HAIR

I had a bad haircut once. It was so awful that I actually cried. And then I wore a hat for two weeks straight. Well, a beret. And the beret wasn’t much better than the haircut, if I’m honest.

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But, after TWO years it grew back, to a length that I could happily hide behind (a little like Sadako from Ringu1998). Ever since then I’ve been plenty scared when it comes to finding a new hairdresser. What if I have to wear a beret again? I’m in my thirties now and I had trouble pulling it off when I was a jaunty twenty-one.

After having been quoted something close to my weekly wage at a fancy salon in the city centre, I started thinking about why we spend so much money on what, at least partially, comes under the banner of non-essential grooming. But in a society so deeply concerned with aesthetics, it is for many of us something that contributes to how we feel about ourselves and therefore how we hold ourselves in both our own and the esteem of others. Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair (2011) is a pretty boss place to turn to if you want to think a bit deeper about this topic – and specifically about the White ‘normalisation’ of aspirational beauty and how that impacts upon African American women.

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Hair is political. Not just the stuff we grow but the film of that name, too. Hair (1979), the musical (adapted from the stage show), is all anti-Vietnam. Hairspray (original 1997, remake 2007), also a musical, is all anti-conformity and anti-segregation. The Boy With Green Hair  (1948) is also an anti-war parable, one that looks at public reaction when the hair of an American war orphan mysteriously turns green. It leaves him open to ridicule in his small town and the locals call for his head to be shaved.

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Dave also reminds me that Les Miserables (1935, 1978, 1995, 2003, 2012 et al) has the selling of hair as a commodity, and that in Withnail & I (1987) there is an anti-governmental rant about hair. And that’s all pretty much just to do with the stuff coming out of our heads. What about the removal, trimming, grooming and treating of hair on the rest of our bodies? Super political stuff.

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Returning now to my own experiences associated with hair this week, looking for someone I trust to come close to my head with a pair of scissors was a step outside of my comfort zone (quite literally, I had to leave the shop for a couple of hours). But it was also super rewarding – and not just because the haircut was ace (which it was, thanks Bangshanky!) but because it reminded me that any such choice concerning my head has absolutely everything to do with my (political) heart. In part that’s about accepting that my hair isn’t what makes me beautiful (though I do still need to investigate why I’m so beholden to the socialised act), but it’s also to do with knowing that someone caring for us in our community – in this instance a hairdresser caring for my grey, dead, matted hair – has the power to make us feel good about ourselves.

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So care for each other, yo. Don’t Vertigo the people around you, let them explore who they are however they want. And that might just be through their hair, like everyone in American Hustle (2013).

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The movie in your mind

Something that has always fascinated me is my inability to make social realist movies in my mind. No matter where I’m going or what I’ll be doing, I always imagine it in a very specific, and inaccurate, way. Because I’m both impatient and hopelessly romantic, I just can’t wait for reality to happen. And so, before anything that my imagination can anticipate takes place, I enthusiastically press play on the movie in my mind.

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Though I think most of us do this, it might be true that I do it a little too often. Earlier I asked Dave if he made movies in his mind. He said he used to. Perhaps some people grow out of it; accepting and allowing the world around them to present itself as it is. I wonder if that’s freer; if it necessarily refutes disappointment and makes one calm, Dave does seem to be calmer than me.

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That said, I enjoy my senseless optimism and the misguided fantasy versions of what my life might be like. And it doesn’t always result in disappointment, either. It’s my imagination after all.

Curiously enough, the films I like to watch aren’t a thing like the ones in my mind. I almost always prefer films with a social conscience, a sense of naturalism and, hopefully, some kind of journey through either personal and politcial grief.

The movies in my mind, then, are those born of pure escapism.

