Let’s Talk VHS

You may have seen us talking VHS on The One Show on Tuesday night. If you didn’t, then you can catch up online via the iPlayer (we’re at around 12 mins in): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0671464/the-one-show-25082015

Since the show aired we’ve been inundated with calls and emails asking us if we want to take on home collections. For the most part, the only titles we do keep on VHS are those that aren’t available on DVD in this country. That means that about 95% of the time we already have what you have. Still, if you think you might have something super rare (if you’ve a video nasties collection you no longer need for example), then do send us a list of titles. That way we can check them out and let you know if we can take them off your hands.

Even though magnetic tape is in no way a superior, or even stable, format, there is a whole heap of nostalgia that surrounds it. It’s a strange beast, VHS, because we’ve reached a point where we don’t know what to do with them any more. No one wants them. Charity stores have been overrun with home collections, recycling plants have closed down and you can’t just chuck them out with your regular rubbish. To this end, eBay is fast becoming the best place to offload the clunky old things.

But because we do have a hoard of great films that we can’t get on DVD, we keep a couple of thousand in the shop, along with a VCR or two, to rent out to those of you whose viewing habits won’t be hindered by the arrival of discs and streaming.


And if you do love VHS, and indeed 20th century video shop culture, then we’d like to extend an invitation to you to attend one of our Scalarama strands: VHStival. Throughout September, every Saturday night – that’s the 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th – we’re running some late night lucky dip VHS celebratory hang outs!

We’ll be screening stuff from our weird and wonderful collection in both the Kino and at the counter from 10pm till around 12am. It’s free to turn up, seats won’t be allocated as it’s more of a ‘drop in and hang about’ kind of thing than an actual screening. We’ll have tea, coffee, soft drinks and popcorn on the go, plus you can do some late night film renting if you like.

I’d also like to encourage people to share their video shop stories – in person, or via email if you can’t come along and hang out on our VHStival nights. Video shops aren’t just for renting movies, they’re also spaces for conversations about films. So come along, have a chat, a damn fine coffee and duck into the Kino for a bit to see something of this ilk: http://www.wow247.co.uk/2015/08/19/8-bizarre-vhs-movies-we-found-in-our-video-vault/


Boyfriend has Netflix, yo.

I know it’s 2015 but I refuse to illegally download movies. Or subscribe to Netflix. Their selection is crap and the recommendations are soulless. Plus I work in a video store.

If I lived in the US I’d watch stuff on Fandor because they actually like movies and care about what they curate – and they have a whole conversation going on over at Keyframe that’s awesome. But here in the UK, the online options are poor (great for video stores that are still open).

Much like my attitude towards streaming, I also have no interest in online dating. I know people who enjoy it, but dating’s a personal thing and I prefer to flirt with someone’s actual face rather than their avatar.

Now, what with people being multi-platformed ‘n’ all, it seems to be that even if you do meet someone in the video shop, they might also have Netflix. I’ve sort of learned to deal with this.

My understanding is as follows: you watch Netflix when you want to watch easily digestible stuff and feel withdrawn from society, but you come to the video store when you want to delve a little deeper into the connections between films, filmmakers and the medium as an art form, and if you want to have some kind of meaningful human interaction. Maybe you come here on the days when you’ve been looking at a screen for too long and just want someone to smile at you. Or maybe you want to look into someone else’s eyes for a few minutes.

The great thing about smiling and eyes is that sometimes you get sparks. Some of them lead to real life friendships and romances.

But imagine my surprise, when I turned up at my new beau’s place one day only to see  Netflix on his tele. Worse still, another day I arrived at the same time as the Royal Mail. And what should be in his postal delivery? A wee envelope with the words LOVE and FILM on it.

Cue panic attack.

Total deal breaker.

What a predicament; I’m totally not into asking someone to change things about themselves, their habits, routines, etc. – I sure as shit wouldn’t change anything about myself for a dude – and yet here I find myself weeping at the very thought of the company that categorically does not love film and that sent so many neighbourhood video stores out of business being anywhere in my life, even if that is by proxy.

I think I might need a support group to make sure I don’t become tyrannical in this new relationship – some sort of ‘I run a video store and I’m dating someone from the 21st century’ kind of thing.

Anyone got a number I can call?

Traditionally Good Film Quiz at The Christmas Steps

For genuinely quizzical times in very close proximity to a well stocked bar, 20th Century Flicks are proud to present a Traditionally Good Film Quiz.

Film Quiz Poster September

DJ WillSpinz returns from his adventures outside of Bristol and brings with him more entertaining, brain teasing movie trivia than ever before!

Also on the mic we have the inimitable Mr Bags. He’s also just about the loveliest man you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting, so if you haven’t met him, there’s another top notch reason to come along!

There’s also prizes to be won, beer that wants drinking and questions that need answering. Assemble your teams, learn some movie trivia (the shop is as good a place as any to do that) and don’t let those pesky Bristol Silents** walk away with another win!

