Why I’m Not A Massive Fan Of Downloading Media

1. Lack Of Special Features

I may be in a niche audience here but I like the little things that are added to films for DVD and blu-ray releases. For example, whilst I’m not a fan of the Thor film, the commentary by Kenneth Branagh is superb, insightful and full of interesting details which help you enjoy the film, and when the credits are going on he makes sure to point out how important different members of the crew are even though they’re not talked about that much. David Fincher too has delivered some absolutely stunning commentaries on his films, particularly on the platinum release of Seven which had so many commentaries that you almost feel that you know absolutely everything about that film.

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But with downloads you don’t get that as often, you get them sometimes but not as prevalent as they are with physical releases, and that disappoints me. I like the weird stuff, it shows passion that the film-makers have towards what they’ve done.

2. No Ownership

Random fact, if you download something, be it a game or an album or a film, you don’t own it. You’re just leasing the content. As such it’s not really yours to do anything with. If you want to leave your downloads to someone when you die, you can’t do that (well, unless you give them the password beforehand) as it’s not yours to give away. That’s if it lasts that long of course, after Disney’s licensing deal with Amazon ran out in 2013 people found they couldn’t stream or redownload Disney soundtracks or movies that they had already brought. They had been essentially locked out of content that they paid for. You may think “yeah, but if I’ve already downloaded it, what’s the problem?”. Oh you poor naive fool, then it gets deleted off any device you’ve downloaded it onto. In 2009 some users of Kindles found their digital book collection lighter. It turned out the company who supplied the digital books to Amazon wasn’t 100% legit and didn’t own the rights in the first place. So Amazon took the books down from their online store, and then DELETED IT OFF PEOPLES KINDLES! That’s right, even if you pay for, and download something, you still might not be able to access it. Interesting fact; one of the books effected by this: 1984 by George Orwell.

3. The Thrill Of The Chase

The beautiful thing about downloading content is the wide variety it gives you access to. Think back to the 90’s, or even the early 2000’s. You hear about a film that could be good so you scour the local shops to find it, and if they didn’t have it they had to order it in, and who knows how long that will take, especially if it’s an import? Now? Just click on a button and it’s there. There can be a film made on a budget of £1,000 in Brazil (only, you know, in Brazilian Real, not Pounds Sterling) and if the makers decide to upload it onto their website, you can have it. I don’t think people truly realise how great that is, almost every film in history is at your fingertips, accessible in seconds, it’s amazing. But part of me likes buying in a shop. It’s not just having a hard copy of what you’ve brought (although that is quite important, it’s nice to have something you can physically hold), it’s being disappointed that you can’t find a film, being in a dingy charity shop in a random town, and seeing it there. That thrill when you FINALLY find it, after months of searching to no avail and suddenly you have it right there in your hands, the waiting is over. Nothing can touch that moment. There’s no streaming equivalent, it’s far far too easy and convenient. I kind of touched upon it earlier, but there is also something special about actually owning a DVD. You organise them in a way that means something to you, in a unique way that confuses everybody else yet makes complete sense to you (if you ever meet someone who orders their DVD’s autobiographically, give them a hug, they probably need it). You FEEL like you own it, you look at it like a king surveying his kingdom, basking in the greatness of your purchases.

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Henry VIII owned all seven Police Academy films on Blu Ray yet still no had son.

4. Rebuying.

This one, admittedly only applies to kindles. People love them, they constantly talk about how convenient they are, and they are, I won’t deny that. But I will never buy one for one simple reason; I can’t transfer my books onto it. You can transfer your CD’s onto your iPod or MP3 player but books you can’t for obvious reasons, and that annoys me. I’ve already paid for these books, I don’t want to buy them again just for convenience. But maybe that’s just me.

5. I’m Old And I Don’t Like Change.

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Actual picture of me

Here’s the most important reason, the one that I feel overshadows and is the cause of all the others. I remember when MP3 players came out and I stuck with my portable CD player, which required you to change the batteries every 90 minutes and would skip if you didn’t hold it in just the right way. But I still kept on, even when I had to replace it on an almost yearly basis I still maintained “no, I like cd players better, mp3 players lack that special something”. I now have an iPod and I was wrong, very very wrong. Right now, because of my iPod, I carry around 1,912 albums, 23,717 songs in total, all in my pocket. If you had come up to 10 year old me and said that in the future that would be possible I wouldn’t have believed you (mainly because you’d be an adult talking to a 10 year old child, you creep), and if you told me I’d reject that out of some ridiculous notion of authenticity I’d have slapped you in disbelief, and then slapped myself for being such an idiot. So when you see me in a few years time, reading my kindle and then watching a film on my tablet on the train (with headphones in, I’m not a dick), remind me of how stupid I used to be, I deserve it.

