Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Up the stream without a... Blu-Ray

I've had Netflix (Ireland) for several months now but it was only at the weekend that I finally sat down to watch Roma. I thought the film was absolutely magnificent, unquestionably one of the best films of the century, but after watching the film the gulf between streaming film and collecting film was thrown into sharp focus. While I enjoy Netflix and Prime, the experience of watching film on both platforms remains completely ephemeral, much like catching a film on broadcast television. Quite often a TV screening or stream is used as a sort of audition for adding a film to my collection. So Talking Pictures on Sky has become a good source for Indicator titles - it matters little that Talking Pictures' quality control is often mediocre - films are invariably soft looking and often shown squeezed, but these presentations serve well enough as "run-throughs" - the main event comes not with this initial introduction but with the Blu-Ray purchased afterwards. I felt the same way seeing Once Upon a Time In Hollywood recently. Despite seeing it on a large IMAX screen, the experience was entirely transitory - what I truly savored in the days that followed the screening was the thought of re-watching the film again (and again!) at home on BR on the 55" LG.

Seeing Roma at the weekend, the exhilaration of discovering this extraordinary film was tempered by the fact that I can’t buy a physical copy of the film, in an optimum presentation, with supplements and artwork. Beyond that, I can’t even display this incredible film on my shelf (where it would sit alongside Fellini’s 1972 twin-in-name film). Some might say that it’s the film itself that counts, that all the rest is window dressing, but for me physical media and all the rituals that come with it still matters. I think I’m finally making peace with the idea that films on boutique labels like Second Run and Indicator (two labels whose labours of love rarely dip below the £10 ceiling) are simply worth that extra bit of money.

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