Oh yes they call him the streak

17 06 2010

I tend to pile up my passions.

This tendency has moderated—somewhat—with age, but when I was younger, if I liked a band, I bought all of their albums; an author, all of her books; an actor, all of his shows. I was never particularly this way with food (which probably spared me an eating disorder), but I often could never figure out what was too far until I was too far gone.

There are problems with this approach, of course, which is why I try to keep tabs on myself. But that doesn’t always work.

See: Netflix.

It’s not the DVDs which are sucking me in, but the reason I thought that a  Netflix subscription made a kind of fiscal sense: the streaming.

That fucking streaming. I had been more-or-less content to watch Buffy as it became available on Hulu, but when all episodes were unleashed on Netflix. . . just call it the Lost Weekend. Or two. Or three.

I liked Angel well enough, too, and hey, there it is! Firefly! And then someone suggested MI-5 and another weekend gone. (I did end up burning out on MI-5, but I’ll probably dip—ha!—plunge back in later.)

Now it’s Bones. I had watched the first season back when I had a t.v., and I happened to have caught a couple of episodes from season 5 on Hulu. But, yes, seasons 1-4 are on Netflix.

Which means my ass has been in front of my external monitor watching Brennan and Booth bicker over bodies.

And I got shit to do!



30 12 2009

I don’t consider myself much of a movie person, but: I am totally groovin’ on Netflix.

Long ago, I watched movies. There were a couple of discount ($2 and $3) movies houses in Minneapolis that my (broke) friends and I would regularly attend, and my friend J. and I spent more than one Friday night wandering around. . . man, what was the name of that independent vid shop on Hennepin? Pandora? Pandemonium? something with a P . . . pulling VHS boxes off the shelves until we hit on something we were both in the mood for. And my friend and departmental director K. would often coax me to one of Montreal’s theatres.

But in Boston? No.

I could blame this on Boston, but, really, I just wasn’t in the mood. Not for years. Even when I lived with Paul in the unmentionable building in Bushwick—P. of the movie-hundreds—I didn’t watch many movies.

New movies, that is. I’d watch any old shit that flitted across cableland (how many times did I watch Independence Day and Peacemaker?), but actually investing myself in an unknown story was not something I cared to do.

But then I told my parents about Netflix, and they got on it and loved it and I thought, Shit, I’m tellin’ other people to do this, and I still can’t be bothered?

And I’m totally digging it.

It helps that I can watch it on my nifty external monitor (thanks for the Xmas $, mom and pop!), and I think that I have to go through this little ritual of maneuvering the monitor into place (I don’t use it for regular web surfing or writing), pulling my comfy chair forward, and dimming the lights, sets the mood.

I’ve also seen some good, really good, and even great, movies: A Christmas Tale. Blue. Let the Right One In. The Lives of Others (my favorite thus far). Rachel Getting Married. SerenityAway We Go.

I thought Syriana and Duplicity were only okay, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time in watching them.

And I watched a couple of old favorites—Hopscotch, Sneakers—as well as happily re-rotted my brain zipping through Armageddon and Notting Hill.

I think two things make Netflix work for me: One, the streaming. I was unwilling to pony up the dollars for cable, but had maintained that if I could get decent, limited cable or movie coverage for 10 bucks or so a month, I’d do it. Et voila: movies on demand and via mail, for under 10 bucks a month.

The second are the queues. I can find movies I want to watch at some point, and drag them into line. I don’t have to keep lists (as with books, which are on scattered bits of paper everywhere) on a movie I think I’d like, or might want to watch at some point when I’m in the mood for that sort of thing, but can plunk it into my queue and not worry about it.

It’d be nice if they had a search by-subject or keywords, but what search they do have is all right.

Anyway, this is an appreciation of Netflix, not a love song. (The usual demurral: brand-loyalty-is-for-suckers.)

And the appreciation is secondary, because, really, this is a love song to movies. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed dipping into another fully-formed reality, how much stories and characters and lives could affect me so much.

I think I stopped watching movies both because they could affect me so much, and so often, they didn’t affect me at all.

It’s nice, just to come back to that, that affect—affection. Yes.

Sneaky petes

11 12 2009

I love caper flicks.

It’s where the little guy gets over, sneakiness wins over force, and wits—sometimes matched, sometimes overmatched—trump all.

There’s a definitional issue, here (of course): Do caper flicks have to be light? How much heaviness can creep in? Is there such a thing as a heavy caper flick?

I tend toward the lightness (or fleetness) aspect of capers, with just enough heaviness to anchor the thrill of the exploits.

