Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The latest buzz around the world of cinephiles has been based around Netflix announcing a price hike effective later this year. The price hike is actually a two-price fee where they will now charge for both streaming movies and DVD shipping separately as opposed to the traditional one account, one price, and both streaming and DVD options were available. (This news has already led to a sketch with Jason Alexander that's worth checking out) Netflix isn't the only website that has begun streaming movies, in fact there are movies available on practically every website now. Hulu, Facebook, Youtube. This, while DVDs have been quickly faded out. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a Blockbuster in every neighborhood. They only had a select amount of movies, they took too much of a stand on morality in film to the point of editing many of their films, and in many other areas, they kinda sucked, but it was a video store with the latest DVDs, usually. Now, they've become replaced by RedBox machines, which you can read more about on this very good link below, which was posted on the facebook of one of my friends.

What the article however also points out that I have to take issue with is that while RedBox is popular, they seem amazed at its popularity because of how much easier it is to stream movies on the computer. Streaming is growing tremendously in popularity, and in many cases, it is useful. It's been around for a while now, in legal and occasionally non-legal avenues on the internet, but now it seems that most of the major studios are starting to get the picture and jump in on the streaming industry, instead of oppose it vehemently as they had been doing. I've been a consumer of RedBox on occasion, very rare occasions. I borrowed a copy of "Inception," from it about five months ago, 'cause I wanted my mother to see it before the Oscar telecast. I had already gotten it from Netflix about a month earlier. I do check it every so often, and while occasionally, I find an artistic title like "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," in the machine, the article is right, most of the title are of the Top 40 popular big studio film variety. While I don't particularly like that movies have become so disposable that they come from a vending machine, (especially since my family used to own video stores) at least they're around in case I feel like a movie at that time. I might not get one because the selection is awful, but I live in Vegas and I'm used to people walking up to machines, hoping they'll get lucky.

However, I want to get to my real point of contention. This notion that DVDs future is uncertain. That streaming is going to become the wave of the future for home viewing, and it's only a matter of time before these RedBox machines and DVDs in general will become like the VHS and Betamax. Well, I have streamed movies, on about a once-a-week basis, sometimes more, sometimes less, and I've done it on numerous websites, some with better success than others, but as this discussion or debate continues, I have to throw in my controversial two cents in, so here it goes: STREAMING FUCKING SUCKS! Yep, with a few exceptions, I am not a fan of streaming movies. Jim Emerson's blog has noted a few of Netflix's issues with their streaming in his article "About the whole Netflix Pricing Thing..." the link is below:

He's right about the source of the streaming not being up to quality as they should be, but that's not even my particular complaint. My complaint relies on the so-called convenience of streaming movies on the internet. How movies can easily be streamed anytime you want and viewed whenever you feel like it. First of all, how do they know what I want, but more importantly, it's not that convenient. Whenever I feel like watching a movie, I check with the DVDs I have from Netflix in the mail, or at library, or RedBox, or yes, occasionally I still hit a Blockbuster if it's still open, and see what they have. At most there's about 13 titles around the house for me to choose from, if I don't want to watch something I've already seen. That sounds like streaming adds to my number of choices but it really doesn't. Let's take a look at Netflix. It's not like streamings options are infinite. I know that "Song of the South," is forever buried under the Disney vault, never to be released, but that doesn't mean streaming isn't limiting. For instance my netflix account, is always at or near full. (I'm a filmmaker, I have a lot of movies to watch.) This is for both my DVD list and my Instant Watching, Streaming list. Right now, there's 499 films on my streaming list. However,  only about a 1/4 of them are actually available to me for streaming. That's because about a 1/4 of the title are movies that were at one time available to stream and on my Netflix Watch Instantly list, but now, they aren't. For whatever reasons, contracts probably, the movies were taken off the watch instantly. So, already 1/4 of the options I did have, are gone. Of the options I do have, one title, I'm informed will not be available after the ninth of August, "Endgame: Contemporary Masterpiece". So now, I can't watch that title when I feel like, if I want to stream it, I have to watch it by the ninth. What if I don't want to or have the time to see it by then? Basically, I'm S.O.L., shitouttaluck. Also, I've noticed that just today, six other titles that were an option to watch yesterday, are no longer able to be watched today. The most I've lost in one week was 18. Let me explain it to you this way, if somebody broke into your house and stole 130 of anything, you'd call the cops, and nothing would be done. If it's 130 DVDs especially, doesn't matter if you still have another 300, you've now lost 130, and they're probably in the back of some crappy pawn shop by now, never to be returned. Okay, that last part's not completely true. Occasionally, a movie will go back onto streaming, usually right after I had seen it on DVD. That's the alternate problem, there's so many movies to choose from, half the time, I'm searching through the movies looking for a film to watch, that by the time I finally decide on one, I'm already tired. And then there's the problem of whether or not the movie will actually work on my computer. Another point that the article made was that most of the RedBox consumers were not up to date on the latest technology. They weren't always wired in. It seemed that the author of the article was surprised by this. I have a shitty computer. It wasn't completely shitty when I first got, but it's really shitty now. It's seven years old, and never has enough memory for everything I want to do. (Although to be fair, a whole system of computers doesn't have enough memory to do everything I want to do on the computer). Which means, if I did stream a movie every time I wanted to see one, I'd probably be out of memory and slow the computer to a halt within three months, maximum. And that's not only if I may forget to clear the memory and browser, and whatever I else I need to clear, but that's if I'm able to stream the movie at all. I've given up streaming netflix unless I'm at the library. I've called them with whatever code number they say my problem is, they blame my internet provider. My internet provider is cricket, so I'm betting they're right. I have Cricket, not because it's good, but because it's cheap. It's the only thing I can afford, and it usually slows to a wormlike pace after around the 10th of the month, which is an improvement, it used to only last from payday to the 3rd of the month. Even when it's working well, streaming lasted about nine minutes, before it had to adjust for the change in computer speed. I watched many movies four minutes at a time. Nothing convenient about that. Hulu has occasionally worked better, and when I'm up at four in the morning, it works really well, until about eight in the morning. Then it starts to suck, and then eventually it stops working altogether, because Cricket sucks.

