Monday, September 18, 2006

Losing it at the movies, er, mailbox

So it's Monday morning and I'm debating on whether or not to grab a few more hours of sleep.

Sleep ain't happening, so I get up and scan the Internet.

Over at Slate, here's an interesting article highlighting the phenomenon that is Netflix. For the unwashed, Netflix is a DVD rent-by-mail service that basically allows you to rent X amount of films from the company's huge catalog for a monthly fee. The red envelopes usually show up about two days after shipping.

For years I didn't see the point. Then I got tired of the limited selection and ignorant clerks (one once pronounced Laurence Olivier's last name as "Oliver")at Blockbuster, not to mention the late fees and return dates. Plus a baseball pal from Nashville was claiming Netflix to be better than sliced bread, or at least pay-per-view.

A year and a half ago, sidelined with kidney stones anyway, I took the plunge. And I must say, for the most part,it's been a good thing.

Netflix has allowed me to see films I'd never have found at the rental store in Halls (Kurasowa's "Ikiru" and Chaplin playing Hitler), indulge in TV classics ("Upstairs, Downstairs," "The Rockford Files" and "The Bob Newhart Show") and to finally screen those awkward, "Yeah, I want to see it, but I don't want to buy it" flicks ("Ask the Dust," "Seabiscuit").

One month I was in a Hemingway mood. Two days later, here comes the TV biopic starring Stacy "Mike Hammer" Keach. A friend recommends an offbeat indie about an American wanderer and a French woman and it provides a night of fine character development. (Thanks, Bridget.)

I still haven't gotten around to "The Sopranos" or that Ken Burns bio of Mark Twain. And every now and then I get tired of highbrow and need something silly. The 1978 "Superman" did the trick quite nicely. Who can't love seeing Marlon Brando play The Man of Steel's pop, Jor-El?

I'm not sure if I'll ever finish watching Patrick McGoohan as "The Prisoner" or make it to Richard Boone and "Have Gun Will Travel" down at the bottom of the queue. And something tells me I'll eventually tire of paying the $18 a month.

But until then, it's like having the Movie Guru stop by the house once or twice a week, dropping off cinematic pizzas, while I slip into the easy chair after another day of demands and deadlines.

Pauline Kael once said she lost it at the movies when the cat rubbed up against Orson Welles in "The Third Man." I love that, too, but I sadly think my first cinematic excursion was to see Kenny Rogers in "Six Pack."

Hey, I grew up in Halls. Give a guy a break.


Blogger Dewayne said...

You made the Six Pack comment because you know that Kenny Rogers' cinematic classic was indeed my first movie theater flick!!!

5:36 PM  
Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I"ve been on Netflix for about two years now, and I don't think I could ever go back .. it can be maddening when they deliver TV discs out of order, but I still can't kick the habit

6:24 PM  

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