Friday, September 19, 2014

Chattin' Movies

I’m kind of fascinated by how we (or I, because I am at least a little narcissistic (said the guy with a blog)) consume media these days. I’ve been reading articles about how quickly Netflix’s physical DVD mailer business is receding, and admit that the notion that whether or not I can see, say, The Station Agent, will rapidly become a question of whether or not anyone is streaming it, is dismaying. That said, as someone who abandoned his Netflix disc account a year ago, I’m part of the problem. But I had gotten to the point that I had Argo on loan for six months, and only watched it when it came on HBO and I could record it ion the DVR. So I am definitely part of the problem.

And that’s where that fascination comes in. Because it’s become much less likely for me to go through the “hassle” (and how bizarre it is to even use that word for what I am about to describe) of getting up, getting the DVD, going down three steps to the basement (my AV equipment is behind the wall on a shelf in the basement) and popping in the DVD than it is to just access the DVR. This is how I came to watch Argo on a DVR months after having the disc in the house.

On top of that, I’m also much more likely to watch a movie on the DVR than on Netflix or Amazon streaming. Why? Because there is a lag in loading an app through the Blu-Ray player. Whereas if the movie is on the DVR? It takes a second or two to launch. And the final, most bizarre element of this ridiculous laziness? If HBO is airing a movie, I am much more likely to watch it if I have recorded it on the DVR than if I have to get it off their OnDemand service. This one I really don’t get. Going into the On Demand menu to find the movie takes longer than finding it on the DVR, sure. But by what . . . 10 seconds? I do not understand even my own motivations.

What brings all this to mind is that with an upgrade to the DVR a few months back I now have more hard drive space, and have been using that space to record movies—meaning I have watched more movies in the past few months than usual for me. So—a quick catch-up on just a few from the past few weeks.

Fruitvale Station
Man did I weep at the end of this. Just devastating. I haven’t seen most of the Best Actor nominees from last year, so can’t opine with much authority, but it does seem Michael B. Jordan deserved a nomination. I was also quite taken with Melonie Diaz as Oscar Grant’s girlfriend Sophina, and Octavia Spencer is a rock as Grant’s mother. I remember reading a fair amount of criticism when the movie came out last spring that the movie is somewhat heavy-handed in its efforts to paint Grant as a good man, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Do they lean heavily on the dramatic ironies (him telling the woman who is leery of his fidelity that he wants to be with her forever, his promising to take his daughter to Chucky Cheese the next day)? Sure. But with a story like this, can’t you forgive them?

12 Years a Slave
Everyone told me this was an immensely effective film, but knowing it and experiencing it are two very different things. Incredibly well-acted and somehow unflinching and relentless about the pain and misery involved without feeling exploitive or lurid. A sad, sad movie. One thing I find absolutely fascinating about it is that, while “12 Years a Slave—The Sequel!” sounds like a joke, a movie focusing on Northrup’s abolitionism activism after regaining his freedom world be absolutely riveting.

As much as I loved it, I really wish I had made it to an IMAX theater to see it as intended. It still plays powerfully on Blu Ray, but you can tell that it’s not quite the same. Having seen this and 12 Years a Slave in close succession, I am quite pleased that 12 Years won the Oscar. As much as I loved Gravity, it’s 12 Years I will be returning to.

Django Unchained
I liked this a lot, found Walz absolutely riveting, and thought as a fantasy about a slave exacting revenge it worked extremely well. I did think however, it felt very much like Inglorius Bastards—Slavery Edition, and that I really would be interested in seeing Tarantino return to the smaller crime movie genre, as he did in Jackie Brown,. I miss that guy.

Until Whenever

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Yes, Gravity is better on the BIG screen.