Monday, March 07, 2005

NETFLIX, TAKE ME AWAY!

I’ve taken the plunge.

I’m now a Netflix man. And if my first experience browsing through their selection is any indication, those of you who know me are likely to be seeing a whole lot less of me from now on.

In just a breezy hour or so, I had no trouble lining up about 40 selections for my queue. The Netflix way is to allow you to build up a list of up to 500 titles you’d like to see and rank them from 1 to 500, 1 being “next on my list to rent,” and 500 being “I wanna see it, but it’s my lowest priority.” You get three at a time, and as soon as you send one (or two, or three) back, Netflix ships the next three from your queue, keeping you constantly engorged on a plentiful DVD smorgasbord. All for $17.99 a month, whether you rent three or 30. No late fees. No shipping. My God, says most everyone I know who has the service, it’s like a dream come true. And now I can be counted among the dreamers.

My first three movies ship out tomorrow. I should have them in my sweaty, pudgy hands by Wednesday. And there are so many movies to choose from-- I feel like I barely skimmed the surface of the Netflix catalog while browsing last night. And each click on something reminded me of another title, or linked me to a page that had three or four other great ideas listed on it. I feel like I’m rediscovering the feeling of moving from Lakeview, Oregon, a many-horse but just a one-cinema town, to the relatively bustling college environment of Eugene, where a whole new world of campus screenings and revival theaters and bookings of foreign language films on some of the city’s many movie screens were a regular occurrence. Only now I’ve got a major percentage of what’s available on DVD at my fingertips, an incredible opportunity to fill in the glaring holes in my cinematic education and experience. It may not be the same as being a too-young college freshman (freshly 17) getting in to have my eyes opened by In The Realm of the Senses or Seven Beauties at the old Waco Theater behind the Williams Bakery (and my dorm hall) on Franklin Boulevard, just off the University of Oregon campus. But at age 44 it is close, and I’ll take close at age 44.

There are some lurking out there who may make me live to regret ever positing this idea, but what I’d like to do is now is take advantage of the cinematic experiences of anyone out there reading Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and solicit suggestions for titles to put on my queue. I’m open to any genre, any language or subject. If there are films you’d like me to see, I probably wanna see ‘em, and I’d really appreciate either the reminder that they exist at all or the heads-up about a title or director with which I’m not familiar. So please feel free to either drop off suggestions in the Comments section below, or fire off an e-mail.

And now, because I know you’re just dying to know, may I present the first 40 position holders on my Netflix queue. I will go so far as to admit that of the 40 titles listed I have seen only three. Embarrassment about the holes in my tattered and incomplete history of film-watching prevents me from revealing which three films on the following list I have seen, but I will not discourage guesses, as long as they are submitted in a good-natured way not intended to further expose me as a sniveling cinematic philistine. I cop to a certain degree of sniveling philistinism, but I’m hoping that liberal application of Netflix two to three times a week will help clear up that unpleasant condition. Here’s my current queue:

DEAD MAN Jim Jarmusch
SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW Kerry Conran
THE MISFITS John Huston
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE John Huston
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 John Carpenter
ICHI THE KILLER Takashi Miike
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE Wong Kar-Wai
COMPANEROS! Sergio Corbucci
MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE Yu Wang
ROAD HOUSE Rowdy Herrington
BRANDED TO KILL Seijun Suzuki
THE CRIMSON PIRATE Robert Siodmak
THE FAR COUNTRY Anthony Mann
THE BIG COUNTRY William Wyler
BEND OF THE RIVER Anthony Mann
FLESH + BLOOD Paul Verhoeven
TIME AND TIDE Tsui Hark
DEAD OR ALIVE Takashi Miike
RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE Irwin Kershner
FASTPITCH Jeremy Spear & Juliet Weber
24 (Season One)
DEADWOOD (Season One)
TANNER ON TANNER Robert Altman
KANSAS CITY Robert Altman
OUTFOXED—MURDOCH’S WAR ON JOURNALISM Robert Greenwald
TO BE AND TO HAVE Nicolas Philibert
THE SON Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
FAT GIRL Catherine Breillat
I’M NOT SCARED Gabriele Salvatores
MALENA Guiseppe Tornatore
ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU Shunji Iwai
DR. AKAGI Shohei Imamura
THE PORNOGRAPHERS Shohei Imamura
FLOATING WEEDS Yasujiro Ozu
THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE Luis Bunuel
SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS Preston Sturges
Z Costa-Gavras
LA GRAND BOUFFE Marco Ferreri
MABOROSI Hirokazu Kore-eda
Z CHANNEL: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION Alexandra Cassavetes

Let the overstimulation begin!

