With the weather and politics turning foul and dark there's nothing more comfortable to Mrs Contendere and I than a warm glow in the fireplace, a bowl of Newman's Own popcorn and a good DVD to enjoy. My taste in movies is pretty catholic - I'll get into and enjoy any genre except television shlock, martial arts and anything with a laugh track. We don't have a fancy setup, just an old 27 inch RCA with the sound routed through the stereo speakers. Settling into the futon with the cat nestled between us we've watched a wide range lately.
Sunset Blvd. - Billy Wilder's self referential classic astounded me. Gloria Swanson was a faded silent movie star who played a faded silent movie star infatuated with a world weary William Holden. In 1950 it skewered hollywood movie making so much that it made the studios cringe. Crackling, intelligent dialogue.
Mission Impossible 3 - Cruise's star vehicles won't save the guy's career. This insult steals from any number of much better flicks and relies on truly assinine action to make up for his missing acting chops.
Cars - Some of the best movies in recent years have been animated. I guess the format allows the imagination to run free and be inventive in a way that's unique to the genre. Coupled with whiz bang computer tech the results can be dazzling and endearing like this effort. I think the best animation will be attractive to anybody of any age and this one certainly has it all, wrapped up in a smart, joyous package.
To Have And Have Not - Another classic with Bogart and especially Lauren Bacall. Howard Hawks directed this adaptation of Hemingway's novel. Bogart shined in these undertakings with his character going up against the baddies, in this case the local equivalent of Nazis. But it's Bacall who fries your eyeballs. She was only 19 and this was her very first film but she sizzled and smoldered in a sultry way that has to be seen to understand.
For the past several years there's been stiff competition with internet movie rentals. I only know about Netflix and Blockbuster although there may be others. Last winter I had a subscription to Netflix where for $17.99 a month you could have unlimited rentals and no late fees. You just picked your titles from a large library at the website and when you sent one back they'd ship your next selection. I had tried BB but what made NF better was that their numerous distribution centers made the mail transit time much shorter, hence more rentals for the money.
That may have changed. A couple of days ago I started an account with BB's new service called Total Access. They decided to use their strength in this market, all their rental stores, to deal a knockout blow to the competition. You do the same thing - choose titles from the website and they send them to you, three out at a time in my case. But you can either send a used one back to them or take it down to the local BB for a replacement and they'll send it back for your next online pick. In essense six movies out at a time. A pretty bold move on their part, but it remains to be seen what the transit time is via snail mail. Still, instantly trading one in for another at the local store seems like a pretty good deal.