A Lighthouse in a Foggy World

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R.I.P. Video City. It’s been swell.

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Thanks to you all for all your years of support, opinions and conversation (illuminating and bizarre – I’m thinking especially of the man who believes he is a Jedi trained by Yoda: thanks for the hieroglyphic picture you drew whilst ordering a DVD showing “a Roman centurion lighting a fire”.) And thanks for your friendship. We’re happy to have met and known you (one or two through gritted teeth) and to have found and shared the profound in the simple things with you.

Love to all.

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p.s. thanks for all the cake (check out the beauty at the top!!) AND THE CHEESE (and to which ever beautiful and romantic soul left the above)!

GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK

xXx

posted by Dixie

THE LAST FILM STANDING??

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I can’t believe this work of art hasn’t been snatched up yet… plebs!

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Our new action shelves for you to enjoy.

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And some classics for you to take away from us… as quickly as possible.

FINAL HOURS!!! (PHEW)

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Just a few hours left to let us know just how much you care… We’ll be here for hugs and kisses (yes, you may kiss the VC ring – please form an orderly queue) and cakes etc until 8pm.

Oh, and we have FILMS still – so come and grab them now as they are flying…!!

xXx

FROM NOW: CLOSING DOWN SALE – EVERYTHING’S GOTTA GO!

ALL EX-RENTAL DVDS (EXCLUDING NEWEST RELEASES) ARE ALL NOW £2 TO BUY!

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LOADS OF THE BEST FILMS WE’VE EVER STOCKED ARE STILL HERE, FOOLISHLY OVERLOOKED AND SORROWFULLY NEGLECTED  — I STILL SPY ‘SPICE WORLD’ ON ITS VERY OWN SHELF – BUT THERE ARE OTHERS TOO… INCLUDING:

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AND HUNDREDS MORE!!

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AND WE’RE CLOSING AT 7:30PM TO ALLOW FOR DRINKING TIME.

THANKS.

POSTED BY DIXIE

END OF AN ERA; DEATH OF A DREAM… VIDEO CITY CLOSING DRINKS (Pt.2)!!

MONDAY, 22ND JUNE @ THE SUN IN SPLENDOR

(TOP OF PORTOBELLO RD/CORNER OF PEMBRIDGE RD)

FROM 8PM

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WE DON’T WANT YOU TO THINK THAT WE’RE A BUNCH OF LUSH-Y, COUNTER-LEANING, WRONG-DVD-GIVING, DRINKY, DRUNKY DRINKERS… BUT WHAT WITH A THREATENED WORLD SHORTAGE OF BEER AND THE NEW STATUS OF VODKA, RUM, WINE AND GIN AS THE MIRACLE CURE FOR ALL ILLS (INCLUDING IMMINENT UNEMPLOYMENT), WE HAVE DECIDED TO SAY “HELLO & GOODBYE” ONCE MORE (ESPECIALLY AS SO MANY OF YOU WERE UNABLE TO COME/BUY US DRINKS LAST TIME..)

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CELEBRATE AND ENJOY

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THE THINGS

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YOU LOVE

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WHILST

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YOU CAN.

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(THANKFULLY, MOST OF THOSE THINGS WILL BE FOUND IN THE SUN IN SPLENDOR FROM 8PM, MONDAY 22ND JUNE.)

posted by Dixie

New Releases: 15th June, 2015 (OUR FINAL NEW RELEASES WEEK!!!) sob sob..

SELMA:

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Forget Boyhood, Birdman and all the other Oscar shenanigans. The film that really got the short shrift from the Academy for…reasons, is Selma. In the opinion of yours truly, this film deserved at the very least Best Picture, Best Director for the remarkable Ava DuVernay and without question Best Actor, because David Oyelowo gives one of the great modern screen performances. His MLK is human, vulnerable, stubborn, courageous and a kaleidoscope of other qualities we all have in us. The danger with these types of biopic is always elevating the lead character to god-like status (see: Gandhi, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), but this is a film about people, and the very real need for change as more than just a high-minded idea. Never more relevant to contemporary America than right now, Selma is a great film that will be remembered in years to come as a defining statement on American life.