Have you watched Hopscotch? It’s an old film (available thru Netflix streaming), about a CIA man about to be shackled to a desk who decides instead to get out; the trouble begins when he’s prompted (by his KGB counterpart, natch) to write his memoirs—about his spy work. It stars Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson (both delicious), with the perfect Ned Beatty in the role of the Nixonian spy chief, and beautiful and young Sam Waterston as Matthau’s protege and would-be captor.

Complete fluff. Oh, that it’s about the dirty deeds of the CIA and the desire of both the CIA and the KGB to stop him from revealing those deeds serves mainly to underline the glee with which Matthau consistently baits the poobahs, and watches as they respond exactly as predicted. There’s a bit of a bump at the end, but it ends as all caper flicks must, with a win.

This, by the way, was a problem with Duplicity, with Clive Owen & Julia Roberts. I should have enjoyed it more than I did, since it’s basically a double-/triple-/quadruple-cross about consumer-products business secrets. An opening sequence with Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson trying to beat each other up as their horrified associates look on sets the appropriately absurdist tone.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t maintain that tone, and darkens inappropriately. It’s about consumer products, for chrisssakes! And the ending does not satisfy.

Ocean’s 11 satisfies. A fine ensemble piece, laced with a bit of melancholy (which you know will lift by the end), and with a ludicrous premise with equally ludicrous stakes. The best scene? When Matt Damon racially insults the late, great Bernie Mac in a performance which just possible echoes one of the best scenes in SNL history: when Chevy Chase (I think) psychologically interviews Richard Pryor, using increasingly racially-charged word-association.

No, no one can compete with Richard Pryor, but still: even an echo is great.

Ocean’s 12 was okay (my favorite scene in that? When Matt Damon’s mom, the fabulous Cherry Jones, springs the crew from the police). Haven’t seen Ocean’s 13.

The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan, Denis Leary, and, crap, whatshername, was fine—the scene near the end, with all the men in bowler caps, was terrific—but I’m not a huge fan of the (younger) Brosnan. And I haven’t seen the original, with Steve McQueen, so I don’t know how it compares.

The movie which really cemented my love for capers, however, was Sneakers (great score by Brandon Marsalis, by the way). It features Robert Redford, Mary McConnell, Sidney Poitier, David Straithairn, River Phoenix, with Ben Kingsley and James Earl Jones appearing near the end; the set up is  that of a second-rate security firm, headed by Redford, hired to retrieve a global decryption device. This bit of hardware, in other words, would allow one to penetrate every electronics system in the world—no secrets.

It’s a bit darker than some other caper films—at least one guy is murdered—but the ensemble is a delight, with the frictions and affections between them applying much of the fizz. Great scene? Straithairn’s character, who is blind, drives a truck off-road and down a hill to save the day. He is appropriately terrified and exhilarated.

Would Inside Man count as a caper flick? I think not, as the crime-film aspects overshadows all, but the caperesque aspects of the film are precisely what make it so delightful.

The various Bourne movies are definitely not capers: too dark, too violent, too little humor. Still, the catch-me-if-you-can aspect. . .

. . .Catch Me If You Can. Forgot about that one, probably because I haven’t seen it. A caper, right?

See, I’m stuck because while I love this genre, I can’t think of that many films which fit. The Sting—of course. There has to be more.

There has to be ‘something more’. . . !

We play that we’re actors on a movie screen

2 12 2009

I have to get rid of my computer.

I’m not going to do that.

The internet, then. Save me some money.

Not going to happen.

No, I will keep my computer and my broadband and I will continue to waste time watching movies and bad t.v. shows and then watching them all again.

Yes, I finally got Netflix, and in the week and a-half I’ve had it I’ve watched 2 DVDs and a lot of streaming movies and t.v. shows.

A lot.

Now, I did learn one thing: I am over Law & Order. I watched an episode of L&O:SVU from their tenth season and just thought Blegggh—really?

And even tho’ I can watch CSI on CBS, my interest lags there, as well. Yes, there are still tw0-ish other shows I still tune in, but, mostly, I’m done with the whole t.v. thing.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that there are all these movies which I can watch at the click of the mouse.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, save for my inability to close out the Netflix window after finishing a movie. Nope, time for another.

Pitiful. There’s reading and writing and Oh! Going outside!

Not happening.

This will fade, I know. I’ll get sick of myself doing nothing but sitting in front of my (um, new [it was on sale!], larger, external) monitor watching explosions and tears and drinking and running and people doing all the things I could be doing were not I sitting in front of my new, larger, external monitor.

But in the meantime, what’s that crappy movie I won’t admit to liking even as a guilty pleasure which I’ve seen 18 kajillion times. . . ?

Lord. Pitiful.