One of the great things about Sarah and I rolling out this blog has been thinking about movies more, wanting to see more movies, and getting more in touch with the types of movies I like and why I like them. Right around the time we decided to go ahead and get trianglemovietalk rolling, I received my first gift issue of Film Comment. A really nice Christmas gift from my father in law, Film Comment has long been a magazine I’ve thought about actually subscribing to. For me, it’s the perfect combination of exposure to foreign and smaller films, but written in a very accessible way, and in a form that doesn’t snobbily ignore the big Hollywood blockbusters. As pure coincidence, the first issue I received included the Best of 2011 list that culls together critics’ lists from all over the world into a comprehensive ranking of the “best” films of 2011. It being a critics’ list, you end up with the usual mishmashed combination of the well known and more obscure. As I breezed through the list, I realized that I had seen most of the larger, more well known films and hardly any of the foreign and more independent selections.
Enter Netflix. My wife and I have the obligatory Netflix membership, the combination DVD/streaming deal that is so convenient. As most of you who have Netflix will already know, the Netflix DVD catalog is super comprehensive, while the streaming library can be pretty hit or miss. I’m going to save it for another post to talk more in depth about where we are and where we are going in how we get our media content. Streaming, the cloud and a move away from physical media is definitely the wave of the future but, for now, the producers and owners of content are still trying to figure out how to get us there (and make money for themselves in the bargain). For now, we’re left with an ever changing puzzle of legit and not so legit outlets to access films online. And that leaves us with the hit or miss Netflix streaming library I mentioned. Search for recent releases in the Netflix streaming catalog and you might stumble across one or two, but by and large they won’t be there.
That is not the case, though, for smaller independent films, documentaries and foreign films. Going through the best of list from Film Comment, I could find almost none of the larger US films on the list. But the best documentaries, indies and, especially, foreign films on the list are ready for viewing. This is an awesome development, since unless you live in New York or LA, your chances of ever seeing any of these sorts of films in the past were almost nil. It’s also great for the artists who make these films, as they are more than happy, obviously, to find larger audiences for their work. It always used to frustrate me to read a great review of a smaller film in one of the more upscale movie magazines, knowing I may never see it unless my local video store was a little hipper than most and had a good independent or foreign film section. Now, though, almost all of these films are available to the masses and available without leaving the comfort of your home.
So, one of the things I’m going to try to do over the next several weeks is try to cull through the Film Comment list and pick out the best of some of the more obscure stuff, in addition to hitting the Oscar faves and movies in our local cinemas. Now that we can all find these little gems, it’s very well worth it to take a look at them.