However, and this brings me to a point I want to make where streaming is very good and useful. TV shows. I don't have cable, but even if I did, I can't watch everything. Tivo, which I also don't have, is very beneficial for this, but most networks have taken great advantage of computer streaming. They put the latest episodes of practically all their shows on the internet, usually the day after they air, either on hulu, on their own website, or on some other source or multiple sources. And frankly, it works. TV is benefitted by this. Many shows get amazing ratings on internet viewings. If NBC had looked at the internet ratings for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," it wouldn't have been cancelled after a year. They were nearly double the outdated Neilsen Ratings. The internet is especially beneficial for reality-competition shows. It's easy to catch a reality show that might have been missed the day before and be completely up-to-date on everything that's happened. This immediacy is why TV is the greatest beneficiary of streaming video. Despite my not always having cable, or even the internet, I've almost always been able to keep up with "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It's probably the most important TV show of this generation, and the latest episodes are readily available on and at my convenience and in a half-hour, I'm caught up on the important news of the day, and I've heard that other network news programs are also as readily available. (Don't laugh at that statement,  journalist organizations have given awards to "The Daily Show," for journalistic integrity). Once a TV show is aired, it's aired to everybody. It's seen as everybody else sees it, and if you don't see it, you're behind. It's this immediacy that most TV is greatly benefitted from streaming, and the fact that most shows are only a half-hour or an hour, makes it infinitely more convenient that a movie, which is a minimum of an hour and a half.  (A few anthology type shows, mostly series on cable and pay cable ["True Blood," "Mad Men," "Weeds," "Breaking Bad," etc. etc.] I'd say are slightly more beneficial on DVD because one possesses a complete season, which also means, that it's more easily to catch the details of the show that aren't able to easily be seen watching one new episode a week,)

This is why DVD's, Blu-Ray, or whatever the next generation of these products will be, they will always be more beneficial than streaming movies. I may contradict this next statement occasionally, but the reason for this is because, there is NEVER, EVER a need to see any movie, immediately. I don't care if it's the biggest blockbuster that everyone has seen, ever, the next Harry Potter, the next "Avatar," the next "The Dark Knight," the next "Titanic," the next "Jaws," no matter how it may seem there's an immediate need to see a movie, it is never immediate. "What if it's a really good movie?" you may ask; especially if it's a really good movie. If it's a really unbelievable lifechanging movie, than it doesn't matter how long you wait to see it, the wait will be worth it. If it's a really bad movie, than it certainly wasn't worth seeing, ever. If it's an in-between movie, it might be good, might been worth seeing, but there's certainly no immediate need to watch it. I love watching movies. I made a list out of it, that's how much I love and care about movies, but there's no immediate need to see any of them. It's no longer the days of one movie per theatre, and if you didn't see it when it was running, you were shitouttaluck. Streaming is one avenue where we can catch up on films, but unlike TV, there's no pressing need of benefit from watching them. Especially if it's more easily available by streaming, there's definitely no need to see a movie, 'cause you can really watch it at anytime. Still think streaming movies are convenient? You know the best way to watch a movie? Overpaying for a ticket, to go to a theatre with a bunch of loud kids, and louder adults, giant bag of popcorn that'll make you sick from too much butter, an uncomfortable, dirty, foldout chair, a cupholder that's too small for your giant-size diet coke, sitting between two three-hundred pound grotesque behemoths, and a screen that's bigger than most walls in your home, and you have to sit there for two hours. And we've been doing it for years because we love it, not because we need to be there, and their ain't nothing convenient about it.

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