OPINION: Watching movies at home

Last Updated: April 29, 2012By Tags: ,

I recently blogged about the Netflix breakup, wondering if the recent announcement that Reed Hastings (pictured) is splitting up the DVD and streaming operations wasn’t code for “bubye DVDs.” Come Christmas we might be relying fully on our Roku box for at-home entertainment—and that’s a scary thought. Compared to its DVD library, Netflix’s Watch Now catalog is dismally limited. Sure, you can find the integral collection of sixties-era Bollywood movies. But I’ve just ordered in and I’ve had a long day at the office; I’m going to want to watch a proper cerebral thriller. Am I going to chance one evening’s diversion on a Russian movie called “The Alien Girl”? I just turned forty this week–“life’s too short” has taken on added meaning.

Take last night for example. Drove to the mall and picked up a couple of boxes of pad thai. We chose The Last Lullaby with Tom Sizemore (2008). From the first scene, Lullaby screamed (or should I say, sang) “B-movie”: bad acting, poor scene setups and one shootout too many made us reach for the remote faster than you can say “Rock-A-Bye-Baby”—fail.

The Deal (2005), starring Christian Slater, a made-for-TV movie (or at least, it looked like it) with lackluster performances, got us quiet and watching for about twenty minutes. Fail again. Finally, we gave Anthony Zimmer (2005), the original film that Florian Von Donnersmarck’s The Tourist (see our REVIEW) was based on, a fair shot. The opening scene, starring Sophie Marceau and Yvan Attal, was like a massive cliché–sexual inuendos and tiresome dialogues (it ought to be said that all movies, except for The Deal, had a four-star rating, making me wonder if the Netflix editors still keep a handle on these things).

So we watched the one thing we knew would be solid. The Twilight Zone.

Now that Netflix will be known mostly for its streaming business, I’m anxious to see their new movie catalog get some serious padding. The delays by which new movies are added in (sometimes as long as six months) will hopefully be reduced and movie studios will finally—hopefully—embrace Netflix as a practical team-player in the movie distribution business.

In fairness to Netflix, it ought be said that it does try to expand its catalog; recently Netflix offered Starz play, its biggest provider of titles, about ten times its previous fees but was turned down–yet another example of the tough battle that Netflix has to regularly wager to be able to provide prime content.