Where Did The Week Go…

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It’s a Thursday night and I’m trying to find an alternative to the Duck game. It’s 43-7 at halftime and I’m just not in the mood for yet another blowout. Scanning through the channels I come across FX. The Social Network, one of my favorite movies of the last few years, recently debuted on the network and they’re showing it again.

Now I could just get up off the couch, walk into my room and grab the Blu-ray I own and watch it from the beginning, but that would be too much work. The movie, which is two hours long, is scheduled from 7:30-10pm. Okay so I only have to deal with a half-hour’s worth of commercials. That’s perfectly acceptable.

Remember when we used to do this?

After pondering this seemingly innocuous (and pointless event in my life), I came to the conclusion that perhaps I was joining the masses of people choosing to view their home entertainment strictly through the television. I’ve been reading for a number of years how physical DVDs and Blu-rays are becoming more obsolete in a world of digital downloads, video on demand (VOD) and streaming, but after doing some research, it appears people are taking in their home entertainment however they can get it.

According to The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), digital spending is up 50 percent with more and more consumers purchasing streaming devices and choosing services like VOD. That’s no surprise. But what is surprising is that annual spending on Blu-ray discs jumped 20 percent with total revenue hitting $2 billion for the first time in 2011.

Of course this number specifically references Blu-ray only, which makes sense considering it’s an HD format that’s only been around for six years, but the big increase still feels significant and an indication that perhaps any form of physical discs might last longer than we think.

But let’s get back to my original thought about the idea of choosing to stay parked on my couch instead of viewing the disc I bought. That perfectly encapsulates the shift from disc to digital. It’s a matter of convenience. After the television was invented, we discovered that having to get up every time we wanted to change the channel was just too hard so we came up with the remote control.

This was the first step toward our desire to feel completely satisfied while being entertained. The advent of the Internet allowed us to view any information we desired so leaving the house to go to the library wasn’t necessary anymore. Then came music, then books and now movies. Of course the one thing movies have that music and books don’t is the option of going to the movie theater any day of the week.

Movies will always have that in their hip pocket, but it will be interesting to see how long discs last. The sea of DVDs and Blu-rays on my wall might just feel nostalgic in another five years. Call me old-fashioned, but I like looking at something and holding it in my hand. When others see my collection, they can quickly get a sense of what my tastes are. Now picture this same scenario in 10 years. People won’t have anything to show off except a list on a screen.

That’s not a personal collection, just a queue on your computer.

Netflix Instant Pick: The Relic

I’m starting to get into horror-movie mode with Halloween coming up. Horror is my least favorite genre because the majority of the time, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, scare me. But I do like to carve out one month for scary movies. I usually begin with my personal favorite, Alien, but after that it usually varies from year to year.

For my pick this week I’ve chosen the underrated 1997 film, The Relic. Perhaps it’s underrated because it stars Tom Sizemore, a really good actor whose career was derailed after drug and alcohol problems, and Penelope Ann Miller, an actress who hasn’t appeared in a major film (with the exception of The Artist) for more than a decade.

A monster movie both thrilling and gory.

But in the late ’90s, they were supporting actors given the keys to a major Hollywood monster movie and for the most part, they capably carry the film.

Sizemore plays Lt. Vincent D’Agosta, a superstitious cop investigating a murder at Chicago’s Natural History Museum. The gruesome crime scene appears to be connected to another crime scene at a cargo ship carrying crates intended to go to the museum. Miller plays Dr. Margo Green, a scientist at the museum who becomes interested in the contents of the crates. What they don’t know is that a large creature was part of the cargo and is now roaming the museum killing people.

For a monster movie, The Relic has high production value. Directed by veteran filmmaker Peter Hyams, the film features great creature effects from Stan Winston, good special effects that hold up and thrilling set pieces. The final 15 minutes in particular showcase all of these elements quite memorably.

They also throw in some decent scares that arrive when people are at their most vulnerable (bathroom stalls, office cubicles and murky sewer systems). I’d classify this film as more of a thriller than a horror film, but there’s still enough scares to fill the running time.

Sure there’s some giant plot holes, like how no one notices this thing before it begins its rampage, or the entire evolution of the creature in the first place, but who cares about that stuff in a creature feature. Nothing is safe, including animals, old men in wheel chairs and security guards in this extremely violent but enjoyable B-movie.

NBA Attempting to Speed Up Games, But Not Actually During Games

Professional athletes are a superstitious group. Some of them eat the same meals before every game, some wear old college shorts under their pro uniforms and others take a specific number of shots before ending shoot arounds.

Another ritual players follow before every game is the pre-game introductions right before tip-off. Lebron James likes to throw talcum powder in the air, Kevin Durant  fist-bumps everyone on press row and Kevin Garnett takes out his pre-game aggression on the padding under the basket.

This is one ritual I’d like to see go away.

Apparently Commissioner David Stern feels these little idiosyncrasies are slowing the game down so he’s initiated a time limit where officials will give teams 90 seconds from the end of the pre-game player introductions to get in place for tip-off.

Teams that aren’t ready in time will be assessed a delay-of-game warning, which could affect the outcome of games as two delay-of-game calls results in a technical foul.

This feels to me like an old principal at a prep school setting a curfew for 10 pm. Except the difference is they’re immature kids and these are grown men. I’m all for speeding up the games, but shouldn’t any changes occur during the game?

If David Stern wants these games to go quicker, he needs to eliminate a T.V. time-out as well as the pointless coach’s interviews at the end of the first and third quarters. But that would mean losing television advertising so we know that’s not going to happen. Instead Stern managed to find an area where the NBA doesn’t make money; those few minutes before play begins. Now those few minutes have become 90 seconds. Is that enough time to get a fist bump from everyone?

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