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Why we Love…Nightcrawler

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A reworking of Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you” but I found ‘void’ to be more apt for when describing Nightcrawler, this seminal crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s cold and warped performance inspired the ‘stare’ of the quote.

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Set predominantly in the L.A. nightscape; Nightcrawler follows Louis Bloom, played by Gyllenhaal, an enthusiastic and creepy young person, who just wants to find a job he can be proud off, and he will do anything to achieve his goals. So when he stumbles upon the underground world of freelance crime journalism, he thinks he’s found his calling. And then comes, a dark, twisted, funny, and warped thrill ride into the life of a deeply strange man, as he strives to be the best him he can be.

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This film is commonly referred to as “the modern Taxi Driver” and whether it measures up to that or not, is not the purpose of this post, but I see what they mean. Not that it shares a huge amount with the Scorsese classic, in terms of story, setting, or style; but both depict the life of disturbed people, with timely issues, and something to prove. Taxi Driver dealing with problems of a post-Vietnam America, with themes of loss purpose, and dislocation; while Nightcrawler similarly deals with a post-recession and jobless America. Louis’s obsession with finding a job that satisfies you, and an endless rotary of self-help empowerment mantras, tumblr_nenzi00tdU1tmssd6o3_1280combined with his veneer of a can-do attitude, echoes many promises the recession generation were educated on, but didn’t have delivered. Showing how ruthless someone really has to be to achieve the ever elusive American dream.

And it’s here the film has its first lair of satire; ingeniously parodying a classic rag to riches story, swelling inspirational music and all, but with a detestable character doing inhuman, evil things, to get his riches. And I won’t ruin what happens, but it does have a happy ending.


It also dives head first and balls deep into satirizing the News, as blood thirsty, network2manipulative, and downright evil at times. “If it bleeds, it leads” as is repeated multiple times in the film, with Rene Russo giving a chemical turn as the News show runner, clearly taking inspiration from 1996’s Network, with the satirisation of the ultra-violet media being the focus of that film, but as I haven’t seen it, can’t comment further.

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From left to right: Riz Ahmed (great supporting character). Jake Gyllenhall, Dan Gilroy. Rene Russo

Though it’s a stretch to call anyone here a ‘hero’; the heroes of this film are Jake tumblr_njkba6QKKU1qej1i6o1_500Gyllenhaal, giving still a career best performance in an already well versed one, dropping 20 pounds and digging deep to portray a mere reflection of a real man. The other being Dan Gilroy’s dark, clever and witty script; both married perfectly to fully realize and bring this character and story to life, and give us a sociopath for the digital age. (Move over Sherlock)

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Nightcrawler-Review-645x369Behind the camera Dan Gilroy does a clean job of making the L.A. nightscape a very cold and isolating place, reflecting its lead character, and sharing many shades with Michael Mann’s Collateral, which was clearly an influence. It’s a high-class and pristine looking film, especially for a directorial debut, having a gorgeous neo-noir style; and his motifs of focusing on camera screens to establish how the camera sees things – instead of exactly how they actually are – works as a great and sometimes surreal effect.

But at the same time its probably one of the films weaker aspects, not that there is anigif_enhanced-6602-1414793798-4anything wrong with the direction, just compared to its other elements. It doesn’t seem like it pushes the envelope as much, and has left me wondering how the film would have turned out in the hands of a David Fincher or a Nicolas Winding Refn who could really elevate the material visually- especially for the coherent, if a bit safe, action scenes.

But those little nit-picks aside, we love Nightcrawler because it showed there was still room in Hollywood for new and shocking things, which can be highly original and artistic, while still being major box office hits.

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And good god Jake Gyllenhaal is fucking amaze balls.

Recommendations
If you enjoy Nightcrawler, I also recommend American Psycho and Collateral, two other stylish and darkly funny thrillers, that featuring characters with warped views on life.
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Why I love Zodiac

This isn’t a review; it is a spiel about our love of films and what not. So expect spoilers, biased opinions and general rants.