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WILD TALES:

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It’s six movies for the price of one! This anthology of short films connected by the shared theme of revenge provides endless laughter, shock and on-point observation through its variety of variously-unhinged characters pushed to their limit by the vicissitudes of fate. Though diverse in length and subject matter, all six tales share the same wicked, pitch-black sense of humour. There are plenty of moments where you won’t know if you’re watching comedy or tragedy, and that’s all part of the fun. To anyone unsure, I would simply say that the first scene is one of the most brilliant openings to a film I have seen in years and if it doesn’t hook you, nothing will.

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TAKEN 3:

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Let’s get some honesty out in the open here: I was one of the few people to really enjoy Taken 2. Yes, I was annoyed that Bryan Mills’ family members still allowed themselves to get snatched willy-nilly but it was enjoyable stuff and Liam Neeson’s career renaissance as a buster of heads is delightful. No one actually gets taken in this third installment, but rest assured plentiful henchmen are dispatched with wonderful disregard for the laws of physics. Without spoiling the plot for those of you who actually want to watch this one, things take a serious turn when Bryan’s ex-wife is targeted by some very bad baddies, and he is left with no choice but to beat the living sh*te out of everyone in sight. Which, it turns out, he’s still really good at. To be avoided if you like your films: 1. intellectual 2. evenly-paced 3. coherent. But to be rushed to if you like your films: 1. suuuper fun 2. completely silly 3. smashy-smashy-egg-man.

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posted by Dave

 

 

Farewell Christopher Lee, Lord of Misrule

“Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.”

“The thing I have always tried to do is surprise people: to present them with something they didn’t expect.”

Christopher Lee, literally the screen’s most prolific actor, passed away last week at the sprightly age of 93. He will, no doubt, be remembered chiefly for his work in the horror genre, particularly in the heyday of Hammer Productions’ Dracula series, in which he played the villainous count 7 times. But what these reminiscences obscure is the enormous versatility of which Lee was possessed. Apart from his supernatural roles as Hammer’s Dracula, Mummy and Frankenstein Monster, his credits of evil include a Bond film, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and The Wicker Man. But lesser known are parts as both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (the latter for director Billy Wilder) as well as the mild-mannered Henry Baskerville, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of modern Pakistan and roles in Shakespearean productions, to name but a handful of his more than 200 screen credits.

And this diversity reveals what was so indescribably wonderful about Christopher Lee – he was an actor who never judged a film, never thought he was above material, just brought integrity to whatever project he happened to take on with grace and a characteristic power. He combined a classical style and stature with an utterly modern attitude to cinema, and seemed equally at home in contemporary or period settings, ‘high’ or ‘low’ brow fare, a knack few, if any, possess so abundantly.

Lee, a cousin of Bond author Ian Fleming, as villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun.

I first discovered Christopher Lee in my early teens, watching The Man with the Golden Gun. I remember being struck by how, single-handedly, he saved Roger Moore’s Bond from irredeemable silliness. The gravity and presence that suffused his every on-screen moment captivated me, the nobility and power he managed to radiate even while his character’s defining trait seemed to be a third nipple. It was only after that I realized this was the same man who had brought such evil to life as Saruman in the recently-released Fellowship of the Ring – reveling in his character’s debasement and corruption opposite Ian McKellen’s excessive nobility – and had again shown up to save an otherwise disastrous film in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. 

I subsequently devoured his work as Dracula, The Mummy and Frankenstein’s Monster. But then I saw The Wicker Man, Lee’s defining moment of remarkable power, dark humour and sinister grace (he himself considered it by far the greatest of his horror roles). Speechless at this work of brilliance, I immediately put my allowance to good use investing in his autobiography, which I would recommend to any, even casual, fan.

In many ways, looking back, the obsessive passion I quickly developed for Christopher Lee and his work was a pivotal moment in my lifelong love of film, a debt I will forever hold to his memory.

