Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/53
Pre-screening films before they are reviewed on MovieWithMe.com means looking at hundreds of films on my flat screen TV. As many as I seem, I always get a rush of excitement when I spot one I’ve never heard of before. What goes through my mind is: how did I miss this? One explanation is that screen size really matters.
Here’s an example. Last week I saw “Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi.” This is an Israeli film about a boy’s coming of age in a crazy household ruled over by his grandfather. That is, the father of his father. His son has been kicked out by his own wife and now lives in the neighborhood. Shlomi’s older brother always puts him down, while his older sister complains that her husband looks at porno on the internet rather than her. The women are over weight, the men are oily, and everyone blames bad behavior on lineage from Moroccan Jews.
It is a wildly dysfunctional family in which Shlomi is considered slow, but is actually a genius no one has bothered to understand or acknowledge. Did it play in theaters? Did anyone see it? The answer is that no one would sit with a bag of popcorn on their lap and watch this in a movie theater. But at home, on a big screen TV, it is nothing short of wonderful. There’s a relaxed intimacy we allow ourselves in our own cocoon that let’s us concentrate in a very different way than in a movie theater. We see detail, we appreciate subtlety.
Don’t look for “Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi” on MovieWithMe.com yet. We’re still looking for a reviewer to recruit that can do it justice. But you can always check Netflix or Amazon if you’re in a rush.
Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/48
Streaming movies to your computer or TV is a relatively new service on Amazon and Netflix but the way these websites list their choices creates confusion. Let’s start with Amazon. Under it’s Search Department menu you can choose Movies & TV or, if you look far enough to the bottom, Video on Demand. Wouldn’t it be more logical to list VOD under movies? They are a subcategory of movies & TV, are they not?
And if you go to Movies & TV, you need to click to a second page. First you see the dvd you searched for listed on a page with many other choices, and you must click to the subject specific second page in order to scroll down and (maybe) find a prim little box listing choices like Video on Demand rental, and Video on Demand purchase. Click these choices to go to the Amazon Video on Demand site. Are you still with me? Next, if you are a trained paralegal with five years of contract work, you might be able to understand the choice definitons. A clickable phrase “what’s the difference between renting and buying?” opens a pop up to tell you the rules.
I can’t go into the rules here, because this blog post would be too long for anyone to read. And no one would understand it anyway. If you read over the rules several times, then go to the Terms of Service and read that, you might understand. Of course by that time you will have lost your desire to rent or purchase anything.
Netflix is far more straight forward. You can ADD to your DVD queue, or you can PLAY. But you need to go to a second page here too to find out what PLAY means (do you want to PLAY on your computer or ADD to your Instant Watch queue?).
Can’t either of these giant companies give us simple choices we can understand? “Watch Instantly” is a good phrase. It can only mean one thing: Get it now. Come to think of it, “Get it Now” is a pretty good description of what you want when you want it. Why do they make it so complicated?
Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/45
The biggest cable company is buying control of a big TV network and a big TV/movie studio to put their content on cable. A start-up black box that streams wi-fi signals to your TV is pushing new internet channels your way. Are these two ships passing, and who will hit an iceberg? California set top box maker Roku-a business set up by former Netflix execs, is going to stream internet channels like Blip.TV and Revision3 directly to your TV, just like they now stream Netflix Watch Instantly and Amazon Video on Demand.
MovieWithMe.com users should know we’re way ahead of the curve here. You can click you profile page and set Let’s Meet to show you other users all around the country of Roku, PlayStation, xBox, LG, Samsung and TiVo. Watch movies in your separate living rooms and chat about them together online. We’re pioneers at putting people together. After all, our motto is “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.”
So it’s fascinating to sit on the sidelines of the biggest corporate cable acquisition of the decade and wonder who is crazy. We’re told by the New York Times that Brian Roberts, the do-no-wrong son of Comcast’s founder, is a visionary taking the family fortune to new heights of programming and profit. And yet, here is a bothersome contrary vision brought to you by a little black box from Saratoga, California. While Comcast is buying up legacy media companies, Roku has made deals with new media companies that operate out of garages, eat lunch at Taco Bell, but grind out some impressive talk shows and even more impressive traffic numbers.
