Best of 2017 – Flicks’ style

It’s been an absolutely brilliant year for film, with blockbusters and indie titles bringing us all manner of glee for months. But we know some of you may have missed a few, so we thought we’d help you catch up!

This year, the three of us put together some thoughts on our favourite films released on DVD in 2017.

DAVE TAYLOR’S PICKS:

  1. Toni Erdmann
  2. Hunt for the Wilder People
  3. Personal Shopper
  4. Hidden Figures
  5. Twin Peaks 3 (out on DVD and in the shop next week!)

“Honourable mentions go to Get Out, The Villainess, Dispossessed: The Great Housing Swindle, Hell or High Water and Elle. My top five are films that I either immensely enjoyed watching at the time (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Hidden Figures), or films I kinda liked while watching them and was still thinking about days later. On the second – or third! – watch, their inscrutability developed into something much more affecting and they have now become cherished favourites. Toni Erdmann is the standout for me in this regard; I eagerly await what Maren Ade makes next.”

DAVE WHISKEY’S PICKS:

  1. Hell or High Water
  2. Kubo and the Two Strings
  3. Birth of a Nation
  4. Lady Macbeth
  5. Free State of Jones

“A solid year for movies with a superb action-thriller at the top of my list, a family animation that’s magnificent, and three powerful period dramas bringing up the rear. Enjoy.”

TARA’S PICKS

  1. The Levelling
  2. Certain Women
  3. The Work
  4. The Fits
  5. The Love Witch

“Some years I struggle to make a list because there’s so much mediocre crap being released. This year, making a list was tough because there were so many great films – a relief and a genuine joy. Four out of my top five are films made by women, about women or girlhood; The Work is a masterpiece about the failings of masculinity.”

We also asked a few of our good friends for their top five votes and put it all together to make a keen Top 10 (Dave, Dave and I weighted our choices worth double points so that it stays representative of what you’ll be told in the shop!) This our collective Top Ten Titles:

  1. Toni Erdmann
  2. Get Out
  3. Hell or High Water
  4. Kubo & the Two Strings
  5. Personal Shopper
  6. The Levelling
  7. The Work
  8. I, Daniel Blake
  9. Certain Women
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

We also looked at what our top ten most popular films for the year were and, in order of most rentals, we have:

  1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  2. Hell or High Water
  3. Arrival
  4. Kubo & the Two Strings
  5. Captain Fantastic
  6. I, Daniel Blake
  7. Manchester by the Sea
  8. Lion
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  10. John Wick (it may be from 2015, but it’s still one of our best renters, because it’s one of very few films all three of us here love.)

If you haven’t seen all (or any) of these films then you need to get down to the shop and get renting! We’ll have a fuller list of the year’s recommended titles for you to pick up in the store, too.

Thanks go to our friends for their votes and continued involvement with the shop. A little on who they are and what they chose, below:

Liz Chege is a curator and writer, and a member of the film collective Come The Revolution.  Liz has taught in the Flicks’ Kino.

  1. Moonlight
  2. Christine
  3. I Am Not Your Negro
  4. Get Out
  5. Jackie

Lorena Pino is a film programmer and writer, she’s worked with Cinema Rediscovered and Bath Film Festival. Lorena has taught in the Flicks’ Kino.

  1. Sonita
  2. The Handmaiden
  3. Paterson
  4. Hidden Figures
  5. Moonlight

Peter Walsh is co-curator and co-director of South West Silents and part of the team for Cinema Rediscovered. Peter has taught several courses in the Flicks’ Kino and was on Eggheads with us last year.

  1. The Love Witch
  2. Lion
  3. The Work
  4. Zoology
  5. Baby Driver

Ti Singh is founder and programmer of Bristol Bad Film Club and the author of the forthcoming book, Born to be Bad: Talking to the Greatest Villains in Action Cinema.  Ti was also on Eggheads with us last year.