18 comments:

blaaagh said...

So, you've finally gone the way of the Netflix...my brother Chris just told me yesterday that he did the same thing, and loves it. Guess I'm next! Such a deal...at first I was taken aback by the fact that one of your selections was the first season of "24," but then I remembered that you can keep it as long as you like, so why not?! I especially liked your evocation of the good old Waco Cinema in Eugene...I well remember the feeling of walking out of there into the cold night, having been dazzled or bored by something like "In the Realm of the Senses" or an Altman movie, and smelling the bread baking at Williams Bakery as we made our way back to the dorms. I could take a crack at guessing which three films on the list you've seen, but I think I have an unfair advantage.
Bruce

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Yeah, I have a feeling you could out me on those movies pretty easily... And you're right-- this is the perfect solution for trying to get a look at those TV series that I'm interested in, since you can keep the discs as long as it takes you to get through them. Well, maybe I'll get Chris's e-mail from you and see if he wants to join my Netflix Friends list! And when you join (One of us, one of us...!) then you can get on the list too! According to AB, my source who's been a Netflix member since the early '50s, my first movies should arrive tomorrow...

blaaagh said...

One of us...one of us! Haha...yeah, I'll send you Chris's e-mail. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you. He called the other day to get the name of "that really sick Japanese horror movie that Dennis recommended that I rented and couldn't finish" (AUDITION). I guess his friend Lare heard Chris's description and is dying to see it, so to speak. Oops, this isn't a private e-mail, sorry. --Bruce

Sharon said...

What an obscure and ecclecitc collection of films! Have you ever thought about trying out for THE ULTIMATE FILM FANATIC, the IFC show? I think you'd be a shoe-in!

Of the 40 films on your list, I've hardly even heard of most of them. However, the ones I've seen are:

BIG COUNTRY
- the best of the lot, in my humble opinion. Hollywood epic at its best
FLESH + BLOOD
- weird, salacious, bloody. In other words, typical Paul Verhoeven
24 (first season)
- The best of the lot. I gave up after season 3.
OUTFOXED
- thought-provoking. Even if half of it is true, we should all be very afraid.
ROAD HOUSE
- WTF? What in the world is this doing on your list? :)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I only just saw that IFC show for the first time about a month ago. I did very well in living-room competition against them all, but where I would come up short, I'm afraid, is in the section of the show where they have to demonstrate their ultimate film geek status-- the winner of the show I watched trotted out his gigantic collection of rare E.T. memorablia, including a series of giant cut-out, stand-up ads that he insisted on displaying in his house, which caused some gigantic conflict between him and his girlfriend (or was it his mother? I forget...) I don't have anything to rival that kind of, shall we say, devotion.

WTF?! :) All I can say about ROAD HOUSE I have already said, way back in November 2004. I refer you to http://sergioleoneifr.blogspot.com/2004/11/pleasures-worthy-of-guilt.html#comments

No guilt! No guilt! No guilt!

Thom McGregor said...

I can't seem to post a comment lately. However, I guess if this one shows up, I can.

Peet said...

Hi, Dennis! I'm one of the editors of 24LiesASecond.com and I stumbled upon your blog via the referrer stats linked to my site. Thanks for listing 24Lies in your links!

I have been going through a similar blissful phase after I became a member of a similar service in Holland, called Moviemile. Since then, I "discovered" a few of my current favorites: Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock, David Cronenberg's The Brood and Julio Medem's Los Amantes del Círculo Polar. I'd also recommend fellow-Dutchman Paul Verhoeven's The Fourth Man, if you haven't seen it. All these films are visually poetic and combine the dark with the lyrical (the way I like it). But I could go on and on, really...

Have fun! Keep it up, I enjoy your writing. Do drop by at the 24Lies forum some time.

Peter Gelderblom

Peet said...

