Amazon’s Prime Directive

I would really like to see someone give Netflix a run for their money. Sadly Hulu, which has a great TV selection, only pays lip service to movies. Blockbuster’s service is a joke and all others are a la carte. The individual pricing model ($3-$7 per viewing) for streaming is ridiculous given the ubiquitous nature of Redbox kiosks (less than $2 for a 24-hour rental and many coupons and special offers). Digital distribution requires no physical item and no physical presence so why would it be more expensive?

All of that leaves Amazon as the remaining alternative. I had expected the amazon Prime service to grow by leaps and bounds when the Kindle Fire debuted but was disappointed. Unfortunately Amazon hamstrings itself. They are attached to the a la carte model so there is no incentive for them to put their utmost into Prime. This means that they are still running a distant second to Netflix in movies and third to Hulu and Netflix in television.

Two recent news stories are hopefully pointing to some beneficial changes. First they have reached a deal to finally put Amazon Prime videos on the Xbox 360. Presumably the difficulty there lay in the offerings from Microsoft’s failed Zune service. Amazon Prime is now available on Kindle Fire, PS3, Roku, Xbox 360, and many TVs and Blu-Ray players. Xbox 360 Gold members will be able to preview the Prime service from June 1st-June 3rd.

Amazon Prime has also debuted their new watchlist program on Xbox 360, PC, Mac or Kindle Fire (coming soon to PS3 and Roku). It is essentially Netflix’ queue system but is welcome nonetheless.

The second news story is that Amazon and Paramount have inked a deal to add Paramount’s back catalog to Prime. Fortunately I have learned that many of these announcements are little more than hype. What the announcement really means is that some select Paramount movies will appear on Amazon Prime. For example, the announcement mentions that Mission Impossible III will be available. I understand Ghost Protocol is too new but why wouldn’t Mission Impossible 1 and 2 be available?

Gizmodo recommended 20 films to immediately add to your watchlist, some of which I found rather dubious though it was still a good list. Additional comments to the list are mine.

Team America: World Police Really? Recommending puppet porn? Good first pick Gizmodo!

Into the Wild Please please please do not watch this – instead go read the far better source book by Jon Krakauer. Optionally, read the equally harrowing Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. The film is not a bad adaptation but it does lose something in translation.

Nacho Libre Interesting especially because there aren’t many English luchador movies but not much more than that.

Downton Abbey Sadly this has been in my Netflix queue for a while but my wife and I have not gotten around to watching it in spite of numerous recommendations.

Grizzly Man

Iron Giant This is an absolutely charming animated film that is great for children and adults.

L. A. Confidential This is a fantastic story of three VERY different cops played by Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey very early in their careers. Won Oscars for Best Writing and Kim Basinger’s performance though I thought Spacey’s was better.

In the Loop

Last of the Mohicans This is one of my absolute favorite movies. Are there any other action movies set during the French and Indian War? Filmed in my beautiful backyard (the mountains of western North Carolina), this is a wonderfully romantic story with some of the best action setpieces made.

Time Bandits Can one ever tire of David Warner as a villain? How about Ralph Richardson as the Supreme Being? If that isn’t enough to sell you then how about John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Sean Connery? Another film that can entertain adults and children.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Entertaining and a nice turn from Jim Carrey but overrated.

Good Night and Good Luck Wait you mean George Clooney can write, act, and direct? Yes he can and wisely gives a starring role to perpetual character actor David Strathairn.

Gosford Park


Braveheart A fine biography of William Wallace from your favorite (or perhaps least favorite) anti-semitic, misogynistic madman, Mel Gibson.

Elizabeth While not as intensive as BBC’s Elizabeth R, Elizabeth is still a great film with wonderful performances, particularly from Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.


Before Sunset

The Tudors Yikes I cannot get behind this pick as the history is pretty lousy and there are much better adaptations of the period, namely BBC’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Page One: Inside the New York Times