Bye Bye Lovefilm.

Film This afternoon I cancelled my Lovefilm-by-post account, almost twelve years to the day from when I originally signed up for what was originally the ScreenSelect service on the 29th February 2004.

I've already written at length about the implications of this on the favourite film of 1960 post, with some facts and figures.

As I said there, being subscribed to three subscription streaming services and also having access to iPlayer and YouTube and Vimeo and ... simply made being sent dvds through the post seem gratuitous.

I need to get around to watching all those Netflix exclusives.  And Amazon Prime exclusives.  And whatever else there is on NowTV.

An update:

The last film I watched was as Osama, Siddiq Barmak's 2003 film about the implications Taliban rule in Afghanistan has for the life of a twelve year old girl. Often visually beautifully, it's also unremittingly grim but it seems fitting that my final hire should be something I wouldn't otherwise necessarily watch and is from a list (#1001films). I've worked my way through a fair number of lists of films I wouldn't necessarily watch across the years.

The final film I received was actually The Saragossa Manuscript but after belatedly looking at the duration and some reviews decided to send it back unwatched anyway. Which I've also done a fair few times over the years too.

None of which is to say I won't ever sign back up again. Popping the envelopes in a post box on my way to the supermarket wasn't much of an event. 

Nevertheless, It's going to be strange not receiving replacements.

For twelve years I've been in the rhythm of watching and posting these shiny discs, of almost always having post, and this is another activity which is going online.

On the upside I'll be able to choose what film I'm watching next in the evening.  On the downside I'll have to wait even longer for that film to be available to me (assuming I wait for it turn up on a subscription streaming service and don't simply rent a stream or some such).

Plus the danger is that I'll be more conservative with my choices and spend all my time watching Anna Kendrick films.

We'll see.


Film Like David Bordwell, I've been watching a lot of 1940s films lately and wondered often why the title sequences often appear in a little box, frames with back on all sides. In another of his ongoing series of investigations into composition, he offers this explanation:
"Later filmmakers mostly stayed away from corners and edges. You couldn’t be sure that things put there would register on different image platforms. When films were destined chiefly for theatres, you couldn’t be absolutely sure that local screens would be masked correctly. Many projectors had a hot spot as well, rendering off-center items less bright. And any film transferred to 16mm (a strong market from the 1920s on) might be cropped somewhat. Accordingly, one trend in 1920s and 1930s cinematography was to darken the sides and edges a bit, acknowledging that the brighter central zone was more worth concentrating on."
This was doubled down on later when tv screens would cut off the edges of the frame and so credits had to appear in a box so they could be legible in all conditions.

Eclectic Doctor Who Method.

Doctor Who : Eclectic Method's 50th Mix from Eclectic Method on Vimeo.

The Oscars 2016. Results.

Film Thanks to my current contract with the devil, I was able to watch the Oscars live for the first time in I don't know how long (over a decade at least) via the NowTV streaming app. Apart from not having to spend the following morning trying to imagine what the ceremony had been like via The Guardian live blog, Buzzfeed and dodgycam YouTube footage which has never been a proper substitute, it meant I could enjoy Chris Rock's performance and the reaction to Chris Rock's performance on social media in real time.

Straight afterwards, I think we agreed that he nailed it, offering the Oscars own equivalent of the Newsnight episode criticising Newsnight's own failed journalism.  A few question marks later.  Was it necessary to make fun of the #AskHerMore campaign in what seemed like a proffer of false equivalency?  Isn't it also true that although lynchings are rare, that Black people have other problems as serious to complain about right now?  Also why the exclusivity, isn't #oscarssowhite about the fact that all races are under-represented and stereotyped in Hollywood and beyond?

But the fact that people are asking such questions, debating the implications of the opening monologue is a major step up from what's previously been a space for fluff and jokes about how many people Jack Nicholson has slept with.  Plus the thank you scroll now pretty much asks awards winners to utilise their platform for campaigning and political ends which also has to be a good thing and I think pretty much every post-win speech included the representation of some cause or other in a show which despite dwindling US ratings is still watched by a massive global audience.

Anyway, here's a survey of how well I predicted the winners.  You'd forgotten about that, hadn't you?

Best original screenplay
I said: Ex Machinca

Best adapted screenplay
I said: The Big Short

Best supporting actress
I said: Alicia Vikander

Best costume design
I said: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best production design
I said: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best make-up and hair
I said: The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared (although I was joking) (I think)

Best cinematography
I said: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best editing
I said: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best sound editing
I said: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best sound mixing
I said: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best visual effects
I said: Star Wars

Best animated film
I said: Inside Out

Best supporting actor
I said: Stallone

Best documentary
I said: The Look of Silence

Best foreign language film
I said: Didn't. Shrugs.

Best original score
I said: Star Wars.

Best original song
I said: The Hunting Ground

Best director
I said: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant

Best actress
I said: Brie Larson

Best actor
I said: Leonard DiCaprio

Best picture
I said: The Revenant

Twelve on twenty-one after predicting Mad Max would sweep the craft categories. About the usual then.

The Art of Jessica Jones.

