Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Is The End

Those of you who have been following this blog in recent months know I've grown increasingly disenchanted with Netflix Instant. It began with what seemed a more-dramatic-than-usual purging at the beginning of the year, followed by the Great BBC Scare, more purges in June, a sneak attack in July, then a complete overhaul of the website's user interface—making it increasingly difficult to navigate beyond basic selection and playing. This was complemented by the introduction of the awful pre-play function to many streaming devices, followed by last month's announcement of nearly 700 EPIX (i.e., popular and classic) movies being dropped for good.

Remember when you could do this?
Then, last week, yet another insulting blow was struck: the removal of the information box that popped up when hovering your cursor over a title in My List (or in accompanying search results). This was a crucial feature for anyone seeking at-a-glance info about a movie or show before playing it or adding it to your queue. It was also a great way to discover if that title was marked to expire (especially TV titles, which often displayed a full month's notice).

But now that's gone, and the only way to see more than basic titles in My List is to switch to the mostly useless Netflix Suggests view (via account settings)—which trounces your carefully ordered queue and eliminates any expiration notices. In other words, just when I thought it couldn't get worse, Netflix snatched yet more control from users.

I'd intended to continue this blog through late November (when I'll be canceling my subscription), but I simply don't have the stomach to stay invested in a service that so blatantly disregards customers who want more than indiscriminate content forced down their throats. As such, I'm sad to say this will be my last post for WoNN, at least for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September's New (and Temporary) Arrivals

Stallone. Stone. Boom.
Considering that many of Netflix's September arrivals are returning titles from the 1990s and 2000s (how many times have we seen Big Fish, Hitch, and Days of Thunder come and go?)—and many of those are part of the expiring Epix deal—it's hard to be too impressed. But at least it means the return of inspired zombie comedy Fido, along with Christopher Nolan's excellent (and too often dismissed) Insomnia. I'm also happy to see Robert Altman's Popeye back (even briefly), and am looking forward to checking out the depraved weirdness that should be Larry Clark's latest film, Marfa Girl. Also worth a mention: Paul Schrader's Lindsey Lohan disaster, The Canyons, scheduled to appear in all its controversial glory on September 26th.

For classic film fans there's 1975's controversial-for-its-time Mandingo, not to mention the restored version of David Lean's 1962 Lawrence of Arabia, which is as classic as "classic" gets. Not a bad month for family films, meanwhile, with the arrival of Jon Favreau's Zathura, Robert Rodriquez's The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl, last year's reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Volume 1 of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Oh, and if you're a Star Trek or William Shatner fan, be sure to check out his Captains docs, which are surprisingly enjoyable (reviewed here). Other standout titles are listed in bold (and yes, that includes guilty pleasure The Specialist—so sue me).

As I said, many of these titles fall under the Epix contract, which means they're due to expire at the end of the month. Any you don't get to, however, are already on Amazon Prime, and all are expected to appear in October on the increasingly formidable Hulu—which today announced its new ad-free tier. To paraphrase a famous movie character: Now that's an offer I won't refuse!