£1 per person, maximum of six per team.
Good times guaranteed*

*As always, this is not an actual guarantee

** We actually think the Bristol Silents are great people, it’s just that they’ve won too many quizzes already

While We’re Young

It screened at the Showcase and at the Cube but somehow I missed it. Now that it’s made its way onto DVD, I’ve taken the time to catch up.


I think I like Noah Baumbach films. It’s difficult to be sure because even though I did enjoy Greenberg (2010), I really didn’t like Margot at the Wedding (2007), and I just can’t be sure about The Squid and the Whale (2005) because when I saw it I was kind of being stood up by my sort of boyfriend of the time. As a result I pretty much cried the entire way through the movie. I still don’t know whether or not that has anything to do with the movie being sad. Or if the movie even is sad.


While We’re Young (2014) (I’ve left Frances Ha out of the discussion because even though I love that movie (obvs) it’s totes all Greta Gerwig) has made me think that, actually, maybe I don’t like Noah Baumbach films. It’s one of those identifiably, entertainingly, jovial yet sort of empty meta movies. Though it comes next in a trajectory of and aspires to be an enjoyably nihilistic film, it’s far too aware of its own constructive elements to be earnest enough to pull it off.

My dislike for Baumbach’s latest aside, what the film did achieve was in making me think a little about how my life is characterised by my generation – whichever of those it might be…


Sort of like living in a double diaspora (am I British or Australian ffs?), I’m kind of stuck between generations. I think I’m technically Gen X. I might be wrong about that – is the cut off 1980 or 1981? Either way, there’s absolutely no way I’m Gen Y. I only just found out what a selfie stick is and I don’t use the word literally when I mean figuratively or metaphorically. And yeah, I’m still on hotmail. But what I might be, is belonging to a generation-less generation, one devoid of any defining characteristics – including slackerism. A kind of NeverEnding Story style Nothing, if you will. How very Heideggerian of me.

So I guess While We’re Young should be a movie that speaks to me; it’s true that I know people who keep chickens, make all their own stuff, wear pork pie hats and think authenticity – especially when it comes to formats; vinyl, paper, typewriters – is ironic. But most of those people are around five to seven years younger than me. It’s also true that I know people who spend way too much time attached to their devices and totally think it’s acceptable to send romantic messages via email/text/facebook/twitter instead of talking to each other while the majority of their peers are getting married, having babies and/or buying houses in the burbs.



Unfortunately, these dry observations aside, there’s not lots that I can identify with in the film. Probably because no one, no matter how aware they are of their generational tropes, is quite that smug IRL.

There is a moment in the film, however, that really struck me, but for its inability to engage with the intergenerational generation – you know, the generation-less one I mentioned earlier – and that is where  Adam Driver’s character carefully puts a video tape into a VCR before cutting to Ben Stiller’s character browsing Netflix.

Where are the DVDs?

While I do recall VHS extremely well, and while I still do watch them from time to time (we have somewhere around 2,500 of them in the store), I am, at heart and in tangible forms, all about digital versatile discs. The only online content I ever watch are preview screeners.


Of course, even I can acknowledge that this might have less to do with which generation I belong to and more to do with the fact that I work in a video shop. Some of my friends, who are my age, have Netflix. The major difference, then, I suppose, is that even though they have it, they don’t watch it exclusively. And that’s because they’re not self-aware jackasses playing po-faced stereotypes in a post-postmodern attempt at ironic  nihilism. Which, I guess, is because real life is not much like a Noah Baumbach movie.

Shorts on the Steps

One of the greatest joys in my life right now is how fantastically breezy it is to wander out onto the steps and start cooking up  stupendously fun things to do with the good folk on and around the Steps.

One choc-ice induced conversation has led to a Scalarama event that is quite literally going to put the Steps on the (Scalarama-Screening Film) map.

Welcome to a wee blurb about SHORTS ON THE STEPS.


You don’t have to wear shorts, but you can.

Either way, you ought to bring cushions.

The screenings are free. They will happen on Friday September 25th, with pre-show BBQ & Bar (from 7pm, thanks to Bristol Cider Shop and Beat Root Cafe) and the films will be amazing Super8 and 16mm gems (from 8pm, thanks to Geneva Stop).

Oh, and you.

Yep, YOU.


We want them on Super8 or 16mm. We want them to be less than 5 minutes long. We want them to be submitted digitally (and if successful, exhibited in original 8/16 film format) to info[at]20thcenturyflicks[dot]co[dot]uk with ‘SHORTS ON THE STEPS’ in the subject header by 5pm Friday August 28th 2015.

We’ll screen a bunch and the audience on the night will get to vote for a winner. That winner will get themselves a free Mon-Thurs screening hire of the Flicks’ Kino. Sound swell? That’s because it is. Get involved. And may the photochemical film be with you.