An Open Letter To Netflix

Dearest Netflix,

What the fuck.

No, seriously. What the fuck is going on with you? Why is it that you don’t seem to fucking function anymore? Not even in the “I hate the way you tried to ‘streamline’ your shit” kind of way, either. But in the “I don’t think your employees are actually doing their jobs” kind of way.

I guess it started a while ago, maybe even before you decided to start charging more for shit. Splitting up the DVD and Instant services was just an asshole move. But things were rocky before then, weren’t they?

You started suggesting things that you thought I might like that were NOTHING like the movies and shows I had just watched or were in my history. Okay, I can see that I suppose. Maybe there’s something in this romance movie I might like even though 70% of what I watch is drama or horror, and 20% of it is comedy. Maybe somebody dies, I don’t know.

From there it went to what you were comparing with what. In your “More Like ___” sections, I started to find more and more things that were NOT alike at all. Not in any way. That got paired up with the fact that you started grouping things wrong. Care Bears in science fiction? That’s not how that works.

Then it was like a trainwreck happening, one that’s still happening. One that I just don’t even try to understand anymore.

– You say there are new episodes in a series when there aren’t any.

– You list things on the New Releases tab when they’ve been out for four or five years. If you just got it, and are just now able to let us see it on Instant, it should go under Just Added.

– There is no longer any way to search by actor if you’re not online doing it. It just tells you that shit doesn’t even exist. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that Marilyn Monroe did a couple of movies and that you’ve got them all stashed somewhere. The fact that I have to search each one by title instead of being able to bring them up by her name? What the hell?

– Your copy is wrong. More often than I would like, I find myself watching something because of the description I read. And hating it. Or, on the flip side, not watching it because it sounds like something I would loathe, and then finding out later that I would have loved it.

– Your employees aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing. Did you know that for a really long time after you added Life to Instant that you had Charlie Crews’ name completely wrong? Hm? You did. Shouldn’t have happened.

– Episodes for shows are actually skipped over during regular play. When I watched Supernatural, it skipped over half of a season when I was hitting “play next episode”. When I watched Ugly Betty, the first few episodes of the first season had the wrong information tied to them, and weren’t in order. A couple might have even been missing, but since I don’t know the series, I couldn’t say. But it was all very confusing.

– Recently Watched randomly just doesn’t show up at all. Doesn’t seem to be any reason for it. I’ll just turn on my 360, fire up Netflix, wait to see my Recently Watched so I can easily pick up where I left off, and … it’s not there. The whole goddamned field is just gone.

Now let’s add into the things I’ve spoken of before, shall we? I’ll just copy and paste it to make things easier for both of us.

“To make it worse, Netflix also changed their dashboard to coincide with the Xbox change. And the Netflix dashboard is so goddamned useless sometimes that I want to throw things. They show you movies you might like to see during the last bits of movie you’re watching (some movies have stuff going on during or after the credits, so I’m not particularly happy that they reduce the screen) but they don’t give you a description of the movie, you have to seek it out after to see what it’s about. There’s no way to rate a movie without playing it. There’s no longer any way to mark that you’re not even interested in the movie anymore, so stuff you really don’t want to keep seeing pop up will, unless you go to the site. For tv shows, you can’t go in and pick an episode unless, again, you start playing the series. So if you haven’t watched in a while and want to see if the “new episodes” they’ve added are really and truly new, you have to start playing, then go to the episodes list. This is completely stupid.”

That’s just something I tacked onto a rant about the 360 dashboard. I think it’s good here, too. Since it’s about you. And the things you’re slacking on. Or forgetting. Or just don’t care about anymore.

The money I shell out to you for this service might not mean much to you. But it means a lot to me. I’m on a really strict budget. Netflix is one of the things that is completely unnecessary to life that I allow myself. A fun little thing that I enjoy having quite a bit.

It might not matter to you that all this shit is broken, but it matters to me, because of this money I hand to you every month. I know it matters to other people as well. Maybe they don’t use Instant as much as I do. Maybe that 10 bucks isn’t a really big deal to them. But it still matters. You know why?

BECAUSE WE PAY YOU FOR THIS SERVICE.