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Easily the best poster, and of course its the one you can’t get.

I’m not sure where my love of mysteries started, probably from a childhood (and teenhood, and adulthood) of watching Scooby Doo, nothing major, but a place to start. Now, from LA Confidential, to Memories of Murder, it’s hard to think of a mystery film I haven’t seen, (but please don’t try, I hate having to face my lies) but Zodiac is one of, if not, the best.

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Right out the gate I’ve gotta say, it’s my favorite Fincher film, followed closely by The Social Network and Gone Girl (yes you read that right, neither Se7en nor Fight Club do I consider his best). And Zodiac is a near three hour, investigative murder mystery journalism film, where they never catch the killer. And damn it’s riveting. It’s that last bit, about the Zodiac never being caught, being one reason to why I love and find this film so re-watchable (I watch it almost Bi-monthly). As unlike almost every other serial killer flick, when you know who did it, you can never not know, no matter how enjoyable of a film it is, the first watch is usually the best. That’s part of what makes Zodiac special, though it hazards a guess at who the Zodiac was, and follows it through with compelling, even satisfying evidence, you never know 100%, so with every watch your still looking, thinking, trying to see if there was anything you missed that could lead you to the Zodiac.

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I really don’t have any deep problems with any of Fincher’s films, I just thought this made a good image….Expect maybe Se7en!

It also features one of my favorite scenes in cinema, it happens in the last fifteen minutes of the film (I love it when the best part of the film is near the end, it’s something to look forward to during it), and it doesn’t feature a gun fight, it doesn’t move me to tears, it’s not shot in partially amazing fashion; it’s just two guys (Gyllenhaal’s cartoonist and Ruffalo’s detective respectively), sitting in a café, as Gyllenhaal lays out the entire case, the entire film in front of us. Every complex facet of evidence, every casual event, all the major characters, it’s all led to this, and it’s explained in a perfectly written scene, with an enthrallingly intense turn from Gyllenhaal, till it climaxes with this films closes thing to a big reveal. And god it’s satisfying.

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Never has the choice over salt or pepper been so intense.

This scene also sums up why it’s my favorite serial killer film, and the tagline summaries it perfectly too. “There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer”. It’s a film about obsession, and how it can eat you alive. Unlike films where you’re worried about the characters  dying, there’s rarely a moment where you think someone’s going to be killed (outside the victims obviously),  but as it unfolds and the characters (mainly Gyllenhaal) fall deeper and deeper and deeper, even when its all said and done, you can’t help but wonder. Can they live again?

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Now I know it’s not cool to care about Academy Awards, and I get it, overall they’re pretty cheap with whom and what they consider worthy (no love for Jake Gyllenhaal unless he’s macking on a cowboy it seems). But at the same time, they do tend to choose pretty good films, and Zodiac easily should have been a major awards contender in 2008, for directing, writing, acting (Robert Downy Jr especially), cinematography (the usual Fincher staples), and the reason it wasn’t I completely put on the studio. They released it at the wrong time, and advertised it the wrong way. Selling it as a fun, messed-up, thrills per-minute serial killer film (Se7en cough, cough) and releasing it in spring; instead of in Oscar season (October-December) and as the investigative drama it is (All The President’s Men meets Citizen X), what the makers always intended it to be. But though I blame them for this, I can see why they did it. Coming off the big hit of the very enjoyable thriller Panic Room, and Fincher’s last serial killer film being a massive hit, I see why the studio treated it like they did. They wanted another Se7en, even though Fincher gave them something much more.

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It’s films like Zodiac that made me pretty happy when I heard Fincher’s series with HBO had fallen through, because despite how much I like House of Cards, and have heard that Utopia is a great show, I didn’t want Fincher’s spending all his time on a TV series when he could be making more films like this, or Gone Girl, or The Social Network. TV’s amazing right now (check out last weeks post on Breaking Bad, wink, wink), with a lot of hugely talented people creating epic feats of fiction, so we need to make sure Film stays great, and Fincher’s pretty good at that.
(Yes I’m aware he’s still producing the TV Show Shakedown and Video Synchronicity (both which sound really good), but who the hell knows at this point, and at least he’s not directing the entire series.)