When I first shared my idea for the Q-500 Experiment (fill my Netflix Queue to the top and watch all 500 films in a year), people either looked at me in disbelief or in jealousy. Some people thought it was mathematically impossible. "But there are only 365 days in a year," they informed me. Yes, I know, it's more than a movie a day. "I could totally do that," other people said. Nothing is stopping anyone. Nothing but the US Mail.
Why is there no mail on Sundays? There are still some small communities around the country that shut down on a Sunday, since everyone is at church, don't you know? But that's a very Eisenhower Era ideal, isn't it? I'm not saying that people should work more than five days a week, I'm saying that this would create more jobs in the federal government. While we're de-industrializing the country, why don't we increase the amount of federal employees with decent pay and good health plans, and an extra day of mail for me. It always comes back to me in the end. Part of me is concerned about the plight of the American workforce, the other part of me wants my Netflix on time.
I mean, the real trick to this project is keeping the rhythm right with the U.S. Mail and Netflix. So long as I return movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I usually get them replaced by the weekend so I can watch more than eight a week. Then along comes some Sunday followed by, worse yet, a national holiday and the whole delicate balancing act goes right out the window!
There was a big to-do made over the issue of "throttling." Netflix supposedly has a method to determine who gets DVDs first. The newer, fewer-at-a-time customers get first dibs, and on down the line. Many people were incensed over this. I was told I would be throttled for sure, but to my knowledge, it hasn't happened. Every few weeks, one of the more obscure movies in my queue will ship from a hub outside of my local area. These take longer to receive, but for the most part, I can see no evidence of throttling, at least not to the extent I was warned. More hype than truth, it seems.
I started the Q-500 Experiment on January 1. Sunday was the middle of the year. Today is the first day of the second half of 2006. Remember those resolutions? Dust 'em off and get back on it. Can you still remember what they were? I've almost kept up with mine. I'm a tiny bit behind where I wanted to be, but otherwise I'm good.
Also, I realized that if I watched all 241 of the DVDs viewed thus far in a row without sleeping or pausing to change discs, it would take me over 17 days. What this means to me is that I will have spent an entire month watching these films by the end of the year.
Pick of the Week
This was a no-contest week for the pick. When I saw it, I immediately wanted to watch it again. I had seen two documentaries that I really liked, New York Doll and When Stand Up Stood Out, but when I saw The Chumscrubber I was stunned.
Once you get past the name, the movie is brilliant in the Donnie Darko/River's Edge type of way, but lighter -- like a recent John Waters film. Once I had seen the film all the way through, I liked it, but I remember originally seeing the title and thinking of trashy '80s fare like C.H.U.D. or The Toxic Avenger.
The Chumscrubber is a suburban nightmare film, revolving around the suicide of an integral player in the area's pill addiction economy. The suicide is about 5 minutes into the film, so I don't consider it a spoiler. Every character in the film is either on prescription medication, be it legitmate or not, or on "Veggiforce" vitamins. With the main supplier gone, the entire high school population begins to unravel without their meds.
There are few big names in this film, and the ones that are recognizable are not given any more weight than the unknown players. Glenn Close turns in a very subtle but intensely creepy performance as the dead dealer's mother, and only she is in danger of outacting the cast. The rest of the players are well-matched and balanced, under the direction of first-timer Arie Posin, a man about whom there is not much information, even on the internet.
I'm not sure what else to say about this film that wouldn't give away its continual surprises. This is one of the few movies where the next scene is a true unknown. Chumscrubber makes perfect sense and only bends reality a little, but it is entirely unpredictable. Along with the aforementioned John Waters, I would compare Posin's writing with Tod Solondz, of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness.
The other wonderful rarity of Chumscrubber is that the scenes are not played to one specific emotion. There are moments that some people would find hilarious, and others would find darkly depressing. I'm reluctant to call this film a drama or a comedy, unless I could say that it is one or the other, but definitely not both at the same time; the genre of the film depends on the viewer.
Watch it. Twice. Thanks to Q-500 participants Amy and Stephen Virgilo for the high ratings/recommendations.
I watched 10 DVDs this week. 241 DVDs in 183 days. 259 DVDs left in the next 182 days for a pace of 9.96 per week. Normally, this is not a problem, but I do have the pesky Independence Day with no mail. If they mail out my new discs on Monday, I'll probably get some on Wednesday, so if I watch two that day I may be able to get 10 for the week. I would've hit 11 this week, but when I took the DVD out of the Underworld: Evolution sleeve, it turned out to be the first film, which I had just watched.
The year is now officially halfway over, and I am 9 DVDs behind. If I hadn't spent a week in Salt Lake City, I'd be on track by now, but that trip was completely worth it. Challenges do lay ahead, especially in the critical days near the end of the year when there will be no mail due to Thanksgiving and X-mas holidays. I need to get ahead a bit so I can have some 8 DVD weeks.