Monday, 20 February 2012

Netflix - Maybe, Maybe Not...

Netflix, as many may know, launched in the UK and (more importantly) Ireland last month, and are offering a 30-day free trial to new members.

At €6.99 a month after the trial period ends, it sounded like a good deal, so I signed up.

The registration process asked me to rate or comment on a variety of genres and titles in order to build up a profile with which the service would recommend movies I might enjoy.

On reflection, perhaps I should have skipped that part, because the available catalog is so small as to offer many of the same titles in different categories, and attempting to fine-tune things by selecting 'Not Interested' didn't seem to help.

Here's what I've discovered so far:

1. Classic movies - few. A search for Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon returned nothing, and a search for Humphrey Bogart returned The African Queen and nothing else. There are 3 John Wayne movies, however, all westerns. Henry Fonda can be seen in On Golden Pond, with daughter Jane and Katharine Hepburn. Marilyn Monroe can be seen only in Some Like It Hot, with co-stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

2. New releases - depends on one's definition. The most recent production year was 2011 for a documentary called Page One, about the New York Times and apparently featuring Julian Assange. A small number of titles from 2010, including The Expendables and The Mechanic.

3. TV - mostly British series, dramas from ITV and BBC, so good-quality, but nothing earlier than 1990 except Fawlty Towers. I would have hoped for some classic US shows or even some of the great ITC shows of the '60s and '70s, but nothing doing.

4. Foreign Films - mainly Asian martial-arts, but with a small number of European titles, including one with Jean Claude Van Damme. I did, however, find a film featuring Jeremy Irons and Patricia Kaas,entitled "And Now, Ladies and Gentlemen...", which wasn't bad.

But that in itself will not be enough to maintain my interest, so unless the selection improves drastically in the next 28 days or so, I think I'll be checking out Amazon's LOVEFiLM instead.

Might even give it a look in any event...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The New 52 - Not So Good As I'd Hoped...

My file at Forbidden Planet is going to be a little thinner from tomorrow - I'll be dropping a number of titles from my list.

Curiously, they're all from DC's "New 52":

First off the list is Stormwatch - I don't know what I expected from this; perhaps a grittier JLA or something, but after 5 issues they've had to have a leader imposed upon them because they couldn't decide on one themselves. And they were fighting the Moon.

Nope.

Next, Green Arrow - DC's relaunch of the Emerald Archer sees Ollie reunited with his wealth, so in effect he's become Bruce Wayne. One of the things that defined the character for me was that he had lost everything, but rebuilt his life, becoming a hero in the process.

Unless DC's setting Ollie up for a big fall (and they're taking their time about it) then he's not the character I enjoyed reading for so many years.

Animal Man was a title I picked up on recommendation from one of the staff in FP; I don't have it on order but I was intrigued enough to pick it off the shelf each month. I'd like to stick withit, but the artwork's really doing my head in. Maybe I'll give it another look in a few months, but for now, bye-bye Buddy...

I'll probably drop Savage Hawkman as well, but I'm going to give it another month or two and see what develops. I've never read a Hawkman title before so I've nothing to compare it to, but it's not been bad so far.

And the old reliables aren't safe either: Batman, Superman, Detective - I've been reading them for decades and I'm still to be convinced about the relaunched versions. One thing that's annoying me is that there seem to be multiple versions of characters - the Superman appearing in Action Comics is different from the character in the Superman title; The Batman in, well, Batman, is different from the one appearing in Batman & Robin, for example, or in JLA. It's as if they exist in parallel, which is bizarre to say the least.

I feel no attachment to any of these characters - they're not the ones I grew up reading, and it has been no problem putting a book aside when I couldn't get into thestory, something that's happening more and more frequently of late.

I have been reading more titles from other publishers, increasingly IDW and Dynamite - IDW's new Star Trek book, retelling episodes from the original series with the reimagened cast, is pretty good and works well. I've also been reading Dynamite's Flash Gordon:Zeitgeist and The Bionic Man, with which I've been impressed.

So it's not all bad news - just for DC...

A Day Off...

Having some accumulated time on my hands, I took today off from work.

I had grand plans for the time, most of which included household chores, but accomplished only some of my planned tasks, one of which was to rearrange the bookcase in my living room. The work was therapeutic, and reacquainted me with some books I hadn't read in a while.

A bowl of chicken & vegetable soup for lunch, then I watched Alec Guinness as George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", the original BBC production from 1979. Having seen the recent film starring Gary Oldman asSmiley, it was interesting to compare the two productions and, indeed, portrayals of LeCarré's master spy.

All in all, though, it was good to spend a day away from the office. Have to do these things once in a while to stay sane...