Sunday, January 24, 2010

An elusive Hustle


It's starting to look like I may never get in my second viewing of Hustle & Flow.

I already consider it a personal travesty that I have yet to revisit my favorite film of 2005. Now, the fates are conspiring against me as I try to watch it again prior to ranking the decade's best films.

You may remember a couple Sundays ago that I tried to pick it up at a local Blockbuster, leading to shock and disappointment that they didn't carry it. Which devolved into melancholy over the state of the rental industry, that we'd soon be losing physical DVDs and be streaming all the movies we want to watch, buffers and all.

Well, I figured that at least I wouldn't have any trouble receiving it through the mail. Blockbuster the company owns a copy of this movie somewhere. All I'd have to do is list it at the top of my queue, and I'd have it within a couple days.

Having no specific urgency to see it other than the February 2nd deadline I've chosen to finalize my best of the 2000's list, I slotted it around third on my queue, and resumed my normal viewing habits. Hustle & Flow was scheduled to arrive this past Thursday, but here's what I got in the mail instead:


That's right -- just the part of the envelope with my name and address on it, the part you usually tear off and throw in the recycling as soon as you receive it. The rest of it was out there, detached, in some post office somewhere -- or maybe in a puddle, judging by the looks of it. We've had rain for almost a week straight here in Los Angeles, as you probably know -- it's made national news. That certainly accounts for the condition my "movie" arrived in. In fact, given how messed up that remnant is, I'm surprised they could even determine the correct address.

There was something perverse about this mangled and smudged bit of envelope. It was almost like something somebody would send you with a ransom note. To prove they had the object you desired, they'd send along a little piece of it that left no shadow of a doubt. You know, maybe the pinky finger of a kidnap victim. Or, more benignly, the gas cap to your stolen car.

It's hard to tell when, or if, I'll get the object I desire this time. I waited a day and then reported Hustle & Flow missing to Blockbuster. I originally reported that I didn't get the DVD, to which I received an automated response that it had only been shipped on Wednesday, so I should wait two more business days before assuming I wouldn't receive it. So then I changed the reported problem to the next best option that I could find: that I'd received an empty mailer. Of course, it was really less than that I'd received, so I took it one step further and sent them a message to explain what I had in fact received.

I got a very prompt response from the customer care representative assigned to my ticket. However, the response leaves some uncertainty as to whether I will be getting Hustle & Flow again straight away. You be the judge:

"It appears that your report was received on January 23, 2010 and a request for a replacement was chosen. When you report a problem and choose "Resend Same," we do our best to ship a replacement copy to you. When all copies of the title are currently out to other customers and it is not immediate availability, we will ship the next DVD from your queue to prevent any service interruptions. Your DVD issue was reported and the DVD will be resent when it becomes available."

Okay, so either this is a generic response -- I doubt it because of the mistake "not immediate availability" -- and I might be getting Hustle & Flow again right away, or it's a specific response to me, saying that all the copies are currently out. Either way, my queue does not currently list it -- or any other movie -- as shipped. And it makes me wonder if maybe there just aren't any other copies of Hustle & Flow -- not at the location that ships to my house, anyway. I think that's what happens when movies are listed as "Very Long Wait" -- roughly translated, it's "we don't have any, but if that guy who's had it for the last year ever returns it, we'll send it to you." And I don't think they would borrow from a neighboring retail center just to ship it to little old me.

I wonder if this is the universe telling me I should just buy Hustle & Flow. There was a time, not too long ago, when I was trying to come up with a system for adding movies to my collection that I could justify. I would love to have a large movie library -- I probably have 40-50 DVDs right now -- but I usually try to refrain from buying new ones, on the theory that it's not a great use of money to buy something I may only watch once in the next five years. There's an intangible value to having the library itself -- you can impress your friends with it, I guess -- but in most cases you are better off just renting it for that second viewing, then probably not watching it again for five or ten years.

But I do like acquiring movies now and then, just as we all like wasting money on hobbies and other things that have little demonstrable value. So I told myself I would permit myself to buy any film I had ranked #1 for a given year, from when I started doing it in 1996 to present day. That seemed like a good objective standard, without being excessive. Strangely, in those 13 years, I own only four such movies that I ranked #1. And maybe that's why I didn't immediately go out and fill in the rest. If the whole discussion came from a place of saving money, it hardly made sense to go shell out $100 to fill in those gaps.

But maybe now, given what's happened, given my repeated flailing on Hustle & Flow, I have the excuse I need to go buy at least one of those top-ranked films.

You know, sometimes, it can be hard out here for a pimp.

1 comment:

Vancetastic said...

Post script: I found Hustle & Flow at a different Blockbuster. Duh. So the state of affairs is not so dire as I made it seem. What was that about "an ass out of u and me?"