The Great Indoors

Right about now is when I start to tire of winter.  I like the run up to winter (autumn, I suppose.)  And I like to have the snow all around at Christmas making everything look freshly coated with vanilla icing.  I enjoy the sentimentality of snow drifts and seeing your own breath and frozen ponds and woolly hats.  Even for the first couple weeks in January the blizzards and cold still hold some appeal (hot drinks are still in fashion and I haven’t tired of my sweater collection yet.)  But, now it’s February and my sweaters are getting all pill-y and I’m tired of tracking in icy mud to the apartment and there’s no good hills around here to sled on anyway.  The only holiday we’re looking forward to is Valentine’s Day…an overpriced and contrived forced recognition of romance.  (OK…I DO celebrate it…but only because I don’t want to be that much of a misanthrope), and whilst conversation hearts are sort of funny–VDay alone can’t make up for how annoying winter has become.

Look…my sweater is exhausted of me.

So, in honor of…or despite February’s continued bluster, today’s great thing is about staying indoors.

161.  Mail Order DVD Rental

Really, if I’m not going to go out, I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a chilly evening than with a nice glass of red wine, curled up on the couch, candles lit, popcorn popped and DVD ready to be played.  I love everything about the concept of mail-order rental.  I love selecting from a huge list available on-line.  I love the opportunities to write little reviews on the site.  I love that there’s no limit to how long you can hold onto the movie–though one time I had Saving Private Ryan for so long that the company sent an email letting me know that if I didn’t want to watch it now, I could get it later.  Most of all, I love getting things in the post.  Birthday every day!  (Or just about weekly…which is how often I complete films and send them back.)  The only downside is that you miss out on the immediacy of things.  But, some times it’s worth being patient.  If you’ve waited until DVD release to watch a film, chances are you can wait a bit longer.

I remember when I was still living in The States and my friends subscribed to Netflix.  I was clammy green with envy.  I wanted it but had to wait because I was in the process of moving back to NYC from LA…then I got wrapped up in things and forgot about it…  Then, when I got over here, it was one of the first things I did…subscribing to a mail order rental service.  I opted to go with a company that stocked loads of television series as well as films.  I go with Odeon Direct as they have a good teevee to movie ration.  But not everyone was as excited as I was to receive films through the post–actual rental shops for a start.  However, the advent of new ideas/technology has often made the film industry quake.  There’s good precedent for it.  First, movie theatres thought they were doomed with the advent of video rental.  Then video stores thought they’d go out of business with mail order (which sort of turned out to be true), and now mail order may pass thanks to downloads on demand.  But, I will never be an internet pirate…downloading films whether it’s legally or illegaly…simply because I love getting crap in the mail.

I'll tell you why video stores are going the way of the dinosaur…30 copies of each Kate Hudson movie.

Mail order DVD rental allows me to see all sorts of stuff that I either missed in the theater/was too embarrassed to see in person/missed because I wasn’t alive when it was released.

Here are the last ten DVDs that I rented:

Knight and Day–OK, this is one of those slightly embarrassing ones.  But, I typically control/hog the DVD rental queue because Karey doesn’t bother herself with it and I knew that she wanted to see it.  We watched it together on a lazy Sunday night.  It was silly…but not as bad as I thought it would be.  It was, at the very least, entertaining.  I do have to say, however, that whilst I used to find Tom Cruise bulletproof (he was so magnetic a movie star that it didn’t MATTER what people thought he did in his own Xenu-worshipping time–he’s TOM FRICKING CRUISE and he does his own stunts!!!), suspicion of his weirdness is indeed starting to creep in for me and is tainting my film-enjoyment.  I’d give this 6.5/10

Dan in Real Life–Here’s a film I rented because I like Steve Carrell and because it came with a big thumbs-up from my family who had seen it.  I liked seeing Steve Carrell in a slightly more serious role…but I was expecting this film to be funnier than what it was–though Dane Cook’s presence should have lessened those expectations.  Weird film for Juliette Binoche to be in…but she was good.  This film had the unexpected tone of a family dramedy which I totally wasn’t expecting.  Decent but not as good as the fam led me to believe.  6.5/10 again.

Cruel Intentions–I’m only mildly embarrassed to admit to this one.  I missed it when it came out and since then it’s become such a pop culture touchstone…referenced frequently in film media and comedy.  So, I felt I had to have a look.  I’m not sure if this film STARTED the trend of lit adaptations geared to young audiences/set in modern times (a’la Clueless), but it sure is smuttier than any of the others in the genre I’ve seen.  Trashy and dumb with terrible performances from everyone involved.  Still glad I saw it though.  Now I know what everyone is talking about.  3/10.

Away From Her–I cannot tell a lie. I sent this film back without watching it.  I had every intention of viewing it.  I liked Sarah Polley in Go and this film, as directed by her, was supposed to be a terrific effort.  But, it turns out, the prospect of viewing a wrenching and realistic portrayal of a couple dealing with Alzheimer’s just was not an easy sell.  I couldn’t motivate myself to load it into the DVD player and Karey, compassionate as she is, felt she wouldn’t be able to handle the heavy drama.  So, sorry Sarah Polley.  I’m sure it was great.  Score N/A.