  1. Get Out
  2. The Big Sick
  3. War for the Planet of the Apes
  4. John Wick 2
  5. Baby Driver

Alice Taylor-Matthews is a comedian and programmer. She stages events at Cube Cinema and is an integral part of the brilliantly funny Tales of Adventure.

  1. Your Name
  2. I, Daniel Blake
  3. Train to Busan
  4. Toni Erdmann
  5. Raw

Ben Brewer was co-host of Movie Mondays on Made in Bristol TV and is an occasional member of staff at Flicks.

  1. Alien: Covenant
  2. Personal Shopper
  3. Raw
  4. Catfight
  5. The Handmaiden

Daisy Steinhardt is a student and did her work experience at Flicks.

  1. I, Daniel Blake
  2. Get Out
  3. Raw
  4. Kubo & the Two Strings
  5. My Cousin Rachel

 

 

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Introduction To… BERGMAN!

It’s been a while so we thought we’d best run another Course in the Kino! But this time we we’re doing something a little different…
Do you wish you knew more about Ingmar Bergman? Tired of pretending you’re a Swedish cinephile? 
Tire no more! Join Dr Walsh for our very first’ Introduction To’ course in the Kino!
Saturday Nov 4th and 11th 10am-midday
Introduction To: Ingmar Bergman, with Dr Peter Walsh.
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Ingmar Bergman is a colossal name that almost hangs over popular cinema, a name many recognise but only a few dare comment on. Some might even whisper that he’s almost impenetrable, but that’s not the case!

Over fifty years, Bergman shaped not only Swedish cinema and theatre, but also left an indelible mark on what we regard as art-house cinema, and influenced a slew of the century’s most important filmmakers.

Considering the historical and national issues at play in his films, this introductory course will lay out key themes and motifs in Bergman’s work. How do identity and silence intersect, and how might a sense of dry Swedish humour give us a better understanding of how Bergman treats and plays with Death?

Each participant will be asked to take home one of Bergman’s films with a view to discussing it with the group the following week.
Course Structure:
Sat Nov 4th: Introductory lecture – themes, motifs, reading Bergman
Sat Nov 11th: Seminar – group discussion and further study
Fee: £45 full / £40 concession
Email: tarajudah@hotmail.com to book your place*
*spaces are limited to a max of 10 participants. 

Encounters Short Film Festival + A Little Bit at Flicks

Kicking off on Tuesday night, Encounters Short Film Festival is back, now in its 23rd year. We love Encounters at the video shop and we are SUPER EXCITED to announce that there’ll even be a little bit of the festival here at Flicks. 

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WHAT’S IN THE SHOP

Perpetual Cinema: From 1pm – 6pm Wednesday through Sunday this week (20th-24th) we’ll have a running loop of short films showing in the Kino and it’s FREE* to attend! 

AVA Festival Archive: A brand new terminal has landed in the shop and it’s been specially jam-packed with Encounters archives so you can enjoy even more Encounters after your screenings. 

*The Kino seats a maximum of 11 people at any one time

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A VERY SPECIAL SCREENING + Q&A

We watch a lot of films at Flicks and our eagle eyes love to tell you when we see something remarkable. Having had the absolute pleasure of already seeing Mark Jenkin’s Bronco’s House (2015), I can hand-on-heart swear that this is one screening you won’t want to miss. Shot on a clockwork camera and hand processed in instant coffee – yep, coffee – the film (which will be screening on a stunning new 35mm print) tells the story of a young couple looking for ‘a home’, and all that that implies. Bronco’s House is cloudy and grainy which lends it a beautiful, dream-like realism. Part of Encounters’ Shorts2Features strand, it runs at a unique 44 minutes and filmmaker Mark Jenkin will be present for a Q&A after the screening, hosted by Tara. More info + tickets here. 

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WHAT WE CAN’T WAIT FOR

UWE_Film: We’ve made a tonne of video shop friends over the years out of talented filmmakers from UWE and we cannot wait to see what the recent graduates have come up with. 

