Slow Watch: An Introduction

Netflix's DVD mail envelope

Like many things from the past, the idea of Netflix by mail seems quaint.

Explain it to any teenager within reach and they’ll look at you like your crazy. It’ll fit right beside things like programming VCRs, TV Guide, the Walkman, and dial-up internet. Things that don’t seem to have a place in today’s instant climate. Why would you create a queue of movies and wait two (or three) days for them to be shipped to your home? They would ask this because streaming Netflix has been something they’ve had for as long as they can remember.

It’s not just teenagers either. A few months ago, I was surprised when I discovered Netflix’s DVD service still existed and had a healthy subscriber base. I didn’t make the connection to myself until one day I saw that red envelope in a neighbor’s mailbox. It sparked memories of Amores Perros, City of God, Cool Hand Luke, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest amongst many others that came in the mail. Each arrival was welcoming me to a different corner and time of film that I had never explored. It reminded me that these were films I was recommended and wanted to watch. That I selected them and anticipated their arrival. That wasn’t something that Netflix Streaming gave me.

I often found with Netflix Streaming that it took me longer to find something I wanted to watch. WIth the seemingly infinite amount of choices I found myself changing my mind within the first five minutes. There was no investment and ultimately I would fall asleep more often than I finished watching something. It’s not that Netflix streaming is a bad service (it’s not!), but I found that it didn’t work for me. So with that I signed up for Netflix’s DVD service, and luckily for me they offer the first month for free.

When I made the switch I decided to have some “fun” with it. Instead of simply watching everything I’ve missed over the years, I wanted to have a learning experience. One of my favorite things in film school was film analysis, and what better way to embrace that than to use Netflix DVD’s extensive archive of old movies.

In this space, I will be taking a deep dive into the past 100 years of film. I won’t just be watching them but I will be, trying my best, to analyze the films in the context of the time they were created in. The thing I’ve learned over time is whether or not a piece of art is deemed apolitical it’s existence says something about the time it was created in. So I look forward to learning about both film and history. To select the movies I’ve gone through IMDB and selected the top films from each decade. To prevent burn out, I’ve also decided to intersperse TV shows from Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz’s TV (the Book) to give breaks.

I like to call this project the Slow Watch. It is deliberate, it’s intentional, and it’s a process that intends to force me to not only watch watch I pick but to spend time considering it. In a world where everything is available at our fingertips all the time, I like the idea of slowing down and being stuck with something.

So keep an eye on this space as my first piece will be on Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc.

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