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March Film Roundup >

February Film Roundup: This month quite a few non-feature-films make it into Film Roundup. Could this be becoming... a blog?

In lieu of Television Roundup this month I'd like to put in a good word for a company I don't like very much: Amazon. Specifically, Amazon Instant Video. If you spend $8 a month on Netflix you can stream the output of their recommendation engine all day long, but if you want to watch something in particular, you're likely to be disappointed, because Netflix's selection is terrible. That's why they put so much work into the recommendation engine! From one who knows.

By contrast, Amazon Instant Video has an excellent selection of classic, arthouse, and just plain old films. I generally want to watch specific titles, and about 90% of the things I put on my wish list are available on Amazon for the price of a video rental. Remember that? Back when there were video rental stores, you could borrow some Criterion DVDs and the works of big-name arthouse directors, but could you get an obscure noir, a 1950s office comedy, or an undistinguished war movie that you only want to watch because there's a character with your name in the movie? The answer was no. Same with the public library (still a good place to borrow seasons of television though).

So we frequently purchase the time-limited right to stream a movie from Amazon. It ends up a bit more expensive than Netflix, and if we watched a movie every single night it would get pricey real fast, but it's a lot more satisfying for casual use.

We do sometimes have Netflix-style nights where we just want to watch something that's free on Amazon Prime, and unfortunately we recently encountered the worst documentary I've ever seen, a thirty-minute piece on Queen that's part of a series of terrible music documentaries. They're all rush jobs cobbled together from still photos cadged from Geocities fan pages, old television footage, and interviews from other peoples' unfinished documentaries.

There's no Queen music in the Queen documentary. The interview subjects tell rambling stories laced with vague, inaccurate recollections. It's like Drunk History, except nobody's drunk, just frequently wrong. I know people get things wrong in interviews, but it's the filmmaker's job to fact-check and find some way of conveying the correct information, and that didn't happen here. We peeked at a couple other docs in the series and although they're all awful, only the Queen documentary was hilariously awful.

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