Archive for the ‘First World Problems’ Category

“There’s nothing good on Netflix!”

A common refrain that I often hear from my NF Instant Viewing friends.

Here’s the thing: they’re wrong, oh so very wrong. There is an unlimited wealth of quality programming available to be seen. They’ve just got to want to find it. Hell, they might not even know it exists. But it’s there and it’s oh so good.

Part of the problem is that people come to expect instant availability of whatever movie they want to see at any time they want to see it. That’s not how the Flix works. They have to work deals with studios that cost them a great deal of money. They sometimes have to get in line behind Video-on-Demand (VOD), HBO, Red Box, take your pick. Sometimes they can get the physical discs but don’t have streaming rights. The digital home movie revolution and it’s many, varied modes of delivery is a young battle that’s just ramping up. There will be casualties along the way. But I doubt Netflix will be one of them.

I’m a voracious movie viewer. I don’t have enough time to watch everything I want to. Hell, I’ve got good TV to watch as well. I do my best though. I get out to the theater when I can and maximize my input. I own many movies on DVD or Blu-ray. I catch stuff on cable. I often find myself paralyzed at the notion of having to pick a movie to watch. It’s so bad that after hemming and hawing for half an hour in front of my movies, I’ll throw my hands up and just watch an episode of Bones I DVR’ed earlier in the week. To conquer this mountain of indecision, I’ve taken to scheduling films to watch on specific nights of the week. I’ll pick a stack of DVDs, Blu-rays and sundries, jot the title on a piece of paper, throw it in a bag and day-by-day go through the calendar and assign that movie for a particular day. And you better believe, Netflix is in the mix as well.

Not my actual collection

And those Netflix titles are not your typical Hollywood fare like the latest Marvel Comic Book movie or Adam Sandler comedy (though some of those are available.) No, they are more often chosen from the fine selection of foreign films, documentaries, direct-to-video (DTV) horror flicks, and complete TV seasons that are available unlimited for only $8 a month (plus a nominal fee if you still want delivery.) Sure I’ll catch the occasional Hollywood offering that I missed in the theater like Matthew McConaughey’s The Lincoln Lawyer (good) or the horror success Insidious (overrated), but I don’t seek those out. I’m looking for the sleepers. The movies I only heard about that might have opened in a few theater for a few weeks on either of the coasts.

Netflix is where I first saw Bobcat Goldthwaite’s incredible World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams and Patton Oswalt in Big Fan. These are movies worth discovering. These are the movies you should be watching. There is nothing as enjoyable as sitting down to watch a flick you know nothing, or very little, about and being blown away. As I type this I have the Netflix app open. Under the topic of Foreign Action Thrillers, I find movies available such as the French thriller Point Blank and Korean action flicks like Chaser & The Man From Nowhere. All three movies are worth your time and your attention. Sometimes they’re dubbed in English if that’s your thing. Sometimes not. But don’t let the fact that you might have to “read” a movie deter you from an otherwise wonderful experience.

If you read this blog regularly, you know of my love for documentaries. A trip down to the recent documentary releases shows that Being Elmo, a critical fave from this past year, is available. In addition, you’ll find Werner Herzog’s riveting study of the death penalty Into the Abyss as well as Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, the account of what happened to Conan after he contentiously left The Tonight Show. Again, all three of these are easily worth a couple of hours on your Sunday afternoon.

In the horror section, you’ll find the hilarious and fun Norwegian Nazi-zombie flick, Dead Snow and the 50’s set domesticated-zombie movie Fido, a real gem from a few years back that is quickly developing a cult status. In television, you’ll find 3 FULL SEASONS of the best show on television, Breaking Bad. Hell, the first three of Tom Selleck’s awesome Jesse Stone CBS TV movies are now available. And if you are a Selleck fan, all 8 seasons of Magnum P.I. are ready for your viewing pleasure. That’s 162 episodes. People, that’s a big deal.

Nice ‘stache, sir!

I could continue pointing out thousands of titles that are worth your time and destroy any credibility to bitching about what is or is not available on the service. But that would defeat the purpose of finding some treasures of your own. Your tastes won’t necessarily match mine but I promise you that if you dig deep and hard enough you’ll find some gold.

And to put my money where my mouth is, I will for the entire month of May watch nothing but Netflix titles. I won’t even schedule them. I’m going to open up the various queues of what is new and available (or already on my instant queue), find something that catches my eye, watch it and hope for the best. It might not be good. But, it might be great.

And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.


[Update 5/14/2013:  It’s been a year since I wrote this blog and still no on believes there’s anything good on Netflix.  If you’ve made it to this update, you’ve seen a few titles worth checking out.  Problem is they might not still be available.  To celebrate the first anniversary of my most popular entry, I’m watching a whole month of movies currently on Instant.  Check out my progress at First World Solutions:  “There IS Something Good on Netflix!”]


Once more an earthquake has shaken the foundations of the social media world.

Twitter has changed it’s format!  Or so every third or fourth tweet in my feed says.  I wouldn’t know because mine still looks the same.  I’m sure it will catch up at some point but until then I can only imagine at what hideous things await me.

Damn you, Twitter!  Damn you for daring to change the site you own and for which you do not charge me!  Damn you for doing this without asking for my permission or for my input.

And while I’m at it go eff yourself Facebook!  Your movie sucked (it did NOT suck) and you think you’re all that.

