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…
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.