Cinema Paradiso: An Update.

Film Here's the short review of Cinema Paradiso after a couple of weeks. It's worked well enough so far that I've decided to cancel a few other subscriptions and stump up the extra eight pounds a month to upgrade my subscription to three discs at a time unlimited.

Now for something longer.

The two subscriptions were Spotify and Disney Life. Amazon Music Unlimited caters for all my music streaming needs, with a more flexible and user friendly mobile app and being able to stream through the two Echo Dots we have in the flat now. Since signing up to Disney Life, I think I've only watched about two films. So it seemed reasonable to convert those for more physical discs from CinPa.

Here are the list of positives:

Dispatches and receipts are as timely as latter day Lovefilm. Discs posted by them one day always arrive here the next and similarly those posted back are turned around the next day so I've still been able to churn through four discs a week, if I'm watching one each evening. We'll see how that changes with the increased dispatches.

The My List page is super flexible in terms of priority and you're able to literally put the films in a big long list in the order in which you want to see them. I have mine set up in release order going backwards and have been putting each week's new releases at the top. The algorithm apparently just works down the list from the top until it reaches a title which is currently in stock and allocates it which seems a lot more logical than the seemingly random approach Lovefilm had.

The profile page for each film which sometimes includes a Rotten Tomatoes score. Actor / director filmography pages seem modelled after the IMDb's and includes everybody and everything. Although sometimes it seems a bit inaccurate like suggesting Julia Roberts was in Season Two of Beadle's About which the IMDb contradicts.

The pre-release titles are listed in release date order going backwards which is something Amazon's flavour of Lovefilm couldn't accomplish despite being a feature of proper Lovefilm and Screenselect before it.

Customer service has been excellent so far. I had an initial issue with dispatches and it was sorted out via Twitter DM.

There's an option to buy top up rentals of you want to seriously binge if you have time off. I wonder how many people take them up on this in the Netflix age.

There's a scheme in which if you manage to persuade someone else to sign up you get 1/6 of your subscription off while they're still in the game and actively using the service. If you manage to have six, you get your subscription for free. So if you're thinking of signing up and want to help me out, use this link to begin your sign-up process - which includes a 30 day free trial (which is something I didn't even get).

The catalogue is huge and has items and unlike Lovefilm items don't seem to have been pulled since the service began.

The negatives:

In the New Release section et al, World Cinema and everything else are listed separately. Also there's an odd demarcation between "films to watch" and "movies to watch" which doesn't seem to be very clearly defined in terms of difference. Oh and new releases of back catalogue ("classics") don't have their own section and there's no way to sort them by theatrical release date.

The search is very raw: fine if you're just looking for a single title it falls over if you're looking for a franchise title like Doctor Who which then presents a list of nine hundred odd entries after presenting everything with the words "doctor who" in the title or synopsis and doesn't put those items with it in the title first.

None that I can see other than the price. Back in the day Screenselect charged £14.99 got three discs at a time before reducing the price to £11.99 some way into the Lovefilm ownership. £19.99 seems quite steep although my guess is its because the overheads of posting the discs back have increased a lot since then.

I received two discs in the same envelope today. Lovefilm offered the option of individual dispatch so I've asked if they do too. This will only really be an issue around Christmas time if a bumper envelope is delayed in the post going either way.


Life Over the past month, I've been busy with some things, primarily a life laundry in which, for various reasons, I've had a rethink of all my possessions, deciding what I truly need and what should be sent to the charity shop, recycling and refuse collectors. Over the past couple of years its become apparent that in the fifteen years since my last major clear out, the VHS apocalypse of 2003, I've accumulated again and now the internet exists with its abundant availability there's really no need to hang on to everything, that the want to have things needs to be balanced with the practicalities of psychologically having the space to move about and breath and dance.  So I drew up a set of mental rules (both meanings), ordered some new IKEA furniture and set to work.


One of the problems with books is I tend to like buying them but don't spend a lot of time reading them.  Eventually it came down to streamlining to my main interests (film, Shakespeare, Doctor Who, music I suppose, bit of fiction) and "dumping" the rest.  Plus there's trying to get away from the idea of collections.  For a few years I've been trying to build a complete collection of Doctor Who books across the various series.  Most have sat on the shelf unread.  Now they're sat on the shelf waiting to be read and then they're heading to the nearest charity shop.  The Penguin Shakespeares have just gone.  I decided to just keep the Ardens - they're more comprehensive.

I've interrogated each book with a set of questions.  Have I read you?  If I have, will I ever read you again?  If I won't is there some especially sentimental reason for keeping you.  If there isn't, enjoy the trip to the charity shop.  If I haven't, will I ever?  No?  See you.  Might I?  Welcome to the book mountain, I'll get to you once I've worked through the backlog of magazines, comics and other business.  There's something quite liberating about knowing that the books I own will the those which I truly love or found most useful.  Incidentally, I've also instituted a ban on duplicates.  All but the hardback versions of the Hitchhikers books are no longer in my possession.


This was brutal.  Deciding to keep just Empire, Sight and Sound, Doctor Who Magazine. the Shakespeare's Globe publication and Yahoo! Internet Life (due to its rarity) I've recycled the rest apart from odd issues just because and others which I've set aside for final nostalgic read (mainly some Rolling Stones and Premieres).


Mostly gone.  Nothing too spectacular and nothing which I've actually looked at in the past twenty-odd years.  Mainly UK reprints of US material although I've kept the four issues of Spider-Man about his visit to the UK to cameo on the Wide Awake Club because I don't think that's ever been reprinted or likely to.  Otherwise you don't want to know what else has gone.  It would make you cry.  Moving on.


