Tag Archives: movies

Movies for the Rich and Impatient

I have this lurking concern that I’m falling for a belated April Fool’s Date gag, but it seems that the Hollywood cartel, recognizing that the cat has left the bag, is going to start selling movies online for download.

I’ve reported before about Movielink (owned by the Hollywood cartel), where you can rent movies online for a few dollars a piece. Once you download the movie, you have around a month to begin watching it and 24 hours after you start watching it to finish it. Although it takes forever to download a movie (and that assumes a broadband connection), this is a good way to put movies on your laptop or Tablet PC for airports and airplanes.

The four people who really want to watch movies over and over on their computers have complained that the download service is a drag because of the time limits on starting and stopping the movie.

So the Hollywood cartel is going to give them what they want.

Now instead of the few bucks you pay to rent newly released DVDs from Netflix, Movielink or your neighborhood video store, you can download them from the Hollywood cartel on the day the DVD is released. For a mere “$20 to $30.”

New release DVDs cost around $20 to $25 to buy. Plus, those DVDs can be played on stand-alone DVD players, watched on TVs and used to pacify kids during long car trips.

So the downloads cost around $5 more, even though they cost around $5 less to distribute via download.

But if you meet these requirements:

1) You have a lot of money and don’t mind wasting it;

2) You want to be the first on your block to watch a newly released DVD (waiting a few days is just not an option for you);

3) You want to watch the same movies over and over on your computer;

4) You are reasonably computer proficient; and

5) You have a broadband internet connection at home (no tying up company resources for this),

then the Hollywood cartel has a treat in store for you.

Warren N. Lieberfarb, the former president of Warner Home Video and now an entertainment technology consultant, hit the nail on the head:

They are giving the consumer less and charging more for it. To me this really stacks the deck against mass consumer adoption.

The Hollywood cartel and its cousin, the record label cartel, don’t give a hoot about the consumer. They are only concerned with extending the inevitable decline of their distribution monopolies by making the consumer overpay and/or pay multiple times.

This is just more smoke and mirrors designed to extract more revenue from the same product.

My prediction is that this is met with a collective yawn by the movie buying public.

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From My Netflix Queue: Closer

Here’s my video watching history with Natalie Portman.

I thought she was great in The Professional, one of my favorite movies which made Jean Reno one of my favorite actors.

closerfilmThen I rediscovered her in the last two Star Wars films and in Garden State (another very good movie).

Then this weekend, I saw her in two videos. First, on a friend’s recommendation, I watched Closer, which was a fantastic movie. Although the entire cast did a fine job, I thought Clive Owen stole the show. That scene where he is talking to her in the private room at that strip club was some incredibly great acting.

Then today I see a link on Marc Canter‘s page to this hilarious video.

Padme is being a naughty girl.

Movie Trailers

Here are a couple of trailers for some new movies you may want to see.

Brokeback to the Future

A slightly different interpretation of Sleepless In Seattle.

Good stuff.

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Netflix and the Video Download Jones

netflixOm Malik (who has now gone 508 consecutive days without linking to Newsome.Org) has an article today about Netflix and its continuing jones to get into the video download game. Recall that Netflix thought it had a deal working with TIVO for some sort of video download service, but the movie studio cartel put an end to those plans.

Now there’s evidence that Netflix remains interested in developing some sort of video download service. Naill Kennedy, while taking a break from trying to solve my Technorati 42 and only 42 links problem, found some job postings where Netflix is looking for people for jobs that sound related to the serving, downloading and playing of video content.

I have said many times that I think selling downloadable video for viewing on computers and iPods and whatnot is the biggest much ado about nothing since Y2K. It is a supply in search of a demand. But I have also said that I use and love Netflix. So what about this potential pairing of a great thing (Netflix) and a generally stupid thing (downloadable videos)?

First of all, of the many things wrong with the whole downloadable video concept, the thing that is most wrong is that it generally involves: (a) reruns of free and/or boring content, (b) being sold, (c) to be downloaded and somehow moved onto some other device, (d) where it will be viewed in a lesser format on a tiny screen.

But that may not be true in the case of Netflix’s proposed service. Perhaps Netflix is trying to use the internet as merely a cheaper distribution method. Perhaps Netflix wants to give people the option of downloading the videos they currently get in the mail, not to some tiny little iPod, but to their video recorders to be viewed on their TVs. Here’s what has to happen for that to work:

1) Make it cost no more than Netflix customers currently pay. It’s a distribution method only. If it’s cheaper for Netflix, good for them- we want them to stay in business. But few will pay more for something that is, at best, only marginally more convenient.

2) Make it work seamlessly with our current hardware, or at least with cheap new hardware we can rent or purchase. I watch videos on my HDTV. Whether they get there via mailed DVDs or downloaded files makes no material difference to me.

3) Make it seem instantaneous. It takes a long time to download an entire movie. So let us order them today via a screen that looks and feels like (or perhaps is) the current Netflix website, have them downloaded overnight and available tomorrow.

