Coming to a video store near you – trapped in a movie

We’re not so much critics here as we are friendly neighbourhood folk at the ready with recommendations. Still, we completely commiserate with this poor bastard who finds himself unwittingly trapped in a real (movie) life rom-com.

As a fellow rom-com detestee (I’d take Two For the Road or In Search of a Midnight Kiss over 27 Dresses or He’s Just Not That Into You any day of the week, and at least six times on Sunday), that trailer pretty much sums up my worst nightmare – a life filled with empty, quirky romance, unnecessary, wretchedly timed rain and a lot of running.

Mind you, I wouldn’t mind cliched love triangle life, and could probably even deal with Bridezillas daily if it meant vying for and winning Matthew McConaughey’s attentions like J-Lo does in The Wedding Planner.

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Talking through our movie-life trajectories this morning, and trying to work out why Act 2 is taking so very many years to play out – if I’m not going to get narrative resolution, I’d rather find myself a large French mansion, have the honour of looking like Delphine Seyrig, and spend the rest of my days wandering glamorously and melodramatically around Marienbad – I realised that I am living a movie and, sadly, it is not avant-garde.tumblr_m2cjfeuIna1qk5o5fo1_1280

Alas, no matter what kind of movies we love most, we don’t always get to choose. That said, I am somewhat pleased not to live in a self-reflexive film like Synecdoche, New York which, while an intelligent and intriguing film, does also sound a lot like twisted movie life hell. Or a revisionist genre film like Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man. And, as much as I love Pasonlini, I’m dead happy not to be living out my days in Salo. I would, however, be okay with a whole lot of Terrence Stamp confusion if I were to wake up and find myself in Teorema.

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And so, with movie life on my mind, I asked Dave what sort of film he thinks he’s living. He said it was either a Roland Emmerich or Hal Hartley film. Busy surviving end of world action/adventure plots as he so often is, Dave also spends much of his time being really cool and super existential.

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As for me, well, I thought I was in a Miranda July movie, but when I described my daily woes Dave corrected me. Turns out that what I thought was a sort of slightly annoying but at least colourfully co-ordinated mid-thirties comical crisis is actually a far more neurotic socialist rant of a life.

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As the kind of person who wears diamonds daily but can’t quite afford a can of beans for dinner at the end of the week, and who dates a string of assholes and losers but never seems to learn her lesson, it became clear that my life as an apathetic smoker who is always quitting is the star of a Mike Leigh movie.

Balls.

If anyone needs me I’ll be down the pub.

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Four films we watched in the shop

Even though science says humans can’t multi task (we can however switch tasks with “astonishing speed”), we put movies on in the shop. Admittedly we don’t really “watch” them so much as we get a feel for whether or not we might actually like to. You see, a “shop watch” is usually reserved for the kinds of films we don’t really want to take home, sit down in the dark with and get lost in because we suspect they’ll be truly faarking awful – but, like pretty much all rules, there are exceptions, and those usually take the form of films we know and love (like The Princess Bride (1988) or The Goonies (1985)), in which case we put them on for comfort, kinda like having a cuppa with an old friend, but I digress …

Today, we really outdid ourselves when it comes to what’s “truly faarking awful” by watching: The Signal, Ouija, Exists and The Lords of Salem.

The Signal

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This is where we started and, to be honest, it was the best of the bunch. That’s not to say that we liked it. However, there is one sort of okay scene early on where, after a guy tells a girl that he thinks it’d be best for her if they split up (because a dude telling a woman he’s doing her a favour by breaking up with her is chivalric and, you know, not at all douchey), she promptly throws the necklace he gave her off a cliff and then walks off, leaving him to fend for himself. On crutches. Ace. The rest of the film was fairly poorly scripted but not entirely terrible. Potentially worth your actual attention.

Ouija

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Almost nothing happens. This film bored me into a stupor; a girl and a ouija board, an offensive stereotype – where an Hispanic woman warns the pretty white girl about evils – an old crazy lady in a home, some CGI faces and effects and an inconclusive ending that leaves things open for a sequel. Fan-freakin-tastic.

Exists

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Jesus wept. Kids in the woods, a sasquatch – that is even less convincing than the gorilla wearing a fish bowl with antennae from Robot Monster (1953) – and some of the worst acting you’ll ever see. Just because those so-called “found footage” films (I take issue with the term because it’s stolen from the avant-garde and horribly misappropriated) are cheap to make doesn’t mean we need any more of them. Taking a camera out into a field and shaking it about does not a movie make. This film is mostly just poorly lit sticks and shameless disregard for the skill of things like colour grading.

