“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!”]