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.

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: to book your place*
*spaces are limited to a max of 10 participants. 

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.


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):

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:

Nicolas Cage Fest: Coming to a Kino Near You

This Scalarama, 20th Century Flicks are bringing the tiniest festival to the tiniest cinema in Bristol. Across three Wednesday nights in September (9th, 16th & 23rd), we (I) intend to screen three Nic Cage movies in the Flicks Kino.


While this means there’ll only be eleven seats available for each screening, it’s also an opportunity for Cage fans across Bristol (there must be at least eleven of us) to get together and revel in the gloriousness of the great, mesmeric man.


There’ll also be a couple of Cage-related competitions: Best Dressed Cage (extra points for efforts to recreate specific film examples of his ever-evolving hairline), Best Cage Impression (you perform it, we decipher the film/era), and a quick round of Cage Trivia. Prizes will take the shape of free rentals, of Nicolas Cage movies. Attendees will be encouraged to enthuse about Cage in what I promise to provide as a safe environment.

But, before we (I) get too carried away with the fun stuff, it might be a good idea to think about the limitations of only showing three NC films. It’s tough to select just three from the man’s vast and impressive filmography. And it is nigh impossible to showcase every era of his hairline in just three sittings.

Still, in the interests of best pleasing those likely to attend (someone will join me, right?), I’d like to take a wee poll on which films you’d be most keen to pay money to come see.


Program 1: Cagey in Love

Wild at Heart

Raising Arizona


Program 2: Caged Animal

Con Air



Program 3: A Cage of crippling debts

Drive Angry

The Wickerman

If you have preferences from each of the cagetories, lemme know in the comments section below.

Until September…


3D in the Kino

If you’re not enjoying a film, you can reject it. In the cinema this takes the shape of a walk out – a bold statement, for some. In the home it’s far easier, and free from judgement, you can just turn it off. Recently, though, I read a post on social media that, for all my rejection-defending, made me really sad. A friend of mine turned off a 3D home viewing experience of Jean-Luc Godard’s latest, Goodbye to Language (Adieu au langage, 2014). Fed up with Godard’s use of the medium and the meandering story – well, sort of, I mean I wouldn’t really call it a story, it’s more like a series of experiences – said friend decided that it was not worth persisting with. And, though I fully support anyone’s right to turn a film off whenever they so desire – I sure as hell do it, often – there’s something about the aesthetic and tone of Godard’s recent, often disliked and rejection inducing film that makes me want to encourage the disillusioned to reconsider.


I ought to explain myself. Last year, I saw Goodbye to Language at the Melbourne International Film Festival. The experience did two things for me: 1) it gave me a literal headache, and 2) it showed me something I have never seen before and had no idea cinema was even capable of. Aside from its low key observations about life, love, humanity, park benches, dogs, time and, obviously, space, Godard constantly interrupts the idea of entertainment and passive viewing by showing the distance between 2D and 3D as extreme. First, he does it quite literally by putting ‘2D’ and ‘3D’ on screen together, each in their relative dimensions. It feels uncomfortable looking behind the very intrusive ‘3D’ that is protruding from the screen, just inches from your face, to see the flat ‘2D’ stuck to the screen in the exact same place, but in the background. It might be ugly but it makes its point with aplomb. Later, we see a lot of soft 3D – that is, we see the medium used as it so often is in the types of 3D films we have become conditioned by. Then, just when you think you have a handle on what he’s saying, he goes and does something truly amazing.


There is one section of the film that I find, technically, beyond my capacity to explain. But I’ll at least try to describe what it looks like. The image splits and does something both fascinating and difficult to watch: the left side of the image stays where it is while the right side of the image separates and appears to turn in on itself. Confused? I was. Essentially, your eyes are seeing different things within the same image, I think. It’s truly sublime. In a sort of Lyotardian Kantian kind of way…

So, while I do understand my friend’s frustration with the film, I can’t help but feel sad that he didn’t persist. Even if you hate Godard’s smug intellecturising (totes a word), the advancement of the medium is worth your time, imho.