It’s not something that you give us for free. It’s not an add on to DVDs like it used to be. It’s a stand alone service that shouldn’t be as fucked up as it is. It should work. It should be functional. It should be valid. It should be fun, and not frustrating.

I’m not going to threaten to not use your service, because that’s unrealistic at this point. But I am going to ask you to fix your shit, because I’m tired of it, and there’s a good number of people I know who are also tired of it. It should be seen as a courtesy to us, your paying customers.

To sum up?
Get your shit together, Netflix.

-Mila.

Prince of Persia (Movie)

I waited a very, very long time to see this movie. I knew how I would feel about it pretty much right away. I love the Prince of Persia franchise. From the very first one that I used to play in elementary school on the school computers, right up until the Two Thrones. I am wildly, madly in love with these games. I remember being pretty excited when I heard that they were going to make a movie, trepedacious, but excited as well. I hoped beyond a hope that this would be the video game movie to break the bad streak of video game movies.

Then I saw the star.

Now, please, for the love of god, do not get me wrong here. I also very much adore Jake Gyllenhaal. I have seen pretty much everything that he has done in his career, and I have found very little to complain about. I think he’s an amazing actor, and has a great range. So it’s nothing at all personal to Jake.

It’s just that… well.

He’s not the Prince.

My excitement didn’t just waver, it sort of completely and utterly deflated and left me with absolutely no wanting to see this movie. That’s a pretty big drop, really. I see now that I should have expected it, given Jake’s appeal and stardom, who was producing the movie, and the fact that there are only a handful of video game movies out there worth their salt (and no, I cannot name them off the top of my head currently, so don’t ask. [but I can say none of them are by Uwe Boll.])

I waited for it to come up on Netflix Streaming until I would watch it. And I wasn’t even really waiting for it. I was just browsing one day, bored, and realized that it was there. I thought “hey, I have a few hours to kill and no desire to think about anything or put much effort into life, why not”.

While I will say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, it was bad. It disappointed me that they had to fuck with the story, they had to give everyone names. There wasn’t enough of the Prince jumping around like a supermonkey. It all sort of fell flat. Especially the ending. Flat. Predictable. Boring. About what I had come to anticipate.

I am glad that I watched it. It’s behind me now. I’ve seen it. I have an informed opinion. I wish Netflix had an added star for “meh”. Between “didn’t like it” and “liked it”. I didn’t turn it off. I didn’t loathe it to the core of it’s being. It was disappointing. I won’t ever watch it again, but I sat through it once. There’s no way to reflect that feeling on the Netflix rating system, and there really should be. I have felt that way about more than one movie.

I know it was exciting for Jake to have a role like this, who wouldn’t say yes to being the Prince? But maybe, just maybe, he should have taken a moment and really just thought it out. Asked himself if he was really right for the part, or if he was a fanboy getting his ultimate dream.

My vote? The latter.

Beautiful Katamari

When I first got this game, I really adored the concept. I loved the story that set up what you had to do. Everything about it suited me just fine. I was excited to play it, and popped it into my machine as soon as I got it home.

I enjoyed it for about 20 minutes. A couple of levels.

After that, it was just tedium for me. I stopped being intrigued by all the things that I could roll up into a ball with me. Then, on top of it, the music started to make me feel like I wanted to put a hole in my head. There were all these little annoyances that I might have been able to handle individually, but all together, were just too much.

I put the game down for three years. I didn’t touch it, and I didn’t look at it. I didn’t even think about it. I’m not against giving something another shot after I’ve had some time away from it to cool down and maybe get out of whatever mind set I might have been in at the time. Look at it freshly, you know? Under different mental circumstances.

So while I was going through all of my partially played games, I noticed that it was still there, and decided to add it to the end of that pile. I figured by the time I got through all the other games, I would be ready for it again. I could give it that second change. Let it show me that I had been wrong, or just in a bad place for it the last go around.

It’s time finally arrived. I popped it into my Xbox and sat down to play.

I discovered that I felt the exact same way.

I went ahead and did a couple more levels, just to be extra sure. But nothing changed for me. I wanted to like this game, I wanted to like it so very much. But I just didn’t. I couldn’t even get halfway through it. There was no way to force myself. I ended up giving it to a friend who I knew would appreciate it more than I would, and she did. She played through it pretty quickly, actually. I’m glad that somebody got joy and enjoyment out of it, because I couldn’t.

