I inspected my Netflix DVD queue. Just nineteen discs, and nearly half of those were parts of series. Not one of them looked all that fabulous.
The saved queue, movies not yet available on DVD, was more dismal yet. Until a few weeks ago, the saved queue had contained lots of great classic films and intriguing indies, but after years of watching their release dates remain unknown, I purged them. What was left engendered a deep, sinking MEH.
I love movies. I love Netflix. Netflix is a great service at a great price. But what it’s serving has less and less appeal.
That’s not to say there aren’t still tons of wonderful films. Within the last few months I’ve loved Isle of Dogs, Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman. Awesome movies, all.
But they’re so outnumbered by the films that disappoint, including gigantic Oscar contenders and winners like The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I was thrilled when my favorite writer-director, Guillermo Del Toro, won best picture this year with a science fiction epic. That never happens. Then I saw that Oscar-gobbler and found it stuffed to the (literal) gills with political correctness. Not a bad picture, and beautifully designed, but nowhere near a match for his incredible dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth. Just carefully constructed to push the right Academy buttons.
I looked at yesterday’s Netflix queue again and again. I changed the delivery order, seeking to put the least dull sounding movies at the top.
I thought about all those Hollywoodians loudly proclaiming their desire to end both our Second Amendment and First Amendment rights. Their mean-girl adolescent hatred for anyone who thinks or v*tes differently than they do. The sneering contempt so many of these people hold toward half the audience members who make their careers possible.
Then I canceled my subscription.
This has been a long time coming. Every month when Oliver Del Signore and I email movie reviews to each other — which we’ve been doing routinely for something like 15 years! — we’ve lately discussed our shrinking Netflix queues, the growing number of duds, and the anti-rights derangement of Hollywood. Then a month of good movies will roll encouragingly along and we’ll re-think.
Still, I knew I was going to quit Netflix in the next few months. I just wasn’t expecting to do it yesterday.
I figured Netflix would give me the option of continuing to get discs until the end of December when my month’s subscription is up. Only after I clicked the Fatal Button did they tell me they’d stop sending movies immediately.
I felt cheated. Not so much of money, because there’s very little involved. But of options.
That was silly, though. I clicked to cancel; they canceled. What did I expect?
After chiding myself about my reaction, I realized what I really felt was a bleak winter landscape stretching ahead. And the prospect of living with myself without diversions.
Lately I’ve craved more solitude and deeper silence in my life. I’ve wanted to eliminate distractions and mindless entertainments, to end manufactured outrage about things happening far away and reported only through the distorting lens of the Internet.
I want it. But when it comes right down to staring silence and solitude in the face … that’s a different matter.
Last night I turned off the lights, lit a few candles, and put on a CD of “meditation music.” I found the new-agey noise cloying and turned it off after 15 minutes. I sat still a while enjoying the gentle flicker of tea lights inside pretty translucent cups. I lasted half an hour before yielding to an urgent need to grab a notebook and write. To DO something.
There’s a recent psychological study around the ‘Net that revealed that people would rather administer electrical shocks to themselves than sit quietly with their own thoughts. Like nearly all psychological findings, that may be bunk — the work of anything from poor study design to researcher bias to outright fraud. Who knows?
It may even be true, however. And in this case, I’m inclined to believe.