Monday, August 31, 2015

September's Departures: Of Epix Proportions

Take a final look at High Fidelity
[Updated 9/15: Many titles added, all forthcoming titles now linked. Big thanks to LarryG for compiling list from comments and providing links.]

That's right, August isn't even over—with a lot of great titles set to expire tonight at midnight—but there's enough going on to warrant an early look at September's upcoming losses.

The news continues to be bad for anyone who enjoys Netflix for its back catalog and older titles. The recent announcement of the company's decision not to renew its licensing agreement with Epix only affirms Netflix's reluctance to pay for content it doesn't exclusively own. That means more original shows and movies, fewer classic titles, and (in the long run) more Disney, Marvel, and Weinstein titles. The latter, the result of more recent contracts, isn't necessarily a bad thing—who doesn't like Disney and Marvel movies?—but for those of us who still go see such fare in theaters (quaint, I know), that's hardly the kind of content we crave for home viewing—where the older, more intimate, and more obscure can shine. And is there anyone besides Netflix content honcho Ted Sarandos who thinks striking a threefour-picture deal with Adam Sandler was a good idea? Ugh.

There's no denying this makes good long-term business sense for the company given the outrageous (and escalating) costs of studio licensing fees. But by the same token it represents another huge nail in the coffin of the Netflix I once cared about. Will I miss the latest Star Trek, Transformers, and Hunger Games movies? Not at all. But there are more than enough older, better, and more interesting Epix titles getting the axe (not to mention those yet to come) to make this a true cause for mourning. Combined with everything else that's been taking the fun out of Netflix lately, I've pretty much decided to cancel my subscription before the year is out—in fact, as soon as I finish streaming Breaking Bad, which I finally started watching this month (a latecomer as always).

Ironically, even before I heard the Epix titles were being picked up by Hulu (arriving on October 1), I was already planning on keeping that service for its Criterion films and recent TV shows. But now there's yet another reason. At least the movies there (unlike the TV shows) don't have ad breaks. And there's none of Netflix's awful pre-play. Or post-play. Or, worst of all: the looming threat of new Adam Sandler movies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New in August: Movies, Blog Features

In keeping with this site's new format (at least for now), below is a fairly straightforward listing of Netflix's August arrivals. This replaces the standalone NEW TITLES page, and includes revised categorizations to make it easier to see the breakdown of titles across decades. (In keeping with recent trends, the pickings from before 1990 are pretty slim.) Note that all of these titles are recommended, but those in bold seem especially worth a look. Feel free to list any other new and upcoming titles in the comments below.

Also worth noting: the new Recommendations and WoNN TALK pages! The former lets you easily find any WoNN review from since the blog began (and there are way more than I realized), while the latter provides a forum-like space for everyone to sound off on Netflix- or blog-related topics. It seemed like there have been enough general discussions and questions in the past to warrant such a page. How it will actually work remains to be seen, but let's try it, shall we? I know you guys aren't shy!

New Releases

Dr. Who: Season 8 (2014)
The Look of Love (2013)
The Skeleton Twins (2014)
Two Days, One Night (2014)
Welcome to Me (2015)
Wet Hot American Summer: Season 1 (2015)


Asylum (2005)
Blue Crush (2002)
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
Dear Frankie (2004)
Happy Endings (2005)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Man from Nowhere (2010)
 Elizabethtown (2005)
 Lassie (2005)
 Quills (2000)
 Shanghai Noon (2000)
 Strictly Sexual (2008)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August 2015 Expirations

Adventuring thru August 10
Due to popular demand, here's the most current list of what's expiring from Netflix this month. Note that this comprises everything currently known to be leaving in August, with bold denoting titles I've enjoyed or that seem worth a look. (Unfortunately, that includes at least three more BBC titles that are wandering off into the night.) As always, feel free to add further titles below as you find them.

Special thanks to reader LarryG, who generously compiled much of this information from existing comments.

August 1

Concussion (2013)
So Much, So Fast (2006)
The Cold Lands (2013)
Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern (1995)
Wave Twisters (2001)
Wu Dang (2012)

August 2

Ed's Next Move (1996)
It's a Disaster (2012)
N-Secure (2010)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What To Do About Netflix?

Since well before starting this blog, I've been a great supporter of Netflix Instant. As I originally wrote in my About page, the streaming service is probably the best entertainment value for your dollar there is. Even when its new prices kick in over the next couple years, it'll still be a great deal.

But in recent months the company seems to be trying its best to alienate all but the most indifferent of customers. Continuing its trend of deemphasizing classic content for new and original programming, it not only axed over a thousand titles last month, but added insult to injury by giving little or no warning beforehand. It's now considering dropping expiration notices altogether. Given that the original purpose of this blog was to highlight more obscure and classic titles while providing a heads-up on when those (and other) titles were leaving, this effectively constitutes a double whammy.

New isn't always better

Then there was the recent website redesign, which was lauded as adding a fresh new look that makes it easier to view basic info for each title without leaving the main screen. Except, for those of us who want more than basic info, we now have to click through three partial screens instead of finding everything (overview, details, comments) on one. We're also now missing any on-screen expiration dates as well as the ability to copy and paste a title for further researching on the web.

Meanwhile, the interface for streaming players (in my case, the Roku Stick) gets more problematic with each new update. Originally you were able to see at a glance the number of items in a row and where you stood within it—an important point of reference when scrolling forward or back, especially in your queue. You could also see the total number of episodes in a TV show's season, which made for a handy indicator before committing to a new series; and once you selected a show, you could see immediately how long the upcoming episode was—great to know when starting a double-length pilot or special extended episode. But now, finding an episode's length takes an extra click, while there's no way at all to see the total episode count without scrolling through each season and adding them up yourself.