Amazon Video now on Roku in the UK.

TV Bit of an inside announcement only of interest to a miniscule number of you, but I awoke the other morning to the news that Amazon Video now has an app on Roku boxes on the UK.

This will be of little interest to US users of this useful little black box who've had access for years, but for some reason, in the UK, Amazon refused to budge forcing us, or me, to use the astonishingly ropey app on the Sony blu-ray players which began life as the Lovefilm streamer and a hopelessly slow version on a television which took at least five minutes to reach a stream which was less than HD.

Eventually I bought an Amazon Fire stick but that's never been ideal due to frame skip and immensely obtuse interface which mixes films with music and games and other bits and bobs.  Plus its on-board wifi receiver isn't as strong as it could be.

The Roku app uses the basic on board structure utilised by most of the streaming apps and ironically resembles the earliest version of Netflix. 

But it's entirely fictional and the picture quality is great.

Watching the charming Daniel Radcliffe/Zoe Kazan meet-cute, The F Word or What If? (depending on your territory) tonight, on a couple of occasions I forgot it was a stream and glanced at my blu-ray player wondering why it wasn't switched on.

If only either Amazon Video or Netflix had a decent back catalogue I might consider cancelling the postal dvds.  But they don't, yet, so I won't be.

Review 2015: Film Experiences: Another Call For Entries.

It occurs to me that not everyone who reads my scrawls uses Twitter where I've been plugging this twice a day, so I thought I'd best post it again just in case. Current total runs to one contribution plus a couple of promises so there's still all the play for.

Film For this year's annual review on this blog, let's collect our experiences of seeing films.

As you know, each week I've been posting about my favourite film of a given year, though only now and then do I actually offer anything close to a review.

But instead of simply posting reviews, usually I've talked about the experience of seeing the film for the first time, or what the film means to me in ways which sometimes have nothing to do with the film.

I thought I'd extend an invitation for others, for you, to do the same and publish the results during December.

What I'd like, if you have the time, is for you to choose a film, a favourite though it doesn't need to be and write about how you saw it, what happened and what it meant to you.

Could have been at the cinema, on television, video, dvd, blu-ray, streaming, whatever.

IMPORTANT:  This isn't about just reviewing films, although obviously you might end up reviewing the film depending on what you're writing about.

You could write about the people you saw it with, where you saw it, an incident which happened during the screening.

Or it could be that the film sparked some else off, or its existence triggers memory or there's some element of the film you particularly enjoy like the soundtrack or a particular actor and you could write about that instead.

Or it could be that you had to battle somehow to see a film.  Could be that you even decide to write about the reason you didn't see a film.  For some reason.

IMPORTANT:  It needn't be about something which happened this year.  Although it could be, if there's something you'd especially like to talk about.

Oh and don't worry if I've already written about the film.

Length:  As little as a paragraph.  As long as it needs to be, so you can write and write and write.  There isn't a word limit.  If someone else thinks it's tl;dr that's their problem.

I'll illustrate each piece with still from the film.  If you'd like to suggest something, that's excellent.

As ever this is just a guest blogging thing for fun, but if you have a project or some other thing you'd like be to plug, then let me know and I'll add it in at the bottom along with your Twitter details or personal website or what have you.


Send your entries to with a subject line "Review 2015".

Still Ironic.

Life It's been an interesting day, many demons laid to rest for reasons inside the limits of an adjunct to the blog rules (original posted back in 2002) so I hope you'll indulge me in some nostalgia.

Here's Alanis being a sport on the James Cordon show with updated lyrics for Ironic.

She's been around the chat shows lately, presumably because it's the twentieth anniversary of Jagged Little Pill, which she also has an essay about on her website. The anniversary deluxe boxed set seems like a more fitting tribute than the bizarre covers album released in Starbucks (and which I spent a lot of time plaguing baristas about that year).

Soup Safari #56: Leek, Potato and Herb at The Pen Factory.

Lunch. £3.50. The Pen Factory, 13 Hope St, Liverpool L1 9BQ. Phone: 0151 709 7887. Website.

My Favourite Film of 1973.

Film If there was a spiritual venue for my cinematic awakening it was the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds. From the moment I discovered its existence after finding a brochure for the Leeds film festival in fresher's week, it's pretty much were I spent a lot of evenings, especially in my second and third year when it was a five or ten minute walk from my accommodation.  In the days before even dial-up internet was a domestic necessity, this was as close as I got to having Netflix and of course entirely superior because although the selection was rather more limited and you couldn't pause for a toilet break, it was projected on a giant screen instead of the portable television I have at the moment.

But even my first year in halls, my romance with the place was such that when it came time to make a documentary for a presentations skills montage, I decided to put together a ten minute piece about the place which included an interview with the projectionist and the two montage sequences embedded above which will give you a retrospective sense of what it was like back then. As you can see it was a rep cinema in the old style with wooden theatre seating, screen sitting atop a stage, an orange clock with a backlight which was always on and an actual balcony. The gloss paint. All of the gloss paint.

There's plenty of advertising on show in that video, so you can see the filmic era this was. Flyers advertising The Scent of Green Papaya. A box office papered with publicity stills for Germinal. A late night showing of Reservoir Dogs which had to be granted a video licence. Poster for an all-nighter featuring Wayne's Worlds 1 & 2 and the two Bill & Ted films. Age of Innocence and Romeo is Bleeding in general release. Trailer for An Innocent Woman. While I'm never a completely believer that cinema has golden ages, every years has its classics and not, you can't really argue that this wasn't a great time to be a cinema goer.

Although Dogs was a weekly permanent fixture for a while, in later years the menu had more variety and it's in my third year I saw Mean Streets on Saturday night in a show which finished at about one am from a print which looked like it had been knocking around since its original release.  One of those films which feels like it couldn't live up to its initial viewing, I like that it now exists as a series of dreams, flashes of images, notably the famous scene of drunk Keitel with an Aeroflex camera hung around his neck, De Nero's hat, the blueness and rain in the darkened streets, the pervading sense of dread and threat.

Here's a list of some of the films I remember seeing there: Trainspotting.  Small Faces.  Four Weddings.  Leon.  The Piano.  True Romance.  Withnail & I.  Kids.  Flirting With Disaster.  Like Water For Chocolate.  Farewell My Concubine.  The Hudsucker Proxy.  Pulp Fiction.  Dazed and Confused.  In The Bleak Midwinter.  Manhattan Murder Mystery.  Flower of my Secret.  La Ceremonie.  Mina Tannenbaum.  Age of Innocence.  The Last Seduction.  Living in Oblivion. Mute Witness. Clerks.  Smoke.  Blue In The Face.  The Brothers McMullen.  Four Rooms.  From Dusk Till Dawn.

The last film was John Sayles's Lone Star on the night of my graduation.  My parents had gone to bed at the hotel and I ventured back to the Hyde Park after a few months away.  For most people I expect it was the ceremony itself which drew a line under their undergraduate experience, but for me it was sitting on that empty balcony in that auditorium for what I knew to be final time.  I cried.  A lot.  Just as I always do when I know that a feeling or place which was once there is gone.  Brilliantly, the venue still exists although market forces mean that there's less variety on offer to new students.  But one day I shall go back.  Yes, one day.

Soup Safari #55: Mixed Bean at the Street Café in the Everyman Theatre.

Lunch. £3.50. Street Café, Everyman Theatre, 5-11 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BH. Tel: 0151 708 3700. Website.