Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hulu Plus: Why in the world would anyone pay for this?

The rumored day that Hulu goes to pay-per-view is almost here as the TV-online service is previewing its subscription service - Hulu Plus - and for so many reasons it's pretty much predestined to fail.

Before I get into why, here are the specs. Hulu Plus will offer content not available on the free site, including full current seasons of certain shows, plus all the past seasons of shows like "Glee" and "House" (those were the two most often mentioned in the write up I saw, so I suppose Fox is full in here.)

OK, fair enough, but does anyone else see the huge problem here? If you subscribe to Netflix, as I do, you probably well know that, for the same $9.99 price tag (I think - it may have gone up without me noticing), you can get not only the two or three movies at a time mailed to your house, but also a seemingly always-increasing library of TV shows you can watch on your computer (sound familiar?).

Even better than that is that, in perusing the offerings in the latter category, they certainly seem tailor-made to my tastes. I've recently enjoyed past seasons of "30 Rock," "The Office," "Friday Night Lights" and even somehow "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" too. Perhaps best of all, they have the current season of "Party Down" for all of you who don't get Starz, and even without Jane Lynch, that show is almost as wickedly funny as it was in season one.

So, if you can get Netflix's movie library (supplemented very well by the documentary offerings of Docurama) plus its TV on DVD content via computer content, why in the world would you pay the same price for simply the TV offerings, and surely not as much content at that?

The only thing that stood out in the Hulu press release is that you can stream content to your cell phone. Wow. Now if I ever a) feel the need to buy a cell phone or b) want to watch TV on a screen so small it will make my eyes bleed, I know where to go.

OK, enough of that. There has to be some actual good movie news out there today, right? Yes, and it starts with Martin Scorsese's adaptation of one of my favorite books by Brian Selznick, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret."

As production starts this week on that December 2011 flick, it's just been announced that Jude Law and Reel Fanatic fave Ray Winstone have joined an impressive cast that already included Sacha Baron Cohen, Sir Ben Kingsley, Hit-Girl Chloe Moretz and Asa Butterfield (who had the misfortune of starring in the simply dreadful "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" - meh.)

The story itself is about an orphaned boy (Butterfield) who's living in the walls of a Paris train station, where an encounter with a broken-down machine leads him into the world of silent filmmaker George Méliès (Kingsley) and his automatons. Baron Cohen will play the station inspector and Moretz the young female lead, but nothing is known yet about the roles Law or Winstone play.

Even if this is being filmed in 3-D (why in the world?), it's still easily one the movies I'm most looking forward to for 2011.

And in one more bit of news before we get into the videos which, yes, feature a rant from John Cleese, there's a music biopic in the works that has caught my eye.

How do you spark interest in this fairly tired genre? Well casting a great actress or actor to play an interesting subject is certainly the best way. Casting Chiwetel Ejiofor to play Fela Kuti (which has so far only happened in my overactive imagination) would certainly be one way, as would casting Peter Sarsgaard to play bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, which has actually just happened in the real world.

I really can't see the kids en masse getting into bluegrass, but Sarsgaard is easily one of my favorite actors (witness his truly skeevy performance in "An Education" for the most reason example of why), and this aging dude digs that high and lonesome sound, so count me as intrigued by this.

OK, since there's no World Cup futbol until Friday morning, how better to fill the void than this classic rant from John Cleese about the differences between futbol and American football? I love the latter far too much, and unlike Cleese find it to be plenty full of creativity, but there's no denying that this clip, which I found in the latest Roger Ebert Club newsletter, brings the funny. Enjoy.

Until I found out otherwise yesterday, I just assumed that no one would dare open opposite "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," but it seems that one M. Night Shyamalan is brave and foolish enough to enter that fight with "The Last Airbender." And, I have to say, even though M. Night has now delivered more stinkers than winners, he'll still be getting my movie money (in 2-D) this weekend, partly because I love the Nickelodeon "Avatar: The Last Airbender" series it's at least loosely based on, and just out of sheer curiosity. To get ready for it, enjoy this clip of the Slumdog Millionaire engaging in a battle of the elements with some young lady whose name I don't know.

And finally, in what might be - even with John Cleese included - a case of saving the best for last, here are the first five minutes of "The Disappearance of Alice Creed," a crime drama set to drop in at least some American cities in early August. As you'll see from the clip below, it stars Reel Fanatic fave Eddie Marsan as one of two ex-cons who plot to kidnap the daughter of a rich businessman. This could easily devolve into your average torture porn, especially with the rather beguiling Gemma Arterton playing the victim, but judging from the methodical nature of the beginning (I can't do anything about the script at the bottom - sorry), I think director J. Blakeson is up to a lot more than that here. Enjoy, and have a perfectly endurable Wednesday. Peace out.


Bob said...

I think a big reason why soccer, er, football has never really caught on in this country is simply that it's so common for games to end in ties. The idea of a 90+ minute game ending with no resolution...let's face it, is pretty annoying. I find I have mixed feelings about the sport. It's funny that Cleese made this video because the day after the U.S.-England game I immediately thought of one of Cleese's own best bits of writing:

Otto: You know your problem? You don't like winners.
Archie: Winners?
Otto: Yeah. Winners.
Archie: Winners, like North Vietnam?
Otto: Shut up. We didn't lose Vietnam. It was a tie!

Reel Fanatic said...

That is indeed priceless ... and I can see why a lot of people get annoyed with the ties, especially when they end up nil-nil! .. It's why the knockout rounds of the World Cup are so much better than the first round, since, even if it has to be through penalty kicks

Jim Marquis said...

I will be interested to hear what you think of the Airbender flick. Roger Ebert pretty much tore it to pieces.

Reel Fanatic said...

He's far from alone there, Mr. Marquis, so I'm kind of dreading it now, but I'm still gonna soldier through and watch it to find out

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