Monday, July 09, 2007

A Netflix Summer

We always have plenty of movies to watch around our house -- deciding which of them to watch is the challenge! -- but we agreed to go halves with our college-age daughter on a Netflix account during her summer break. This has allowed her to catch up on a number of movies which are worth seeing once but aren't destined for our DVD library's shelves, including FINDING FORRESTER, CAST AWAY, SECOND SIGHT, TREASURE PLANET, TOMBSTONE, and WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?

We signed up for the next-to-the-bottom $9.99 plan, which allows unlimited movies, one at a time. (Netflix has just lowered the price of its 2-at-a-time plan.) So far this has worked out to two films per week, which seems like a good deal for the monthly fee. We haven't yet seen any signs of the infamous throttling, whereby Netflix slows down its heaviest users; to the contrary, the one time our movie wasn't acknowledged as "returned" the day after we mailed it, we received an email checking on the mail date to help evaluate their service.

It's fun managing the "queue," and Netflix just made the queue easier to use as you can now drag titles up and down, rather than needing to renumber them.

A few days ago I used Netflix to try the first two episodes of the HBO series BIG LOVE, about a Utah polygamist. The show is not characteristic of my usual viewing, but I was curious about it after reading some reviews; I have to admit that overall it was pretty good, with interesting characters, although I zapped the (very unnecessary) R-rated scenes with my remote. I've also lined up MOSTLY MARTHA, the German film which inspired the upcoming Catherine Zeta-Jones film NO RESERVATIONS; the Bobby Darin bio BEYOND THE SEA; and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, the Japanese film which was the basis for TORTILLA SOUP. At this rate we may have to keep our subscription going when summer is over!

Thus far we definitely give Netflix's service a "thumbs up."

More on Netflix: Last night I came across a couple amusing articles about the intricacies of couples sharing Netflix accounts: Opened Netflix Envelopes, Broken Bonds and 10 Signs Netflix Might Be Affecting Your Relationship. If you're a Netflix fan, you might enjoy these.


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

I am a Netflix junkie. And now you can watch movies online- it's included with your monthly membership. Which ever plan you are signed up for indicates how many hours of free movie viewing you can have during the month. I love it. There are some decent and good films on that section- some not worth putting on the queue, but worth online viewing if you are curious. The quality is first rate. They have some good documentaries on their as well.
By the way- you mentioned Roger Rabbit- the Spielberg on Spielberg documentary premeires on TCM tonight. We have a preview of the new doc here:
Spielberg on Spielberg

4:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I appreciate your Netflix feedback -- in the past I haven't felt much need for Netflix but it's definitely been a fun alternative to the movies we buy, borrow, or record. :)

I've got the Spielberg show recording in the DVR right now and will be checking out your post!

Hope you had a great time at WDW!
Best wishes, Laura

10:19 PM  
Blogger UGN said...

I wonder why you didn't use Blockbuster. I found it to be such a good deal that I actually felt like I was taking advantage of them! I believe the pricing tiers are similar, but with Blockbuster you get more movies because when you take one back to the store, you get a movie right away from the store. This is completely separate from whatever your plan is (two at a time, one at a time, whatever) They also give you a couple of internet coupons each month to be used in-store. We don't currently have any service, but we have tried both and found we were never without a movie to watch with Blockbuster.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Part of the appeal of Netflix for us is not having to set foot in a Blockbuster (grin). It has a somewhat awkward location, and we've always found the selection, upkeep, and service at our local Blockbuster store unsatisfactory. Although at one time we had a Blockbuster card which gave us some "extras," I believe we've already watched more movies this summer from Netflix than we ever rented from Blockbuster, which is kind of funny to realize.

I visit the post office on nearly a daily basis so it's handy to drop the discs off there. We probably couldn't keep up with any more rental movies than we're already getting from Netflix. I'm glad to know about the pros of the Blockbuster plan, though! It sounds like you've been a very satisfied customer. You never know, the info might come in handy for us in future. :) Thanks!


11:40 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Laura, love your queue of movies...add Pan's Labyrinth & The Lost City to it, you won't (I think) be disappointed.

(I realized I should've checked Loophole's reviews of these before posting, after all Richard Schinkel did scold us about amateur reviewers, but from this humble movie junkie, I thought they were both simply exquisite).

10:58 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Do you think Richard Schinkel gets nosebleeds looking down at us from way up there? ;)
BTW have not seen Lost City. Interested in your thoughts. Saw Pan's Labyrinth- thought it was a beautifully dark tapestry- in a way a throwback to some of the "darker" fantasy movies of the 80s and English fantasy movies like The Greenstone.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

j.c.loophole, I loved The Lost City. The movie is Andy Garcia's valentine to Cuba.

Now, with apologies to Richard Schinkel,

The backdrop of the film is the rhthym and sizzle of Cuban music which somehow makes mesmerizing statements on its own as one scene crescendos and implodes into the next. The storyline follows the fracturing of an upper crust family on the eve of the revolution.

We watch as a father aches over one of his sons becoming a leader in the revolution, the other loyal to his father's views. The family breaks apart as sides are chosen and unwanted lifelong decisions are forced upon everyone.

