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A&E Blog

Net Flicked

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2009-08-03 -

In the new issue of Time magazine, veteran film critic Richard Corliss grumps about Netflix. And while it is part of a critic's job description to find something to grump about on a regular basis, you've got to shake your head a little bit at this one.

This needs to be said, first of all: Richard Corliss is 65 years old. I'm not saying anything; I'm just saying. When you hit a certain age, and you start fussing over stuff like Netflix, it's very difficult not to come off as Andy Rooney on a particularly Luddite-feeling day. If Netflix isn't as good as the video store, then the video store wasn't as good as the movie theater, and the movie theater wasn't as good as the live theater, and the live theater wasn't as good as sitting around the campfire in animal skins making shadow puppets.

But beyond that possibility, there's the simple logic of Corliss' arguments. His complaints come down to the following:

1) You can't get what you want RIGHT NOW. Heaven forbid an American be required to plan ahead.

2) If you want the same product a lot of other people want, you might have to wait a while for it. Try placing a hold at your local library, or going to your remaining local video store, and see if that isn't still true. Or whether it isn't true about *anything* where demand exceeds supply.

3) You miss out on the banter with your friendly neighborhood video-store clerk. And what a very New York argument this is, considering most of America hasn't had anything that wasn't a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video since around the time we were all worrying about the Y2K bug.

For the record, I'm not currently a Netflix subscriber. Considering the amount of time I have in my life to devote to older movies -- plus the sheer quantity of them I've already seen as part of my job -- the numbers just don't add up, even once you take into account that it could be a tax deduction. But it's a tremendously useful resource for those who don't get paid to see every new theatrical release. There are more -- and better -- arguments to be made for avoiding movie theaters, frankly: obnoxiously talky and/or text-happy fellow patrons; crying babies; cost; pre-movie commercials. Point your ire in a more deserving direction, Mr. Corliss. Or just put down the red envelope and step away slowly.

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