The Tao of Netflix

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI know most of you have probably been using Netflix for years, adding both movies you missed in the theater and early seasons of The Wire with reckless abandon, but the hubby and I are late to the party (per our usual—it’s fashionable!).
Why did we jump on the bandwagon? We love movies. We will actually pay to see two movies back to back on a Friday night, which is no joke in NYC where just one adult ticket costs $12. And when we don’t feel like dragging our butts way down to our favorite theater (’cause the closest one is a Magic Johnson Theater—nuff said), we think nothing of ordering a $4.95 movie through the cable box and snuggling up on the couch. But the depression recession is looming large, and in an effort to save money, we finally subscribed.

We’re only a month in, but it’s been long enough for two things: 1.) …to forget what I added to the queue. 2.) …to learn a few of the lessons Netflix has to teach with those nifty red envelopes that keep popping up in my mailbox.

The first film we ordered was What Dreams May Come, a Robin WiIliams movie that explores what happens when we die. After losing his two children in a car accident, Williams is hit by another car, leaving his suicidal wife to cope with being alone. He (guided by Cuba Gooding in the Magical Negro role) finds that heaven is what you make it, that you control your destiny when you leave your earthy body. But when his wife succumbs, he learns that those who don’t value the life they’ve been given (no matter how hard it is), lose all control in the afterlife and are trapped in their own personal hell, imprisoned by the negative thoughts they harbored in life. She’s only saved when her husband uses his love to overcome her despair. The Lessons: Optimism rocks, and this moment—this very moment—no matter how difficult (or how wonderful), is not the sum of your life. Oh, and love conquers all.

Next in the mailbox was Bad Boys. No, not that Bad Boys; this movie came out in ’83 and stars a super-young Sean Penn. The hubby remembered it fondly, and wanted me to watch it, as I was, like, two when it came out. When Penn’s character accidentally kills his enemy’s little bro, he goes to jail and learns about revenge and redemption the hard way. The Lessons: Crime doesn’t pay; revenge sucks; and if you try hard to make up for your mistakes, you might be able to avoid being shanked in the yard

Then came Traitor. I added it to the queue but when it came, I couldn’t remember why. After it sat on the hall table for nearly a week (we were hella busy), I remembered that it was because I wanted to support Don Cheadle, who’s one hell of an actor. I’m glad I did, ’cause it was a great movie that explored a world we only speculate about: Cheadle played a Muslim working within an international terrorist cell who is being pursued by the U.S. government. I don’t want to spoil things (you should see it), but all isn’t what it seems, and unexpected people die. The Lessons: The U.S. government throws the label of “terrorist” around like the dope boys on my block sling crack (oh yes, it’s not at all wack in Harlem). And be careful who you associate with (cough: the U.S. government), or you could end up in a very, very bad place.

On Sunday night, we watched Blindness, which was adapted from Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago’s novel, Ensaio sobre a cegueira (Essay on Blindness in Portuguese). While most critics hated this movie, I absolutely loved it. In centers on an unidentified town where the residents start to go blind one by one, their vision obscured by a milky white fog. As it spreads, the infected are quarantined, while the one person (Julianne Moore) who inexplicably maintains her sight, tries to hold the group together as they descend into a self-created hell. Sounds like a set-up for a horror film, but it’s an allegory for the isolated state we fall into when we live only for ourselves. The Lessons: The past means nothing when pitted against your present action; family is what you make it; brainwashing is a very real thing; and we’re all blind in our own way, but we can overcome it if we just open our eyes.

Up next? Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Who knows what Tao-y goodness lies there…

Learn anything from your Netflix queue (or any movie) lately? Tell me all about it.


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