Archive for May, 2017

Movies Since Last Post:

Don’t Breathe
Starring Adam West
Tanner Hall
I Am Heath Ledger
Manchester by the Sea
Logan Noir
Ex Machina
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Becoming Bond
Baywatch
The Meaning of Life

I’m going to give myself a pass for two of the above movies. I Am Heath Ledger was a pretty short documentary made by Spike TV, but since I never specified anything about how long these things have to be, I’m giving myself that one. I’m also giving myself a pass for Logan Noir, even though I had seen Logan already (twice), because the black-and-white version really does change the tone that much. So, if you want to dock me two movies, go right ahead, but I’m counting them.

But at pretty much the half-way point, and I’m at 65 movies. I actually had envisioned being a little farther ahead by this point, but honestly, even with all the streaming services available, movies aren’t as easy to come by as I thought. Well, good ones, anyway. There are 35,250 movies available to stream on Amazon that are free with my Prime membership, but really, how many could I actually sit through? 4 or 5%, maybe?

Speaking of Amazon, however, I did encounter something interesting that I wanted to touch upon here after viewing the Amazon original Manchester by the Sea. After viewing it, Amazon sent me their obligatory email asking me how I liked it (which they do with all my purchases. Even cat litter and toilet paper.) Even though I don’t always respond, this time I decided I wanted to voice my opinion. I do this with movies sometimes, especially if it’s a movie that a lot of people seem to like and I myself do not. It’s probably an actual mental illness.

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Courtesy of Billy Eichner

In cause you’re curious, you can read my review here, but the gist of it was that the movie was really not structured well because there was no real story arc. Spoiler warning here, (literally skip to the next paragraph if you care what happens) but the big moment at the end turns out to be Casey Affleck saying that “Just can’t beat it.” He goes back to his shitty life and his now adopted son or whatever lives with someone else. And neither of them are seemingly better off for it. I have no idea what the point was of the movie if the end result is nothing happens to either of the main characters.

After my one paragraph review had been up for a couple days, I got another email from Amazon saying people had reacted to it. One person said that it was an “insightful review,” which I wasn’t sure was sincere, and they also wrote that even though the movie was “overrated,” they liked it. No problem, there, right? The second person, though, said that I missed it, that it was a human story about healing, and “the love of his nephew was winning him over,” and so on. I didn’t see any love between them at all, because all they did was swear at each other, but okay, this person saw something different. They then said they agreed with me about the script and that it didn’t need that much swearing, and when will Hollywood get that you don’t need to use bad words to tell a story.

Now, I never said anything about the script being bad because there were a lot of F-bombs. I didn’t even notice them, in fact. And while we’re on the subject, I have something to say to you, Amazon reviewer:

larson free fire

Just kidding. I just needed to get Brie in here somewhere.

I replied to that person, thanking them for their response, and saying that it wasn’t the language that I didn’t like, but the structure. And I quote (myself): “Not every movie has to end with the Death Star exploding, but there should be something, some reason to make me go ‘Ah, now I see.'”

So I thought that was it, but then I got another response from a different person, saying that everything I thought was lacking in the movie, they found. They claimed that the movie was “subtle, and not suitably pop-zing enough apparently for the ADHD millennial crowd.” This I found completely hilarious, because I’m 41. Maybe I should take it as a compliment? They went on to say that the movie was “Not your typical hollywood empty calorie fare. The very good stuff in life is often an acquired taste.”

Ok, I get that. But that’s two reviewers who used the term “Hollywood” in a negative light, indicating, I suppose, that Manchester by the Sea was not made by some big studio who is only out to make a buck. No, of course not. it was made by Amazon.download.

All yucks aside, I wanted to bring all this up because I actually enjoyed this little back-and-forth (despite my disagreements with these people), and was kind of encouraged when I saw that 8 out of 11 people found my review helpful. I don’t know if that means they didn’t watch the movie or what, but in general, these conversations reminded me a little of my video store days, when a customer would ask for my opinion on what to rent. The owner of my store would always encourage his employees to engage the customers, feeling that’s what separated him from the Blockbusters of the world. I kind of hated it at the time, but looking back, I actually miss it. And he was totally right, because a person could wander around a Blockbuster for days looking for anything worth renting (similar to how I scroll through Amazon’s 35,250 crappy movies looking for one to watch these days.)

I’m sure if I kept writing reviews I would eventually encounter someone who disagrees so harshly that they would start a whole flame war, much like I would encounter video store customers who didn’t give a damn what movies I would recommend. But for those brief moments, and I guess for those 8 people who supposedly found my review helpful, I feel like I made a difference. I don’t know if I’ll be reviewing more, but who knows? I’ve also heard that if you write enough reviews, Amazon will start giving you free stuff. And God knows, I have a lot to say, and about six more months of movies to go.