Correction: "lyrical" is not the correct word to describe a Cronenberg film... The Brood is just plain dark!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Peter: It's really great to hear from you. I've enjoyed 24 Lies a Second since discovering it about a year ago (I made my way via De Palma a la Mod)-- discovering really good writing about film on the Internet, while not as rare as it used to be, is a real treat, and yours is one of the best. And I really appreciate your comments about my site-- it's nice to get feedback from people who know their stuff. As for your suggestions, I saw PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK when I was in college (1977-1981) and actually almost put it in my queue last night, but chose instead Weir's THE LAST WAVE. I have a feeling I'll be getting to PAHR soon, though. I must admit I'm completely unfamiliar with LOS AMANTES DEL CIRCULO POLAR-- any information you could impart would be appreciated. And thanks for the reminder about THE FOURTH MAN-- I've always wanted to see it, but as yet have not (a problem soon to be fixed!). But I share your enthusiasm for THE BROOD, one of the best and, yes, darkest horror films ever made (I would even say it has its lyrical moments-- I'm thinking of the long shot of the parka-clad child/creature walking down a snowy road, the image compressed slightly by a telephoto lens). I hope I'm remembering the image corectly-- that's how my mind's eye (VIDEODROME, anyone?) remembers it anyway. It's been a long time since I've seen this movie-- at least 10 years or so-- because I have to admit I haven't been able to build up the nerve to see it again since first becoming a father seven years ago. But it is truly a great horror film. Thanks for stopping by, Peter!

P.S. Since you're linked to Salon, had you heard anything about the firing of film critic Charles Taylor? I just read about it in Matt Zoller Seitz's column in the New York Press this morning ( www.nypress.com ). If you have any info about this, I'd appreciate your passing it along. I will do the same.

Cruzbomb said...

Come on now. I bet your wife chose all those titles for you. She does seem to have a psychotic-cinematic taste. But then again, I didn't think she would ever see anything that didn't either have the words "Muppet" or "VII" in the title. Oh, yeah, I got a title for you-- "Smoke Signals." I've been telling you to see this for a while, Regis!!!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Cruzbomb: Thanks for the "Smoke Signals" reminder. I just put it in my queue! As for my wife, everything she's rented or seen in the past few weeks has had only one common thread-- the movie must feature Fred MacMurray in either a lead or supporting role. I think it must have something to do with Venus being in retrograde, or sun spots, or the bubonic plague or something, because I can figure no reasonable rationale for this. But for every DOUBLE INDEMNITY there's a trap just waiting to be sprung. Have you seen FOLLOW ME, BOYS? If you have, you'll know what I mean... Yet she's just as happy as a clam wherever she sees Fred chugging along in his flying jalopy, terrier mutt in tow, for another ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR adventure (Being the newly minted FM connoisseur, I prefer SON OF FLUBBER). I fear we're only a rental or two away from THE SWARM!

Peet said...

That rumour of Charles Taylor being fired is completely new to me (living at the wrong side of the globe has something to do with it, I guess). I put the question up as a topic on the 24Lies forum; I'm sure someone is able to tell us more about this.

Los Amantes del Círculo Polar is about a relationship doomed by faith, told in breathtaking images. It's difficult to tell more, but it's very engaging on a cinematic level. The Spanish director Julio Medem is a true visual stylist, in a sense that he evokes everything he wants to say through his imagery, rich of metaphor and drama. He's the kind of filmmaker that can evoke eroticism in the way he shoots a simple breeze. Also put his Sex and Lucia (Lucia y el Sexo) on your list. A VERY sexy - mind your wife, unless she digs it too... if so, have a lovely night - and mesmerizing film with a weird Lynchian logic to it. And next to Michael Mann's Collateral one of the very best examples of 24p High Def digital video out there.

I have kids too, so I know what you mean about revisiting The Brood. On the bright side: It may be less scary now, because you know from experience how wonderful kids are in real life. I have to check out The Last Wave myself; I completely missed out on these early Weir projects. Sadly, Moviemile doesn't rent it out.

Thanks for your generous compliments on 24LiesASecond. I meant it when I said I enjoy your writing. Many professional critics could learn from the way you address big subjects with a casual tone-of-voice. In fact, if you ever feel like writing an essay or appreciation for us, Dennis, be sure to let me know. I have no money to offer you - we're just a bunch of very ambitious volunteers -, but we embrace every provocative piece of film writing we can lay our hands on. Those things you wrote about director's commentaries, or making up your own mind wether to see Catwoman or not, would be wonderful essay material. You can email me at info@24liesasecond.com if the thought intrigues you, or just for a chat.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Peet: Re THE BROOD, I don't think I'm nervous about what it says about the terrors of procreation and parenthood-- as you say, I've had more than my share of wonderful experiences with my daughters to offset the horrors found within Cronenberg's movie. What I dread encountering more than anything is the specific imagery of Samantha Eggar in mid-delivery near the end, and all that fear is rooted in the loss of our son at birth seven years ago. The movie is worth experiencing again-- I just don't know when I'll be ready for it!