The acting is superb. Its clearly the passion of Andy Garcia, he is subtle yet deft in the role of the loyal son trying to keep his family in tact and yet knowing his path will take him away from them and his homeland. His love interest is a breathtaking beauty who aptly portrays a woman of stature who chooses to side with and become an ambassador for the new regime. Bill Murray has a quirky role as simulatenous silent comic/reliable right hand.

It should be noted that the aesthetic and cinematgraphy is superb. You can feel yourself wilt in the humidity, smell the enticing aromas wafting through the air, and sense the growing anxiety of about what is to befall this island with so many clueless or in denial. All of this along with the tropical pastels and architecture add up to a visual stunner.

p.s. my daughter's friend is Cuban. His uncle 'disappeared' in the middle of the night during the revolution. His parents fled to America, land of the free. In their home The Lost City is referred to, as 'The Movie'. Their endorsement was good enough for me.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Love these comments -- what a great review of LOST CITY, Dana, you sure got me interested -- I immediately added it to my queue. Sounds like an intersection of two of my interests -- politics and film. And Andy Garcia and Bill Murray are A-OK in my book.

The Netflix description of PAN'S LABYRINTH sounds a little intense for me -- but perfect for Oldest Daughter who is big into fantasy. She said a college friend had recommended it to her but she'd forgotten about it, and that title is now in the queue for her - as well as WILLOW, prompted by J.C.'s reference to the dark fantasies of the '80s. Maybe she should see TIME BANDITS too. I'm not familiar with THE GREENSTONE. Any other recommendations along those lines for her that I'm not thinking of offhand?) My thanks to you both!

These are the kinds of movies for which Netflix is perfect -- it's so easy to try something "different" without investing in buying the movie. (I do enough of that as it is! My shopping list for the next couple months is way too long...)

Thank you both, and keep those recommendations coming! :)

Best wishes,

2:48 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Laura, when I first saw the trailers for Pan I thought the same thing...however, my daughter highly recommended it, so...

It is one of those beautiful studies of courage and finding oneself surprised by their own bravery when the times demand such (post-war Franco's Spain). Women are so incredibly well represented here - gentle hearted with an unknown reserve of steel and determination inside them that because of unique circumstances these hidden qualities are forced to the surface.

The mythic fable side is represented in an almost grotesque illumination and yet, it is somehow enthralling at the same time as good and evil make themselves clearly defined.

I feel it is a testament to women and for once, not their wiles, beauty, maniuplative behavior or sabotaging of other women. There are far too few of these, Lord knows.

p.s. my hub prefers movies to have something blow up or crash, guns, or a covert operation of sorts...and he too put this as one of his favorites.

3:32 PM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Thanks for your thoughts on The Lost City. Based on your review it's gone into my queue. It sounds excellent. I also agree with your sentiments about Pan- although I would add delToro definitely had some influences from earlier fantasy film. Also from some perspective about the grotesqueness of human beings and their behavior to one another is hidden by their "looks" for lack of a better word. By contrast, the outward appearance of the creatures in no way indicate their fairness and values.

The Greenstone is a British fantasy film that was released on DVD in the 80s. It was made in 81(?) and narrated by Orson Welles. A boy finds a stone that allows him to escape to a fantasy world. Funny - a child(ren) escaping from a harsher real world to a fantasy world seems to be a running theme in films like Pan, Greenstone, Narnia, etc.
Great discussion! Maybe we should have a weekly netflix recommendation post with all of our blogs. A group of us could feature our own recommendation from our queue every week or so. Maybe a netflix roundtable with links in our posts to the others.
What do you think?

5:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Maybe I'll give PAN'S LABYRINTH a look-see when my daughter watches it, Dana. :) I'm often pretty wimpy when it comes to violence, especially in fantasies (I think it's the strange-looking people on top of the violence, LOL!)...haven't seen the RINGS trilogy, for example. But you make it sound very interest!

J.C., thanks for the info on THE GREENSTONE.

The Netflix roundtable sounds like it might be a fun idea worth pursuing! Would be neat if we could get some more of the movie-loving folks who post at our sites regularly to participate. :)

Best wishes,

8:28 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Does this mean I'd have to get Netflix to participate in the movie discussions/roundtables? ;-) (I'm putting this here because it seems like Blogger won't show my blog anymore since it isn't in Blogger. Shame on them!!!)

10:02 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Well, that's interesting that it won't show your blog when your name is clicked!! Glad you put in the URL.

Maybe you could post on "What I'd Like to Netflix If I Had Netflix," LOL, or just a more general movie recommendation post. Or maybe it's a good impetus to get Netflix -- a few more days and your Harry Potter reading will be behind you! :)

10:05 PM  
Blogger jau said...

We'd talked about a roundtable kind of thing once before. I think we should do it!!

Missy, maybe you can trick blogger into showing your site by having a dummy account and only having one post.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Hi jau (a.k.a. anne),

I tried to get, but somebody already set up a dummy page! How rude!!!!!! So I went with Typepad, Blogger's loss. ;-)


10:28 PM  

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