There haven’t been any sort of large number of games that I have started and were unable to finish because of my dislike. In fact, the only two I can really think of are this one and Watchmen: The End is Nigh. Oh, and don’t get me wrong. My apathy toward Katamari is nothing close to my loathing of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh. I am of a general indifference toward Beautiful Katamari. I hated Watchmen deep into the core of me. There was nothing redeeming about that game, and I think if anybody handed it to me, I’d light it on fire.

It does actually make me a little bit sad that I couldn’t get into Katamari. I know that a lot of people had fun with it. It makes me wonder why I couldn’t manage to have fun with it.

Oh well. We can’t win them all, can we?

But considering my point of view compared to all the others out there, I can’t honestly say that anybody should or should not pick this one up. I feel as if I’m in the minority here, thus making me an unreliable source.

The Vanguard

I know this was a requested movie. Somebody said that they wanted me to review it, but I can’t think of who it was now.

Whoever you are? I’m sorry. But I couldn’t get any further than about 10 minutes in. It was so very bad. The acting was horrible. The story stopped appealing to me entirely right away, and even the way it looked turned me off.

I’m not a big budget snob, I’ve had plenty of low budget films I’ve enjoyed that look low budget, but there was something about this one I couldn’t tolerate. Maybe because of the other factors. I don’t know.

I tried. I’m so sorry. But I did try.

But obviously I can’t give this a full review.

The guy on the bike also pissed me off for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint.

Surrogates – Yet another badly recieved robot future movie

I have a theory.

The theory is this: This generation grew up watching things like Small Wonder and Star Trek (where we saw Data) and various other things that implanted in our brains that the future was in androids, robots, cyborgs and the like. We have felt for the longest time that these things would be wonderful, they would be fabulous, and nothing would go wrong.

Despite the many books on the subject, we as a generation (and those that come after us), do not want to see the potential ills of relying on these things too much. That they might be evil, or we might be making the wrong choice. That we could possibly lose ourselves as humans to the machines.

I encountered this similar distaste for the humans in Wall-e. Probably for similar reasons. In that movie, we are given ever convenience, and we become fat, weak and small boned. Incapable of carrying ourselves on our own two feet. Reliant on machines to do everything for us. Everything. Including brushing our teeth.

The electronic age has brought in many fancy and fascinating things. Ten years ago, who would have thought that our cell phones could do all they do now? Who would have really given pause to the idea of reading books on eReaders on a regular basis, and that they would be available to Every Man? We have these fantastic computers and MP3 players and we don’t even give it a moments thought. The majority of the world is now run by computers. Many human fail safes have been pushed aside because for some reason we think that computers are infallible. We blame every mistake on human error.

Well, yes. But who made the machines? Who fixes the machines? Who keeps them clean and upgrades them and spills their coffee on them in the morning? The backup plan for important files is no longer to have a hard copy. It is to rely on other machines to keep track of them. Online storage spaces. External hard drives. And what if those all fail?

It leads me to think that this world is not ready to see the potential problems with putting all our eggs in the electronics basket. Just consider a moment everything that you own, how much you rely on it, and how much you take it for granted. Just… a moment. Look around. Think. I’m sure you’ll find at least one thing there that if it failed, really failed, you’d be fucked. Because you weren’t thinking, and now it’s dead and everything that was on it is gone. Maybe it’s not a huge thing, just music files. Just computer games. But how pissed would you be?

I, Robot didn’t do well. The robots in that eventually turn on us. They gain too much intelligence and refuse to be our slaves anymore. I feel that people don’t want to believe that can happen. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if my computer called me an asshole in ten minutes. I might shit myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

A.I. didn’t do well. In that, we watch a couples’ life fall apart. They turn to a machine to fill their void. And what do they do when the void is lifted? They abandon the machine. Again, people don’t want to consider this possibility. Yet we do it all the time. What do you do when your old computer bites it? When it becomes old tech? You toss it, without thinking. You get your files and send the poor little thing away without a second thought. You’ve gotten what you need out of it, what does it matter? It’s only a machine, after all. Is it?

