LESSON #1: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR…— Netflix announced it is raising its subscription rates to national customers by a dollar for the standard plan and two dollars for the premium plan. It’s their first price hike since January 2019. When your annual budget keeps climbing ($18.5 billion in 2020), you’re going to squeeze for more money at some point. Face it, though. They are the top brand and they know it. People are going to pay it because, even when bundled with a few other services, it’s all still cheaper and better than a cable TV plan filled with fluff. Above all other streaming providers, they are putting their money (which is your money) where their mouth is by continuously churning out new offerings and acquiring Oscar-level properties. Sure, the bit rate is being cheapened, and the algorithms narrow scrolling vision making people think that there’s nothing to watch on there, but what they have beats their nearest competitor, hands down. Compared to those theater tickets and Blockbuster rentals we all used to pay, $14 a month remains a steal.
LESSON #2: …AND OTHER TIMES YOU DON’T…— On the other hand, there are people throwing their money away elsewhere on stuff they don’t even get to keep. Pressured by a pending lawsuit citing unfair competition and fraudulent advertising, Amazon pounded their multi-billion-dollar fist on the table declaring that purchases to “buy” film titles is actually “limited license for on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time.” Translation: You don’t really own them. You get them as long as you’re around, but you never know if a platform switches or the license goes away. That’s the opposite of getting what you paid for. That’s why you’ll hear folks like me and others preach the value and permanence of physical media. Be wary of that $5 4K digital download. It’s cute and convenient and all. I get that, but cover your butt and just straight up by the disc for $10. Screw minimalist Marie Kondo decoration and joy questions. Bring back the library walls and stock up some keepers.
LESSON #3: THE SHELF-LIFE OF SHORT FORM ENTERTAINMENT MATCHES ITS NAME— What was Quibi again? Yeah. I didn’t remember either. As it turns out, the platform backed by former Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is shutting down barely six months after its start. Even with a little bit of starpower here and there in their creative offerings, audiences didn’t come. People aren’t going to pay for short-form entertainment when the entire world of YouTube is free.
LESSON #4: IT’S TIME TO UPDATE YOUR BUCKET LISTS— Plenty of us Feelers are Letterboxd junkies who love their data and the completist challenges of fulfilling those lists. The ultimate list of all lists remains the “1001 Movies to See Before You Die.” The master list was just updated recently with new entries from 2003 to the 2019. Start here on page 27 to see the new additions in chronological order. The new entries are bold and comprehensive. Start clicking those boxes while still chasing the historical oldies you’re missing. Someday, you’re going to get them all!
LESSON #5: IF YOU NEED THE BEST, ASK THE BEST— In the usual final lesson spot of recommendations, I offer a Halloween special. October has traditionally been a month of binges and rewatches of horror movies. For a stupendous list, look no further than the master himself Stephen King. The list of his 22 all-time favorite films is diabolical, decadent, and delicious. Check those off your list with the 1001 from Lesson #4.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. His movie review work is also published on 25YL (25 Years Later) and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication. As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over two years, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the previous “Connecting with Classics” podcasts. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work. (#143)