Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’

What Movie Do You Want To See?

April 12, 2012

Again, the Internet has lead to the creation of a blog entry and two articles are to blame. One article from the April 7 issue of CNet deals with a new app from FlickChart that offers movie recommendations based on the kind of movies you prefer. Another article from Roger Ebert’s blog deals with a best film list from a British film magazine Sight & Sound. What sets this best film list apart from other best film lists are two things:

  1. Assorted film critics, directors, producers, film festival organizers, etc., are polled for their top ten all time best films and this is distilled into a best film list.
  2. This list comes out once every ten years.

Well, as you can guess, these two articles got me thinking. Not so much about how art films and award winners seem to dominate these lists, rather it is how these lists are just reflections of the bias of those who put such lists together.  Those in the film industry would pick films they are familiar with. The app from FlickChart picks films based on one you already like. So, that leads to best of lists that contain films ranging from Shoot the Piano Player to Carrie.

Of course, bias in and of itself isn’t so bad. If you didn’t have things that you liked and return to time and time again (i.e. foods or activities) and vice versa, you wouldn’t have any order in your life. Still, it is important to note that these lists are not to be taken as fact. Yes, lists like Sight & Sound  and the one you make on FlickChart can help you make movie viewing choices, but they are not the be all or end all of best of lists. They are just a bunch of films that a group of people think are worth ranking.

So, don’t be surprised if art films and award winning films end up on best of lists. Critics, film festival organizers and other in the field have a bias and yes, a certain degree of film snobbery, for films in that genre.  After all you wouldn’t expect that Carrie or Porky’s would be on such a list. That’s why there’s your personal Netflix queue or FlickChart for when you are in the mood for such films. Your own best of list is reflective of your own bias.  Therefore, if watching a film like Porky’s helps you to forget your troubles, so be it.  The best “Best of” list is the one you personally make.

Sources:
http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57410710-285/get-better-movie-recommendations/

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012/04/post_5.html

 

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The More Things Change…

January 19, 2012

The more blog ideas I get.  Two items on the Internet inspired this entry.  They are:

The Historical Fact
On December 28, 1895, the first commercially screened movie was shown in the Grand Café in Paris. The film, called Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, is 46 seconds long and shows people leaving the Lumiere factory in Lyon, France. The film was screened by Auguste and Louis Lumiere (their father owned the factory) and people actually paid to see this, along with other short films, created by the Lumiere brothers.

The Recent Development
The December 27, 2011 entry of Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch blog was a part lament/part rant about the demise of the video rental store. What lead to this article was that the author wanted to rent Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and she couldn’t find it anywhere. So, she was stuck with downloading it from iTunes. (The horror!)

My Two Cents
Regarding the first movie shown to a paying audience, everything has a beginning and movies are no exception. Yes, the act of going to see a motion picture began in a humble Parisian cafe. I saw the film (Thank you, You Tube) and while it doesn’t compare Hollywood’s current output, it is worth a lot as a historical document. Imagine being a patron of the Grand Café. A poster advertising a new attraction piques your interest. You go in, pay admission and see something you have never seen before, namely, moving images on a wall. We in the early 21st century take it for granted that there are motion pictures. In late 19th century Paris, motion pictures, even if all they do is show people leaving factory, were an amazing new sight to behold. Attached is the film, let me know what you think of it.

Now for the endings part of this blog entry. Thanks to Netflix, DVD vending machines and the Internet, the end of the video rental store is coming.  Yes, for whatever reason there will be some holdouts that survive because they serve a niche in their community. Still, trend is to get videos from a source other than a bricks and mortar store. On the one hand that is good, because the choice is in consumer’s hands and in the case of Netflix and the Internet, they have more items than can ever be found in a bricks and mortar store.

On the other hand, searching for something on the Internet or just viewing the selections from a DVD vending machine, seems so sterile. I can remember going to a Tower Records & Video (RIP) near my house to rent a movie and not having any idea what to rent until I actually found something after browsing the aisles for at least 15 minutes. While that happens with the Internet, there’s no sense of adventure when what you want is right at your fingertips. As for vending machines, they are limited to 20 to 40 titles of the most recent releases or straight to video duds. While it is great to rent the latest Harry Potter film from one of these machines, noticing that Piranha 3DD is listed below right below it doesn’t enhance the experience—at least it doesn’t for me.

