Thursday, November 1, 2007

I was once a movie junkie, but I’ve reformed...



I'll never forget how it all started: it was June 2001, I met a friend for lunch & she asked me if I was getting into the "new DVD thing" yet. 

I told her I recently bought a player, but owned only one DVD--"Galaxy Quest".  She said "Have you heard of Netflix?  It's not a video rental place around here, you can only do it if you have a computer and internet access.  You pick out movies you want to see, yadda yadda yadda..."

So that night, I get online--find the site--it sounds great.  For a set monthly fee, they'll send you 3 movies at a time--& as soon as you send one back, they'll replace it with another from your "wishlist".  So if you only watch 3 movies that month--good for them!  But if you can watch 30...good for you.


The very first Netflix rental I received, "Run Lola Run"; nearly 2000 films later, it remains in my Top Favorites

At first I was doing pretty good with the site--I loaded up my "queue" with all the mainstream Hollywood films I'd been missing out on for the last few years, and watched 'em at a healthy pace.  But after awhile, I began thinking "I should join the '4 Rental' deal..."  And then 5.  And then 6.   Soon I joined the "Ultimate Program": 8 movies out at a time.  I was watching 40 movies a month, easy!

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Films I rated 5 stars; I rarely gave movies this highest ranking.

Looking back, I think "Forty a month? How was that possible??" but Netflix had an excellent recommendation program (based on your prior viewing history & how many stars, 1-5, that you gave to movies you've seen.   The more you rate, the better they can suggest other titles).  

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Here are 3 films I loved so much, I ran out & bought after renting.  I don't own a large collection--I only buy 3 movies a year at most.

But still, there's only so many films out there...right?  Wrong.  I soon discovered documentaries & independent films, and my real favorite--foreign movies.  Korean, French, Spanish--they put Hollywood to shame.


Oldboy (2003) a terrific example of Korean excellence in filmmaking; and the most incredible tale of revenge I've ever seen!  This guy gets kidnapped & is locked in a hotel room with nothing but a tv for 15 YEARS.  Why?   

This went on for years--and finally, around April of 2006, I quit.  I didn't go thru any "withdrawl symptoms", in fact it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders!  (Actually, I requested a 'leave of absence'.)

Okay, okay--this summer I did a 30 day trial with Blockbuster, and watched 5 good films--"Notes on a Scandal", "Letters from Iwo Jima”, "Apocolypto", "Half Nelson".   But that was it, I swear to God!

And now here I am, 18 months later--& I just received an email from Netflix informing me I’ve been missed, and would I like to reactivate my account.   Tentatively, I went to the site (which felt strange, like coming home) and was surprised to see all the movies now in my 'Available to rent' queue.  (Y'see, with Netflix--you have 2 queues.  You can fill up one with titles that aren't released to DVD yet, movies just hitting the theaters or even movies currently being filmed.  And when/if they DO get released to DVD, they automatically move to your 'Available Now' list.)

I signed back up.

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Welcome back, Douglas!  We're shipping these out today!

When I quit Netflix in April 2006, I had 2 movies left in my 'Available Now' list.  There's now 57 out there.   Doesn’t matter, I went with the minimum '3 at a time' plan.

I just hope it STAYS that way!


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