June 2, 2011
I love Netflix. I don’t see it as a rental service for which I pay a monthly subscription fee. No, I see my $10 per month as rent to keep my entire collection of DVDs in storage. The fact that they’ll send me whatever movie I want when I request it is just a perk. Add my constantly full “watch instantly” queue to the mix — yes, 500 films and television shows in the instant queue at all times — and I’m a pretty satisfied customer.
So why is it I can’t share my queue and reviews with my friends? The very nature of Netflix alone screams for social media connectivity, yet it seems they do everything they possibly can to isolate you to simple review spaces on individual film pages. Netflix removed the incredibly popular friends option on its site, and an extremely buggy attempt at a Facebook app was made and taken down as well.
I simply don’t get this at all. Why do I want to read reviews on entertainment from people I don’t know? I’d much rather hear what Scott, Kobi or Alex have to say about a film than what user “EbertSux666” on Netflix has to say.
Rumor has it that Netflix is back at developing applications for social media connectivity and this makes me happy. I wish they had simply kept their original friends options and worked the bugs out of the Facebook app, but perhaps a fresh start will be exactly what they need to become a service people don’t just use, but also work into their social networks so that cinema starts to become a shared experience once again, like it should always be.
Since I’m talking Netflix, and I can’t use the site to make some weekend recommendations, here are five films available on Netflix instant that I think you should see in no particular order:
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s gentle film focuses on a family gathering on the anniversary of the eldest son’s untimely death. It is a subtly observed drama with an exacting camera reminiscent of Yasujiro Ozu. Japanese cultural differences may stand out and be a bit distracting, but simple human empathy cancels them out nicely. One of my favorite films to come out of Japan in the last decade.
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Underground British street artist Banksy turns a documentary filmmakers camera on the filmmaker and ends up asking a very simple question with no identifiable answer; “What is art?” An extremely entertaining look at a creative world most of us only see when the creation has long been finished.
A State Of Mind
Another documentary, this one trains it’s camera on two North Korean gymnasts in their preparation for the country’s annual “Mass Games” which celebrates their communist revolution and leader Kim Jong Il. A British film crew was granted unprecedented access to the country and what they capture should be seen by everybody outside of their borders.
Live action role playing. People who dress up like fantasy characters and monsters and go out into the woods and hit each other with fake swords. OK, “LARPing” is much more than that and this documentary explores their world. Nerds, nerds, and more nerds make this little movie one of my favorites.
Matteo Garrone’s verite style mafia pic rounds out the list. Centered around the Camorra crime family in Naples, this raw and stark look at Italian gangland weaves multiple stories into a frightening tapestry. Be warned, this is not paced like Goodfellas, Gomorrah requires attention and allows for contemplation.
Honorable Mention: Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
Huge props to Scott Broberg for giving this doc a shout. Anvil is probably the worst band I have ever heard in my life, but while watching this film, I’ve never wanted crap to succeed so badly.