Netflix, The Office, & Huffing Gasoline
While I appreciate both the culture and mission of independant movie renters like Vulcan Video, my enthusiasm over netflix is unwavering. They’ve taken the customer service and selection offered by the mom & pop’s video store of days gone by, pumped it with steroids and speed and posted it online. Even though most people watch a lot of movies, few people have much variety in their rental hsitory. Since signing up for my 3-at-a-time account, my DVD player has seen more documentaries, foreign films, independant productions, and TV series than my blockbuster/hollwyood video excursions have ever yielded. For the uninitiated, “3 at a time” means that, though I am allotted unlimited rentals for my $19.73 per month, I’m able to rent as many as three DVDs at a time.
While not every rental experience is a good one, the diamonds are worth the rough. On her brother’s recommendation, Kristin added the British mockumentary series The Office to our queue. For some reason we recieved the christmas special first. It was hysterical.
“If you’re leading your troops into certain death, you can’t lead them with jokes – can you. They’re not going to say ‘oi – this bloke’s funny, let’s follow him to our certain death.’ No, you tell them ‘Follow me. Why? Because I said so.’ They’ll look at you and say to one another, ‘look at this fella – he’s got good leadership skills – let’s follow him to our certain death.'”
I’ve probably overlooked these discs a thousand times at the store in favor of a new realease or a “sure to entertain” box office hit.
Ok, Ok The Office won two golden globes in 2004 – Best Television series and Best Actor in a leading role. So it’s not some obscure little unknown sitcom. But had we never put it on our queue, we never would have rented it. When I’m renting DVDs at $4 a pop, I want there to be little to no chance of it being a bad experience.
Take Love Liza for instance. We rented it from Blockbuster last night. I know, I know – why rent if we have netflix? We were waiting on two movies and the one at home was some Baby Einstein thing for Jaimes. Yes – we’re that compulsive. We couldn’t wait a day.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors. I marvel at his ability as an actor, but his characters are very often desperate, broken, losers destined to fail (e.g. Boogie Nights, Happiness, Owning Mahowney). Love Liza is no different. Watch the trailer and tell me it doesn’t look like a light-hearted story about a mentally handicapped man who has lost his wife. Well, I’ll tell you right now – Wilson Joel (Hoffman) isn’t mentally handicapped. But he does huff gasoline and he does lose everything. I went to bed depressed. It was a scary look at a really ugly addiction and a severly hopeless man. The difficult thing about this story is that we’re only told half of it. We don’t know who Wilson was before his wife killed herself. Why she did it, though intriguing, is not necessary information. Not knowing from whence came his downward spiral makes it really difficult to identify with him.
I’d be interested to hear other’s takes on this film.