‘Women in Puppetry & Puppet Animation’, Bristol Festival of Puppetry Showcase:   Bristol has earned a brilliant reputation when it comes to puppetry because the talent is real and their spotlight on female views on sexuality, conflict and relationships sounds like a dream programme come true. 

The Final Girls Present: Strange Creatures Body horror or body image? Yes please, we love anything and everything about being grossed out, feeling gross and getting over it in the name of feminism. 

The Final Girls Present: The Final Girls Teenagers, camp counsellors, a masked killer and the eponymous final girl – another all round yes from the team at Flicks, you know we love our horror, and draped in discourse is when it’s at its best. 

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These are just a tiny taster of what’s on offer at Encounters this year so check out the full programme here, get your tickets and we’ll see you over the coming days; in the shop and at the cinema – and probably in the bar, too!

And if you can’t wait till Wednesday, you can watch past winners online: http://encounters-festival.org.uk/watch-films/

 

GET OUT

Though we all watch a lot of movies in here, we don’t often get to see stuff together – such is the nature of #videoshoplife that we usually watch movies at home and reconvene in the video shop to talk ’em over, disagree wildly and lovingly mock each other’s opinions. But, every now and again, we manage a shop outing to the cinema and see something together after scoffing burgers at Five Guys (the video shop cliche is real).

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One movie I really wanted us to see as a sort-of video shop posse this year was Jordan Peele’s GET OUT. Partially, my motivation came after Liz Chege of Come the Revolution recommended it to me (she has great taste in film). It was also partially motivated by the age old decider of genre: most video shop clerks have cross-over taste when it comes to horror.

Of course, when I say we went as a video shop posse, I should clarify that it’s a hap-hazard crew, made up of some people who do or have worked in the video shop plus others who are loosely associated with the shop and minus our dear Co-Director Whiskey who, since having a child some four years ago, has not yet managed to join us for a late night cine-jaunt.

So off we went and together we watched Jordan Peele’s thrilling and wonderfully uncomfortable for white folk social satire, GET OUT. I sat, literally in nail-biting, edge-of-my-seat position for the entire film, enthusiastic and ready to gush after the credits rolled – it had been the perfect choice for a movie night out! But, much to my chagrin, my post-movie excitement was met with varying degrees of ‘meh’ from my video shop pals. It seems that my male movie buddies were a little underwhelmed, some finding the horror a little predictable or not to their liking and others thinking it was good but not great.

Let me just say this: I love those guys but they’re all absolutely wrong. GET OUT is one of this year’s finest movie treats and now that it’s in the shop on DVD to rent we can finally prove my colleagues and pseudo-colleagues wrong! So, if you wanna read an intelligent article on why the film is great, head to Overland.org.au where Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson have already done all the hard work with their article, ‘We’re on your side: white violence and the horror of representation’ . And, if you want to see it on the big screen, then you have another chance this weekend at Cinema Rediscovered thanks to the good folk at Come the Rev who are showing it as a comparison piece with Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

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Otherwise, come and get it at the shop and take it home where you go, undisturbed, to the sunken place on your sofa.

Get Out/Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner trailer courtesy of Cinema Rediscovered.

From One Side of Counter t’Other

Last week we had a work experience placement at 20th Century Flicks. We take very few student placements and have reached our capacity for 2017. At the end of the week, we asked Daisy to tell us a little something about her experience in the shop and this is what she had to say:

I began my week at 20th Century Flicks with a fairly good idea of what to expect. I have been visiting the shop regularly for a while now, during which time I have gotten to know the ‘licensed video rental personnel’ quite well. I found this very helpful, as it allowed me to skip past the awkward “Oh hi, you must be Stacey,” “No, it’s Daisy, like the flower,” stage and get on to the real talk, on to subjects such as how safe it is to open superglue with your teeth [Ed’s note: obviously it isn’t!], if customers looking for ’70s (MISOGYNISTIC) erotica were renting them ironically, and what on EARTH that awful smell was.

