Tag Archives: netflix

Where Have All the Movies Gone?

When I first started this blog, I wrote a lot about movies. In 2012 I have written almost no film reviews or musings. My current theory is that 2011 was not a great year for movies.

I first got Netflix back in January 2011, and I used it to catch up on films from the past year. I worked my way through a slew of Oscar nominees, wonderful films like The Social Network, The Town, and True Grit. Maybe I got a little spoiled. When 2012 began, I figured that Netflix would serve the same purpose:  allowing me to enjoy the best films of the previous year.

Then something strange happened. Months went by, and I found myself feeling lukewarm toward almost every movie I saw. The trend continued this week when I watched My Week with Marilyn and felt mildly entertained but not truly impressed. What can be the cause of these symptoms? Have I just seen too many movies in the past year? Working full-time allows me to watch a new Netflix DVD less than once a week, so I find that explanation improbable. Maybe it has something to do with my state of mind. Even if that’s a contributing factor, I can’t deny the fact that the main cause is probably the movies themselves.

Drive grabbed my attention with its cool vibe and unexpected music choices, but the protagonist’s life quickly dissolved into senseless violence that was incredibly difficult to watch. Crazy, Stupid, Love had its moments of humor and sweetness, but one too many storylines took screen time away from the characters that were actually interesting. Despite its fragmented structure, The Tree of Life had me on-board for the first hour, but I never felt the pieces come together in a satisfying way. The Help was a decent adaptation of the novel, but I expected more from Viola Davis in her much-nominated performance. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 . . . well, I didn’t really expect that to be good.

Of course, there’s an exception. One film that I really loved was Moneyball. It’s a sports movie in which you see almost no sports being played. All the action is behind the scenes, the deals and deceptions that keep Major League Baseball running. As a girl who was raised on baseball, I was riveted every step of the way. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are a perfect one-two punch. I love to see Jonah Hill taking on a meatier role and receiving some recognition as an actor.

Time to step it up, 2011. Maybe the good movies are out there, and I just haven’t found them yet. As long as the little red envelopes appear in my mailbox, I will keep trying.

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Nobody Knows Me Like Netflix

It always amuses me to browse through the DVDs that Netflix recommends to me. Its suggestions are divided into categories, which basically represent the different types of movies and TV shows that it thinks sum up my taste. The category names are ridiculous at times, but I can’t deny their accuracy. For example:

Dark Romantic Movies based on a book (such as Never Let Me Go or Revolutionary Road)

Critically-acclaimed Magical Animation (such as Coraline or Howl’s Moving Castle)

TV Shows Featuring a Strong Female Lead (such as Veronica Mars or My So-Called Life)

Heartfelt British Independent Movies (such as Once)

Netflix, get out of my head! And yes, I like to personify this nameless, faceless subscription service. Perhaps this stems from when I first got Netflix and told everyone that it was my new boyfriend. True enough, since we spent almost every night together. And if I imagine Netflix as a person trying to figure me out, I must seem a little all over the place. Most of my queue consists of dramas and animation. Adulthood and regression all in one place, or so it would seem. Then again, that sounds about right.

Come to think of it, today is approximately the six-month anniversary of when I signed up for Netflix. I believe what I said at the time was “Where have you been all my life?” Oh, how well we’ve come to know each other. Even after six months, it’s quite thrilling to think of a movie I want to see and watch it zoom to the top of my queue. Not that any men should feel threatened. Obviously they have a lot to offer that Netflix doesn’t. Just, you know, not delivering glorious red envelopes filled with entertainment goodness right to my door. (Except for How Do You Know. That was neither glorious nor entertaining.)

 

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Regression is the New Black

Yesterday marked two important summer firsts:  my first trip to the library and my first Netflix movie.

I’ve been going to the Fargo Public Library for my entire life. At this point, it feels nothing short of ritual. When they rebuilt the library from scratch a few years ago, I was afraid that the new building would dampen that feeling, but it actually made me enjoy the trips even more. The drive downtown and the quest for a parking spot are the same. The building is even oriented similarly, with the children’s section to the left as you walk in, except now the rest of the collection is housed on the beautiful second floor. Browsing through the stacks surrounded by windows larger than those found in a Medieval castle — what luxury!

I have several books waiting to be read at home, but that was beside the point. The library is all about a sense of possibility. I went in with a list of four books, despite the improbability of finishing them all in three weeks. The trip included a real moment of regression because two of my targets were children’s books recommended by Carleton friends. Luckily the shelving in the children’s section is designed for people only slightly below my height, so I didn’t feel too creepy. Maybe it’s the imminence of adulthood or the prospect of working with children, but a little regression just felt right.

Before bed I watched my first Netflix DVD of the summer. Not my first ever, mind you. I subscribed back in January when another winter term stretched before me and I felt in need of a bright spot. I kid you not when I say that it’s the best decision I’ve made in a while. In high school I loved going to the movie theater, but the tiny Northfield theater became a Culver’s during my sophomore year. (Very exciting news for certain Wisconsinites.) So Netflix finally gave me a chance to catch up on all the movies I had missed in the past few years.

Hopefully that explains why the movie I watched last night was Persepolis. I’m only four years behind, right? I’m a closet animation nerd, and this film is visually ah-maze-ing. For anyone who missed it back in 2007, it tells the story of a girl growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Not for kids, obviously, but very compelling for adults. You wouldn’t think that simple black-and-white animation could be emotionally affecting, but it truly is.

Okay, enough of this kid stuff. I have to go read Howl’s Moving Castle now.

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