Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Enter the rental: The Netflix experiment

So I gave in.

Gave in to the insanely annoying pop-up ads.

In to the fact that I'd be supporting a service that even remotely resembles Blockbuster*.

In to a service that could easily be avoided (see: any torrent site)

Yes, I joined Netflix.

So here's the deal. During my Netflix experiment, I'll blog a blurb about each flick I get - a mini movie review if you will. Why? Because I work in Hollywood and can't afford to have too many more conversations like this:

Anyone with a hint of movie knowledge:
"Yeah, it's just like that scene in Taxi Driver, you know where he goes crazy."

Me: Oh yeah I remember that. The one with Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon, right? Wait, Jimmy Fallon goes crazy?"

Point is, it can't hurt to catch up on the good stuff - classics or not. So off we go. First review? You guessed it -

Taxi Driver - I'm no film critic, haven't even earned my rookie critic badge if you ask me, so I'll stick to the basics.

What I liked: I was taken up in the mental (in)stability of Robert Di Nero's character from the jump. First, he seems vulnerable - crazy, but vulnerable, as if he can be rescued. So who's going to save him? Cybill Shepherd's character, right? Not so. Once "Travis" (Di Nero), snaps in the election office after the first date!**, it's on. I'm thinking ticking time bomb. When's he going to blow? So I wait, and wait...and finally he's lined up, heading down Nut Avenue and boom, he snaps, attempts an assassination, shoots up a building full of pimps and tries dumping the extra rounds in his own temple. The point is, Travis is crazy, yes, but Scorsese had me on my toes throughout. When's he going to blow? What's he going to do? What happens after? He's shooting a .44 cal with one arm and accuracy? I know I just gave away half the house, but I haven't revealed all, I promise.

What I didn't like:
Call me a new school fool, but some of the dialogue was more drawn out than a Strom Thurmond filibuster. I know, I know - in order to scrape at a character's depth and build emotional layers, they have to actually talk. Sorry, too many trips around the Wayne's World DVD I suppose.

Overall: B+

Next up: The Kid Stays in the Picture

* Blockbuster ranks right up there with Time Warner Cable in my book. What an awful company. Anyone who dealt with them in the heyday of rentals knows this. A Blockbuster how-to for those of you keeping score at home.
-Charge an arm and a leg for a 2-day rental (which amounts to about 18 hours of watchable movie time).
-Make it painstakingly difficult to return a movie (see: must return movie to same store rented from).
-Take away dreaded late-fee's using a nationally-charged advertising campaign only to reinstate under-the-radar later, hoping no one would notice.

Idiots. Netflix - 1, Blockbuster Free Online Rental Service With Delivery - 0

** Where was Joey Grecco for this blowup? I smell a secret 1976 taping of Cheaters!

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