Jack was lost. Lost in an existential crisis of his own making. His beloved movie collection was worthless. His hard drive had crashed, rendering his 2tb archive of beloved classics, in glorious 1080p, downloaded via YIFY and RAR-BG torrents, extinct.
Jack loved movies, and his knowledge and exquisite taste in the classic, the cult and the quirky had defined him. Even if he never watched them it was nice to know they were there. They reflected his personality, his love of the strange and surreal, his humour and belief in personal freedom.
But it had happened again.
It wasn’t the first time. He had previously built up a stack of VHS cassettes, only to admit with a strangulated gasp of exhaustion that the picture and sound quality was dire in comparison with the advent of DVDs. Once his collection of discs became respectable, they too became obsolete with the new wave of Blu-Ray, and their sparkling HD clarity, especially with the brand spanking good as new reduxes of Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, Zulu and Where Eagles Dare, not to mention Fight Club and LA Confidential (to name but a few).
But the extortionate price had led him to crime. How many times would he be forced to pay for Casablanca? Screw that. Jack decided to get them for free. The multi-faceted corridors of the mysterious inter web revealed a treasure trove of goodies. Freeway, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, A Matter of Life and Death, The Parallax View, Three Kings, Go, the possibilities of the ultimate perfect collection was endless. He created folders to manage the listings. Categorised under genre first, then decade, so One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was stored under Drama/70s. It was perfect. He was so proud of himself.
Ellie was less impressed. “What do you mean you don’t have Netflix? What about Amazon Prime? Jesus, you’re not one of those MUBI freaks are you?”
They were settling down to watch a movie, and Jack smugly calmed her down. “Don’t worry, what I’ve got is better than any streaming service. It’s bespoke.”
That was when it happened. A whirring, creaking, freezing stutter of nothingness. They sat for two full minutes staring at a blank screen as Jack sank into the horror of despair. He had nothing to impress her with. A crayon drawing on an A4 pad would have shown more of his talent, skill and exceptional aesthetic style.
They gave up the ghost and watched Short Term 12 on BBC iPlayer. The true horror for Jack was the realisation that the incandescent picture and sound quality knocked his compressed pirate copy into a Lidl carrier bag.
The days of obsessive hoarding were over, he realised. Personality, character and refinement were worthless in the new age of subscription services where a fiver a month gave you access to anything on Earth, all with working subtitles, synopsis, cast listings and colour poster on screen.
But how would Jack define himself in this modern world of unlimited choice and knowledge at the swipe of a smart phone? How could he prove that he knew more when his tired 45 year old brain was outpaced by the rapid intelligence of a Googling mind? Even his Planet of the Apes (1960s original version of course) T-shirt had sweat marks under the armpits?
Maybe he should start collecting vinyl again.