The Lords of Salem

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Rob Zombie made another movie. It stars Sheri Moon Zombie and some other naked, bloody women. There’s gore if you fancy it but the tone and pace are more like taking a seven hour bus ride across England and then, after almost six hours, finally getting up to go to the loo only to discover that it’s full of shit.

Ed’s note: Meanwhile, we do have more than 18,000 films in the shop and at least three of them are really, really good!

Ten sunny movies + one TV show

It’s only April but I’ve already seen people swanning about in t-shirts as if it were the height of summer. I’ll admit that the yellow ball in the sky has started to make things a little warmer this past week or two (I have finally stopped wearing thermals) but claims that it’s ‘hot’ are still perplexing to my occasionally Australian sensibility.

Aware as I am that in this country the sun makes people go outside (a little baffling for me because in Australia indoor activities such as cinema-going and watching movies at home boom when it starts to get hot), I began to wonder what sort of seasonal films we might be able to suggest as that fiery ball gets higher in the sky. And so, after searching our sunny database, I’ve put together a fairly tenuous listicle (aren’t they all?) of the top ten films – and one TV series – to see you through these strange, tepid days.

SANS SOLEIL (1983)

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Chris Marker’s seminal essay film is the perfect antidote to the sun. While others are out frolicking, you could be indoors engaging with one of the most intelligent and moving fictional documentaries ever made. This is how you do generic hybridity.

PLEIN SOLEIL (1960)

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Before Matt Damon did Ripley, there was Alain Delon. If you haven’t seen this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley then now’s the time to set sail. Sunny, glorious and Alain Delon is marvellous. Plus he takes his shirt off.

GHOSTS OF CITE SOLEIL (2006)

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Brothers Winson ‘2pac’ Jean and James ‘Bily’ Petit Frere are Haitian gang leaders trying to better themselves inside a tightly organised system of oppression. If the sun’s too bright for you then pick this up, it’ll provide plenty of darkness.

SUNSHINE (2007)

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The sun is dying. According to Alex Garland and Danny Boyle the best way to combat this is to send a space ship in its general direction with a nuclear device to get it going again. Sounds like a plausible human response. It’s actually mostly pretty good, and almost literally blindingly so.

SUNSHINE CLEANING (2008)

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Amy Adams and Emily Blunt make a great onscreen duo in this sweet but not saccharine comedy about sisters who start up a crime scene clean up service. Bloody, sunny feel good stuff.

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006)

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At the height of American Indie nihilistic-feel-good-quirk-comedy (totally a genre) there was one Little Miss who showed everyone just how shiny inner beauty can be. Great fun if a little on the nose as it keenly shows up mainstream ideals.

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (2007, TV)

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This show only got one season before it was axed but it was actually really good. Funny, genuinely moving (and this, coming from someone regularly accused of being a replicant),with a stellar cast (including Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet), this is great lazy Sunday afternoon viewing.

SUNSET BLVD. (1950)

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Must see amazing cinema of the highest order. Gloria Swanson is sensational in Billy Wilder’s brilliant indictment of film industry ego and celebrity culture. A gripping thriller and a fine example of sunny veneers.

SUNRISE (1927)

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Silent, beautiful, potentially romantic – depending on whether or not you think a man changing his mind about murdering his wife to enjoy a day with her is romantic – and the perfect black and white alternative to sunburn.

SUNSHINE STATE (2002)

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Big business wants to buy up land and take away from the simple life of the locals. It’s a familiar story but done well. Written and directed by John Sayles, starring Edie Falco (most well known as Carmela from The Sopranos) and Angela Bassett.

ORANGES AND SUNSHINE (2010)

Margaret (Emily Watson) and Jack (Hugo Weaving)

And just in case, like me, you’d far prefer to watch something about the super depressing state of humanity, there’s this corker about the heinous crimes committed by both the UK and Australian governments (and churches). Sent to children’s homes where they were put to hard labour from ages as young as four and up until as recently as the 1970s, many suffered physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuses. Hugo Weaving’s best performance.

QUIZBALLS

Once upon a movie trivia warp…

In a pub very, very, very, very close by

there lived a ruthless race of beings

known as

QUIZBALLS

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The 20th Century Flicks film quiz in the pub returns to Christmas Steps – on May the fourth. Brush up on your trivia, re-watch Spaceballs and let us never speak about what George Lucas did to those other movies ever again.

Film Quiz May

Easter Treats in the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter: Part 4

Alright, there’s another one up for grabs and this one is the easiest of them all to track down.

It’s in the very best store in the whole of Bristol. And probably the world.

This place is the kind of place where you might find people talking about film. Maybe they’ll even be watching film. And maybe those people are putting on a film quiz in a pub just a few doors down later tonight…

Okay, so now that you know WHERE it is, you need to know HOW to get it.

You have to track down a film – not ask for it by name, but actually find its display case in the store.

