Compelling explanations

Ari Handel, screenwriter for “Noah”, in an interview: In that vein, while there’s a lot of diversity shown in the animal kingdom, there’s no racial diversity in the cast. Can you speak to that? From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter.

What happened to Netflix?

I decided to watch a movie tonight. I pulled up Netflix and looked at my queue, and it struck me how ridiculously few items from my queue were available for streaming. So few that I decided to count them. I have 257 items in my Netflix queue (counting multi-season and multi-disc entries as a single item). Of those 257, only 28 are available for streaming. That’s just 11% coverage. In addition, 12 aren’t available for streaming or on disc, leaving 217 to rent as discs.


Number of black soldiers who fought at Iwo Jima: 900. Number of black soldiers in Clint Eastwood’s film version: 0. (Guardian) Number of racist murders in Britain, 1995-2004: 58. Number where the victim was white: 24. (Guardian) Pay increase limit imposed on UK nurses: 1.5%. This year’s pay rise for Cabinet Ministers: 2.8%. (Guardian, UK parliament)


Idiocracy is Mike Judge’s new live action movie. Well, I say “new”; I gather it was pretty much finished in 2004, and since then he has been battling with 20th Century Fox to get it released. Right now, it’s showing in a handful of cities, probably a contractual obligation release before it gets shuffled off to DVD or buried outright. One of the cities is Austin, so we went to see it last night.


An experiment in cloning goes awry: director Kurt Wimmer attempts to clone The Matrix and inject it with Brave New World DNA, and ends up with a truly ghastly piece of derivative sci-fi that takes a noble premise and turns it into exploitative cartoon violence. What plot twists exist are telegraphed so far off you’d need to be heavily sedated to miss them. Like the uneven but popular movie it slavishly copies, it can’t decide whether it wants to be intelligent and philosophical, or to just revel in pointless unrealistic violence; and whereas the original at least had a plot device to explain the unreality, the cheap knock-off has no such excuse.

New music and movie releases

If James Brown is the hardest working man in showbiz, Richard H. Kirk must surely be the hardest working man in electronica. He seems to be able to effortlessly drop an album or two every year without the quality suffering. I noticed the other day that most of his back catalog is now available from the iTunes music store, generally priced way below what you can find the limited release CDs for.

“Signs” …point to ‘No’

In a word, avoid. Unfortunately it’s a competently executed movie, at least as far as acting and cinematography—so sadly, I must break with etiquette and provide a synopsis. It’s the only way to explain how truly bad the movie is.

Netflix class action lawsuit redux

I just got a phone call from one of the lawyers involved in the Netflix class action lawsuit I wrote about a while back. Apparently my letter had caught his attention, and he wanted to discuss my objections to the proposed settlement in more detail. It turned out to be quite an interesting conversation. I explained that the first issue was that I felt the proposed settlement gave far too much benefit to the legal firm, rather than the allegedly wronged customers of Netflix.

Attention Netflix members

I’m a happy NetFlix customer. I have been since either 1999 or early 2000, I forget exactly. It’s a good service—you queue up a list of DVDs, you keep a number of discs at home, and each time you mail one back they mail you the next one from the list. A while ago some guy named Frank Chavez took exception to Netflix’s advertising. Their ads were offering “unlimited” rentals, and Chavez discovered that they actually deliver DVDs to you more slowly once you hit more than 12 rentals in a month.