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Dave tells me that he doesn’t get excited about anything, any more. I guess that means reality has less of a chance to let him down. But there’s something magical about creating a movie in your mind, even if it’s just the treatment, or a first draft that’s in desperate need of a rewrite. Heck, even when the movies are like Southland Tales and really need an editor to intervene, I find the act of thinking them up truly comforting. I like that there’s always one version of my life where I “get the girl” or the “land the job” or “find myself” – whatever that might mean. Maybe I like to imagine it because I don’t really want it in the real world. Feels like falling down the rabbit hole…

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Still, it might just be that my imagination is stalling. While I’m putting the final touches on my wardrobe choices for a Badlands-esque elopement, Dave’s dreaming about right wing zombies who can jump like John Carter (of Mars) and flying vampires, with spreadsheets. So what the hell do I know? All I do know is that I like falling. Even if falling implies the possibility of not getting back up.

Maybe you have a movie in your mind, maybe not. If you do, I hope it’s as beautiful as Baraka and as buoyant as the Catbus in My Neighbour Totoro.

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Christmas Steps: Return of the Flicks Team

A long time ago, in a pub very, very close by…

EPISODE VI

RETURN OF THE FLICKS TEAM

Mr Bags has returned to his home planet of Pub in an attempt to rescue his friend DJ WillSpinz from the clutches of the vile gangster Lager the Pint.

Little does Bags know that FLICKS STAFF have secretly begun construction on a new armoured quiz team, even more powerful than the first dreaded team, Quiz Me Gently With a Chainsaw.

When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band of film nerds struggling to restore freedom to Bristol…

Film Quiz Poster APRIL

Let’s fall in love…

It’s strange to think that just three months ago I was marooned on a large island in the Southern Hemisphere, sweating it up with other anti-consonant types. Now, thanks to our lurverly wood fire, Bristol’s bountiful community of cinephiles and several woollen cardigans, I find myself, once again, nestled amongst the ample bosom of 20th Century Flicks.

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Flicks’ Kino, pic courtesy of Hazel Grian on the twitterz.

Those endless freeways (motorways) and temperatures in excess of forty degrees celsius aside, I can honestly say that my real reason for returning to Brizzle was love.

Though this blog isn’t a romance confessional (at least not yet), that pesky thing called love has weaselled its way into our stories. Who knew video shops could be so romantic?

While we’re not really into the sappy, sentimental stuff, we’re not replicants either (or at least, not that we’re aware of). And so, despite not falling for Renee Zellweger or Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’s Diary, we do have a collective video shop heart and, sometimes, we even fall in love.

Beyond the beautiful new premises on Christmas Steps (love at first sight) and our collective colleague/business partner crushes (there aren’t better humans to be in cahoots with), it’s also true that we fall in love with you.

The thing that those of us who work in video shops don’t say often enough is that we really do love you. We value the close relationships built upon shared passions for the cinema of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne; the intense disdain for Lasse Hallstrom films that we can collectively revel in (except for maybe My Life as a Dog), and other such cinematic highs and lows.

But we also need to thank you, for the recommendations you give back to us. Big thanks from me to Mark for suggesting Blue Collar, and Whiskey is eternally grateful to Tim for the introduction to Schlacken The Painter. Of course, like any relationship, there are times when things go awry: I really didn’t like Horrible Bosses. And for some reason, despite my strongest warnings against rubbish horror/comedy popcorn fodder like Dead Snow 2 and Life After Beth, that stuff still rents regularly.

There are times when you ask for our recommendations only to defy them, and that’s okay too. Even though I never want you to see Love, Rosie, if you really want to rent it, we’ll rent it to you. Just know that we also will be here for you when you bring it back, in tears – because it’s awful, not because it’s sad.

So, um, I guess what we’re saying is, we want to commit. We’re ready, we’re here on the Christmas Steps, and we want you to join us. Membership is for life, not just a minute. So saunter down and fall in love with us. Because our hearts are open midday till 10pm seven days a week, and we promise to fall in love with you.

DISCOUNT KINO OFFER – THIS WEEK ONLY

O. M. G. We can’t quite believe it, but a super strange thing happened today: for the first time since we got all comfy in our new home, we’ve found ourselves with three days where there are no Kino bookings.

Today (Mon March 9 2015), tomorrow (Tues March 10 2015), and Wednesday (March 11 2015), we’ve got a one-off very special offer for y’all!

