Lost and Found
I love the internet, truly I do. Fourteen years ago when I first started using the thing, I’d never have thought we’d get to the position we are in now. Remember those cheap ass geocities sites? Microsoft Frontpage? 56k modems? Just consider such things now, when in a world where we can get news through twitter quicker than newspapers. Think about how long it took to view a picture, when now, you can download or stream a movie in a matter of minutes. We take for granted just how much this network system now runs our lives. When you add any kind of perspective to the matter, it’s beyond insane.
I most love the internet because it’s truly shaped and evolved my film viewing. Just the other week when coming back from Peterborough to my home town, I was able to plan and schedule three different screenings of The Avengers. The reasoning behind this was that my viewing of this would be dependent on where I was at certain points of travel. Years ago, I’m sure you would be able to do this but consider the time it would have taken. My laptop probably took longer to boot up than the actual planning and booking.
The internet has me comparing and commenting with other bloggers and writers through twitter or tumblr . I’m constantly adding more to my GetGlue list, which can inform anyone with an PC, iPad, or smartphone what I’m watching and what my tastes are. It has me listening to far-fetched views and debates through podcasts recorded across the world. In fact it was listening to the ever excellent Film Junk podcast which inspired the format of Cinematic Dramatic, which in itself has gained listeners from all over the place.
But what it’s really changed for me is the actual consumption of the films themselves. Go to YouTube and type in a famous silent film. Good chance it will be there. I now have accounts with Mubi and LoveFilm which have ever extending watchlists of things I need to check out when I can. When said chance arises, I won’t even have to leave my room. I could get up in the morning, select a film and have it streamed to my eyeballs before I consider having a shower. So many take it for granted, but to me, I am constantly amazed.
Amazed and yet, somewhat saddened. As this brave new world slowly dawns, it eclipses what we had before. I found it very difficult getting rid of my VHS tapes when DVDs came in. There was a certain amount of fondness that came from all those hours spent recording films off the telly on to a long play tape. Rewinding, tracking and the like was a pain in the backside but it was ritual.
The same could be said of the idea of going to the video rental store to purchase and/or rent films. I feel some will agree with me that there was something so enriching, as a film fan, scanning the rows and rows of titles for something to pique your interest. I still love going into bricks and mortar stores, looking for deals or hidden gems, or picking up a title with great cover art.
One of the reasons behind this is of course, that we all like to indulge in a little narcissism. I love physical hard copies, not just for the scavenging in stores, but for the simple fact I could show off my tastes to others when they come over. When I go to other people’s houses, I usually rush to their DVD collection. I like to compare and contrast (why do you think I film blog) and borrow. There’s a deeply personal aspect, a sense of investment if you will, that I feel is disappearing due to our love for Web 2.0. I love so many internet aspects that are pushing the art form forward. Independent and foreign releases can find a wider audience because of it and there is a sense of community that has spewed forth from the social networks and blog circles.
The issue I have is the certain disconnect that comes with it. It all feels a little...clinical. Does anyone get the same feeling looking at LoveFilm or Letterboxd lists? Does anyone get a small twinge of accomplishment, when you type in a movie title into Amazon or Play, which you get when you find that last/only copy of some long lost flick while rummaging in some small indie outlet?
Many people, especially the younger generations will ignore this as the jabbering of a bitter semi-young man trying to rally the troops of dying habits from the new outlook of absorbing cinema. But anyone who found themselves locating the last entry of one of their favourite directors' movies from a Vinnie’s Video in Margate or something like it, may know what I mean. If you do, I should pop round sometime, check out your collection.