Knowing everyone also meant that I was trusted to talk to customers, something which, even over this short period of time, I believe has improved my people skills. With these newfound skills, I managed to strike up a conversation with a man on my bus ride home on Tuesday about his uni course and how much I hate living in the countryside – much to his badly concealed irritation. Talking to customers also allowed me to meet some really interesting people, some of whom I recognised as the week progressed, notably, a boy who came in three times to eat his own bodyweight in free skittles. The varying film preferences and general interesting-ness of the customers meant that, on the whole, I found them very enjoyable to talk to. I also (just about) managed to refrain from recommending Sharknado 3 to anyone, something that I have involuntarily done several times on previous visits from the other side of the counter.

One thing I hadn’t quite understood before the week, despite my fairly frequent visits for tea and the odd bit of lamination, is how stressful managing a small business can be. I hadn’t really stopped to think, perhaps naively, that the shop’s financial status is entirely dependent on the number of daily Kino bookings and film rentals. Because of this, it isn’t a ‘go in, get paid, piss off’ type of job, rather, one that requires a great deal of emotional investment. A mixture of this, the eccentric atmosphere of the shop, and Dave having only just returned from Glastonbury made for a surprisingly intense few days, something I had definitely not anticipated.

At the end of my week, I had learned several new things, the main one probably being how to use the shop’s film cataloging system. I also now know how to dismantle a jammed-up laminator, and, most importantly, what on EARTH that awful smell was. On a more serious and personal note, what this week has proven to me is that jobs I find interesting do exist and it has reassured me that, perhaps, in the future, I will find some form of work that I am passionate about. I certainly know that I’ll be very lucky if I ever end up working anywhere as amazing as Flicks.

Written by Daisy Steinhardt for (and edited by) 20th Century Flicks. Please note that we have already accepted the maximum number of work experience placements we can accommodate for 2017. We will post other scheduled work experience responses here in due course.

National Cinema(s)

I recently finished a six week course on National Cinema(s), which was hosted by 20th Century Flicks: Bristol’s last remaining video rental shop (it also has a cinema room that can be hired and is home to two adorable cats – what more could you want from life?) The big question, going into this course, was, ‘What is National Cinema?’ and over the next six weeks my fellow classmates and I attempted to answer this through film screenings and discussions, each one organised around a particular national focus (British, Australian, Swedish, Venezuelan, Kenyan, European/Borderless).

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While the economics of a film’s production and distribution is arguably the biggest factor in determining which ‘national cinema’ it falls into, I was very much fascinated by the discussions around the filmic content and the idea of ‘national genres’, or to put it more crudely, what type of films do we associate with certain countries? For example, when asked what Swedish films we had seen, the majority of those cited, particularly those that had been the most commercially successful, could be considered to fit the description ‘Scandi-noir’. This made me wonder how much this ‘national genre’ really represents Swedish interests and how much it is influenced by its exportability to international audiences, i.e. Swedish film-makers may be more inclined to work within this genre because it is more likely to sell well abroad. This is because it seems to be much easier to market a foreign film when a nation is predominately linked with a particular style of film-making. Further examples might include French Arthouse, Japanese Anime and Indian Bollywood.

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Additionally, ‘Scandi-noir’ raises further questions regarding the geography of national cinema(s) and the grouping of films from several countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden – perhaps because this is easier to market internationally). What then might be the exported British ‘national genre’ (grouping England, Scotland and Wales)? This is difficult to judge since I am living in Britain and exposed to the wider range of its film productions but literature on this subject indicates that heritage cinema seems to enjoy particular international success: the Merchant Ivory productions of the 1980s and more recently The King’s Speech (Dir. Tom Hooper, 2010) and The Imitation Game (Dir. Morten Tyldum, 2014). The wider socio-political implications for these exported ‘national genres’ is something that really fascinates me and I hope to explore this as I take up research in this area.