Book any of our available slots over these three days, while they’re still available (be quick!), and we’ll take £20 off the full price booking price. That’s a couple of hours in our Kino at the supremely affordable rate of just £30!

AND, same deal, £30 hire, for a daytime slot (12-2pm or 2.30-4.30pm) for Thurs 12th or Fri 13th March 2015, too.

Luke Skywalker can’t believe it.
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Darth Vader won’t believe it.

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C-3PO is stunned.

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It’s such an exciting offer that Vader’s lightsaber is all lit up.
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Kino times are: 

  • 12-2pm
  • 2.30-4.30pm
  • 5-7pm
  • 7.30-9.30pm 

Get some friends together and give us a bell – it’s 0117 974 2570.

Book fast, book often.

*terms and conditions apply, speak to a human at the store for more info.

**thanks to Dave B for the photos – taken in our Kino in February. There were a lot of very happy jedis that day.

Please die of the light

It’s no secret that there’s a direct correlation between my return to Flicks and the increase in our holding of Nicolas Cage movies. And while it’s almost impossible to come into the store these days without having some sort of Cage related conversation, I can admit that not all of the films he stars in are actually any good (though I do think he’s good).

After the incomprehensible rapture related drama Left Behind hit our shelves I was sure we hit the bottom of the Nic Cage barrel. Then we got Dying of the Light.

maxresdefault (1)I’m kidding – truth be told, I’d definitely place Left Behind as the worst film Cage has appeared in. The DVD box doesn’t even bother matching its promotional images to the film inside it! Puzzling. Plus it doesn’t seem to have a screenplay. Still, it can be enjoyed on some level; a ‘wow I found Chad Michael Murray’s acting career and the rapture is happening to it!’ kind of level, or maybe even in a ‘who ever said you need production values to make a movie?’ kind of way. The problem for Dying of the Light, however, is that it’s just your bog standard, run of the mill, crap movie.

DYING OF THE LIGHTThe premise for the film is fairly bland; Cage is an ageing CIA operative who can’t let go of the past and doesn’t want a desk job. Unfortunately for him, the powers that be want him to move on from the past and, owing to various issues that range from his ill health, general inability to do a decent job and Cage-brand shoutiness, would like to see him push papers around for a living instead. Even covert ops has admin.

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Poor Cage. But for all of his intense shouting, there’s an equal dose of Anton Yelchin being hoarse, which is actually somewhat entertaining. I think it’s supposed to make him sound like an adult; or maybe he just really wants to be the next Liam Neeson… shame he doesn’t have a particular set of skills.

But boring plot and overacting aside, the real reason the film is so bad is because the screenplay is crap. I know the story behind the movie is a series of tear-jerker excuses from Schrader and his cinematographer about how the film was taken away from them and bastardised; cut, colour-graded, scored and mixed without their input (more on that over here and elsewhere on the interwebs.) but, personally, I don’t think that even an art aesthetic could improve a script filled with hysterical xenophobic jibes like,

What kind of name is that anyway? / It’s Kenyan.

and

You smell something? / Mombasa.

nic-cage_dying-lightIf you go with what’s on Wikipedia, the whole thing could have been a very different movie indeed – directed by Winding Refn (who instead made Drive, a fair alternative) and starring Harrison Ford (still shouty, but would surely have been far less intense – oh the shiver one gets down one’s spine when Nicolas Cage stares intently into the distance, or at anything, anywhere, ever) – it might even have been a half decent high octane action/thriller. But I doubt it. It would still have Schrader’s unbearable dialogue and not even thinly veiled anti-everything that isn’t “American values” rantings. And even those are confused.

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For Schrader the ‘values’ have been seriously compromised. He sees the “American way of life” as a religion of “promiscuity and pop culture”. But he doesn’t really elaborate on what the original values that came before are. What exactly does he want to hold onto? Well, I know he thinks the CIA “fell from the Berlin Wall” and that the “Best and brightest” either “quit or retire”, so something is being let go.

