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biast | by maryann johanson

curated: is Netflix bad for cinephilia?

Signs point to yes…


posted in:
Net buzz
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  • barrem01

    “In the department of unintended paradox, however, one of the most heralded recent original TV series on Netflix is “Stranger Things.” This
    sci-fi/horror story set in the 1980s draws on a rich swath of cinematic influences from that era, including “E.T. The Extraterrestrial,” the first two
    movies of the “Alien” franchise, John Carpenter’s “The Thing,”
    “Firestarter” and more — none of which is currently viewable on Netflix.

    I won’t ask for any credit should some eager Netflix programming exec put together a “Deeper Into ‘Stranger Things’” movie package.”

    It’s not bad enough that Netflix curates it’s movie offerings based on pandering to the lowest common denominator of it’s audience, Kenny wants the curation to be tilted towards promoting Netflix in-house projects?!? Marketing is becoming an insidious baseline for all thought.

  • At least Netflix would be making some older movies available, though!

    That 80s movie nostalgia was built on repeated, multiple viewings of movies on VHS. Will there be a *Stranger Things* 30 years from now built on early 2000s movie love? Netflix might be making this impossible.

  • RogerBW

    That’s a fair point, but even if everyone reduced their pace of filmmaking now, all the old stuff would still be out there and available, by one means or another.
    Personally I’d rather like films because of their intrinsic qualities than because they’re films I saw lots of times for lack of alternatives.
    (I do worry about this. I go to Essen SPIEL most years and demonstrate boardgames. Every game I’ve demonstrated, maybe twenty or thirty times over four days, is one I’ve liked. But do I like them because they’re good, or because I was going to be demonstrating them anyway?)

  • barrem01

    Old is not synonymous with good. 90% of everything is crap, and that’s just as true for old movies as for new ones. “The Thin Man” series, Excellent. “Boston Blackie” not as good. Which did they make more of?

    Old for old’s sake isn’t a great policy.

    Of course there are great old movies, and some of them are on Netflix. Double Indemnity is on Netflix now. But it’s leaving in December.

    What percentage of the movies that you review are old? What you and other critics chose to focus your audience on can have an effect on what becomes popular on Netflix.

    “Will there be a ‘Stranger Things’ 30 years from now built on early 2000’s movie love”?
    You seem to be assuming that if people love something and can’t find it on Netflix, they will forget about it rather than searching for an alternate source. That doesn’t seem likely to me. As easy as it was to get VHS movies in the 80’s it’s just as easy to find DVD’s and Bluray’s and stream-to-buy today.

    My point was that elevating things that serve a marketing purpose over things that are popular or things that are good is a greater disservice than keeping everything and making the cost prohibitive, or culling the collection based on quality and popularity.

  • Old is not synonymous with good. [snip] Old for old’s sake isn’t a great policy.

    Literally no one is arguing this.

    What percentage of the movies that you review are old?

    This argument might have some validity if there were only three or four critics in existence. But this is not the case.

  • available, by one means or another

    Aye, but there’s the rub. Available how? Easily? Easily enough for someone to stumble across if they’re not looking for it in particular?

    Personally I’d rather like films because of their intrinsic qualities than because they’re films I saw lots of times for lack of alternatives.

    But doesn’t that describe lots of entertainment options right now?

  • barrem01

    “Literally no one is arguing this.”
    No?
    “At least Netflix would be making some older movies available, though!” Why an “at least” and an exclamation point for mundane movies? It certainly sounds like you think old movies are a good thing.

    “This argument might have some validity if there were only three or four critics in existence. But this is not the case.”

    One could easily make the same argument about Netflix. There are plenty of other places to get movies: iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Best Buy, DeepDiscountDVD.com, criterion.com, the “Watch TCM” app, FilmStruck.com, bnwmovies.com, Lovefilm and ebay. Why is it particularly Netflix’s job to cater to lovers of old (and not necessarily good) movies? When I wanted to watch “Song of the Thin Man” with my girlfriend and Netflix didn’t have it, I got it from Amazon.

    But my real point is that no matter how cavalierly they approach their “curational duties” in the first place, when a company substitutes promotion of an in-house product for their “curational duties” , both their in-house product and their curation are likely to suffer.

  • Do I really have to parse myself for you?

    Why an “at least” and an exclamation point for mundane movies?

    “Mundane movies” is *your* characterization, not mind. My “at least” was an acknowledgement that it would be a small number of older movies being made available, rather than a wider selection.

    Why is it particularly Netflix’s job to cater to lovers of old (and not necessarily good) movies?

    No one is suggesting this, either. I did say it’s a good idea that if you think it’s a good idea to expose lazy people to movies they would not otherwise seek out on their own (perhaps because they don’t even know they exist), Netflix would be a good place for that to happen.

  • LaSargenta

    Netflix is widely known. Very widely known. I only recently learned of filmstruck.com

    Yeah, their dominance and limited film library is a problem. But, in the “old days”, anyone looking for something older than 2nd Run had to seek out revival houses. Or deal with occasional old movie showings on the local VHF channels butchered by commercial breaks.

    So many films were lost because no one bothered to preserve the celluloid.

    dunno. Just a new way to kill our past.

    Check out the selections on filmstruck. I might join.

  • barrem01

    “”Mundane movies” is *your* characterization, not mine. My “at least” was an acknowledgement that it would be a small number of
    older movies being made available, rather than a wider selection.”
    Why is it a good idea for any number of old movies to be available if they are not in some way “good?”
    Exactly how do you feel about old movies? So far I have:
    1) they are something that Netflix should make available,
    2) they are not synonymous with good.
    3) they are not “mundane”

    If they’re not good or mundane, doesn’t that make them bad? Or more to my point, if you can’t tell anything about the quality or notability of a movie based only on it’s age, why is it a good idea to make old movies available?

    “Good” and “mundane” are very broad and pretty subjective categories. But even so, put some context around them (“SF-Comedies of the 1980’s”, “Best Fast-Talking Dames of the 1940’s”, “Groundbreaking Cinematography”) and you can promote “good” movies that might be overlooked, without resorting to promoting “old” movies without any other particular characteristic in common.

    “it’s a good idea to expose lazy people to movies they would not otherwise seek out on their own”
    This has pretty much been Netflix’s business model since it started it’s streaming service. Just enough expensive, new, high-profile titles that they can put on an ad to draw new customers (they’ve added original programming in the last few years), and try to come up with enough “if you liked…” titles from a large catalog of cheap, mundane movies to keep the subscribers from unsubscribing. “that they would not otherwise seek out on their own” is, by itself, no better a criteria than “old”. “Unknown” is not synonymous with good either. The Netflix catalog is full of unremarkable movies almost nobody has heard of.

    Perhaps, rather than having them pimp-out whatever synergy they can tease out of their catalog, It would be better to let critics (and other users) link to the Netflix catalog in such a way that titles that are not currently available, can still be added to a user’s queue, and the aggregate of users queue entries of titles not currently in the catalog could be part of the metrics they use to decide which titles to buy. This way the Duffer Bros. themselves could publish a linkable list of what influenced them. And critics could point their own spotlight on whatever films they thought should get more attention. That way Netflix would have a metric that isn’t based on the idea that everyone wants to watch something exactly like the last movie they liked, or spend an employee’s time looking for cross-promotion titles Netflix already has in it’s collection.

  • you can promote “good” movies that might be overlooked, without resorting to promoting “old” movies without any other particular characteristic in common.

    Nice straw man.

    “Unknown” is not synonymous with good either.

    Again, no one is saying this.

    You wanna argue with yourself? Go do it somewhere else.

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