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With this in mind, the National Cinema(s) course was a wonderful opportunity to watch films that we may not normally have seen due to their lower visibility in the international film market. Putting Australia’s hugely successful Mad Max franchise to one side, I watched two lesser known films: Charlie’s Country (Dir. Rolf de Heer, 2013), a depiction of an Indigenous Australian dealing with the loss of his land, and The Boys (Dir. Rowan Woods, 1998), a disturbing drama about violence, hate and crime within a suburban Australian family.

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As part of our focus on Swedish cinema the featured screening was not a ‘Scandi-noir’ but a sensitive, sweet account of two teenage girls falling in love in a small town: Show Me Love (Dir. Lukas Moodysson, 1998). This screening was quite a nostalgic experience for me, proving that questionable fashion choices, bubblegum pop and ‘hanging in the park’ are late 1990s teenage experiences that transcend national borders.

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The course also exposed me to some films from countries that I must shamefully confess I knew very little about in terms of their cinema: Pelo Malo (Dir. Mariana Rondon, 2013) explores issues of racism, homophobia and poverty through the tense relationship between a mother and her son living in Caracas, Venezuela; Nairobi Half Life (Dir. David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga, 2012) is a hard-hitting insight into gang culture in Nairobi, Kenya.

Many thanks to Peter, Tara, Lorena and Elizabeth for selecting an array of truly fascinating films and for leading such insightful discussions.

Written by Sarah Kelley for 20th Century Flicks.

Film courses in the Kino

Before running our first film course in the Kino (an idea I’d been sitting on for the better part of two years before launching), I considered the contemporary challenge of the video shop thus: if rentals are steadily decreasing year on year (oh how they are), and if the most financially viable aspect of our business in post-Clifton years is the Kino (oh how it is), what else could we use this magic Twin Peaks-inspired space for? And so, even if it was an entirely mad endeavour for a video shop, we decided to trial informal adult education classes in our 11-seater cinema. Much to my joy, folks turned up to the first one so we’ve continued doing it.

Starting somewhere in the vicinity of where it all began, we kicked off with silent cinema (my eternal hat off to Dr Peter Walsh for taking up the reigns on that one, solo). Then we ventured into documentary discourse and so began our line of questioning the legitimacy and so-called ‘truth’ of everything we see. Next came a focus on national cinema(s) – a kind of misleading theme given it’s a largely dismissed approach, contemporarily, even if it is useful for trying to understand the obfuscating aims of national funding bodies. But it brought up so many more questions about politics, history, social inequity, economics and cultural resonance / dissonance.

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From here, there were any number of places we might like to go, and though I do continue to threaten to run a feminist film course some time in the future (that’s assuming my other mad idea about running a monthly feminist salon in the shop doesn’t win out first!), we decided on a ‘Page to Screen’ focus.

Walsh and I both studied literature as well as film, even if we work more exclusively now with the latter, and especially of interest is the way in which cinema realises and reimagines literary themes, tone and narrative.

We plan to look at a number of texts over the summer and there’s plenty of time between classes (it’s fortnightly for this one) for people to read and view widely based on what’s thrown up in each of the sessions. We’re keen to find out how some filmmakers show description, or how they visualise internal narrative, assign and reassign narrative voice and how a form that is already visual, in part, begins to move before our eyes; there will be plenty to chew over in that red-curtained room, where time and space evaporate and ideas take charge.

From Page to Screen is the fourth in our new series of film courses in the Kino. Spaces are limited but if you are keen to find out more about this or future courses please do email Tara to register your interest: tarajudah[@]hotmail[dot]com

Good Friday, Chapter 2: A short, chilling story from Poppy, the video shop cat

She didn’t scream.

There was a low rumple, a muffled guffaw and a metallic squink. She backed away from the body and took solace behind the counter.

I’d started to sweat, through my paws (that’s where cats sweat, in case you didn’t know) so I went back to licking them. It kept my mind busy and that meant that I didn’t have to think about what the human would do to us now that she’d found the body. Meanwhile, she paced back and forth behind the counter, tap-tap-tapping on the small rectangular thing she carries around. She tapped furiously, as if her life depended on it. Maybe it did? All the while, I sat atop the fridge and I licked my paws.