Perhaps Lee’s greatest role, as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (arguably Britain’s greatest horror film).

For Christopher Lee was an actor who seemed naturally to inspire cult-like devotion among fans. The legions of geeks, cinephiles and collaborators that have paid tribute since his passing is testament enough to that. And reading his autobiography, which reads every bit as charming and full of majesty, wit and wonder as his famous parts, it is easy to understand.

What a life this man led. Like many of his generation he fought in WWII. He ran spying missions in North Africa (for a secret bureau colloquially known as The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare) that are still classified to this day and continued that service of His Majesty after the war on covert operations to hunt down escaped former Nazis. After which, aged just 25, he decided to give acting a whirl.

Less known is that he was present at the final public execution by guillotine in Paris, was descended through Italian nobility from Roman Emperor Charlemagne, spoke at least six languages fluently and according to him several others conversationally, met (among many others) Rasputin’s assassins – he later played the mad monk onscreen – and J.R.R. Tolkien, and recorded, between the ages of 89 and 92, three heavy metal albums.

At the age of 79, Lee played what will likely be his most-remembered part, the white wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Lee, the only member of the cast to have actually met Tolkien, read the books once a year for the last 50 years of his life.

Though he took on an astonishing number of roles (appearing in, with two exceptions, at least one film a year since 1948), Lee was no mercenary. His battles with Hammer over the direction of their Dracula films are testament to that. After vowing to do no more, he returned when convinced of the fact that a whole division of Hammer staff would be laid off if another film was not made. Upon reading the script, he agreed to do the film but to say none of the dialogue, which he felt was awful. And so Dracula: Prince of Darkness features a speechless, hissing Lee as villain – Hammer, a company that routinely recast roles, decided they’d rather have a mute Lee than none at all.

This sort of silent physicality personified him as a performer. He once said, “I don’t play long parts. They must be short parts, but they’ve got to be parts that mean something, that matter, where people will notice when I’m on the screen, and people will remember the character after they’ve seen the film.” Well, we certainly remember them.

Lee, in a rare role as hero rather than villain. He battled a satanic cult as the Duc de Richelieu in Hammer’s The Devil Rides Out. Near the end, he even smiles.

For evidence of versatility, contrast his interpretation of Frankenstein’s Monster, for instance, with his other Hammer roles as Dracula and the Duc de Richelieu. As the Monster, gone is the aching Miltonian tragedy of Karloff. Lee’s performance is pure physicality, pure presence. Emptied of all emotion and humanity, Lee distills his craft into something altogether more primal, connecting with the audience’s basest fears as a mirror into which we can project whatever it is that truly scares us.

And yet, it is with an abundance rather than absence of inflection, in his other famous role as Count Dracula that Lee rewrites Bela Lugosi’s creepy posturing and Max Schreck’s abject horror. His Count seethes with sexual power – you believe (for once) that an unsuspecting visitor might really be taken in by his haughty smile, his measured cadence, his stature.

I would recommend The Devil Rides Out to all, for a glimpse of Lee as the hero of the story for a change. His skill as an actor is on show as he toys with the audience’s foreknowledge of him as a variety of villains by playing that familiar sinister edge against an unshakable faith in the forces of good and light.

This is just one of many performances that showcase his incredibly modern take on acting style, incorporating his cultivated relationship with fandom and the outside world into the fabric of the film. He always seemed at once to be a part of the movie world and simultaneously talking right to you, sat in your seat in the cinema.

Four titans of horror: (clockwise from top left) Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and John Carradine on the set of House of the Long Shadows. It was Lee’s final film of 22 with Cushing, his best friend.

“One should try anything he can in his career, except folk dance and incest.” So said Sir Christopher once upon a time, and it can hardly be said that he didn’t try just about everything.

But he also said this: “We don’t always get the kind of work we want, but we always have a choice of whether to do it with good grace or not.” And if there is a defining characteristic to his attitude across the nearly-70 years that separate his first film appearance and his last, it is a grace, an effortless elegance and respect for both his fans and material, no matter what it might be.