4) Don’t clog up our broadband connections. That’s why you have to have the downloads done late at night.

5) Permit no stupid DRM limitations. One of the problems with Movielink is that you only have a short period to watch the movie. We don’t want to give up the flexibility we have with mailed DVDs. So keep the rules the same.

If all of this happens, I would absolutely consider letting Netflix distribute my movies to me over the net. This is nothing like the $1.99 Lost rerun on a tiny screen. It’s the same thing I have now, only hopefully a little cheaper for Netflix.

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20 Second Movie Review

weddingcrashersI saw a couple of movies I’ve been wanting to see in my hotel room during my recent trip to San Francisco. Here’s 10 seconds on each.

Wedding Crashers: Hilarious. Joins Something About Mary on my list of funniest “modern” movies. It’s not The Holy Grail, but it’s about as close as you can come these days.

The 40 Year Old Virgin: A little disappointing. I chuckled a few times, but no gut splitters like there were in Wedding Crashers. Catherine Keener was lovely (hey, I’m an old man), but I expected hilarious and it wasn’t.

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From My Netflix Queue

I watched two horror films this weekend, here’s the report:

theyfilmThey: Nothing special film about night terrors that chase some kids into adulthood- until the alternate ending (a special feature), which was pretty cool. 2.5 stars (out of 5). If you really like horror movies and you’ve run through your queue, this one might be work a look.

Night Creatures: Anything by Hammer Studios is going to be at least pretty good. This one stars Peter Cushing. A little slow moving, with a very interesting ending. 3 stars.

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20 Second Movie Review

eternalsunshine

I don’t see many movies in the theatre. Other then the kids movies that we see as a family, I normally don’t see a movie until it comes out on DVD. Sometimes I don’t get around to watching a movie until long after it is released.

That’s why I just watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night.

This is a perfect movie. Excellent performances all around. I like every single thing about it. Clever, interesting and thought provoking, but not pretentious. I watched this movie carefully and really got a lot from it. I am sure, however, that there is more that I missed. Unlike 99.99% of the movies I have watched, I’ll watch this one again.

Definitely one of my top 10 all-time. Definitely.

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Movielink Update

I mentioned the other day that I was going to try Movielink when traveling with my new Thinkpad X41 Tablet PC. I hope that it will allow me to “rent” movies to watch on the airplane and in the airport when I’m on the road.

Well, I tried it last week when I went to Dallas to give a speech. The verdict: so far so good with one glaring exception- the Movielink web site does not support Firefox. The page states unapologetically: ” We do not support Mozilla or Netscape. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” I’m not sure how any commercial web site thinks it can force its users to use a particular browser, but my need for movies trumped my annoyance so I fired up Internet Explorer.

TheMummysCurse-795640I rented an old Lon Chaney movie for $1.99. The way rentals work is that you select a movie and download it using Movielink’s download manager. Then you have 30 days to start the movie and 24 hours after you start the movie to finish it (or buy another 24 hours for, at least in this case, 99 cents). The movie downloaded easily and the Movielink download manager is easy to use and intuitive. I watched half the movie on the airplane and the other half that night before bed. The picture was excellent, even in full screen mode, and the sound was fine. In sum, I liked the process and will definitely use it again on trips. Assuming there will be a steady stream of new movies to rent, Movielink will greatly mitigate the lack of a DVD drive on the X41.

Kevin Maney posted about Movielink the other day, saying that Movielink is “crippled” by the lack of titles and the restrictions imposed on the movies after you download them. I enjoy old movies, so it will take a while for me to work my way through the catalog. When I do, however, the lack of new titles will be a problem. As anyone who reads this blog knows I am not a fan of DRM of any kind. When I rent movies or watch them on pay-per-view, however, I accept the greatest restriction of all- you have to pay by the day (for traditional rentals) and you can only watch it once (for pay-per-view) so I don’t find the restrictions to be all that troubling in this case.

I hope Movielink will make it. It is far preferable to watching the highly edited and often lame movies shown on tiny screens and with overpriced headphones in airplanes.

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20 Second Movie Review: Dead Reckoning

dead reckoning

I enjoy old movies, particularly film noir. Dead Reckoning (1947) is a very, very good one. Bogart is good in an unusual role as a back from Europe soldier struggling to find out what happened to his missing buddy. It’s dark and almost randomly violent, though not by today’s standards. But the reason to see this film is Lizabeth Scott. No other actress now or then holds a candle to her in the femme fatale category. With her looks, voice and attitude, if she were in her prime today, she’d be the biggest thing in Hollywood.

5 Star Rating: ****

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20 Second Movie Review

catcf

We saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory today. It is perhaps the best family film (meaning one that is generally as enjoyable to grown-ups as it is to kids) I have ever seen. I truly loved it, as did the kids. A little darker than the original, but not in a bad way. And it sends a good message to kids about the importance of family.

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