that I have something of an obsessive personality and if you've been reading this blog any length of time, you will have noticed it too. There are small issues I've spent weeks, months, even years thinking about but nothing which could be considered useful to anyone else and mostly to do with streamlining something in my own life. I am, I suppose, inspirationally selfish.

Here is an example.

Between Bronowski and Allen my Lovefilm subscription meanders onwards reminding me what I’ve missed at the cinema, especially in the noughties. I’ve finally seen American Psycho (which it turns out is the film Christian Bale is still trying to live up to). I’ve always been slightly exercised by the amount of choice dvd by post offers. So many great and average films, so little time to watch them or waste my time watching them.

And before my anonymous commenter once again suggests that I go out for a walk instead -- it's February and cold.

When I began subscribing with ScreenSelect in February 2004 (which was folded into Lovefilm along with all of the other small firms later), my methodology was to simply watch the hundred films considered to be the best of all time. Then plenty of French New Wave. Then all the films that featured in the sublime cinematography documentary Visions of Light. All of which stood me in good stead when I went back to university, having prewatched some of the texts on our viewing lists.

Up until recently I’ve not really had much focus, in other words, there have been over a thousand films on the list, which is where I've become unstuck. When I've said in the past that I’m wracked by indecision, I meant it, to the point of even losing track of the films which were on that list. I knew that there was no way I’d be able to watch all of it. Ever. The list would just keep growing. And it did, with each new film release missed or dvd re-issue.

Although there was something quite entertaining about having what seemed like whole of film history being sent to me at random, all too often a film would flop through the letterbox which I really wasn’t in the mood to watch or more specifically which I felt it a duty to watch because it was an “important work” from an “important director” which had won “many awards” but did not feature a helicopter exploding on an evening when I all I really wanted to see was a helicopter exploding.

DVD-by-post it seems does not work when there’s too much choice. Though you can’t specify exactly which film you would like to see next, it’s best to limit the choices so that you at least have some idea what to expect. But Lovefilm recommend that you have lots of choice so that the next disc will be send out quickly. Like I said, I’ve become quite obsessed with this, far more than I really should, which probably demonstrates that I’m something of a film obsessive and in completely the wrong job. I digress. Sorry.

Problem: I like to keep my viewing eclectic. Like George Clooney and his project choices, I like to oscillate between schlock and something more worthy. Sometimes helicopters, sometimes rain splattering against a window expressing the inner turmoil of a man lost in the theatre of cruelty that is real life. I need a guiding hand. I need Lovefilm to pretend to be a repertory cinema.

Solution: I was flicking through the new issue of Sight and Sound magazine the other evening and thinking wistfully of the BFI on the Southbank, both the cinema with its comfy seats and zero tolerance for talkers (though not the prices) and their programme and how it offers a useful alternative to the multiplexes presenting mini festivals of a particular director or actor’s work or a general theme and how I wished there was a repertory cinema like that in Liverpool. Then I realised there could be. In my own flat.

And so from now onwards, because I’ve grown so tired of worrying about this, having deleted the thousand films, I’m just going to let the BFI programme my choices. As well as a list of contemporary films or more clearly multiplex fare, I now have “repertory” and each month I’m going to add whatever films the BFI have programmed (assuming they’re available on dvd) which will then be refreshed when the next calender begins.

February is Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, Johnny Depp and Yasujirō Ozu and tonight I began with Late Autumn, one of the Japanese director’s final films about a misunderstanding related to marriage (aren’t they all?). Next month it’s Russian director Sergei Paradjanov, films about blonde women and Alice in Wonderland. I can’t wait.

Thank goodness that’s settled. Now, what next?

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