Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I signed us up for Netflix about a month ago.  (In case you live under a rock and don’t know what that is, Netflix charges you $20 or so a month and maintains a list of movies you plan to see, sending you the top three initially and then sending a new one when you mail back one you have out.)

I swear, this is the best thing since sliced bread.

It completely changes the way I look at video stores.  When we go to the video store — especially when Rusty’s son Josh is with us — we automatically gravitate to the New Releases wall (which is actually everything from the last year or so; it’s like half the store these days), and we pay little if any attention to the large number of other films out there in the other racks.  I’m sure that’s what most people do.  And as such, we especially get drawn to the big films among the New Releases, the stuff that they have shelves full of, not the ones with 3 copies.

How much do we miss among the New Releases, only seeing the big items?  Even more, how much have we missed in years past and never look for now?  Or how much might we like to see again, but never think of?

Netflix largely bypasses this for me.  Without a never-ending wall of just “New Releases”, I’m encouraged to pull out the things I’ve heard of and always wanted to see.  The stuff that I saw in college (twenty years ago) and want to revisit.  The B-movies.  The sequels that you could tell were made just for
a buck from the trailer.

We just sent back Amélie and American Beauty.  Coming up in our queue are Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, Ghostbusters II, Road to Perdition, the Notorious C.H.O. comedy concert, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Steel Magnolias, Memento, all three Harry Potter films, a God help us all, Showgirls!  Never in my life would I be apt to go to Blockbuster and rent more than a couple of these, but on Netflix, I just sit back and wait for them to surprise me in the mail every few days.

The other thing that’s great about Netflix is that there’s no time limit.  Sure, you can’t get the next movie until you send a current one back, but if you want to listen to all five director and actor commentary tracks, you can.  If you go away for a long weekend just after a batch of movies arrive, they can sit there and you can watch them when you get back.

In particular, I’ve purchased season one of Six Feet Under and the first two season of the American version of Queer as Folk, each with 20 or so hours of shows spread across 4-6 disks.  I don’t want to sit down and watch a marathon of a single show, just to churn through a disk.  I prefer to stretch these boxed sets out, watching one episode every day or three, taking a week or maybe two to go through each disk.  That’s expensive to do when renting from the video store at $5 for 5 days (or whatever), but it’s no problem with Netflix.

Updated on October 5, 2011
Well, it was the best thing since sliced bread.  The bread has gotten a bit stale and moldy of late.

I’m surprised at how little I remember of any of those films listed above, now six-plus years later.  That says something about the impacts that movies make on us these days, when there are too many to keep up with.