World’s youngest soccer hooligan

Every time Facebook changes something, everyone gets all worked up.  I know people who religiously refuse to change to this new timeline hoo-hah they’ve got going now.  Well, time’s about up on that and soon they will have no choice.  Again, though what is there really to complain about?  In a few weeks, days, hours one will have forgotten what it used to look like and grow comfortable enough with the new format just in time for it to change again.

The greatest sin a website can commit is to become irrelevant and stagnant.  That’s why the Facebooks and the Twitters are always changing, trying to incorporate new bells and whistles that track our every movement, our every purchase, our every desire.  They’ve got to pay for themselves somehow, right?  Damn your eyes, social media!  Damn your eyes!

Hates the new timeline!  Won’t accept my friend request.

Now, I’m not planning on buying any shares of Facebook though I have to think that my opinion might matter a bit more if I had a stake in the company.  But then again, probably not.  I’m not sure how that kind of shit works.  I do know I’ll keep using Facebook and Twitter and that it will never matter what they look like.  I enjoy the interaction they provide while, at the same time, allowing me to maintain a distance from people and real human emotions.

And remember, while you are entitled to your opinion, Zuckerberg and J. Michael Twitterman (not his real name) could care less.  In fact, this is what they think of you.

The greatest middle finger ever?

That’s a rhetorical question.  It’s Johnny Cash.  The Man In Black.  The man whose legacy survived a shitty Joaquin Phoenix bio-pic portrayal.  Of course, it’s the greatest.

On an aside, all this talk of format changes made me think of MySpace.  I remembered that the dinosaur of social networking sites always allowed for a fair bit of customization to one’s profile.  It WAS always a hassle to visit a particularly busy page but there was that personal touch that FB and Twitter have never really allowed.  I hadn’t logged into my account in at least a couple of years so I figured I’d check it out.

Turns out that the second I stopped logging in to my page a band of wandering gypsies set up shop.  MySpace smelled vaguely of urine and stale pot smoke.  I won’t even tell you what I found in the corner mainly because I could not identify it by its rotting remains.  I did have one friend request but I’m pretty sure it was from the band that played my senior prom 23 years ago.

Also, it turns out the only person who still uses MySpace is Tim Doyle


All Bird Pictures can be found in The Field Guide to the North American Bird

Pop quiz, hot shots! What do the following movies have in common: Gandhi, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic, Crash? They all won the Academy Award for Best Picture. What do these movies have in common: ET The Extra-Terrestrial, Babe, Fargo, LA Confidential, Brokeback Mountain? They’re the movies I wish had won.

The Oscar nominations were announced today and followed shortly thereafter by the usual round of pundit hemming and hawing about surprise nods and shocking omissions. It happens every year. The Twitters blew up with people complaining about this and that not getting recognized or conversely expressing shock that something truly terrible like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close could somehow snag a Best Picture nom. Some stars actually publicly groused, perhaps jokingly but still publicly, that they were not included in the annual Hollywood reach-around (kudos to Misters Patton Oswalt and Albert Brooks.)

Now before you accuse me of being a hypocrite, I will admit that I was right there on my Twitter feed complaining for them and my favorite movie of the year, Drive, which received 1 nomination, the exact same number as Real Steel. I got no problem with Real Steel but Drive was the best movie of the year and at least deserved nominations for Picture, Director and Supporting Actor for the aforementioned Mr. Brooks. Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

That’s why I love the Academy Awards. EVERYONE is allowed an opinion and that opinion is usually informed by the content they consumed over the course of that previous year but unless you’re a member of the Academy, that opinion don’t count. I would venture to guess that I’m in the top 5% of people in regards to how many movies, theatrically or otherwise, I watch in a given year. I watch a ton of stuff. Though I may, to date, not have seen them all (or even want to,) I’m familiar with every single movie nominated for best picture and have strong opinions as to their suitability for inclusion in the category.

There’s an even smaller percentage of people (the professional bloggers, reviewers who get paid) who see even more movies who are even more informed and can start listing off an army of flicks and performances more qualified to stand in the place of the unworthy chosen. They’re the ones that will tell you The Independent Spirit Awards are where quality films are recognized, stuff like 50/50, Take Shelter, Martha Marcy May Marlene & We Need To Talk About Kevin. In fact, I believe Drive was nominated for several Spirit Awards. So that’s cool, I guess.

What of the majority of people, the 95% if you will? Well, I’d venture to guess that only a small percentage of them even bothered to look at the list of Best Picture nominations. And upon seeing them, they probably said a variation of the same thing that is said every year, “Hell, I ain’t seen any of them movies. Wait a minute. Moneyball? Is that the baseball one with Brad Pitt? I got that at the Redbox. That was pretty good. Hell, I hope that wins.”

Let’s be honest. The only people who truly care about the Oscar nominations are the studios who stand to make money off them, the stars whose egos are boosted by them, and nerds like me who will never get over the fact that Chariots of Fire beat out Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Yes Major Toht, that pretty much sums up my reaction as well.

For what its worth, I would like to offer up some congratulations to Gary Oldman, nominated for Best Actor for his superb work in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He’s the best working actor of his generation. Congratulations also to Nick Nolte, justifiably recognized for his supporting work in Warrior (one of last year’s most criminally underrated movies,) and to Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, the directors of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, nominated for Best Documentary. I hope they all win. Do I think they will? Probably not. But that’s for another blog.