Still, who would have thought in 1895 that there would be computer-animated films, films made with motion capture technology and even just films made in color and having spoken dialogue and other sounds. In addition, who would have thought in 1995 that video stores would be replaced by Netflix, vending machines and the Internet. Of course, time marches on and things evolve and change. So, who knows what entertainment or other wonders that tech heads will dream up and create. Whatever comes next, it is good to have a sense of appreciation for what is and a sense of wonder for is to come. Believe it or not, there was a time when even cable television didn’t exist. Now there are over a hundred channels available to those who subscribe to service and people actually complain about “…nothing good being on TV.”

Sources:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/the-birthday-of-the-movies.html

http://www.earlycinema.com/pioneers/lumiere_bio.html

http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/12/27/contrarian-corner-ive-had-it-with-video-stores/

Some Video Stars Aren’t Dead Yet

September 29, 2011

True confession time. I don’t subscribe to Netflix. (Gasp!) I don’t rent DVD’s from Redbox. (Shudder!)  I when I’m in the mood for a watching a movie at home, I go to my local library. The library near where I live has a great selection of movies, children’s DVD’s and old television shows. Blame it on Tower Records & Video (R.I.P.), which was also located near where I live. When I went to Tower for a video to rent, lots of times I didn’t know what I wanted to watch until looked around and found something that caught my eye. Memorable rentals from Tower include Logan’s Run, Batman Returns, The 6th Day, Family Man and even an episode of Nova that dealt with the restoration of the Sistine Chapel.

Unfortunately, the video store is an endangered species. In 2001, there were 25,000 video stores in the U.S. By 2010, the number of video stores went down to 9,900. Still, there are a few hold outs and here are some notable ones:

Video Connections
Just when I thought that all the Mom and Pop video stores were eaten by Blockbuster and other chains, I read about this one store in Vancouver, Washington, that is alive, well and has a vigorous client base. Why? Simple, as the chains have fallen, independent like Video Connections have filled the niche of those who want to rent a DVD today but aren’t exactly looking for the latest release. It also helps the independents that they aren’t restricted by the 28-day waiting period that movie production companies have imposed on Netflix and Redbox for new-release rentals. So, they can get titles in sooner than the current DVD rental behemoths. Let’s forget that helpful staff members and free popcorn helps to bring people in, as well.

Twilight Video
No this store isn’t dedicated to all things Twilight. It is another independent video rental store in Washington state. (Why does Washington state have all these independent video stores?)  The store has over 3000 titles in stock and rents games, as well as DVD’s. If you want to own a DVD, Twilight also sells new and used titles. There are also snacks for sale, so you can watch your favorite film without having to starve.

TLA Video
TLA stands for Theater of the Living Arts and this started out as an experimental theater group in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, then evolved into a movie theater that played art house films and classics like Metropolis and Black Orpheus. In the 1980’s as VCR’s (that stands for videocassette recorders in case you are not a member of Generation X or older) became more popular, they branched out into the video rental business. While TLA had popular films, like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, it didn’t forget its roots, since it had a great selection of foreign films and independent films. In fact, the business was so successful that the movie theater closed and management turned its focus to video. In its heyday, there were six stores in the Philadelphia and one in New York City.

Yet, unlike Video Connections and Twilight Video, the bricks and mortar part of TLA’s business is closing and it video library will soon be available online, both as physical DVD’s and as streaming. Call me an old fashioned rube, but I felt sad when I heard TLA’s stores were closing. I often visited a TLA store in Bryn Mawr, PA (a Philadelphia suburb) and found the selection to be better than Tower Records & Video and the staff to be very friendly and knowledgeable. So, I wish the staff of all TLA’s stores well, wherever life takes them.

So, there are some physical locations were you can rent a DVD from real live people. If only there were more of them. Oh well, there’s always the library.

Sources:
http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/aug/27/people-still-like-to-rent-video-by-hand-people-sti/

http://www.twilightvideorentals.com/

http://www.tlavideo.com/company/aboutus.cfm?v=1&sn=3809&g=0

http://articles.philly.com/2011-08-11/news/29876641_1_tla-video-video-stores-movie

Tweet Your Comments Here

April 14, 2011

An article in Mashable mentioned how tweets were being used in an ad campaign for a art exhibit in New York City. Posters were placed in subways and they had a quote from a New York Times art critic and a URL to a website that will feature tweets from those who saw the exhibit along with the critic’s quote.