Knighted at the age of 87 and awarded a BAFTA Fellowship at 89, it is clear that it took some time for Christopher Lee to be afforded the place he deserves in the pantheon of popular cinema. If we can carry a legacy forward in his name, let it be his balancing act of never judging a film as being beneath him (so long as it was crafted with integrity) and yet always taking care to do his part to the best of his considerable ability.

This is what captivated and thrilled me as a youngster, still does every time I see his name in the credits of a film (many of which I have watched purely for his brief appearances) and I’m sure did and does the same to all across the world who love him and his work.

“What’s really important for me is, as an old man, I’m known by my own generation and the next generation know me, too.” One hopes that in his final days he rested assured that there truly is no danger of his ever being forgotten.

Few actors will likely ever have the sort of longevity in the cinema that Christopher Lee had. Fewer still will inspire the fervent devotion of all those who loved him and relished his every screen role. And, I think it’s safe to say, there will never be any screen presence or career quite like Sir Christopher Lee’s again.

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“Making films has never just been a job to me, it is my life. I have some interests outside of acting – I sing and I’ve written books, for instance – but acting is what keeps me going, it’s what I do, it gives life purpose.”

– posted by Dave

SALE CONTINUES – MEGA BARGAINS ABOUND!!

walleALL EX-RENTAL CHILDREN’S DVDS ARE NOW JUST £2 TO BUY – SO GRAB YOUR KIDS SOME JOY BEFORE IT ALL DISAPPEARS FOREVER (THE DVDS, NOT THE JOY). OR GRAB SOME FOR YOUR ‘CHILDREN’, BUT REALLY FOR YOURSELF (I SPY ‘THE BLACK CAULDRON’ AND ‘THE LAST UNICORN’ STILL ON THE SHELVES…)

giphyTHERE ARE PLENTY OF TITLES IN STORE FOR THE REST OF YOU, TOO – INCLUDING LOADS OF NEW SALE STOCK WHICH IS NOW HALF PRICE OR LESS.

SEE YOU SOON (OR ELSE, NOT AT ALL!)

posted by Dixie

 

New Releases: 8th June, 2015

KINGSMAN:

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Pretty much the anti-Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, this is about as impolite as British spying has ever been. Taron Egerton plays ‘Eggsy’, a young lad from Lundun taken in for training by the Secret Service. His mentor is thinking-woman’s-totty Colin Firth, doing his best to prove that he can be charming in literally anything, including apparently causing the death of a trainee and promptly recruiting said ex-trainee’s son to, like, hopefully not die. Samuel L. Jackson plays the lisping, squeamish villain and only black guy in the movie, really, which apart from bringing up all sorts of not-okay colonial memories as our presumably Tory heroes hunt him down is apparently totally cool. I’ll admit I’m the wrong audience for this as apart from Stardust (which is delightful, dammit) I have never been a fan of Matthew Vaughn’s films (and contend to this day that his crowning achievement is marrying Claudia Schiffer) but if you like your action slick, quippy and comic-book OTT then dive in here and you won’t be disappointed.

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Arguably my favourite movie of last year, this is hazy, weed-fuelled psychedelia of a sort we haven’t seen in a long time. Equal part Big Lebowski, Naked Gun and Chinatown, you’d be forgiven for having close to no idea what’s going on at any stage of this one. But that’s hardly the point. I’ve heard many people say that this movie is the closest thing they’ve found to what it feels like being high (not that any of us do that sort of thing, no no, nope, not us) and that’s a fair way to think about the atmospheric, down-on-one’s-luck beach-bum noir that flows through the veins of this latest offering from Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, The Master). Anderson has cemented himself in recent years as the singular great American filmmaker of this generation and it’s wonderful to see him crafting a piece that feels epic, intimate and irreverent all at once and never seems to care much what people think. Not for everybody, this one, but essential viewing for all you screen junkies.