Alf – that’s my brother – he didn’t hide, almost as if he was proud of what he’d done. He sat less than a foot away from the body, like he wanted to get caught, like his actions would somehow please the human. I was disgusted with him. Not only did I have to put up with the headless body in our home that night but it was also causing me much anxiety. The humans aren’t like us; they’re strange and unpredictable. More time passed and the suspense became too much, I had to know, what was she doing out there?

I let a low growl out and Alf hissed back – the human was still tapping on that rectangular object, pacing back and forth.

She paced back and forth. Back and forth; back and forth…

This went on for what might have been days. And you know what? I thought, ‘Forget this, I don’t care about the hideous dismembered corpse on the rug! It’s midday and I’m HUNGRY.’ My paws were salty, which left a dry, sandbox taste in my mouth. Not even a quick lick of my deliciously greasy fur could make it go away. That’s when I decided to speak up.

I knew I had to be careful about what I said and I’ve been studying the humans for a long time now. The most important detail I’ve noticed is that they communicate with their mouths. I think, especially when they want something, they open their mouths wide and release a series of noises – not clear hisses or growls, more like a sequence of up and down varied frequencies. It’s effective because the other humans respond. I see it first thing in the morning when they put the coffee on: one sets up the pot, opens its mouth wide and squeaks at the other, then, the other one squeaks back and the first one brings out a hot, disgusting cup of the stuff. I’ve also noticed that the mouth has to open wide – for example, there was a time when someone from the outside came in (many outsides come in of a day) and they didn’t open their mouth very wide at all. As such, the noises didn’t vary much and the whole thing was very lackluster, kind of like a mumble. My human seemed unimpressed with the mumble and instead of responding with a cup of hot stuff, mumbled back.

So, having deduced that I needed to speak, loudly and with varied timbre, I drew a large breath and cried out with everything I had, hoping I’d get food and not a cup of that hot stuff.

AND IT WORKED. She turned to me and replied with the same noise! She must have understood that I was just an innocent bystander. ‘Success!’, I thought, ‘Soon, soon I will get the puzzle ball with the food.’

Tune in again next week for the next installment of Pops’ story.

A short, chilling story from Poppy, the video shop cat

Ed’s note: Obviously Poppy can’t type, or speak English. As such, this blog post comes from a ghost writer.

It was ‘Good’ Friday and one of the humans would arrive soon. I didn’t know which one would turn up – I never know, they don’t have an identifiable routine. I think they do it deliberately to keep us in the dark, on our toes, always just slightly on edge. I don’t know how to be sure of exactly when they’ll arrive, either, but I do know I’m always very hungry when they do. And wherever they go at night – they leave every day a little after dark – it keeps them for different stretches of time; sometimes one night, sometimes many…

There wasn’t anything ‘Good’ about that Friday; it was soured by the coagulated, bloody stench of death. I wanted to walk out the door, find a nearby human to scoop me up and keep me safe. But my brother – he hissed at me – and besides, I was hungry, so even the headless corpse on the rug couldn’t stop me waiting for the human to arrive. The human would still feed me, even after they’d discovered the body, right?

It was difficult to reassure myself as more and more time passed – I don’t know how long. So I was decided to keep myself busy, cleaning. I just kept cleaning my paws. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, if I can get my paws clean, everything will be alright. But my nerves were shot and each time a DVD flew through the letterbox in the door, thwacking onto the hard, cold, concrete floor, I drew in a short, sharp breath. These moments must have been quick but time seemed to have slowed down. All I knew was that I wanted it to be over; I really wanted my paw to be clean.

A familiar jangle caught my attention, and then the door creaked ajar, stopped in its tracks by the now large pile of DVDs on the shop floor. The human slid through the opening and bent down to pick up the loud, nerve-wracking culprits. As she did – it was the female human today – she chirruped sweetly, “Morning Kitts! How are my darling kitties, today?” I know I should have faced her and said something, explained it wasn’t me, but the female human never listens, she just chirrups back at me, no matter what I say, no matter how urgent or unpleasant something is. I was frightened, I don’t mind to admit it.

