Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Neither A Borrower Nor A Renter Be

Most people find it odd to discover that despite my not particularly veiled obsession with film and sizable DVD collection, I have never rented one (as in paid-to-rent, fuzzy library VHS tapes were an exception). Until now, that is, as I have just signed up to a one-month LoveFilm trial and fully intend to continue. So what changed? Well, understanding that requires explaining the reason I avoided rentals to begin with.

I have always said the size of my film collection is deceptive in that, although there clearly has been a significant financial outlay over time, it was nowhere near as much as it appears. This was achieved largely through the (necessary) imposition of strict pricing rules when purchasing DVDs (generally under £5 for a standard film, £8 for special editions, £10 for foreign and rare discs). This meant that in most cases the cost of renting a film more than twice would exceed the cost of buying it to watch forever. If it turned out I didn’t really like the film, selling it on (or usually trading in) would tend to result in a “loss” of about the cost of a rental.

What changed is the expansion of rentals into blu-ray and videogames where the margins are significantly higher. A mediocre game may be worth playing, but isn’t worth the £40 price tag on release. Unlike DVDs, it’s likely to take such a game almost a year to tumble to a more acceptable price and by then its resale/trade-in value is likely to have diminished entirely. Similarly, although I tend to shop around for blu-ray bargains (Cheap Blu-ray Movies being an invaluable resource), it’s a more dangerous prospect to buy a film you’re less than sure about — though there are exceptions as I recently made £3 by watching the new high-def release of Total Recall and selling it on.

So my LoveFilm list is entirely populated with blu-rays and videogames, and each month I expect to play through a game and check out 3 films that I’m not yet sure about. Even subscription-based rentals services will never replace my need for a film collection (at least until an on-demand streaming HD library is a workable reality) since predicting my film mood in advance is largely impossible. Nevertheless my staunch anti-rental policy has now gone the way of those snowy over-used VHS tapes…

My Blueberry Nights

Incidentally the first film I rented was My Blueberry Nights, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai‘s first foray into English language cinema. It received a decidedly lukewarm critical reception which put me off for a while, but his always exceptional use of light and colour makes for gorgeous HD viewing. Despite the uncomfortably stilted dialogue, and perhaps due to lowered expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the mood it effortlessly evoked. Anna was also a fan.

And finally in unrelated (but awesome) news, a Dr Horrible sequel is now official.


  1. You neglect to mention that we shared my Lovefilm subscription with half the discs being allocated to your list! 😕

  2. That list was really just suggestions for stuff that I thought you should see (I’d seen most of them before) – which I’ve also done when I was with a group of people renting films to watch (more often than not in the States). If you hadn’t wanted suggestions, then of the ones I hadn’t seen I’d happily have bought (and then possibly sold) those!

    It was, of course, my first exposure to the ease of LoveFilm so I’m grateful for that. At least it’s easy when there isn’t a postal strike, but that’s not exactly their fault…

  3. They do GAMES? *signs up*
    Now it’s a good thing that all the best games are too short.
    I also found a great way of dealing with Prince of Persia requiring DLC to finish the game – watch the walkthrough on youtube. Might do this with all snazzy looking games to save money!
    And hoorah for Dr. Horrible.

  4. Once I started working I’ve definitely become pro-short-but-high-quality games, since I’d rather have a variety of experiences. I’m with you on the Prince of Persia DLC except I went one stage further: I actually really liked the game’s original “ending” so avoided the DLC entirely after hearing the gameplay was rubbish (or rather, it was just the bad restrictive indoor bits instead of the open outdoor vistas).

    The LoveFilm games packages are slightly more expensive but check carefully as there’s one with 2 discs at any time, 4 per month at £9.99 which is perfect for the way I’m using it. That “limitation” isn’t really a limit given the amount of time each game will take anyway.

  5. And of course this is also if you don’t rip the DVDs as well… not that I’d ever suggest doing such a thing!

  6. When I saw the title I my first thought was that you’d bought a house, but it turned out that the second thought was a bit more accurate…

    I’m now nearing the end of a 6-month LoveFilm subscription that Sonya bought for me. It’s time to decide whether to keep going with the subscription. At the moment we have no high-def equipment to warrant renting blu-ray, although that is my plan in the long run, and so I guess it boils down to whether I can find enough films that are worth renting but not worth buying. With the business of term approaching, I’ll see how much time I have available in this final month.

  7. Don’t forget they do loads of TV series as well! We’ve been ploughing through Dexter Series 1 and 2 – all good fun 😀

  8. On the topic of DLC (well, not really, as it’s free!) new Left 4 Dead mini-campaign! Wooo! KILLKILLKILL…

  9. Sam, good point, though I guess that’s where the 2 discs at a time plan I’m on becomes a bit tricky. I have been meaning to get my flatmate to watch Bones though, because she reminds me of Brennan a lot!

    Tom, yes must get back into apocalypse training. Annoyingly my computer has developed a weird bug where it crashes on fullscreening any game. Hopefully it’ll sort itself out when I do a clean install of Windows 7 later this month.

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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2024 Priyan Meewella

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