Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On a Savage Encountering Netflix for the First Time

Attention must finally be paid!  Out of my cave (or perhaps back into it, to watch the shadows flicker on the wall), being so over the local library's meager offerings, and too chicken to torrent, I've decided to enter the wonderland of Netflix.  

Initial reaction: O joy! My opinion is desired! I will discover my authentic identity, just like in a Cosmo quiz! I immediately dived in and started hurling thunderbolts right and left.  Sucked! Awesome! Indifferent! ...but then, I started wavering.  For example, I really thought "Memento" was boring.  It would have made a great short story, but -- watching the trick play out over full movie length was like watching a ball fall through a pachinko machine.  A neat trick, but the whole story was just logically determined by the beginning -- there were really no surprises, and I didn't feel like the movie had a heart.  On the other hand -- lots of people whose opinion I value (perhaps you, dear reader?) really liked this movie.  If I rate it "2" (my inclination), will I deprive myself of the opinion of Memento-lovers in whose other clusters I would dearly like to be included?   Or how about my deep-rooted love for "Smokey and the Bandit," or "Animal House?" Dare I confess it to Netflix, or will it constantly tease me: "Hey, check out 'Porky's II' -- you like that kind of crap, right? Heh heh heh..."

Despite my misgivings, I was brutally honest -- Netflix had become my therapist, and I wasn't going to hold anything back --otherwise, how could it reveal my True Desires?

So, having rated 120 movies, and already streamed 2 (Aimée &  Jaguar, A Brief Encounter), here's a sampling of what Netflix thinks I should watch:

The Return (2003)
The Sheltering Sky (1990)
Double Indemnity
All About Eve
Raising Arizona (which I dearly love -- good guess!)
The Squid and the Whale
Fighter (2001)

All delightful, I'm sure -- but as one who has been acquainted with the vagaries of machine learning clustering algorithms, I still prefer the human touch.  Indeed, there is a list waiting for me elsewhere, compiled by someone who knows me mainly through the briefest of 140-character flashes of myself upon the virtual wall -- but who has deftly made of the scattershot glimpses a sensitive zoetrope of my inclinations, and seems to see quite clearly which way the horse is running...


von Wenk said...

Isn't it just so much fun to be defined by others, from Myers-Briggs to Voight-Kampff?

So far, I've shied away from the Netflix (I think I'm suspicious of stuff that ends in "-ix"). You're right about Memento. It was gimmicky, just as Run Lola Run was kind of, uh, repetitive. You probably got The Return (painfully pompous) and Sheltering Sky because of your affinity for Bergman, while your willingness to watch b&w movies yields the fail-safe classics, Double Indemnity and All About Eve.

But I'm still impressed by the machine: The Squid and the Whale - good find! Early Coens! Fighter - no clue about that one. The only disappointment is Scarface. That's probably a reverse Turing test, to calibrate your tastes against the Napoleon Dynamite Problem.

mrc said...

Oh, yes, as an INFP (just like Abe Lincoln and the Virgin Mary!!) I especially enjoy hearing about how awesomely sensitive, passionate, and writerly I am. It's so true!!1!

I was a long-time NFX holdout, but there's no other way for me to access many of these fine works, so -- assimilate me, darlings, I don't mind -- just make sure my little couch is comfy.

I'll take your suggestions to heart! I have little patience w/pomposity (a trait well disguised by my writing on this blog, of course :-P), so I'll avoid The Return and head for TSatW and Fighter.

As far as the Napoleon Dynamite clustercrasher, I come down on the "liked it" side -- which, come to think of it, I haven't mentioned yet to my electronic minders...

(ps -- love the idea of a reverse Turing test!)

mrc said...

On the topic of my tolerance for pretentious films -- one standout experience for me is the time I saw Schroeter's Malina (1991). My German was still underpowered back then (and I saw it in Germany, w/no subtitles), and I was a callow youth, so I may have missed some nuances -- but I really found this picture intolerable. I remember some male figure appearing in a rage next to a giant cannon, and dissolving into spasms of laughter.