I ran. I stole one last glimpse of my brother out of the corner of my eye, and then I ran.

By now I was sat atop the warm white thing in the kitchen – I think the humans call it a fridge and sometimes they manage to pry it apart, producing food we’re not allowed to eat. Neither my brother nor I have learned how to get it open but I’m confident that one day we will. Anyway, back to today – today, the human was approaching the kitchen, ready to start her cycle of strange behaviours; first she makes my litter tray smell weird, then she makes the rest of the place smell weird and it isn’t until after the strange smell changes everything that she finally gives us our food. Well, not food like it used to be, but a puzzle ball that has our food inside. We have to concentrate and follow it around, you see. Then, if we keep our focus well enough, the food comes out of the ball. It wasn’t always like this but the female human, especially, seems to enjoy making us concentrate on the puzzle balls.

It was clear she hadn’t noticed the body, yet. She went about her routine, turning on lights, one bright spell after another, until finally, she saw it. Headless, motionless, and forever staining her brand new carpet, there it lay, dead upon the floor.

To be continued…

Is it conceptual?

I am used to people being baffled by the existence of a video shop in 2017 (2016, 2015, etc, back to Y2K), but last week I was faced with a question about the ontology of the thing…

“It’s conceptual?” she asked…

Flicks is not (intentionally, at least) an installation / work of art. It is, I reply, a 20th century video shop: we rent movies to people for money. But, if I reflect on the question (as I have been forced to do ever since I was asked) I can’t really insist that my reply rings true.

If we understand the “video shop” as a company or business (which is Ltd) then it’s a concept, which means that we want to understand it as a physical thing. It is not, however, the sum of its many tangible parts; the films on DVD or VHS are objects within it, but not actually “it” at all.  Nor is it 19 Christmas Steps – that’s just where it is; it was somewhere else before and something else was in its place and will no doubt be here/there in future. It is also not any one, two, three or more specific people; the change in ownership some four or five years ago and the advent of cats continues to challenge the notion that even people are a persistent imperative.

It is, then, the renting of movies – but isn’t that just a theoretical thing, anyway? I mean, we make up and change the rules on rental all the time (prices, duration, subscription model, loyalty programmes, etc), and haven’t we absolutely messed with the original model by introducing a private hire space and a selection of local records for sale?

Surely, then, the “video shop” is only conceptual.

But it can’t  just be the idea of renting movies, either, because iTunes and other online platforms, from which you can rent movies, aren’t a video shop – are they?

Is it, then, the idea of renting movies from people in a physical place?

But that can’t be  it, either, because you can do that at the library and what we do is different… isn’t it?

Well, i suppose, then, we could say that what’s unique to the “video shop”, which seems now to be as marked by its scarcity as anything else, is that it is born of an historical moment and that the link or persistence of its historical imperative is paramount to its present ontology. The 20th Century part of its and our title means everything.

Further, we might surmise that the video shop is also an attitude as much as a concept:  the rules, service and space we continually decide to provide are a matter of attitude originating from three company Directors – myself and the two Daves.

It is definitely not, then, a number of other things people have tried to convince me that it is (especially over the past two or so years as it becomes oddly fetishized like the redundant format of VHS): not an archive, not a repository, not a library, not a community service. It can only exist (conceptually, even) because of the collectively understood and accepted existence of a specific concept in the past and, as such a time should ever occur that we should stop renting movies to people for money (the one immovable concept of its historical persistence), then it should cease to be a “video shop”.

So, while that still doesn’t qualify it as an art project or installation, it is true that the video shop is conceptual. Which makes my job far more difficult than just renting movies to people for money (which is hard enough). I must also tell people about 20th Century Flicks (a “video shop”) in order to garner their acknowledgement and endorsement of the ontology of the concept: only through collective cognizance can I hope to prove, and continue, its existence.

#videoshoplife