The Daily Twitter Recommendation

May 01, 2014
A thought by James Berardinelli

It seems like just yesterday when there was widespread speculation which format would win the high-def home video war: Blu-Ray or HD-DVD? That was seven years ago. At the time, I engaged in speculation about how long the eventual winner would enjoy its primacy. My thinking at the time was that the "window" would last between five and ten years. By the end of that period, hard copies of movies would be largely replaced by files.

Eventually, my thinking went, even the concept of a locally stored movie would become obsolete. In my vision of the future, everyone would pay a monthly fee, transforming movie access into a utility like cable, gas, or electric. For that money, the consumer would have unlimited access to a vast library of movie titles that could be accessed at will. And, because virtually every title would be available, there would be no need to stockpile files on a computer. The concept of movie "ownership" would become obsolete, but we could have anything on-demand.

We may not be there yet but we're getting closer. I still buy Blu-Ray discs, but my total number is down to about a half-dozen a year - titles I really want to support. There's something reassuring about holding a disc in my hands. It's the same kind of romanticism some have for books and newspapers. And, if the apocalypse comes and the Internet goes down, at least I know I can still watch those movies (assuming I can find a power source). For the most part, however, I'm relying on downloadable files. And streaming.

The problem with streaming is that availability is hit-and-miss. It's a great approach if you're flexible but if you want to see a particular title, you're likely to be out of luck. Streaming services take what's made available to them and that rarely includes "coveted" titles. Studios still view their DVD/Blu-Ray business as a primary revenue source and won't make any big movies available for streaming until disc sales are well past their peak. Good luck streaming any major films within a year of their theatrical release. After that, some become available while others don't.

Streaming is a godsend, however, for limited distribution and foreign films. A lot of obscure, brilliant titles are available - it's finding them that can be a difficulty. So I'm going to take a stab at bridging the gap between availability and viewer awareness. My goal with this feature is to provide a title per day, announced via Twitter, that I consider worthwhile and that is available for streaming. I can't promise every movie will be a classic and some will be better known than others. When I have written a review or other commentary (such as notes from a film festival screening), I'll provide a link but not every recommendation will have a write-up attached. (In my life, I have seen about 10,000 movies but reviewed only 4000.)

There are a lot of different streaming services to choose from but many have the same "core" content. For my recommendations, I'll be relying on Netflix because it's the most widely used service of this sort. Everything I recommend will be available on Netflix (at least at the time of the recommendation) but most of the titles will also be available on many of the alternative services. (For example, Amazon Prime's library is about 95% identical to Netflix's.)

I don't know how long I'll maintain this feature. Eventually, I'll run out of films I'm enthusiastic about recommending. When that time comes, I'll stop, perhaps with little fanfare. I will use this ReelThoughts page (with a permanent link in the "Special Features" section of the left-hand column) to keep a running list (although it will be updated irregularly) so anyone who doesn't use Twitter can access the recommendation roster here.

Follow me on Twitter here.

May 1, 2014: April Snow (Korea, 2005)
May 2, 2014: Show Me Love (Sweden, 1998)
May 3, 2014: Cairo Time (Canada/Egypt, 2009)
May 4, 2014: Swimming Pool (France/United Kingdom, 2003)
May 5, 2014: Das Boot (West Germany, 1891)
May 6, 2014: Blue is the Warmest Color (France, 2013)
May 7, 2014: Beyond Silence (Germany, 1996)
May 8, 2014: Safety Not Guaranteed (United States, 2012)
May 9, 2014: Outsourced (United States, 2006)
May 11, 2014: The Apartment (United States, 1960)
May 12, 2014: My Summer of Love (United Kingdom, 2004)
May 13, 2014: Monsters (United Kingdom, 2010)
May 14, 2014: The War Zone (United Kingdom, 1999)
May 15, 2014: Side Effects (United States, 2013)
May 16, 2014: Adventureland (United States, 2009)
May 17, 2014: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (United States, 1962)
May 18, 2014: Nobody Knows (Japan, 2005) [No Review]
May 19, 2014: Amistad (United States, 1997)
May 20, 2014: Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day (United Kingdom, 2008)
May 21, 2014: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (United Kingdom, 1983) [No Review]
May 22, 2014: A Fish Called Wanda (United States, 1988)
May 23, 2014: From Russia with Love (United Kingdom, 1963)
May 24, 2014: Silverado (United States, 1985) [No Review]
May 25, 2014: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (United States, 1982)
May 26, 2014: Starman (United States, 1984) [No Review]
May 27, 2014: Gattaca (United States, 1997)
May 28, 2014: Strange Days (United States, 1995)
May 29, 2014: King Kong (United States, 1976)
May 30, 2014: Dragonslayer (United States, 1981) [No Review]
May 31, 2014: The City of Lost Children (France, 1996)
June 1, 2014: Raging Bull (United States, 1980)
June 2, 2014: Cinema Paradiso (Italy, 1988)
June 3, 2014: Chinatown (United States, 1974)
June 4, 2014: All About Eve (United States, 1950)
June 5, 2014: Say Anything (United States, 1989)
June 6, 2014: The Untouchables (United States, 1987)
June 7, 2014: Amelie (France, 2001)
June 8, 2014: An Ideal Husband (UK/USA, 1999)
June 9, 2014: Dr. Strangelove (United Kingdom, 1964)
June 10, 2014: In the Loop (United Kingdom, 2009)
June 11, 2014: Glengarry Glen Ross (United States, 1992)
June 12, 2014: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (United States, 2005)
June 13, 2014: Punch Drunk Love (United States, 2002)
June 14, 2014: Microcosmos (France, 1996)
June 15, 2014: Downfall (Germany/Italy, 2004)
June 16, 2014: The Cider House Rules (United States, 1999)
June 17, 2014: Taxi Driver (United States, 1976)
June 18, 2014: The African Queen (United States, 1951) [No Review]
June 20, 2014: Grease (United States, 1978)
June 21, 2014: Goldfinger (United Kingdom, 1964)
June 22, 2014: Fish Tank (United Kingdom, 2009)
June 23, 2014: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (UK, 1989)
June 24, 2014: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (USA, 1977)
June 25, 2014: Heathers (United States, 1989) [No Review]
June 26, 2014: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (United States, 1991)
June 27, 2014: Touching the Void (United Kingdom, 2003)
June 28, 2014: American Psycho (United States, 2000)
June 29, 2014: The Intouchables (France, 2011)
June 30, 2014: Short Term 12 (United States, 2013)
July 2, 2014: Manhattan (United States, 1979)
July 5, 2014: Muriel's Wedding (Australia, 1994)
July 6, 2014: Reservoir Dogs (United States, 1992)
July 7, 2014: Patton (United States, 1970)
July 8, 2014: City of God (Brazil, 2002)
July 10, 2014: Hitch (United States, 2005)
July 11, 2014: Heavenly Creatures (New Zealand, 1994)
July 14, 2014: Legends of the Fall (United States, 1994)
July 17, 2014: Bad Santa (United States, 2003)
July 21, 2014: Shakespeare in Love (United States/United Kingdom, 1998)
July 27, 2014: The Grey (United States, 2012)
July 30, 2014: Like Father, Like Son (Japan, 2013)
August 2, 2014: Following (United Kingdom, 1998)