In the comments section on this social media post there was also some Film Socialisme bashing. This only made me more sad. To some extent I suppose I want people to finish watching Godard’s films even when they’re frustrating because giving up seems too easy. He knows his works are challenging, which makes finishing them all the more important – “Don’t let him win!” I want to shout. Seriously, look at this guy:


It’s not news, Godard has always been a provocateur. Some might even say an ‘enfant terrible’. But love him or hate him, he has always used the medium in inventive ways. Sure, his films carry an air of arrogance and often require a little more in the way of active viewing, but, ultimately, I think that’s also what makes watching them so rewarding.

So, without a theatrical release in this here country, and with the festival circuit having come full circle yet again – apparently it’s time to look to the vacuous celebrity clad / quality film boasting shores of Cannes once more – the fact is, if you don’t have 3D capable set up at home and if you don’t want to buy and own it, then the only place to see Goodbye to Language is here, in your friendly neighbourhood video shop. Yup, if you’re a member, you can hire our Kino, it seats 11, and you can subject your friends to Godard’s latest. Or, if I haven’t managed to win you over, then we also have Dredd (2012) and Jurassic Park (1994) in 3D.

How well do you know your local video shop?

Welcome to our month of May giveaway competition!

We thought we’d test your general video shop knowledge. There are ten questions, they’re multiple choice and, if you follow our social media and come into the shop fairly regularly, they ought to be super easy. To enter, you simply need to email your answers to: info[at]20thcenturyflicks[dot]co[dot]uk with ‘How well do you know your local video shop’ in the subject header. Tell us your name as well and that’s you entered.

Now, because we anticipate loads of you will score a clean ten out of ten, there will be an element of luck involved. It’ll probably be some kind of random algorithm. That decision will be final. The winner will receive TEN FREE RENTALS.

Lastly, a disclaimer: we will not accept bribes or give out answers over the phone, via email, social media or in human form. Unless you serenade us, then we might consider it.*

* It’s worth stating that I have not consulted with my colleagues and they may not want a serenade. In fact, the more I think about it the more certain I am that they definitely will not want a serenade. 

Alright then, let’s get on with the questionnaire:

1. How many Daves are there working at 20th Century Flicks?

a) One

b) Two

c) Three

d) Four

2. Which film magazine does Flicks carry a ‘neighbourhood copy’ of? 

a) Sight & Sound

b) Little White Lies

c) Electric Sheep

d) Film Comment

3. Which ex-member of staff visits regularly and hand writes recommendations? 

a) Kelly

b) Becky

c) Shelly

d) Mary

4. Which two voices run the Flicks social media? 

a) Austrian feminist + Salisbury stoner

b) Australian stoner + Salisbury feminist

c) Austrian stoner + Shrewsbury feminist

d) Australian feminist + Shrewsbury stoner

5. Which Peter Jackson film is only available to rent on VHS? 

a) Heavenly Creatures

b) Bad Taste

c) Brain Dead

d) Meet the Feebles

6. How many seats does the Kino have? 

a) 10

b) 11

c) 12

d) 14

7. Who hosts the Flicks pub quiz? 

a) DJWillSpinz + Mr Bags

b) DJMeNizzle + Mr Bags

c) DJWillSpinz + Mr Basket

d) DJMeNizzle + Mr Basket

8. At which cinema does Flicks host a monthly film night?

a) Watershed

b) Orpheus

c) Cube

d) Showcase Cinema de Lux

9. Which movie is the Flicks mascot taken from? 

a) Nurse Betty

b) The Notorious Bettie Page

c) Betty Blue

d) Babette’s Feast

10. Which actor does Flicks have a shelf dedicated to? 

a) Ryan Gosling

b) Bruce Willis

c) Nicolas Cage

d) Kevin Costner


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.

Darth Vader won’t believe it.


C-3PO is stunned.


It’s such an exciting offer that Vader’s lightsaber is all lit up.

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.