How does this upstart entertainment get to your TV? If you live in a Comcast neighborhood, it gets to you through Mr. Roberts’ broadband pipes. He’s hoping you’ll watch NBC, Lifetime, Oxygen etc. on the cable tiers he charges you so much to receive. But what if you decide to pay him only for broadband access and watch all the Netflix streamed movies reviewed on MovieWithMe.com plus all the internet shows and sports you’ll get for the same price? We’re at time when all old assumptions about consumer behavior deserve to be challenged, including those of Comcast. Why buy the milk when the cow is (almost) free?
Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/40
Sony’s decision to release “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” on TV streaming before DVD’s is a step ahead if it wasn’t for the outrageous price. Do they think customers need expiation more than entertainment? Normally the Roberto Blog focuses on our movies, but that doesn’t stop us from commenting on absurdities in the movie business. Especially since our hope for MovieWithMe.com is that it becomes a resource targeted at the new methods of streaming movies on to your own personal big screen (via all the devices we list on “Let’s Meet” and more arriving all the time).
So here is Sony, with a big hit that is, in my view, a really good movie, deciding to take the pioneering step of releasing it to internet streaming capable TV’s before the DVD release date. Great move, until you see the fine print: $24.95. And you can only get it from Dec. 8 to Jan 4. And since it is streaming, you can’t keep it either.
At this price, Walmart doesn’t need to worry about the competition-which may be the whole point. Meanwhile the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is trying to get the government to outlaw copying movies from STBs (cable set top boxes-if you read this blog long enough you’ll learn a lot of abbreviations). It’s all part of a subtle campaign to make us think Hollywood wants to embrace new technologies in its business model when they are doing exactly the opposite. Punishing the public for wanting their movies now is like raising the price of cigarettes because you shouldn’t be smoking anyway.
Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/36
MovieWithMe.com tries to reach you as fast as possible but sometimes the clutter on the web makes it slow to load. Is the problem bandwidth clogging or transmission slogging? Here are the facts: in the US we have less choice, slower speeds, and pay more for broadband than most first world countries (Europe, Asia, South America). That is because our government allows de facto monopolies on broadband service. You’ve usual got two choices: the cable company or the phone company.
Neither one has much incentive to give you more speed or charge you less-unless the other one does too. Fat chance of that. Meanwhile the clogging of the pipes gets worse. More data like HD movies are creating traffic jams. The service providers plead: if only they could be like a traffic cop and look at what’s inside those electronic trucks full of content–they could let the emergency vehicles and important cargo through first. That’s called packet inspection. (NSA did deep packet inspection for Bush’s war on terror). The cable and telephone broadband companies want to apportion speed to content they think is more important. Let’s say Time Warner Cable determines by inspection that CNN is much more widely ordered by users than BBC. Shouldn’t they be able to give those packets priority reaching users? Oh, did I forgot to say Time-Warner also owns CNN?
You can bet that no matter what the FCC mandates for new rules on “Net Neutrality,” the cable and phone companies are going to thread it with so many loop holes they will keep their monopolies. When you play the game of Monopoly someone eventually winds up owning all the properties and all the money. Comcast, Time-Warner, AT&T and Verizon are not going to see other media businesses flourish on the web while they get only measly monthly rental payments from you.
Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/31
Shooting new reviews for MovieWithMe.com is a lot of work. We’re constantly searching for what we like (and think you will like too), choosing clips, shooting New York City backgrounds, writing copy, arguing about the best and worst attributes of the films, scheduling make-up and shooting, editing, coding-and finally getting the reviews up on the site.
In the rush of all this, our focus is on the new films we are adding, and we often lose track of the gems already on the site. Here are two that I keep thinking back on (there are others, but two is enough for one blog post). They are: OUTSOURCED and COMMONWEALTH. Outsourced is the kind of romance that plays like a good novel. He’s and American sent to straighten out his phone sales company office in India, she’s one of the telephone reps. He falls in love with her, and with India.
I guess falling in love with a country as well as a girl is not something we see very often, and it is one thing that makes Outsourced very special. Common Wealth is the very worst name for a movie. It sounds like a British political treatise. Who would suspect it is actually a dark comedy about human greed filmed in Madrid? The Spanish title is “Comunidad,” and it refers to an apartment house where an old man has won the lottery and hidden the money in his cramped garret apartment. Everyone in the building knows it, and knows they only need to wait until he dies to rush in and find the money. But real estate agent Carmen Maura (a very funny comedienne) is selling an apartment in the building and decides to try it out with her lover for a night. She discovers the money (how she discovers it is part of the “dark” in dark comedy). Is that a great set-up? Take a look at Cris’s review and the clip with it.