March 17th, 2008


Must keep the projector running

I've mentioned my Movie List. There's the subset of that list that were released in my lifetime, and I've challenged myself to see that subset, the "Movies I Could Theoretically Have Seen in the Theaters" list. Maybe that's not a reasonable characterization, since some of the movies are foreign, and might not have shown on big screens near me. Also, many of the movies have come back and been reshown on big screens.

Still, there's this goal. I was looking at my progress, or lack of progress. Really, I was looking at the movies remaining to see, and if I watch 3 movies by the end of March, and 4 movies each month thereafter, I'll finish that list.

Seems fairly reasonable. I've been noticing a surprising number of movies I've been watching lately clocking in over 2 hours. That's got to stop.

Now, it's not surprising that for a project like this that I'd use NetFlix. It's a tool that's just about made for this sort of thing. Actually, it's the other way around - I wouldn't have challenged myself to see all these movies if I didn't have a service putting new movies in my hands. More than one, if you also consider the DirecTV/TiVo box that also could be pressed into working towards this goal.

The bit where broadcast fails and NetFlix shines is for obscure(ish) movies that don't show up on the air, even in this world of hundreds of channels. Now, I'm watching movies of recognized/purported quality, so I'm not seeking out the real corner cases, but these are coming from people's lists of the Best Films Ever. Still, some of these movies don't immediately make the leap to DVD. I know that it's a new medium, so not every movie is available on DVD. I can't wait to get Blu-Ray. That'll be worse.

So, for my "See in 2008" list, I checked and doublechecked, and neither Sleuth (1972, Lawrence Olivier, Michael Caine) nor The Killer (1989, John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat) were available on NetFlix. Hm, that could be a problem for my project.

What would be nifty would be if NetFlix could get their hands on these hard-to-locate disks, and get the rights to stream them (which they're doing for a smattering of other movies, including some on my list). Then the fact that the DVDs are out of print wouldn't be a problem.

Aside from wishing for such a thing, I checked Amazon - and there are some hits for these movies being sold by third parties. In some cases, the prices seemed OK, but I was nervous - getting Hong Kong action DVDs from untrusted vendors seems like an invitation for bootlegging.

So, this morning, I checked eBay, which offered better prices for each disk. As I was entering my payment information for Sleuth, I realized that I was paying to ship it across the Atlantic, because I had just bought a Greek copy of the movie. The description assures me it'll play on my Region 1 player, and the sound is all in English. Here's hoping.