April 21, 2004


The Netflix Neurosis (Gabriel Sherman, April 21, 2004, NY Observer)

When Kurt Andersen wandered into the living room at a recent Manhattan dinner party and noticed a stack of firehouse-red Netflix DVD envelopes sitting on the coffee table, he felt an instant sense of belonging. "It's become this tiny badge of cultural brotherhood," said Mr. Andersen, who's been making his way through Netflixís vast catalog of independent and foreign films for two years. "It's one of those things that, when you meet someone whoís into it, itís like, "Whoa--you're a Netflix subscriber, too?"

In the mental iconography of the New York culture junkie, the Netflix queue has joined the line of must-have life accouterments. The kind of person who fixates on arranging just the right titles on his built-in bookcases or artfully stacking back issues of Granta and The New York Review of Books now spends countless hours searching the Netflix Web site. His Netflix neuroses requires him to add to his queue all the high-end movies that he never got around to catching at the theateróif not necessarily to watch them.

The queue itself, according to many Netflix addicts, has its own existential pleasure. Sure, you can only have up to eight Netflix DVDís out at onceóbut with more than 18,000 movies beckoning you to click your mouse and virtually no limit to the number you can keep in your online queue, itís not hard to see why Netflix has inspired a citywide frenzy of cinematic aspiration. Never mind the mundane reality of actually finding the time to watch them.

"Itís just so easy to keep a constant Netflix queue running in your head," said Jodi Kantor, the New York Times Arts and Leisure editor. "All day long at work, I hear about movies I want to seeósome of them are new, though some of them are older, and I'm constantly going back to my computer to add yet another title to my Netflix queue."

Netflix also gives its cinephile subscribers the luxury of never setting foot in a Blockbuster again.

Those of you who enjoyed Master and Commander might like Damn the Defiant! Anybody seen anything unusual that's worth watching?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2004 9:08 PM

We're new Netflixers here. Love it because we can get all the A&E stuff. We're running out of Miss Marples and Poirots, and we're starting to scrape the bottom of the Jeeves & Wooster barrell -- its great! As far as recommendations go, have you seen 'The Mission' recently (De Niro, J. Irons)? Great movie that I would think is right up your alley.

Posted by: rds at April 21, 2004 10:35 PM

Though Netflix does open up far more viewing possibilites than your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video store can provide, it's impossible not to read this article and think that, had this infatuation come to New York City about seven years ago, it would have made a great "Seinfeld" episode...

Posted by: John at April 21, 2004 10:40 PM

I haven't seen The Mission since it came out, will definitely have to rent it. In the same vein, the two great Kinski/Herzog collaborations: Fitzcarraldo & Aguirre the Wrath of God.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 11:13 PM

"Though Netflix does open up far more viewing possibilites than your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video store can provide, it's impossible not to read this article and think that, had this infatuation come to New York City about seven years ago, it would have made a great "Seinfeld" episode..."

I flashed on a mental image of a bemused Jerry quizzing Kramer (his arms full of Netflix envelopes) and started laughing helplessly. That episode would have become an instant classic.

Posted by: Joe at April 22, 2004 5:26 AM

The article might also have added - and I think I've made that point before - that Netflix is cheaper than Blockbuster or Hollywood if you cycle the disks in and out regularly, even with the price hike that's scheduled for June 15th (though $19.95 to $21.99 for the basic 3-disk account really isn't onerous).

Posted by: Joe at April 22, 2004 5:29 AM


And it isn't if you don't. A reliance on greed to attract customers and laziness to profit from them seems very astute business.

Posted by: mike earl at April 22, 2004 9:51 AM

Brideshead Revisited, greatest film ever

Olivier, on his deathbed, barely able to move, makes the most riveting gesture in all of filmdom.

Posted by: jim gooding at April 22, 2004 10:03 AM

I had always gotten the impression was that the
NetFlix scheme was geared toward upscale suburbanites without access to a decent vid store?

Posted by: J.H. at April 22, 2004 10:38 AM

Sounds like something I should check out. I can't find a video store within two hours of me that has Spellbound.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at April 22, 2004 12:29 PM


We drank the Kool-Aid 18 months ago and we can walk to a Blockbuster in five minutes.


You can join right now and maybe have it in the Saturday mail. We do a lot of themes - maybe Burt Landcaster (very underrated) or Robert Mitchum. Also a lot of comparisons like Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven, Talented Mr. Ripley/Purple Noon, Italian Job(s), etc.


Recommending The Office BBC series. Brilliant stuff, especially for anyone having worked with the Brits.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 22, 2004 2:00 PM


We're going to check out the Office, thanks.

I've gotta find an mp3 of the tune at the end of the original Italian Job.

Here're a couple Kurosawa comparisons for you Hidden Fortress/Star Wars; Ran/King Lear, Throne of Blood/MacBeth, Yojimbo/Fisrful of Dollars.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 2:16 PM

I assume that all of you Netflix fans don't have children? I've got a pile of DVDs I paid for that I haven't watched yet.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 22, 2004 4:00 PM

AOG --

Our rule of thumb is that, of the three DVD's we have out at any given time, two are for the kids.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 22, 2004 5:25 PM

Kids go to sleep and TV sucks. We watch movies after 9pm.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 6:04 PM

Here's an unusual one, but absolutely brilliant - "Bangrajan". It's a Thai film set during the 18th century Burmese invasion and I saw it in Thailand a few years ago.

Well worth a look ;


Posted by: Alastair Sherringham at April 22, 2004 6:29 PM

Speaking of Thailand, here's another good one:


Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 6:37 PM