Thursday 7 February 2019

Streaming Delights

We are launching a regular section on this site called Streaming Delights, that will put the spotlight on and review some little seen gems, old and new, across all the streaming platforms. We'll focus on indie cinema and will throw in the odd trashy horror film because can you even live if you did not know Death Spa existed?  We have not always embraced the streaming giants in the past here at FilmLand Empire, especially not Netflix. We firmly believe that films belong in cinemas and that nothing can beat the theatrical experience. However it is hard to ignore how much those streaming platforms have changed the world of cinema recently.

Amazon Studios have helped such talented directors as Luca Guadagnino and Todd Haynes make their films without interference and with a consequential budget while still allowing them a theatrical release. Mubi is an endless delight of discoveries and rare arthouse films, occasionally supporting theatrical releases, and with its model of one film per day the perfect antidote to the paradox of choice other platforms generate. Amazon Prime has a surprisingly vast and varied catalogue (although the range of quality is just as vast).

Netflix is a special case because of its size and the way it operates. It is infuriating that it is throwing so much money at exclusive films only not to promote them, something that Nicole Holofcener, who made her latest film The Land of Steady Habits for Netflix, lamented, claiming that, while she was grateful to have been able to make it, it felt as if it had disappeared the minute it came out.

I do not believe any subscriber would feel cheated if Netflix released its films theatrically too yet, with a few rare exceptions, it stubbornly refuses to do so, and its stubbornness has cost it a Cannes presence last year, the festival being entirely right to insist that there must be an intention the release the films presented.

Yet it looks as if Netflix might be agreeing to a compromise this year and it would be unfair not to acknowledge how much good the money it has injected in the film business has done. While its UK catalogue was a joke at first, it has, just like Amazon Prime, developed it exponentially with a wealth of independent films from all countries.

Besides, it is not as if cinemas are making it easy to enjoy the experience these days: ridiculously high prices, subpar venues, inconvenient screening times (not helped by the ever increasing adverts) and audiences that make you want to never leave the house... Plus the snobbery against television no longer exists, with so many quality TV series having been made over the last few decades.

So many films from Roma to Velvet Buzzsaw have been seen by a lot more people than if they had just been released in cinemas and we just have to accept that for a lot of audiences, this is the way they watch films. Hence it is high time we embrace this rather than complain about it. Watch this space for Killer Bees as our first Streaming Delight. Probably.

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