TV The Art of the Title has an interview with the creative team behind the Jessica Jones title sequence:
"I am based in Manhattan and my windows look out to a very classic New York-style building, so I was naturally inspired by all the changing activity and vignettes within those rows of windows — the patterns of light, colour, narratives, and graphic silhouettes. It is pretty amazing how much you can see and the number of windows out there with wide open shades. Though I’ve never witnessed half of the activities Jessica sees, I could understand our innate fascination with the rear window and that discomforting pleasure when catching a small sliver of a private act. So when I was brought into the Imaginary Forces LA studio for the project, I used all that as my personal inspiration to create my paintings."
In the post-television binge watching world, the best way to know if a title sequence works is if you sit and watch it through episode after episode.  Jessica Jones has one of those.

My Favourite Film of 1957.

Film Rather than even attempt to describe the way in which The Seventh Seal effected on first viewing, because I'm unable to capture the feeling in words that transcend cliche, I've decided to try and reinterpret the film by collecting a series of cultural artifacts instead. I'm sure Ingmar Bergman would be very pleased that I'm about to turn what some would view as his greatest achievement into a listicle.

(1)  My first encounter with Chess was through a set which my owned as a child and which was in the sideboard in the front room along with a giant wooden board.  But it wasn't until Play Chess, the BBC's children's programme broadcast mornings during school holidays in the early 80s that I really understood what all the pieces were for and the complexity of the game.  Here's a podcast from TV Cream which includes a short piece about the programme which certainly offers a flavour of what it was like at 25 minutes and 45 seconds. "Welcome to two weeks of programmes packed with Chess."

(2)  Someone has attempted to analyse who really had the upper hand in the Chess match on a page also worth visiting for the rebuke in the comments.  "For a start, Block and Death would have been playing by the rules of chess as they existed in the medieval era and not those of the modern period"

(3)  Of all the speeches in the film, one in particular has stayed with me.  It's Block on memory:
"I shall remember this moment: the silence, the twilight, the bowl of strawberries, the bowl of milk. Your faces in the evening light. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lyre. I shall try to remember our talk. I shall carry this memory carefully in my hands as if it were a bowl brimful of fresh milk. It will be a sign to me, and a great sufficiency."
Except, of course, it's impossible to keep anything in our hands permanently. All memories eventually slip away from us, just as his milk will surely dribble through the gaps in his fingers or evaporate away. [imdb]

(4) The first night I encountered in life was through the story of St George and the Dragon in school. The key source for the story is the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine which is abstracted and elaborated here.

(5) This.  All of this:

(6) Not uniquely my first glimpsing of The Seventh Seal was on the cinema screen during The Last Action Hero. It's a remarkable moment in retrospect and signals that the film is much more interesting in retrospect than the critics of the time and audience gave it credit for, largely because of the poorly conceived marketing campaign. In this Oral History, the screenwriter David Arnott explains that Death's appearance was more clearly explained in an earlier draft:
"A perfect example of how, in rewriting a script, certain things stay that don’t make sense anymore is how in our draft you both understand what became of Danny’s father and see the villain character set Seventh Seal’s “Death” loose in New York City. When it’s set up properly, you would understand a moment where Death comes into the theater, Danny pulls the gun, and he says, “Forget it, I’ve had it up to here with you, Mister, who stays and who goes. Well, I’m telling you this one stays, “ meaning, “You took my dad, but you’re not going to take my surrogate dad.” That could have been a real moment. Death is still in the finished movie as is the speech, but it makes no sense. It’s just there."

(7) Which isn't to negate Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey which I also saw beforehand. But here's William Sadley playing Death before the film in a 1985 sketch show called Assaulted Nuts opposite Elaine Hausman and Tim Brooke-Taylor for a second at the end (of all people).

(8)  The Juggling Information Service website has numerous interviews with practitioners from twenty years ago. Here's one practitioner Sara Felder about what attracted her to juggling:
"I think for a lot of us juggling has saved our lives. You know for a lot of people. For a lot of us it was something that we found that we had an affinity towards, or attraction towards, or there was some attraction there that was maybe one of those things where, 'Gee, if I could only do that...' For them I think it was very similar. I find, kind of, the more desperate the situation, the more meaningful it is. So here were people who had failed a lot in their lives and were used to failure, and so for them the idea of succeeding was extremely meaningful. I mean I think succeeding is meaningful to all of us, but in that context it was really meaningful, and they would work at something pretty hard and get it and really create beauty in a pretty ugly place."
Here she is in 2012 at a show.


Film Avengers: Infinity War will have 68 characters according to The AV Club which seems like a lot, although the average MARVEL film usually has that many characters, taking into account day players and the like.

If these are all substantial roles, in other words the lead and supporting characters from previous MCU projects, my guess is that this is going to be more akin to a hyperlink drama or something in the realm of a quasi-disaster film, cross cutting between groups of characters affected by whatever's happening to Earth and galaxy, crosscutting between, for example, whatever's happening on Asgard to New York to Wakanda to Xandar (or wherever the Guardians of the Galaxy are) with everything eventually dovetailing for the sequel.

The really interesting question is how Phase 3 deals with their being a couple of stand alone films, including the Ant-Man sequel, in between.  Previously the films have worked as a kind of series, referencing each other with even the first Ant-Man film hinting towards Captain America: Civil War.  But it's possible that they'll be flashback's I suppose or the second Infinity War won't dovetail directly on from the end of the first film.

Anyway, none of this stops me from believing that Phase Four, due to end when I'm fifty, isn't going to be a version of Secret Wars, with a cunning way of dovetailing the MCU and the X-verse in a similar way as the recent comics event merged the 616 with its Ultimates cousin.