The Virtue Glut

June 30th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

Pointless project of the week: De-inflating my Netflix ratings.

I never paid attention to the part where the star system is based not on some absolute scale of goodness but whether you actually liked a given movie or not. I’ll acknowledge a disconnect between the two approaches, because I know a lot of stuff I like is no good at all, and that I can’t bring myself to warm up to a lot of things I know are “good.”

So I’ve got way too many five star ratings based on a period of deliberate virtue viewing I’m glad for, but unwilling to return to.

A few sample deflations: “The General”, “The 400 Blows”, “Chinatown” and “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, each of which tickled me on an intellectual level more than they tickled me as movies I really, really enjoyed watching.

Nope … a few of those viewings were more an exercise in film nerd piety than actual joy. And some ratings were the result of the figurative eye over the shoulder, wondering what people would make of someone with the unbelievable bad taste to say he’d rather sit through “The Big Hit” than, say, “Harold and Maude”. But there it is. I would.

I’ve got a lot more high ratings to dredge out, and a few “guilty” pleasures to elevate to their proper place in my movie firmament.

One more Netflix note: I really wish, in an age of global distribution channels, that the “foreign” category would go away. If there’s concern that some boobie is going to swallow his tongue when confronted with subtitles, how about just allowing for dual categories? Or just tag flicks with “subtitled” and let people filter against that. Or is “foreign” useful beyond that distinction? Like as a means to attaining more efficient piety?

Freed of the “foreign” category, I could find stuff like “Brother” without sorting through idiotic implied genre equivalencies to movies like “In the Mood for Love” (a virtuous pick I enjoyed a lot, but which is in no way at all like “Brother”).

Pod People

iTunes now includes podcast support. I like it. I don’t know if someone who spends a lot of time reading and editing can sustain much of a podcast habit (the words get all jumbled up in my head) but I’m glad there’s a decent interface for trying a few out.

Some initial impressions on a few of the podcasts Apple offers:

DVD Weekly Podcast: Two brothers try to bring a bit of Car Talk banter to a show about DVD and game releases.

Good: There’s some production flair and evidence of editing. The brothers are somewhat engaging. They play off each other well.

Bad: They’ve inked a deal with an online DVD and games rental venture I’m not going to name. They spent an inordinate amount of time (five minutes) plugging the service before getting into any content in the show where they announced the deal, and then the content included not-so-subtle plugs for the service. Score one for blog-based advertising: It’s easier to mentally screen the AdWords boxes than an amateur broadcaster just saying “{thing he’s plugging}” every so often. Maybe it won’t be so bad next time, since they probably won’t do the initial five minute spiel about the service.

KCRW’s The Treatment: Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times interviews film industry notables.

Good: Sounds good, good flow, good guests.

Bad: Dense. Makes me wish I had a daily commute so I could listen to it without distraction. Might be one to put in the queue for lunch, morning coffee or some such.

The Beat Oracle: Amateur radio show featuring interesting hip-hop.

Good: Interesting music.

Bad: Stilted MC with bad delivery. Reminds me that actually buying MIA was a terrible idea, since the interwebs are still clearly infatuated with her and there’ll be no escaping her.

Al offered a useful summation after listening to 30 seconds of one podcast: “So some of it’s really good, and some of it’s just dicks out there?”

That’s about it. With maybe a finer spread in between.

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