We have become Netflix subscribers, for a month at least. As you probably know, Netflix is a streaming service, allowing you to watch films and TV programmes via the internet. It also produces new content, dramas like “The Crown” and movies like “Murder Mystery” starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler. Over the weekend my daughter asked if we could sign up. The first month is free, and we could stop the service after the trial period, she said. She’d had a tough day, travelling a long way to compete in an athletics meeting, her race time affected by the recurrence of a training injury.
I said yes but, exaggerating slightly, told her that nobody ever cancels after the free trial period. Once you sign up that’s it, for years and years. It’s like gym membership, or car breakdown cover. In some cases the only way you ever stop paying is when the service itself is withdrawn. That’s what happened with LoveFilm (also known as Amazon’s “LOVEFILM By Post”) which I wrote about in December 2017. If that “movies by post” service had not been withdrawn here in the UK I would still be a subscriber, even if each new DVD remained unwatched for months at a time.
Netflix is slightly more expensive than LoveFilm (£11.99 rather than £9.99 per month) but the content is available all the time, on multiple devices (TV, PC, tablet), no more waiting for DVDs to arrive in the mail. I signed up and within 10 minutes we were scrolling through to find the film she most wanted to watch, a coming-of-age drama called “Love, Simon”. It’s not there. It’s available on Amazon Prime (“Buy for £4.99”, no rental option) or as a DVD from Amazon (£6.39), but not on Netflix. I have not seen any of this year’s Academy Award winners, and (as noted many times on these pages, beginning here), keeping up to date with Oscar winners is one of my “projects”. I searched for the films that won the big awards at this year’s ceremony, for 2018. “Roma” is there (Best Director, Alfonso Cuarón) but the others (“Green Book”, “‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, “The Favourite”, “If Beale Street Could Talk”) are not. I haven’t seen “Darkest Hour” yet, for which Gary Oldman won Best Actor in 2017, and that’s not there either. Nor, for the record, are any of the other big winners from 2017 (“The Shape of Water”, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, “I, Tonya”) but I’ve seen all of them. With LoveFilm this was the time of year when the latest Oscar winners would become available. They would form part of my summer viewing. It looks like Netflix is running at least a year behind, with the exception of “Roma”.
While I continued to search, on the PC, for films that have eluded me so far, my daughter started watching a show on TV that some of her schoolfriends had recommended. It’s called “Anne”, or “Anne with an E”, a new one on me. It turns out to be a Netflix adaptation of the LM Montgomery novel “Anne of Green Gables”, which was also adapted for TV in the 1970s. According to this IMDB page the 1972 version is now believed to be lost. I didn’t catch much of that one (and, I assume, never will) but this new version looks good. Geraldine James is the only familiar face, as one of the siblings who takes in Anne the orphan. I learnt that one of my daughter’s friends is rather taken by Lucas Jade Zumann, the actor who plays Gilbert Blythe. Series 1 Episode 1 is feature length (90 minutes) and there are a further 16 episodes, each 45 minutes long, spread across two seasons. That should account for much of our Netflix viewing in the weeks ahead.
We also spent part of yesterday watching “Friends”, which we have been watching at the rate of 10 episodes a week on Channel 5 since the start of the year, as noted here. We are now slightly ahead of those free-to-air broadcasts and, I suspect, we may become prone to a “Friends” binge at some point. Without the adverts (and if you skip the Intro) it comes in at 20 minutes per show: three episodes in an hour, six episodes in just two hours. Based on my first weekend as a Netflix subscriber there might not be much else there that I want to watch, but I’ll keep searching, in case I’m missing something.