This movie also went…Away From Me

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo–Much debate with some friends about the whole Millennium Trilogy recently.  Lots of folks are adamant that the US shouldn’t bother to remake these films.  I recently posted pics of Mara Rooney as Salander on my Facebook page and it was polarizing.  Whilst I’d agree with some of the posters on the thread including the point that Americans should make a bigger effort to support foreign films…I stand by my confidence in David Fincher.  I think his versions will best the Swedish ones.  I found this movie watchable but nowhere near as good as the book.  The best thing about it was the star-making turn of Noomi Rapace.  Don’t know if Mara Rooney will create the same splash…we’ll see.  Anyway, I’d give this: 7.5/10–good acting, slight misfire with the tone of the movie vs tone of the book.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist–This was cute.  My partner found it funnier than I did.  Michael Cera is sort of skating on thin ice with me.  I like him but was turned off by his whole uncooperative attitude with the Arrested Development flick.   Come on dude…let’s not get so big for our britches, OK?  Arrested Development gave you your break.  Without it, you’d just be another weird-looking hipster doofus waiting for that right audition.  Anyway, the film was sweet.  I liked the female lead, Kat Dennings.  She was curvier than most girls that are in films and I liked that.  Good role model.  Yes, you can still look healthy/sexy if you have boobs and a butt.  Comparisons to John Hughes films are fair.  If I were a fifteen year old it probably would have helped define me AND made me want to move to NYC.  7.5/10

Anvil-The True Story of Anvil–Yes, the reviewers got it right.  It pretty much is like Spinal Tap but for real.  Funny, sad, uplifting…with one showstopper of a metal jam.  It’s got it all.  Except maybe miniature Stonehenge.  A worthwhile documentary…8.5/10.

Frankie Boyle Live–I’m making a bigger effort to familiarize myself with big names in British stand-up.  It’s not good to be in a car-share to a comedy gig and NOT know who they’re discussing.  So, this is part of my education.  Frankie Boyle is a Scottish comic who sells out big rooms over here.  He’s pretty funny but he’s recently landed himself in some hot water for offending with some sketch comedy shows he did.  I do think he’s a button pusher…and being mean to people for comedy purposes can get old.  This is an hour or so of him being mean and funny. I enjoyed it for the most part and I’m glad to know more about his style…but I don’t feel like I have to race out and watch more of his stand-up.  I pretty much get it…he’ll do a bit…then talk to someone in the crowd and call them a c-word.  7/10

Waitress–We have a rule in the household that any rental that enters the DVD gets a twenty-minute grace period.  If we’re not enraptured by that point we remove it and send it back.  Sadly, this got gonged off.  After 20 minutes we both decided it wasn’t worth the time.  It was cute but not compelling.  Maybe if I knew for sure that I would live to be 200 years old, I’d watch it…but you only have one life to live and it didn’t seem worth the extra hour or two.  That’s time when I could be playing video games.  I can’t really give honest feedback, but for not being thrilling enough to beat the 20 minute rule, Waitress gets 4/10.

This title sounds like it was made up for Seinfeld.

Felicia’s Journey–This is a film that’s currently in the house which we haven’t watched yet.  Atom Egoyan, the director, is an Egyptian/Canadian auteur.  I added this to the queue ages ago because I was briefly obsessed with Elaine Cassidy, an Irish actress.  I think she looks like my partner Karey.  Karey objects loudly and fervently to this.  I THOUGHT it was a compliment because I think Cassidy is pretty…but there you go.  You can’t win them all.  Anyway, I may actually view this and not give it the Away From Her treatment.  But who knows…it DOES look emotionally complex and Karey is completely disintersted.  Score N/A.

The Crazies–This is the other film we have in the house right now.  I’m not a nut for horror films but I do like to watch the ones that get positive attention and I thought I’d give it a go.  Anyone seen it yet?  Score N/A.

I can’t wait to watch these last two films so that I can put them in the post and get new surprises in a week!  Long live Odeon Direct and long live the British post office and long live my couch cushions!

3 responses to “The Great Indoors”

  1. “The girl with the dragon tattoo”, “The girl who played with fire” and “The girl who kicked the hornets nest” were excellent films. I am not looking forward to Hollywood remaking them.
    No temptation to see “Day and Knight”. Rooting for Tom Cruise as an action hero would be likening the experience of cheering on the pretentious rich brat from high school. Yes, I was the cynical geeky kid that ran cross country. I like Cameron Diaz up to the point that she started making social commentary with Drew Barrymore trying to appear intellectual. It’s comparable to watching Greenpeace activists (hippies) signing petitions to ban di-hydrogenoxide from our rivers and streams.

    I know you like receiving things in the mail, but the Netfilx “watch instantly” is the cat meow. I’ve been watching seasons 1 – 4 of 30 Rock and New Radio. Not to mention, they’ve got the IT Crowd and piracy.

    1. Oh I don’t know about EXCELLENT…serviceable maybe. Noomi Rapace is a star though. Will you check out the US ones? What if they get super good reviews? I like that IT crowd parody. That is right on regarding those piracy ads. They’re just really approaching it the wrong way. I actually saw a super over the top anti-smoking ad at the cinema yesterday. It was so terrible that I actually wanted to START smoking aftewards…just because doing the opposite of this terribly uncool ad must be cool. And I hate cigarette smoke.

  2. LOL
    I love the cinema ads. They’ve motivated me to not go see movies in the theater anymore.
    They use to have (I don’t know, they still might) an anti-piracy ad for “Manny” the stunt man. That by downloading movies, you’re stealing his job. Which the first thing that came to mind was, “Wait, you’re saying I can steal this off the Internet for free and skip the 35 mins of ads and not have to hear peoples cell phones going off ever 5 mins?”
    Not that I am advocating piracy, but they did create a good argument against themselves. After paying $9.50 to see, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and sitting through 35 mins of ads, I wanted them to lose their jobs. Just make it stop.

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