I look forward to SEX AND LUCIA for ALL the reasons you state. But I'm also interested in seeing filmmakers put the high-def video technology to creative use, not just relying on it as a down-and-dirty D.I.Y. alternative. COLLATERAL really proved the format's artistic integrity to me, and it sounds like SEX AND LUCIA might also. In this vein, I would also recommend, if you haven't seen it yet, Robert Altman's THE COMPANY which is, I think, the equal of COLLATERAL in terms of the use of high-definition video as an expressive cinematographic tool. This movie is wonderful, and as visually confident and texturally inspired as anything Altman has ever done.

I have been able to confirm that Charles Taylor has, in fact, been fired from Salon. I posted a short bit earlier this morning, and I hope to write more about it when more information becomes available.

And thank you again for your very encouraging words about my writing. I got your post last night very late, while I was pushing my way through a project for my paying job, and it really gave me energy and positivity to get through the night, as well as confidence in what I'm trying to do with my site. I would be more than happy to submit some stuff to your site, and I'm honored to be asked. Look for an e-mail from me soon!

The Mysterious (A)drian,,(B)etamax,, said...

How come just now everyone is getting on board Netflix? I'm just very curious. I've been with them since the beginning, over 5 years. And it's been in its current finely tuned form for probably 2 or 3 years now. I've always thought it was the greatest thing, especially for discerning cinema fans who want to find foreign films and silent films and classics that your evil local Blockbuster would never carry. (By the way, even if Blockbuster apes the Netflix service, you should still stay away out of respect for their legacy of evil, no matter how low they drop their prices. Also on a practical level I doubt their infrastructure will ever be able to compare with Netflix's.) I thought everybody already knew about Netflix. Is it merely because they started advertising on the radio and TV? Did all the word of mouth just finally come to a head after all these years? I'm glad to see it. Every movie lover in America should belong to Netflix. There is no acceptable alternative. As you know, Sergio L., I have privately bombarded you with Netflix suggestions using the wonderful Netflix Friends feature. Try it out! Just one more crazy fun feature. - The Mysterious (A)drian,,(B)etamax,,

Peet said...

I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your son, Dennis. It's pretty obvious why you've been avoiding The Brood ever since, and it's a good thing you did, I suppose. If you ever decide to see it again one day - and that's a decision you shouldn't be forced to make - it may help to keep in mind that Cronenberg is only using one of his typically sick physical metaphors to illustrate the damaging influence of unprocessed psychological trauma and how this can effect your offspring and surroundings. Or at least that's what I got from it.

Yeah, I heard good things about The Company. I'll put it on top of my queue. Sex and Lucia's digital look is sensational.

Keith Uhlich, who writes for Slant and Senses of Cinema, posted a reply to the topic on Charles Taylor. He heard a rumor that the new A&E editor is too "political" and didn't care for Taylor's P.O.V.

I'm glad my post got you through the night, and I'm looking forward to your email very much!

Peet

Thom McGregor said...

I don't have anything to say about NetFlix or Charles Taylor or have any suggestions for Dennis for his queue. I just want to officially set it straight that other than "My Three Sons" and "Double Indemnity," my memories of Fred MacMurray are vague and my interest in him is close to nil.
Dennis, stop it.

blaaagh said...

Words fail me...this post, and particularly the comments following it, are chock-full of excitement, fun, silliness, intriguing ideas, and pain. Not to mention the sudden realization that I ought to jump on board Netflix at last. And I'm glad I checked out 24LiesASecond.com--it's wonderful, and it's bookmarked now. As for Dennis's blog, thanks, old friend, for creating such a rich forum!
Bruce

Murray said...

The Blockbuster "No Late Fee" is busted. Every since they came out with that policy I have not been able to get my hands on a single movie that I wanted to see. I went 8 straight days to get Mr. 3000 with out success, and I finally had to borrow it from my son to see it. I cancelled my account, and Joined Netflix just like cousin Dennis and his growing legion of Blog followers. By the way, hello to Thom, Emma, and Noni.