Saturday, July 7, 2012


A month or so ago, I broke down and signed up for Netflix.  Tom and I have not been seeing movies in theaters as often as we once did.  The senior discount is a thing of the past.  The smell of popcorn is irresistible; and we end up paying an exorbitant amount for a couple of bags and sometimes a small box of candy and end up spending $40 or more to see a movie.

Okay, so I miss the mystique of the quiet, dark theater, with the large screen and the entire focus on the movie, but along with the $40-plus price tag to have the theater experience comes smelly carpets that are not cleaned nearly often enough and, on occasion, stalls in the ladies without toilet paper.  Then, too, we live in the boonies, and a good many of the movies I want to see are never shown at the theater in the next town over and would involve a trip to New Orleans.

The Netflix plan I chose is the one DVD at a time, which suits me well, as I don't have time to watch a movie every day.  The movies arrive a day after mailing, and I viewed four movies last month and one so far this month for $7.99. You may tell me of better alternatives to Netflix, like movies on demand, but I'm not sure we could have the service on our TV sets, since they are old, and we would surely need a box and another remote.  I've just about mastered the two remotes to use the DVD player, and I don't want to learn another.  Grandpère has never learned how to use the player, so I have to set him up each time he watches a film.  Netflix offers the option of watching on the computer for the same subscription price, but I want a bit more comfort than my computer armchair offers...thus Netflix DVDs.

Oh, and I don't care for movie rental outlets, because I can seldom find what I want in the vast space.  Besides, I don't like vast spaces.  So why not have the movies mailed to my house, watch them, and pop them back into the ready-to-be mailed envelopes to await the next in about four days?

Thus far, I've watched the following:

I can't think why I chose an animated film, and one that was shown in 3-D in the theaters as No. 1 in my queue, but there it was.  For some time, I'd been keeping a list of movies I wanted to rent but never did, and "Rio" was on the list.  Anyway, in "Rio" the  animation is well done; the colors are gorgeous; and the songs are tuneful with witty lyrics.  The story is of a parrot, Blu, and a human, Linda, who love each other.  Through a mishap, Blu ends up in Rio De Janeiro and falls in love with another parrot, Jewel, and troubles, separation, and dangers ensue guessed it...the happy ending in which Linda also finds true love.

The second movie to arrive in the mailbox was a winner, "Moneyball", a baseball story about real people.  Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, played by Brad Pitt, is convinced by a young Yale graduate, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to adopt a new statistical method for choosing players, and he sticks with the method in the face of repeated losses and opposition from within the organization until the team turns around and begins to win and proves the method works.  The theme of resistance to change, the old ways versus the new ways, runs through the movie.  Brad Pitt does a fine job of acting, as does Jonah Hill, and their scenes together are especially well-played.

The film includes a charming side story of the tender relationship between Beane and his young daughter, Casey, beautifully acted by Kerris Dorsey, who worries for her dad when the team is on the skids.

Next up in the queue was Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris", with Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) in Paris as a treat from Inez's father, John (Kurt Fuller) who doesn't much like Gil or the idea of his daughter marrying him.  Mimi Kennedy plays Helen, Inez's mother.  As the movie started and the four characters began to interact, I thought to myself, "This is going to be a long movie.  All these people are insufferable."  Gil is a screen writer but he wants to be a "real writer" of novels.  In the evenings, he roams the streets of Paris alone,  longing for the 1920s when Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and all the beautiful people lived in Paris.  I can't blame John for not wanting his daughter to marry the dithering and mooning-about Gil.  Gil reminded me too much of Hamlet, another character who makes me quite impatient, so that I want to shout out, "Get on with it!"

Gil gets drunk and lost in one of his walks and hitches a ride in a 1920s car, and - bam!..he's back in time meeting all the beautiful people, and the movie picks up speed.  Of the celebrities from the twenties, Kathy Bates is outstanding as Gertrude Stein, as is Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali.  Gil has a dalliance with Adriana, Picasso's mistress, played by Marion Cotillard, who longs to live in the Belle Époque, and the next thing you know the two are back in the 1890s.  The dialogue in the scenes with the celebrities in both eras in the past is delightfully clever and witty and thoroughly entertaining, but when the movie moves back into real time, the pace slows.

The critics gave the movie very high ratings, with one even saying it was a work of genius, though the same critic called Gil's fiancée his wife, which kind of messes with the plot, so one wonders...

The two next films I'll save for another post, and I will await Netflix's offer of at least a couple of free months for promoting their service - movies for techie dummies.  Thus far, the subscription is well worth the price.


it's margaret said...

Both Joel and I thoroughly enjoyed Moneyball too.

So--are you making popcorn at home?

Ann said...

Loved Moneyball - Baseball and Brad PItt - what's not to like!

Grandmère Mimi said...

margaret, I haven't make popcorn yet, but I have had other food...and wine.

Ann, the movie was refreshing, especially in its stance in opposition to the enormous salaries of some sports figures.

Prairie Soul said...

I've subscribed to Netflix for just over ten years now. I love, love, love it. I look for a lot of independent films that aren't widely released, and in all those years, I can count on one hand (maybe two) the number of DVDs I've wanted that have been unavailable from Netflix's vast inventory. Some BBC series (other than the fabulous Downton Abbey) that I'd heartily recommend: Lark Rise to Candleford, Vera, Doc Martin, Wallander, Lilies, Luther, and the Vicar of Dibley. That's a little mix of everything. Have fun with Netflix--I think life might be a bit dreary for me without it!

JCF said...

Heh-heh, I housesat for some friends at the end of May, and rummaged through their DVR cache for some movies to watch. The two I chose? "Midnight in Paris" and "Moneyball"! ;-p

Weird but true fact: all through "Moneyball", I was distracted by something I thought I'd heard. "Isn't Billy Beane GAY?" Was the movie closeting this reality? Prepping to post here, I finally Googled it: it seems I was wrong---AND I was right! There WERE *two* baseball players, who played around the same time: Billy Beane from "Moneyball", who is straight. And another player Billy Bean (no 'e' at end), who is gay! Here's the link that cleared up my confusion: (They even both played together on the same minor league team!)

Anonymous said...

THe problem we have is the time issue. Finding 2 hours to sit in front of the box without distraction is not on our calendar. We get up to do the dishes, water the tomatoes, feed the bird, brush the cat.... The last movie we saw was War Horse , which we watched in a theatre.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Prairie Soul, I look forward to seeing the independent films, which are never in the theaters here. Thanks for the recommendations. I'll add the titles to my ever-growing list.

JCF, did you enjoy the movies?

IT, I was surprised that a couple of the movies were only one and a half hours long. Of course, you both work, and I'm retired. On the other hand, I'm a part-time mom now, so I have less time at my disposal.

forsythia said...

Netflix and closed captioning are wonderful for the hearing impaired.

Grandmère Mimi said...

forsythia, I wear hearing aids in both ears, so I know whereof you speak. In the theaters, even when the sound is far too loud, I don't understand all the words. I'm already sold on Netflix.