If you want to buy the remake of The Karate Kid or yet another version of Avatar, you can pick it up at the grocery store. Just toss it on the conveyer belt alongside the cereal, soda, and junk food of your choice. I don’t have anything against either film; as a matter of fact, I saw both of them in the theater. But, I resent that they are treated like products to be consumed—like Froot Loops, Faygo, and Funyuns. And, good luck if you want to find something other than The Karate Kid or Avatar.
At Facets, the opposite holds true: We are consumed by the movies. Most of the staff has a lifelong passion for the movies, which we bring to work. We spend long hours organizing, cataloging, describing, and working to preserve foreign, documentary, and classic films, such as this month’s titles on the DVD web page—The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Fish Tank, Enter the Void, Shock Corridor, and more. After work, we go to the movies, make movies, or write about the movies, and if we really want to relax, we talk about the movies. Drop into our rentals store, and you might hear Miguel mull over one of the many foreign films he’s watched that week, Lew talk about his favorite hard-to-find exploitation flick, or Phil debate the merits of Paranormal 2. Facets members who drop by to pick up a rental often join in the conversation, and go home with a recommendation from the staff.
I once saw a news report about Netflix, which let the cameras into the bowels of one of their distribution centers—a rare glimpse into the nuts and bolts of the company. Solemn-looking minimum-wage employees stood silently at metal tables and stuffed discs into envelopes. It reminded me of that scene in Metropolis where the workers are below ground grinding away at their daily routine. On camera, a suit half their age talked about percentages and product. Wonder what he would recommend to watch? Probably The Karate Kid or Avatar.
Two weeks ago, long lines of fans waited in the cold to see the latest Harry Potter film, only to be bombarded with a dozen commercials for deodorants, cars, and colas. Cranky people grumbled, checked their cell phones, or climbed over the people in their aisle to get popcorn. At Facets’ Cinematheque on the same weekend, the producer of one of our well-attended documentaries, Budrus, came here for a CineChat. She participated in a Q&A with the audience, whose viewing experiences were enhanced by the one-on-one encounter. Facets members got in free to see this special screening with the producer, which was organized by our intrepid programmer, Charles.
The Facets staff, our members, and our regulars all know we should just drink the Kool-aid and join Netflix, or mindlessly pay $11 to see the latest blockbuster only to get bombarded with commercials we can see on TV for free. It would be easier . . . but, instead we champion the idea that movies are a magical experience that broadens an individual’s personal canvas. We rail against Transformers 3, worship Werner Herzog, and get all jacked up about a new print of Five Easy Pieces, which Charles booked in the Cinematheque for its 40th anniversary. At Facets, movies are not products to be consumed but a way of life.
I was supposed to write a brief article that would entice readers to join Facets, or to buy gift memberships for loved ones this holiday season. Instead, I ended up writing too much about Facets and its greatest asset that no corporate behemoth will ever have—its staff. Eat your heart out, Netflix.
to buy a gift membership for yourself or a loved one, and join the rebellion. Memberships include:
Access to the greatest collection of rare and classic films
Unlimited DVD rentals with no late fees or due dates
In-store or rent-by-mail with free DVD shipping both ways
Free admission for 2 to films at the Facets Cinematheque
Free admission for 2 to the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival
Free admission to Facets Night School (midnight movie series)
35% discount on film classes
10% discount on all DVDs you purchase
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