Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
After seven years, 488 movies rented, and countless scratched and unplayable discs, I finally called it quits with Netflix, and cancelled my membership on the last day of 2011.
A sad day for me, to some extent, because I enjoyed finding that little red envelope in my mailbox once or twice a week, and I loved the idea that I could search through thousands upon thousands of DVD titles on their website, and be reminded of either a classic or an award winner that I’d missed, or discover a little gem that I’d never seen or heard of before, and have it waiting for me to experience a few days later. But around the time that Reed Hastings, the dingbat CEO of Netflix, decided to double the cost of my current membership, and change the name of my disc-by-mail service to the hopelessly ridiculous ‘Qwikster’, I began to get the notion that maybe it was time to end my relationship with this company. This was during the later stages of last summer; by mid-winter, I’d realized that I was spending eight bucks every month to watch just a handful of movies, when I had over 600 of my own sitting on shelves in my apartment just waiting to be viewed, at no additional charge to me. That earlier notion then became a reality when I began receiving disc after disc that was either scuffed, scratched, or gouged beyond reasonable limits, turning my evenings of relaxed movie-watching into lessons in pixelated, frozen-screen frustration.
I’d finally had enough, and by December had made the decision to cancel; I whittled my queue down from 189 titles to 63, then around mid-month removed fifty or so more of those, leaving me with just five to end my subscription with. Gone from the queue along with the others were the five Kurosawa films I’d never seen before, several film noir titles, various recommendations from friends and family, the perpetually-on-short-wait sci-fi creature cheapie Horror of the Blood Monsters, and the Gene Hackman comedy Welcome to Mooseport, which he’d stated had prompted him to retire from acting, and which I’d decided to suffer through to find out why.
The five films that remained—Eight Men Out, Solar Crisis, Under Capricorn, White Hunter Black Heart, and God Grew Tired of Us—would be watched over the final two weeks of the year, with God Grew Tired of Us being the one I planned on watching last; it had been in my queue for quite a long time, the last film my nurse friend Maureen had recommended to me before she passed away two long summers ago, and I’d kept it in my queue as a kind of keepsake memory of her. But now, it didn’t seem right to just let it vanish along with my cancellation, so I chose to honor her suggestion and make that title the last of my Netflix rentals.
After catching up again with the baseball-themed Eight Men Out, and watching two films I’d previously never seen by two favorite filmmakers of mine, Alfred Hitchcock and Clint Eastwood, and then forcing myself to sit through the god-awful Solar Crisis, which had been an in-joke between my brother and I for years, I whipped up a batch of popcorn, got comfortable on the couch, and sat back on a Tuesday night to watch the film that Maureen had loved and wanted me to see.
And so, after what began with Gothika and ended with a documentary about the lost boys of Sudan, I finally said goodbye to Netflix. And not so surprisingly, I haven’t missed it since.