Netflix Is Not Enough

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.
Click here 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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8 thoughts on “Netflix Is Not Enough

  1. Nothing is more fun than talking about movies, and you couldn&#39;t find a better crowd than at Facets! And I&#39;ve been working here three and a half years. I know.<br /><br />Great post, and all true!

  2. &quot;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.&quot;<br /><br />You&#39;d think the Netflix offices of all places would be more like the offices in &quot;Brazil&quot;,

  3. As always, the ever-perceptive Suzi hits the nail on the head with her thoughtful analysis.<br /><br />I&#39;ve worked here over 8 years and I&#39;ve told my co-workers repeatedly that I&#39;ve never worked at a place with so many talented people. I&#39;ve also met a number of customers who&#39;ve become friends. But then, isn&#39;t the love of movies what connects us cinephiles? Netflix and

  4. The fact that you try to qualify this toffee-nosed blog with admitting that you&#39;ve actually seen Avatar and the Karate Kid doesn&#39;t in any way veil the elitist attitude of this blog.<br />Why set the choice among Netflix, seeing a blockbuster, watching t.v. and Facets as an &quot;either/or&quot; proposition? – as a lover of great cinema, schlock t.v. AND big production film, I don&#39;t

  5. I&#39;ll reiterate the clarification Suzi noted on Facebook – the point of this blog post is not to champion a certain kind of movies or even a certain mode of appreciating or understanding them, but rather to contrast a view of movies (whether &quot;cinema&quot; or &quot;schlock&quot;) as money-making products with a view of them as creative efforts. And in fact, there&#39;s a careful effort NOT

  6. Snobbery is in the eye of the beholder. My personal experience with snobbery: the raised eyebrows and silent stares I receive when I mention, for example, a Godard or Cassavetes film that I happen to love. I&#39;ve been so conditioned to this response that I often forego talking about my true cinematic tastes altogether unless I know I&#39;m among likeminded company. It&#39;s always a look of, &

  7. I subscribe to both Facets and the other, but I take no joy belonging to them…it&#39;s more like caving into their hegemony.<br /><br />Any chance we&#39;ll see THE TURIN HORSE in the new year (a question I wouldn&#39;t even consider asking those other guys)?

  8. @Eric: Since it’s still in post-production and without a theatrical release date, we can only keep our fingers crossed that it will be on a home-playable format in 2011. If we know anything about Bela Tarr, it’s that rapidity should not be expected.

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