Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's up, doc? Cheap entertainment can be enlightening.

This was the first weekend in a long time that I had the chance to map my own course. A weekend with no work, no tracking down free stuff, no planning for the next thing, no agenda. It was a weekend of true Free Time.

Of course, there was the catch-up stuff to do.

There was socializing. There was grocery shopping. There was cleaning. There was laundry. There was a whole lot of lazy. There was the tapping into netflix. There was going to The King's Speech last night with Logan and my lovely friend Erin.

It's such an expensive, delicious, frustrating treat, going to a movie at a movie theater.

Such a crap shoot.

To be honest, it pisses me off to spend $10+ to see a movie at an actual theater, only to have the movie be wildly disappointing.

Then there's the people who talk to each other, as if they're watching this costly moment in the privacy of their own home.

There's the noticing of the loud munching of popcorn.

And if I get popcorn, it's my popcorn. No sharing.

And I have a 'thing' about not sitting in front or behind anyone. I'm sure it's a complete delight, going to a movie with the likes of me.

Then there's the disappointment that comes from spending a whole lot of money to see a movie that's worthy of the waiting until it's an offering on the netflix.

Let's review.

Lately, almost everything involving Meryl Streep has been a crapfest of disappointment.

To be fair, I did enjoy Julie and Julia. Amy Adams was gratingly annoying. Jane Lynch as Julia's sister was a wasted moment of necessary but frustrating backstory. But the movie, on the whole, was a lovely gift. For some crazy reason, I did a bit of boo-hoo-ing when I saw Julie and Julia.

In contrast (and I know I'm in the minority), I found It's Complicated completely embarrassing for everyone involved.

Ditto with Mamma Mia. Painful to watch.

That Prairie Home Companion movie was a flagrant waste of talent. What a terrible last entry to Robert Altman's filmography resume.

I do love myself some Meryl Streep. I'm just using her recent handful of choices as an example of ripe possibility gone bad, to the tune of out-of-pocket first-run-movie money completely wasted.

Good movies lately? The King's Speech was nice, despite the cartoonish Churchill characterization. Black Swan was stellar.

All of this high-priced first-run movie magic brings me to netflix.

I love myself some netflix.

I receive the netflix movies as fast as I can watch them, and then netflix sends me more. I can watch a panoply of netflix choices every month, either by mail or by watching whatever I want immediately via my interweb connection.

The cost?

A month of unlimited movie options costs less than going to see one first-run movie and a bucket of popcorn if I go to a theater.

And that first-run movie magic might actually be a crappy disappointment. It may very well have been worth the wait for that expensive, enticing movie to be available on netflix, due to its potential crappiness.

But there's so much good stuff.

Lars and the Real Girl. 500 Days of Summer. Me and You and Everyone We Know.

Dexter. Weeds. Californication. Nurse Jackie. United States of Tara.

Such fulfilling things to watch.

And lately, I've been all about the documentaries.

So many good ones. Such a hindsight-ish mirror, the docs; a thoughtful way of looking at ourselves.

There are the docs that are informative:
Chow Down.
Food, Inc.
Super Size Me.
There are a few others in addition to these offerings that are all about what we should be doing, just to make ourselves more healthy.

The observational docs:
Grey Gardens.
Man on Wire.
24 Hours on craigslist (recently relevant).
Facing Ali.
The Parking Lot Movie.
Between the Folds (highly recommended).
Exit Through the Gift Shop (I'd vote for this one this year, if I were a member of the Academy).

The historical, relevant docs:
Why We Fight.
The Most Dangerous Man in America.

I'd love to get recommendations of other documentaries and movies that are worth watching.

I completely glom onto watching movies at my pace, in the comfort of my home, on my magical computer box.

And this weekend was all about relaxing free time, documentaries and the implicit goodness of easy netflixability. I did venture out into the Real World, and spent $12 to see The King's Speech. I'm glad I did, on so many levels.

But my most redemptive movie moments lately have been spent on the docs.

There's something very enlightening, watching a documentary. Someone chooses to shine a light onto a place that deserves a bit of clarity.

Seeing the world through someone else's lens can be cheap, and very enlightening.

Getting a glimpse into other peoples' worlds vis a vis the watching of documentaries was such a great way to spend this weekend's Free Time.

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