If Cage’s character is the ‘best and brightes’t who hasn’t ‘quit or retired’ (as if those were to be avoided at all costs, including the life of anOther and the mental and physical health of one’s self) then the most worrying element to come out of these dull, toilet-like ninety minutes, is that Schrader probably thinks pretty highly of himself and, I suspect, is not planning on quitting or retiring any time soon. One can only hope that the rapture really does happen, and then maybe he’ll die, of the light, and stop making movies.

Cage is good though, innit.

Listicles

“What’s a listicle?” He asked, and a wee glimpse of terror shot out of his right eye. “It sounds like testicle,” he said, the fear having now manifest itself into an unnerving timbre of his voice. “That’s because they are bollocks,” she replied.

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It’s not that the shop is anti-list. In fact, we have for many years collated and re-produced various reams of “best” and “recommended” titles to help with what some might feel is endless browsing. But the lists have always been just that: films titled one to one hundred (or thereabouts) that cover a genre (like horror), or relate to an event (like Christmas) or have achieved great acclaim (like the AFI and BFI 100s). Annotations, however, usually turn up on boxes or in conversation.

But what of this blog?

Might be that you want lists. Heck, maybe you expect them (it’d certainly make more sense than posts about mangoes.) And sure, we have the time and resources to put them together. But in our newfangled era of Buzzfeed-journalism I can’t help but wonder if they’d be in any way fulfilling – to read or to write. And I say that even though I realise the content doesn’t necessarily have to consist of unbridled crap and snide commentary (ahem).

Suggestions so far [Ed’s note: I’m pretty sure I already wrote that we don’t do ‘by request’ blog posts but the downside to your favourite customer being aware that they are your favourite customer is that they also know that they can request the unrequestable] include Top 10 Female Directors (this is totally understandable since even I’ve begun to refer to myself as ‘the Australian Feminist’) and a Top 3 Richard Curtis films (LOL, as if any of them could be considered worthy of one’s retinas).

Though I do have plans to indoctrinate – I mean share – with y’all my feminist film choices, I haven’t really got a tidy top ten to speak of. And then there’s the issue of the films I’d include that we maybe don’t have (Shirley Clarke’s stellar films for example, never released on DVD in the UK) … So, for now, here’s a few female director recommendations. They’re not numbered.

agnes-vardaAgnes Varda – everything, just watch everything she’s ever made. We now have most of her films at the shop and she was every bit as important to the Nouvelle Vague as her male contemporaries.

600full-chantal-akermanChantal Akerman – her films are amazing but, for the most part, they’re only available for home entertainment on NTSC import, and we can’t buy films the BBFC haven’t classified, so we just have the one title, La Captive (2000).

Maya_DerenMaya Deren – who became a key figure of the Postwar American Avant-Garde, was a poet, photographer, filmmaker and ethnographer. Her first film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) is available on the Cinema 16: American Short Films compilation put out on DVD in 2005.

Julia Louis-DreyfusNicole Holofcener – films with great female characters that are humanist, charming and heartwarming without ever being saccharine.

93142c5bbb745ae0e8a8a95ba92fd236Lisa Cholodenko – celebrated and criticised in equal measure, Cholodenko’s films revolve around the lives and sexual odysseys of complex characters – not only but often female, and not always but usually LGBTQI.

your-sisters-sister-movie-image-emily-blunt-rosemarie-dewitt-01Lynn Shelton – it began with mumblecore and it continued with American Indie fare of the finest calibre. I really can’t recommend Humpday (2009) and Your Sister’s Sister (2011) highly enough. Her latest, Say When (aka Laggies, 2014) is soon to hit our shelves but, unfortunately, adheres to far more traditional (and dude centric) mainstream movie ideology. Stick with her earlier stuff.

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Věra Chytilová – we only have the one, most famous of her films, Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966), and it is an absolute must-see. If you’re in London, however, over the next week or two then you can head to the BFI, they’re celebrating her life and work. If you can’t get to London then at least start with Daisies – it’s a sublime work of art from the avant-garde.

 

If do you want more lists then please let us know. Otherwise you might just get Nic Cage adoration and fruit disputes.