Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The trouble with streaming video

I heard or read an interview somewhere with Dan Fante, the son of John Fante. He said that there were a lot of books that he and his father would start reading then put down when it was clear they either weren't that good or just weren't for them. Made me feel better about all the books I tried to read and got nowhere with.

But it's bad when you can't even make yourself watch the movie.

I keep looking at these Roku channels. If you watch a movie for the first time, it says "Play". If you already watched some of it and stopped, it says, "Resume playing".

I keep finding movies that say "Resume playing" and I have no memory of them until I start watching them again and I think, Oh, no wonder I turned it off!

This is the horror of streaming video. When you paid a dollar or two and brought home a videotape, you felt you had to watch at least a good part of it. Back when there were only three or four channels on TV, you sat through all kinds of crap you'd have never watched otherwise.

I remember the days before VCRs became affordable. The university would use the more comfortable classrooms as theaters on the weekend and show movies in 16mm. They were cheap. When I was in high school, I would go to two or three movies each night on Friday and Saturday and one or two on Sunday. I watched movies I otherwise would have never seen, and quite a few that, if I saw them on streaming video, I would have watched a minute or two of before turning them off.

A film student was doing his thesis on the westerns of Budd Boetticher so they showed one of those every Sunday for a while.

I sat next to some giggling Asian foreign students watching Last Tango In Paris. I watched a post-Roger Moore James Bond movie next to a large group of frat boys who took up a couple of rows of seats. One of them kept shouting "All right, James!" in a terrible English accent.

"Shut up! Shut up!" his date kept whispering.

A sword fighting enthusiast stood in line to see The Duelists and talked me into seeing it. I went to see Sanjuro with a large number of Japanese foreign students in the audience and was surprised at how funny they thought some of the jokes were.

I've only walked out of a couple of movies in my life. In the old days, they would show these incredibly boring documentaries to clear out movie theaters between shows. That never worked with me because I felt strangely obliged to watch to the bitter end.

It's all changed. There's too much choice. They've made it too easy for me.

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