Monday, October 20, 2008

Why we stopped contributing to the Netflix Charitable Organization

Another Friday night, another misguided attempt at some sort of grown-up life. We (gasp!) watched a movie. A rented movie. Which has inspired me to write this letter:
Dear Mr. or Ms. Film-maker: Your movies are too damn long. Please make them shorter. Thanks a bunch. Sincerely, me

That ought to get some response, dontcha think? Pretty eloquent, I am.

We rented "Into the Wild." Good movie. Definitely would recommend it. As long as you have the ability to stay up past 9pm and still function the next day. It could have been edited down to about 45 minutes, I think: Boy hates parents, boy shuns societal trappings and becomes a modern-day hobo, boy meets some nice people, boy goes to Alaska, and finally (don't worry, I won't spoil it just in case I'm not the last person in the whole world to have seen this movie, even though I probably am) the Moving Ending.

As we were watching, I started to notice that things were dragging on a bit. It was over at 11:30pm. Which is the new 3:30am. We were in bed by 11:38, and Jeff said, "I think that was a really bad idea."

Righto. Baby started crying at 11:45. He was sick. He cried for hours. He cried so much that we fell asleep when he was crying and woke up who-knows-how-long-later (15 minutes? two hours? no way to know) and he was still crying. The last time I looked at the clock it was 4:38am. At 5:30, Jeff had to get up and go to work for 24 hours. Saturday was the longest, crappiest day ever. I felt like a had a hangover, but I didn't do anything even remotely fun to deserve it.

This is why we canceled Netflix.

If they can put a three-hour commentary by the director on a DVD, and all kinds of other lame crap that nobody ever watches, why can't they include a condensed version of the movie for parents of young children? I could maintain at least a vague knowledge of movies that have come out in the past five years and get some sleep.

I know, I know: the "art." I'm a lit major. I'm all about nuance and symbolism and character development and references. I love it. But all those things are luxuries. Sleep is not. I have faith that someday I will appreciate aesthetics again. For now I must be a pragmatist, though. Which means I need Cliffs Notes versions of films. Expediency. However: I sincerely doubt any film-maker has much appreciation for my plight.

I survived. I got some sleep Sunday night, and feel better today. Completely culturally illiterate, but at least rested.


  1. I totally know what you're talking about. We contributed to the Netflix Charitable Organization (as you aptly called it) for months and months while we held three of their DVDs sorta, not really hostage.

    It usually takes us two days if not two weeks to finish one movie. I almost stopped Netflix too, but I just couldn't do it.

    I also understand that hung over feeling w/o doing anything to get it except not get enough sleep -- perfectly stated!

  2. Sadly I hate watching movies for that very reason. The solution? HBO series on Netflix - an hour long episode comes on a disk with two more. Very manageable most of the time. We are halfway through the Wire this way, and did all the Sopranos this way as well. Weeds is only a half hour and you can stream it online through Netflix. Cory says 30 Rock is great this way as well!

  3. Are you ready to rumble?

    It's the Theatre major smackdown!
    And, once upon a time, I was actually paid crappy money to do movie reviews!

    Anyway, you have the seething hatred for long movies because you have new baby and small children bias. You're sleep-deprived. You should have known better than to go for that gold ring by watching a long movie after bedtime.

    Silly wabbit, long movies are for those with BIG kids!

    I have no issue with long movies. At all. As long as the storyline develops. It has to have the gonads to go the distance. If, at the end, you were engaged in the story the entire time, look down, and realize it was a 2 1/2 hour movie...that's a good sign.

    I get more annoyed about 90 minute movies that suck. Seriously, I bought my movie ticket (or rental) for a teensy little movie that was that bad?? Oh hell no!! It's like sometimes you know they're phoning it in for the paycheck.

    I really liked Into the Wild.
    Yes, it could have been shorter.

    But here's why I think it SHOULD NOT have been shorter.

    As he makes this journey toward a life distanced from the one he knew before, the progression of what we, the viewer, see on the screen is slowed as well. It's almost as if you are forced to sit back and watch ONE PERSON going it alone and must leave behind your own rush rush, buy it now, get it quick, ADD self and embrace the 180 shift.

    I mean, why do you think crappy action movies make so much money? Because if you shove enough gunplay, car chases and frontal nudity in the first five minutes and continue it, your shortest attention span and vapid individual is going to be able to hang in there until the end credits.

    Into the Wild is NOT appealing to the lowest common denominator. I actually think the flashback vignettes were a compromise to bring in a FEW of those folks with the short attention spans just to change up the slowing of action in the later part of the story.

    Embrace where the filmmaker is taking you...Sean Penn had a purpose in the pace. It think it was spot on. You might want to watch again when the baby is, oh, five years old!!!


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