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TRASH:

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Ethnic people learn how awesome and wise and helpful white people are in the latest from Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). I have listed all of his films so that one can see the declining quality apparent to all. Until this film, Daldry had never directed a movie that had not been nominated for Oscar’s Best Picture. Thankfully that record has drawn to a close with Trash, the story of three Brazilian teenagers who become unwitting agents against the corruption of their city when they find a lost wallet. Well-meaning and sentimental, it’s hard to feel truly antagonistic towards this film despite my politics, and it’s an even 3-out-of-5 stars. But one can’t help but feel the filmmakers were all a little too lazy with the street-kid formula and not lazy enough with the syrupy message-sending.

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MORDECAI:

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My goodness, Johnny Depp, will you do literally anything for money? Don’t answer that. But please answer for Mortdecai, a film so devoid of merit I actually have trouble writing words about it. And so I will instead suggest things one might do instead of watching Mortdecai.

1. Watch paint dry. Modern art has come a long way in the last couple of decades, but why not propel high culture forward with an interactive home-installation system that foregrounds the fleeting nature of time and the controlling role of economics in the modern human condition? That is, paint your wall at home and watch it dry, because you will find more character development and learn more about yourself in the process than watching this film.

2. Hit yourself with a stick. Too often we become stuck in the morass of urban career-orientated technocracy. And so might I suggest a jaunt to the country? Find yourself some nature, explore the wide open outdoors, find yourself a blunt object (preferably stick-shaped). Then perhaps beat yourself about the head and face with said stick. If you’re lucky, you’ll do permanent damage to your cranium and will thus never have to watch Mortdecai (or, perhaps it’s the only way to happily watch Mordecai – Dixie). If not, well, you’ll have taken in some un-mustachioed fresh air (have you ever been to the country? Full of moustachios – Dixie).

3. Rob a bank. Nowadays we have become so distanced from those around us, insulated in our domestic spheres of self-absorption. Connecting with others in a meaningful way can be difficult, and so why not live a little and get some buddies together to try jack some unsuspecting bastar- I mean, bankers. The rush of holding an assault rifle, the freeing anonymity of a balaclava, the shrill cry of the silent alarm (hey, don’t wanna alienate the canine clientele that follow our blog (looking at you Rufus)), these are just some of the things more pleasant than Mortdecai. And hey, if you’re given a life sentence, there is next to no chance of this turd of a film ever being thrust upon you… (have you ever been to jail?- Dixie)

4. Come to Video City and rent ANYTHING else🙂

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posted by Dave (annoying interjections by Dixie)

Poster of the Day: Black Swan (2010)

black-swan-poster-2Darren Aronofsky’s dark and twisted tale of mind-cracking obsession in the uber-competitive world of ballet divided audiences (as often the best films do) between those who thought it was pretentious garbage, and those who thought it was BLOODY BRILLIANT. Where do you land?

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I HAD THE CRAZIEST DREAM LAST NIGHT. I WAS DANCING THE WHITE SWAN.

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THE ONLY PERSON STANDING IN YOUR WAY IS YOU.

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I JUST WANT TO BE PERFECT.

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posted by Dixie

TONIGHT – OPEN INVITATION: Take a drink down memory lane AKA Uxbridge Arms on Uxbridge Street

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COME AND SOOTHE YOUR BROKEN HEARTS AT OUR FAVOURITE BEVERAGE MERCHANTS, THE UXBRIDGE ARMS (BEHIND VC), WITH US, YOUR VERY OWN HEARTBREAK CREW, VIDEO CITY STAFF OF PAST AND PRESENT. FROM 8PM TONIGHT, WEDS 3RD JUNE, 2015.

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WE thought it would be nice (maybe we’re wrong) to get together for a swift pint or two to celebrate having made it this far. And it would be a nice opportunity to see what some of you look like without your Video City boxes in hand (shocking!)…

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tumblr_md0lekaXJe1rsd9coo1_250Whatever your tipple, however you enjoy it, come and share with us!