Ha.  Well.  As I explained when I briefly surfaced for air a few weeks ago, I've thrown out my ludicrously baroque approach to cataloguing my films and whatnot in chronological order by when they're set, as detailed here.  At a certain point it became a noose and yet I continued onward, amid all the person hours, diligently attempting to find the exact dating for some off-air recording of a BBC Four documentary so it would fit in the sequence, ultimately spending more time amassing and cataloguing this material than actually bloody watching it, my bedroom filled with little boxes covered in dates, which was fun in principle but a nightmare in practice.

The process of getting to fuck it was pretty simple.  At the start of the month, when faced with all of those boxes and knowing I wanted to have less of those boxes, I simply said fuck it and got to work.  The alternative was individually deaccessioning things from the database and yes, fuck that.  I separated the films from everything else and then headed off into the everything else asking similar questions as the books, echoing the methodology.  The film and television documentaries have been retained.  Most of the art stuff.  History if it references Shakespeare or are related to the plays.  Attenborough documentaries.  If they're with/by someone who appeared in the old "talks" series on this blog, they stayed.  Bin bags filled with DVD-Rs ensued.

The films were harder.  I've kept everything, but on the proviso that no dvd retains its original packaging, slipped instead into a plastic wallet.  My four thousand odd film dvds now reside in around thirty-six of the original little boxes (pictured here) on a book case sorted alphabetically (no not the individual discs, the boxes at least).  This has the new benefit of me not having to consult a fucking database if I want to find a particular title, I can just check through the box, which is liberating.  I do still have a database listing them all, but that's mainly so that when I'm out and about I don't end up buying something I don't already own.

In case you're wondering, yes that includes Doctor Who.  A decade or so of Doctor Who dvds with just the disc and the insert retained, now sorted into thirteen or so boxes, one for each incarnation, mixed with Big Finish and AudioGo releases all in plastic wallets now too.  An extraordinary amount of space has been saved just getting rid of packaging which might look amazing on the shelf but is no use to someone who lives in a flat.  Plus it deals with the issue of spines not matching, now that there aren't any.  Take that 2Entertain.  All of this is not unusual behaviour I expect.  Anyway ...


They're still in their boxes for now, sorted in alphabetical order on the shelf.  Blu-rays always feel more fragile than DVDs, less likely to play properly even if they have a few scratches.


Like the DVDs, mostly retained but reduced to plastic wallets.  I haven't decided how to sort them yet or if I'm going to bother.  The next job will probably to go through them and add the titles to my Amazon music library.

Life Stuff.

Biggest challenge.  I set myself a target of being able to put everything life related into four bankers boxes, one each for education, work, tourism and miscellaneous (which is mainly old scripts and amateur writing).  Books filled with college notes have gone.  Ancient payslips shredded.  Pointlessly retained receipts and flyers for shows I didn't see but picked up at venues recycled.  Was an exhibition especially good and do I have fond memories?  No.  Go.  So huge was this mass of paper, I saw programmes for exhibitions which I don't even remember happening even though I probably spent hours in there.  Did I manage to reach the target?  Just about.  Knick knacks have gone into a battered old brief case because I've always wanted to do that.


Seriously people, sort through your cables.  I had a box full, most of which were for technology I'd thrown out or replaced years ago, included a parallel port printer cable from an old dot matrix printer.  No one needs that many HDMI or kettle leads or any other nonsense especially since most of it is available on Amazon for a couple of pounds, or Maplin for three times that amount.


Having already relatively recently had a necessary clear out due to losing a quarter of my body weight, this was really about storage.  After persevering with the chest of drawers which features on my Twitter profile but has never had quite the right dimensions for any of my clothes, I've replaced it with a set of KALLAX shelves from Ikea, accompanied by these DRONA boxes acting as drawers which are huge and perfect and in which everything fits.


Gone, gone, gone.  I would say I've lost about a half of my possessions so far (if you factor in all the plastic cases) with another third of the rest going, mainly the books once I've read through them.  I feel liberated having realised that I only ever re-read or rewatch about 5% of anything and that the nature of an object as a way of retaining culture has changed.  Let's see what happens in the next fifteen years.

An Apology.

Life Back in the naughties when blogging was still a thing and phrases like "digitally artisanal" weren't being thrown around be people who're stupid enough to be still doing this as a justification for not simply dropping every thought into a fifty tweet thread on some other platform, there'd be how to guides on how to write the best web-logs. Underneath "choose a decent name" and "write in short sentences" was a warning against explaining why you might not have posted in a while. "Don't apologise for not blogging" they'd say, "just blog."

Which is the rule I've tried to stick to across the years, but I posted five times in August having been wandering around here almost daily up until then and well ... Does anybody even notice?  Does anybody care?  Most blogs that have gone by the wayside across the often do so without much warning.  A lot of the old Brit blogs I used to read end on a fairly typical post without a Dear John letter to its audience explaining why it's breaking up with them.  Things happen and people just stop.  For a while I wondered, if I ever did decide to call time on this, what would I do?  Would I simply stop too, or would I have to say something, offer some kind of explanation?

Fortunately, I don't have to decide yet.  I'm not going anywhere.  As I've said in the past, there's really no point in me not having a blog even if the post frequency oscillates between constipation or full on liquidy diarrhoea.  With a whole new Doctor Who to review with some frequency, the ongoing potential for a Sugababes album in the future when everyone's finished their maternity leave and plenty of Hamlets on the horizon (and to catch up on), something will appear here.  The reasons for having this blog haven't changed, even if this paragraph in particular sounds like I'm trying to convince myself.

Anyway, so yes, I apologise for not blogging much over the past month, I've been busy with some things.