June 30, 2006

Blame Netflix

I tend to be pretty forgiving when it comes to pop culture and my consumption of it--I had no problem with muppets in hoverchairs while Farscape was on, and I am currently watching Solitary, for crying out loud.

But lately, my patience with cinema is definitely on the wane, and I blame Netflix.

Back in high school, when the only thing that my friends and I were really able to do for entertainment was watch movies, we made our slow and torturous way through all the offerings at the local video store, even such gems as Virgin Among the Living Dead (featuring papier mache'-headed "Scottish" zombies with names like Guiseppe wandering through groves of olive trees) and The Stuff. No matter how awful these flicks were, we never dreamed of turning them off, because that would mean we had wasted a trip to the video store! Plus, I just had to know how the travesty would end!

Alas, those days are long gone, and I no longer have any qualms about yanking a movie out of the DVD player half-watched and sealing it back into its self-mailer with a disgusted flourish.

Case in point: A History of Violence, which isn't a long movie to begin with, was yanked and sealed about 50 minutes in. Its pacing from the first scene bothered me, because it went beyond the whole "visual metaphor for the slow pace of small-town life that can be suddenly shattered by violence" and straight into "I am David Cronenberg and I am really cool and I am making these actors do everything REALLY SLOWLY so that you the viewer will stop and think, 'wow, that David Cronenberg sure is cool with his existential use of SLOW ACTING AND SHIT!'"

So I was annoyed 5 minutes in, but figured "okay, let's at least get to the plot." And then we did, and it was cliche' after cliche' interspersed with soft talking and slow acting and tacky oral sex and by the time the main character was done with his front yard carnage and his blood-spattered teen was standing there looking shell-shocked Hublet and I looked at each other and went, "We're done," and we never looked back.

Before Netflix, I would have suffered through the second half of the movie because I would have felt the strange need to get my money's worth from the video store visit and selection. But Netflix has turned movie consumption into a never-ending stream of content, paid for out-of-sight with a monthly credit card charge, and so I no longer have any connection to the product that arrives in my mailbox.

I could get all hoity-toity here and say that Netflix has made me more discerning about the movies I will deign to watch, but that's not true. These movies are all flicks I wouldn't pay full price to see at the theatre, so I pretty much know what I'm getting. Really, Netflix has just made me more jaded and impatient with movies.

And we all know that jaded and impatient are probably not qualities I should be cultivating in greater degrees. But on the bright side, I think I'm finally cynical enough to pursue a career in movie reviewing!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 30, 2006 09:39 AM | TrackBack

This follows up the extremely frustrating bout we had with "Elizabethtown", which we should have stopped at the point we said we were going to, and then we could have at least said it was o.k.

Maybe that is the true advantage of NetFlix, if you know what you're doing: figure out when the movie is about to turn sucky, and then just stop and put it in the return envelope. We would always be able to honestly say, "I liked it."

Posted by: Husband of BAW at June 30, 2006 10:20 AM

My wife and I went to Elizabethtown at the movie theater. Usually we'll sit through anything as long as the popcorn is good. Halfway through this meandering borefest, my wife-- Orlando Bloom fanatic though she is-- turned to me and said, "Should we just leave?" And we did.

Posted by: dhanson at June 30, 2006 11:38 AM

I sat through Elizabethtown. I generally sit through most movies at the theater (with the exception of a series of Anthony Quinn movies that I walked out on in the late 70's).

No, no, it's not Netflix making you impatient. It's allowing you to follow your intellectual decision that the movie is not worth your time. Before Netflix you would have suffered through some terrible movie because you shelled out $2 or $3 for it, right? Your time is worth more than that, and Netflix makes you aware of it.

At least that's my theory. I love Netflix. Before I would pop a DVD in, watch 5 minutes of it, wander off and do the dishes or something, completely forget about it, keep it four days past the due date, return it with a huge late charge and never actually watch the stupid thing.

Posted by: Carrie K at June 30, 2006 11:06 PM

Rule number 1 of movie going, never go see a "concept film." Elizabethtown was all about getting Kirsten Dunst in a film with Orlando Bloom. That was the selling point.

Story? Who needs a story when you have 2 hot young actors?

About half of the Kevin Costner movies fall into this category.... Fishman, errr Waterworld comes to mind.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at June 30, 2006 11:59 PM

I just tried to watch an epsiode of "Solitary". I didn' get past the "Eat 'till You Puke" segement in the reprise of last week's show. Please insert here some snarky comment about "Life of the Mind". : )

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at July 1, 2006 01:26 PM

This is one reason I love Netflix: I can be a glutton.

OTOH, you really blew it with "A History of Violence." It's a great film.

Posted by: Michael at July 1, 2006 04:10 PM

LB -

My MA thesis was on, in part, methods of medieval torture. Color you surprised, I'm sure. So my being interested in a modern-day version of human torment isn't all that surprising. Plus, the guy who thought he was such a badass completely fell apart mentally in the last ep., which totally made my day.

Michael -

Sorry, man. Couldn't deal. Think it had more to do with Cronenberg's directorial choices than anything else, though.

Posted by: BAW at July 1, 2006 08:52 PM

The last scenes in Philly are worth the rest. Really.

Posted by: Michael at July 1, 2006 09:47 PM