Odds & Ends

The movie screenshot game is still chugging along, and someone just answered Round 6 today. He should be posting Round 7 soon (it should show up here). Round 7 posted (I think I know the answer, heh, but I'll let you answer so as to allow the spread of the game). At some point, I'm going to have to do a post of learnings from this experience. For instance, the requirement for hosting the next round seems to turn off lots of folks (even folks who know the answer). Also, attempting to start a meme on a low traffic blog is probably not the wisest thing to do...

In other news, I've already caught up with 2 of the films from my Greatest Movies I've Never Seen list: 12 Angry Men and Network. Both are excellent films, though they are also very, very different (both are directed by Sidney Lumet).

Part of the reason I'm watching all these films is that I'm looking for more films to put on a Top 100 movie list. One of my arbitrary requirements for this list was to avoid films made in the last 5 years. The idea is that films have to be able to stand at least a small test of time before they can be included in my all time best list... and I think that's a good reason too. For one thing, some movies can become obscenely dated or irrelevant, and I think this rule helps avoid such embarrassing choices. But if a movie has been around for 30 years and I'm only just watching it now, how likely is it that my initial reaction will be accurate? I've often found myself mellowing on films I thought I loved. Then again, there are some films that I only gain an appreciation for after multiple viewings. So is going through this list of great films that I haven't seen really going to help me much? I'm sure some of them will end up on my list, but will they stay there? I guess only time will tell.

Update: I forgot to mention how I was able to watch those two movies so quickly. Netflix has somewhat recently (apparently in January) launched a new feature called Watch Now, where instead of putting items in your queue and waiting for them to come in the mail, you can just watch them online, whenever you want. It's a spectacular idea, and as bandwidth becomes cheaper and the quality of this service gets better, I can't imagine how new HD formatted discs (i.e. Blue-Ray and HD-DVD) could compete. Between Netflix and services like Comcast's OnDemand, I think there's a good chance that neither of the new HD formats will really catch on.

Of course, the big issue here is movie selection. Netflix has a huge and diverse selection of movies, but only a small portion of them are available to watch online (there are currently around 3000 and most of those appear to be older films). I don't know if this is because they just launched the feature and will be adding more titles as time goes on, or because they need to get some sort of special clearances, etc...

The actual experience of using the Watch Online feature could probably improve a bit. They use Windows Media Player to drive it, and it includes some DRM (which I don't mind because, as far as I'm concerned, this is basically a rental. Plus, the feature doesn't cost anything extra.). It only appears to work in Internet Explorer 6+, which is really annoying. I'm used to people not supporting Opera (my browser of choice) for the latest and greatest web features, but to only support IE is absurd. The only other issue here is that my WMP installation appears to be wonky, as I can't seem to watch anything on full screen mode. The quality of the video could probably be a little better, but it works well enough for me (again, when watching a movie for free on my computer, I'm a little less picky.)

Anyway, it's a fantastic idea. It could use some improvements, and I'd love to see the selection of Watch Now movies expand drastically in the coming months (this would be particularly helpful with Anime series, I think, though I doubt that's high on their priority list), but for now, I'm just happy that I got a good service without even asking for it...