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Movies Since Last Post: 

Short Term 12
Cabin Fever (2002)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
All Things Must Pass
The Founder
The Girl on the Train
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Collosal
Batman & Bill
The Trouble with Bliss
Into the Wild

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted, and a big crop of movies, which is great, because it puts me at 53 for the year so far. So, on average, that puts me on a good pace, but the average may be skewed a little, since I did watch three in one day last Friday. I admit it’s a bit of a cheat, because my job required me to babysit an event, so I was asked to sit in an AV booth all day, and it was suggested I bring my laptop, so I watched two movies, and then went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that night. So, banner day for me, but there probably won’t be a lot of triple-features for the rest of the year.

The cool thing about that day was that I broke new ground by trying out Google Play, which allows you to rent or buy movies, same as Amazon or whatever. So, I paid $4.99 to watch The Founder, the movie about Ray Kroc, and the discovered that I got a second one for $.99, so I rented The Girl on the Train, the movie about drunk Emily Blunt (Thank God it was only $.99, because it was a basic Lifetime movie with a slightly better cast.)  For some reason, I was more willing to pay Google for a movie than some of these other companies. Maybe I just feel like I’ve given Amazon enough money, but also that whole 24-hour watching period debacle put a bad taste in my mouth. There also seems t be a slightly better quality of movie on Google Play, so there’s not as much sifting through as there is on some of these other sights.

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Speaking of other sites, I started my 30-Day free trial on Hulu, so that I could see what they had and compare them to the other venues. Despite what I wrote about in my last post, Hulu’s movie selection was not as abundant as I hoped. I basically opened an account because they had Brie Larson’s breakout role in Short Term 12 for free, while other sites were charging, but despite the fact that I have watched five movies on there this month, I kind of have to call it a failed experiment. Although, they are the only site that has the very cool documentary Batman & Bill, based on one writer’s quest to get Bill Finger credit for being a creator of Batman, because it’s a Hulu Original, something that I didn’t know existed. It’s been good to nail down a few of the ones I was hoping to watch this year for free, but mostly it’s like that junky old video store that you would goimages to as a last resort when you were dying to watch something. They also have a very weird way of categorizing movies, as they list Thomas the Tank Engine: Muddy Matters under Action/Adventure. I’m sure it’s a wild adventure for Thomas, but there’s no way in the world that his movie should be in the same section as The Hateful Eight.

The real problem I’m running into is the variety of movies. I was hoping Hulu would open up a whole new world of free movie (for a month, anyway), but in fact, all I found were the same movies that Amazon has listed in their “Included with Prime” section. For example, all the Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Hunger Games movies seem to be available on both platforms, plus a lot of really bad action and horror movies. I scroll through and keep coming across the same stupid B-movies over and over, and eventually I’ll probably be worn down enough that I’ll just watch one of them (It’s like my days of Internet Dating, only with movies).  I’m sure that this is some studio marketing thing, where you just put them in  front of as many eyeballs as possible, but in the context of my experiment, it’s not working. All is not lost, though, as I did unearth this hopefully helpful article on Paste Magazine’s website.

We all know that the business model of TV is changing constantly (I’m now hearing rumors of Facebook getting into it with 5-10 minute original shows, or full-length shows with one commercial in the middle), but what does it all mean for movies? Hollywood just avoided a writer’s strike which was primarily about royalties for streaming content (among other things). Obviously, Netflix and Hulu survive purely on their subscriptions, so you don’t have to pay extra for their movies, but that’s all they got. Amazon can charge for Prime, and then have a lot more movies available that are included, because they can make money on everything else they sell (which is everything else.) They weird thing is, I definitely don’t consider Amazon Prime a rip-off, because I get free two day shipping and all that, but I pay for Netflix every month and almost never use it unless there’s a new Marvel show on (and I haven’t watch any of Iron Fist yet. Heard it stinks!) So, I can imagine that the same could be said for Hulu if I was thinking about staying around when my free month expires (which I’m not.) I could see if I got rid of cable, which a lot of people are doing, then it might be worth it. But I really like my sports, so I’m sticking with cable.

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Totally my house every Sunday, man!

Speaking of cable. I pay an obscene amount of money forcable, internet and phone (which I don’t even have), plus the DVR, HD channels, the remote that you can talk to, and everything else they offer, but out of the 53 movies I’ve watched this year, only 11 have come from Xfinity. Now, they also offer the ability to rent movies, but I already pay a crapload of money for cable, why should I pay $6 more just to watch something that maybe-kinda came out sorta recently? Especially when it will probably be available in a couple months on one of the many movie channels I subscribe to?

Because we’re consumers, that’s why. So, if I have to pay Google to watch something, I guess I will. At least I’ve given them less money so far than all these other websites. I mean, my Pixel was a lot, but, whatever. Still better than an iPhone.