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X.

posted by Dixie

SALE INFO

The Video City sale has now commenced in earnest. This is how it works:

New stock are selling at 2 for 1 (except on the latest releases). Rental copies are still £3 to rent as always or from £4 to buy. We also have Bargain Bins of ex-rentals for £2. We’re also open to reasonable offers if you’re planning on making yourself a small library..

If you’re of a fragile constitution, feel free to drop us a wish list of titles (specifying if you’re looking for new or ex-rental titles), to avoid that Black Friday feeling.

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 Thanks for your continued support and see you in store.

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Last remaining VC T-shirts are going fast

Movie mad or movie mogul? Last remaining VC T-shirts are going fast!

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posted by Dixie

SALE!!!!!!! Grab yourself a slice of youth! Bargains (and nostalgia) abound!

As you have probably gathered by now, Video City is shuffling off this mortal coil, to reinvent itself anew as the delicious object of your fondest memory. Forget childhood summers spent languishing by a pond (probably stagnant); all those long hot, sticky days, clutching at dandelions and carrying snails and worms about the garden (prank-fodder for unsuspecting siblings). Forget the allure of passions past and loves lost.

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The mind harks back to exalted times when we believed in such things as continuity and learning to know one another. A nod and a smile, a look in the eye – memories of a belief, like Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy. Could there really have been such a place?? A place to say hello and offer an opinion on whatever – a film, the weather, your memories of Christmas and summer. Some will say it was just a video shop. Others that it was a magical kingdom where people could come together, in person, and meet eye-to-eye. Yes, once such places existed, your memory will say..

***SSSSSSSSAAAALLLLLLEEEEEEE***

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Ok. So it’s just a video shop.

But, in case you, too, are feeling nostalgic already – or just want to grab a bargain whilst you can – or even, just support us in our final weeks, get yourself some childhood and treat yourself to our mighty SALE.

Loads of ex-rentals from £2 – including TV series. And loads of new sale stock still to go – MEGA SALE starts from Monday 1st of June. Everything’s on offer – including all the rental titles (excluding the very latest releases and some out of print titles).

And of course, we’re still renting.

Get us while you can.x

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 posted by Dixie

New Releases: 1st June, 2015

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AMERICAN SNIPER:

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GAMBLER:

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SHAUN THE SHEEP:

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New Releases: 25th May, 2015

WILD:

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The most exciting movie about walking since Lord of the Rings, and just as likely to make you cry, is Wild. Reese Witherspoon ups her game with a seriously compelling performance in this follow-up to Dallas Buyers Club from director and man-not-afraid-to-show-emotions Jean-Marc Vallee. Without giving too much away, you’d be forgiven for thinking this one was nothing more than Eat, Pray, Love 2 but give it a chance and it reveals a depth and maturity absent from Julia Roberts’ hit chick-flick. Vallee clearly has a flair for true-life drama and his protagonist Cheryl comes across painfully flawed, relatable and real. Witherspoon’s Oscar nomination was well-deserved and I have a feeling that, had she not already won a statue, she might well have taken home the little man.

 

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TESTAMENT OF YOUTH:

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I should begin this review by saying that if you haven’t read famed pacifist Vera Brittain’s tragic, moving memoir of her life during WWI (upon which this film is based) then please do so. The film does a fine job of maintaining a personal humanity amidst the grand poetry of war that is rarely avoided by films tackling military conflict. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) and Jon Sno- I’m sorry, Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), ground Brittain’s story in a believable romance which carries the film and prevents it descending into the realm of maudlin. Those who love romance or period dramas will be right at home here. Think Atonement but, you know, better.

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BIG HERO 6:

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Whether or not Big Hero 6 quite deserved to triumph in an extremely competitive Animation category at the Oscars is debatable. What is not is that it’s quite impossible to watch this one and not have a great time. An unexpectedly hard-hitting first act, which catches many off-guard with the seriousness of its drama, gives way to a thrilling, funny and unflaggingly optimistic superhero adventure brimming with ideas and introducing the evocative hybrid city San Fransokyo. Parents, get ready to watch this one over and over again.  The great thing is, you probably won’t mind.

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