The film is about a man and a giant rabbit. More clues to follow…

Easter Treats in the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter: Part 3

Day three of the Easter weekend and there’s yet another giveaway. It’s super easy but you need to get going early today because this place closes at 3pm today! And so, I’m giving you two clues straight up before 1pm.

Up for grabs again is a Flicks Easter Treat pack filled with one free membership, two free rental vouchers and some chocolate eggs.

We’ve hidden it one somewhere else in the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter.

So, just like yesterday, and the day before, if you want to win, you need to work out where it is, go and buy something there and then ask them for the Flicks prize. Unless someone beat you to it (or if you’re terrible at decoding simple clues), you’ll be the winner.

Finally, in the interests of working out when someone has won, we’d very much love you to Tweet / FB / Instagram or summat a selfie in the store you found it in. Aside from eating Easter eggs all weekend, I fully intend to entertain myself by watching ALL of the social medias.

CLUE #1: You can get yourself a coffee in this fine establishment.

CLUE #2: They featured in one of our blog posts not too long ago – because they’re amazing humans who gave us pancakes.

CLUE #3: Rosemarino. It’s Rosemarino. 

Easter Treats in the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter: Part 2

Day two of the Easter weekend and we haven’t (yet) eaten ourselves into a chocolate egg related coma. To celebrate this uncanny feat, we’re giving away another Flicks Easter Treat pack filled with one free membership, two free rental vouchers and some chocolate eggs.

We’ve hidden the second one somewhere else in the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter.

So, just like yesterday, if you want to win, you need to work out where it is, go and buy something there and then ask them for the Flicks prize. Unless someone beat you to it (or if you’re terrible at decoding simple clues), you’ll be the winner.

Finally, in the interests of working out when someone has won, we’d very much love you to Tweet / FB / Instagram or summat a selfie in the store you found it in. Aside from eating Easter eggs all weekend, I fully intend to entertain myself by watching ALL of the social medias.

CLUE #1: This shop sells objects that very often serve as the source material for the medium we’re all about.

CLUE #2: Books. They sell books.

CLUE #3: New and second hand – since 2006.

* Clue #4 will be released at 3pm. They will get even easier as the day goes on. They’re stupidly easy now.

Easter Treats in the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter: Part 1

PRIZE NOW CLAIMED. Big thanks to @cidershop for taking part. Visit Bristol Cider Shop’s website for delicious fermented apple news and booze!

Welcome to Easter. We’re secular but we like chocolate, movies and doing stupid things.

With that in mind, this movie-marathon weekend, we’re giving away five special Flicks Easter Treat packs complete with free membership, two free rental vouchers and some chocolate eggs. The reason for this is partially because I take great pleasure in doing stupid things (the two Daves and Adam don’t seem to mind). It’s also because I was raised by a television and movies and I LOVE “the holidays” (I think they’re American, but I love them anyway). And despite not ever actually going on any Easter Egg hunts when I was a kid, I always wanted to. Finally, we all LOVE the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter and all of the weird and wonderful traders like us who bring joy and sometimes deliciousness to its streets.

And so, we have ourselves a hunt!

We’re giving away one pack per day over the weekend and each will be housed in one of the brilliant surrounding businesses. If you want to win, you need to work out where it is, go and buy something there and then ask for the Flicks prize. Unless someone beat you to it, you’ll be the winner.

In the interests then of working out when someone has won, we’d very much love you to Tweet / FB / Instagram or summat a selfie in the store you found it in. Aside from eating Easter eggs all weekend, I will be watching the social medias.

CLUE #1: If you walk into this shop you might find the guy behind the counter eating an apple – they are his favourite fruit.

CLUE #2: They stock over 100 varieties of the thing what they sell. 

CLUE #3: It’s in Bristol. It’s a shop. And it sells cider.

* Clue #4 will be released at 3.30pm. They will get even easier as the day goes on – but #3 should have cracked it for you.

Win 10 free rentals – make a movie, poster.

We all know that the Christmas Steps is the best place in Bristol.* But surprisingly it doesn’t have a movie poster.

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10 free rentals**

We want you to make one. Or more than one. There’s no limit to how many times you can enter.

But there will only be one winner. Winner takes all:10 free rentals.

So, get designing, drawing, painting, screenprinting, photoshopping, or whatever it is that works for you in the creation of Christmas Steps movie poster making. Bring the finished product into the shop any time between now and April 30th. You might win.***

Finally, regarding bribes: they won’t necessarily help you, but they probably won’t hinder you either. We all like beer, wine and whiskey. We do also accept compliments but booze is better.

* irrefutable fact, don’t bother to say otherwise in the comments section, we are not open to difference of opinion, on this matter.

** maybe.

*** you might not.