The article mentioned that this could be used for movie posters. Now that would be very interesting. Instead of the same ol’quotes from the usual movie critic suspects, there would be tweets like:

Great FX, worth the $ 4 3D.

The guy doesn’t get the girl.

OMG BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!!!

Needs more blood & gore.

LYAO funny! See this movie.

Wait for Netflix.

DUMB will dump bf b/c of film.

Granted the studios will figure out a way to show the positive comments and not highlight the negative, still if you think about it, the tweets aren’t exactly a new phenomena.  Don’t you ask your friends what they thought of a particular movie and don’t you follow their advice, at least some of the time? In fact, according to the article, Brüno was a victim of tweets. While the film had a good opening night, the weekend returns weren’t as great because there were more negative than positive tweets about the movie.

People will express their opinions to friends, either face to face or via online social networks. Before online social networks, it took a few days for word of mouth to spread. Now, with such networks, it takes just a few hours.

Of course, as far as I’m concerned I see whatever movie I want and don’t bother asking advice on which film to see. Being lost in the fantasy is what I love about going to the movies and I don’t want anything to spoil my moviegoing experience. Though, I must admit, if someone told me what a blah film The Last Starfighter was, I probably would have seen something else.

Source:
http://mashable.com/2011/03/23/twitter-art-movie-criticism/

Other Cinemas

November 17, 2010

Yes, the movie offerings from Hollywood are fun to watch. The thing is what if you want to watch something different and I’m not talking about foreign or indie films.

Well, what else is there to watch? You ask. Old television shows? No, I’m talking about oddball films like educational films from the 1950’s or short documentaries about public parks, feature films that were made, then quickly forgotten or even employee training films.

Who wants to watch films like that? You ask. Believe it or not, loads of people. In this entry I will mention several organizations that specialize in preserving and most importantly, showcasing oddball films for public enjoyment.

Secret Cinema London
Just when you thought you could only see movies in a sterile multiplex or at home, Secret Cinema in London, brings spectacle and mystery to the moviegoing experience. Founded by Fabien Riggall, in 2005, Secret Cinema shows films in locations around London and the UK. To take part in the Secret Cinema, people have to sign up via a newsletter on the organization’s website and locations aren’t announced until the day of the screening. If that wasn’t mysterious enough, the title of the film isn’t announced until the credits start rolling. Yet, there are clues littered along the way to the viewing location, such as mock posters and actors wearing costumes related to that evening’s movie screening. One viewing featured an actual heavy metal band that entertained people before the film. To learn more, go to:  http://www.secretcinema.org

Secret Cinema Philadelphia
The “Secret” in Secret Cinema Philadelphia, isn’t the location. Organizers announce that on their website weeks ahead of time. Rather, it is the subject matter which ranges from, what founder Jay Schwartz calls “neglected films of all kinds… teen-exploitation, rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelia, oddball black comedies, ‘golden turkeys,’ ’70s nostalgia…” even rare movie shorts and educational films. What makes Secret Cinema unique is that they show original films on 16mm reels, not video or DVD. Viewings are in various locations in the Philadelphia area and the show’s been going on since 1992. To learn more, go to:  http://www.thesecretcinema.com

Found Footage Festival U.S.
What happens when two guys stumble upon a fast food training video?  They, being Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, start collecting what they call “…strange, outrageous, and profoundly stupid videos on VHS.” In 2004, they had enough footage to start the Found Footage Festival.  The rules of Found Footage Festival are:

1) Footage must be found in a physical format, as in VHS tapes.  It can’t be floating around on YouTube.

2) Whatever the footage’s original intention, it has to be “unintentionally” funny. “Whatever it’s trying to do,” states the Found Footage website. “It has to fail miserably at that.”

The Found Footage Festival travels throughout the U.S., Canada and even the UK with Pickett’s and Prueher’s collection of VHS tapes ranging from instructional/informational videos to straight to video cartoons to employee training videos. The one thing they have in common is that these videos are, as the founder put it, “unintentionally” funny.

To learn more about the Found Footage Festival, go to: http://foundfootagefest.com/about

See, a person doesn’t have to live on multiplex, Netflix or YouTube movies alone. There are organizations that brings the oddball and unexpectedly humorous films to the masses.

Sources:
http://www.secretcinema.org/

http://www.thesecretcinema.com/

http://foundfootagefest.com/