Surrogates didn’t do well. In this, we just give up on being human completely. We put ourselves into fake bodies and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do in our flesh because our flesh is breakable. They get shot on purpose, jump off bridges. Have unprotected sex. The world is a pseudo-utopia. We think everything is perfect. Except for that one small contingent that is convinced that walking around all the time in an artificial exoskeleton is an abomination. Then they turn out to be right. Thinking, feeling, being is more important than perfection. Which is another thing that humans rail against. Perfection is all. We strive to be perfect, or what our society deems is perfect at the time. Look at the fashions today, look at the hair, the models. Look at what it all used to be. It’s never the same. Nothing is ever perfect. The most beautiful things are the things that are flawed. But humans can’t have that.

I believe that it makes people truly uncomfortable to give thought to the fact that perhaps our answer isn’t robots. Robots are cool, I’m totally not going to argue. Probably, if they manage to do it before I die, I’ll stick my brain into a robot body. But not until this fleshy mess is finished with. I want to see the world with real eyes. Smell the world, no matter how much it stinks in places, with an actual sense of smell, hear the world with ears and not aural preceptors.

But hey, that’s me.

I personally enjoyed all three movies. But my brain is wired to look for whatever can possibly go wrong with any given thing. I’m a generally negative person in that way. Everything that can go wrong, will. At one point or another, there will be total system failure. Be it biological or otherwise, eventually everything will fall apart. It’s just how the world works. It’s just how everything is made. A fact of life. Not trying to be depressing here. Just the facts, ma’am. I certainly don’t expect others to see things the same way I do, I’m not one to try to convince others to see things from my point of view. I’ll state my case and if it’s acceptable to others, fine, if not, fine.

Then again, I’m ready for the zombie apocalypse.

The Movie To Lull Your Enemies With

There’s this movie that I have in my VHS collection and I don’t like to admit it’s there, but it is. I only have it on VHS because it was a quarter, and I’m pretty sure that nobody is going to bring it to DVD, ever. Not that I’d buy it.

I saw this film for the first time when I was young. I remember having flashes of a black eyed man killing a man who looked exactly like him for a really long time. It was one of those movies that your adult mind believes you probably just made it up because it’s so ridiculously absurd that it couldn’t possibly be real, and nobody but you has seen it anyway. Because NOBODY knows what the hell you’re talking about when you try to describe it. (I had this same issue with The Brave Little Toaster)

When I saw the VHS, it all hit me suddenly. I remembered everything about the movie from that long ago day. Except, of course, where I saw it.

I’m not going to tell you to watch it, because you shouldn’t. It’s a bad movie filled with really bad 80’s cheese and a whole lot of 80’s hair. I can’t say that any part of this movie is good. The whole premise is a badly made amalgum of Lord Of The Rings and space.

I watch it myself only when desperate. When my sleeping medications are in full effect, yet I can’t sleep. When the nights have blurred into weeks, and I just need to shut down. This movie has the uncanny ability to bore me to tears and unconsciousness nearly every time. (Note, I do have to have taken the sleeping pills, or have been up for several days for this tactic to work. Otherwise, I’m just watching a really shitty movie) There’s something special in the way it’s set up, I think. The right blend of soft focus and a hero who smiles at times when he shouldn’t. Complete with a heroine in a billowy white dress running around a seashell-like castle interior while a power hungry “beast” mocks and chases her.

There, I’ve given away the whole plot.

Oh wait. I have to add that the two main characters have arranged to be married so they can become king and queen and help to unite two warring countries. And there’s a cyclops.

I’m pretty sure that this movie was a curse on it’s actors, because not many of them came out as a recognizable and working product of the film industry. One happens to be Liam Neeson. And yes, there will come a day when I will meet Mr Neeson and hand over my copy of Krull to be signed. I hope that he’s aware of what he’s put out into the universe.

Even the mystical weapon in this movie is ridiculous. There’s no way it would function in any way other than cutting off your own hand if you looked at … well, anything. The Glave, it’s called. They talk about it through the entire film like it’s going to save everything, and I suppose it does. But all I can think of when I see it is “Maybe the kings of old kept it hidden so nobody else would lose a finger”.