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Film: So Many Films, So Little Time

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES February 2015 online

Drawing by Henry P. Raleigh

I admit it. I was at first overwhelmed by the bounty of films provided by NetFlix — all paraded before my wondrous eyes by Roku. Hundreds, it seemed, of American movies from the late 90’s to the present. OK, maybe only a year or so behind the present and at any rate bound to catch up in a few months. These treasures are arranged library-like in handy categories: Thrillers, Drama, Comedy, Crime (over thirty of these each citing fifty or so movies). If Action and Adventure is not enough for you there is Violent Action and Adventure and what is Cerebral Dark? Well sir, if there is a movie you’d like to see not found in the welter of categories just go to the keyboard alphabet, punch it in and there you are — actually you are seldom there but it's fun to try.

Now the temptation to binge on these riches is irresistible. I admit to this as well. However, I discovered, and I pass this caveat on to you, the price of gorging on movies, like that of gorging on food, is that before long everything begins to taste the same. You see, there is a basic unvarying recipe for the American film. Variations are but a matter of seasonings and in what proportions. For example, the recipe may begin with a handsome man and a stunningly beautiful woman, and they usually do; then we have a Romantic movie unless one or the other tells a joke; then its a RomCom. Should a gun appear the movie is dramatic, if the gun is used to shoot someone it’s a Crime film and if the police give chase Action and Adventure. If the seasoning gets out of hand and the resulting dish is a mess then we have a Cerebral film or maybe a Sci/Fi or Horror. That’s about all there is to it. Once you’ve got the basic recipe down, the one-size-fits all formula, you may as well switch to Roku’s “Television” category. Thank goodness they put that one in the line-up figuring we film lovers were going to need some relief.

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