America loves Gottis, America loves bodies
Pacino counting C-Notes for shooting up club lobbies
While Eddie Nash controls bankrolls in Wonderland
Tony Soprano hits channels and holds down On-Demand
CunninLynguistsAmerica Loves Gangsters

I never watched The Sopranos when it originally aired on HBO, but I have always been a fan of mob-themed movies. I don’t know when this fascination started, but I can’t get enough of movies like The Godfather pts I and II, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale, Donnie Brasco, etc. Well, recently I started watching The Sopranos and throughout the series Tony Soprano does some disgusting things that repulse you, but then there are other times where you realize you start admiring the man for the good things he does for his family, and his “family.” He’s a hypocrite, just like the rest of us, maybe that’s what makes his character so intriguing. One minute he’s friendly with the parents of the friends of his kids, the next he’s taking their business due to gambling debts, and enjoying it. It’s compelling television.

What is it with America’s fascination with gangsters? Do we like the violence and power or do we like the deep characters? Some of the most widely acclaimed movies involve some of the most violent characters. Think Scarface. I don’t think I’ve seen an episode of Cribs where either the movie isn’t playing in the background or there’s a giant poster on the wall. In Godfather, Michael Corleone rules in a more calm manner, but the amount of violence and destruction he can inflict with one command is amazing. So do we love the violence and power or do we love well-written characters that happen to be violent? I don’t know what the answer to that, but I do know there’s more to the characters than violence. You see Michael Coreleone’s frustrations when he wants to make the family business legitimate, but struggles along the way. “C” finally realizes how bad the gangster life is after his hero falls in A Bronx Tale, but you also feel sad because Sonny dies. And I can’t wait to see the cat and mouse game between Christian Bale and Johnny Depp in the Dillinger movie, Public Enemies. So why do we love them? I don’t know, but Hollywood knows we do and as long as there are gangsters, Hollywood will be making movies about them.

Saturday night I saw Kevin Smith’s new movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The story is a simple one. Two friends need money so they decide to make a porno movie. Ok, it’s a bit deeper than that, as Kevin Smith movies always are. Essentially, it’s about the relationship between Seth Rogen’s Zack and Elizabeth Banks’ Miri, and how they discover they have feelings that go deeper than just friendship, all while making a porno. Both Rogen and Banks were great in it. Rogen plays his usual average guy, the one that has made him so successful. Banks played his loser friend, and while that is a bit of a stretch for such a beautiful woman who usually wouldn’t have anything to do with a guy that looks like Seth Rogen, she plays her role well. There are a lot of laughs throughout the movie, and I’m talking about laugh-out-loud laughs, especially by Craig Robinson (Daryl from The Office). It wouldn’t be a Kevin Smith movie without a gross-out moment and Jason Mewes. This movie has both, but I won’t reveal any spoilers. All in all, it’s a great comedy about sex, with plenty of dirty language and laughs, but also with a bit of heart. This movie isn’t as good as Chasing Amy or Clerks but it does surpass Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. If you’re out looking for a good laugh, go see this movie. It’s definitely worth it.

It is October, which means it’s scary movie season. I love scary movies but I’m never really frightened from them. Newer movies are especially bad. They are either torture porn or not scary at all. The only movie that has ever really freaked me out was the original The Exorcist. That is such a good movie and really knows how to keep you on edge. So far this season I’ve watched The Happening, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Shutter. Next up are Poltergeist, Interview with the Vampire, maybe The Exorcism of Emily Rose again. I’m saving The Exorcist for right before Halloween. If anyone has any good horror movies to suggest, I’m open to them. (No torture porn like The Hills Have Eyes or Japanese remakes like The Grduge).

This entire week Blockbuster has only been shipping me two movies. I have the three movies out at a time plan yet I’m only having two shipped. Today, I decided to contact customer support to see what is going on. Here is my email:

For a few days now only two DVDs will be out at a time, even though I have DVDs that are available to ship in my queue. I have the 3 at a time plan, so why aren’t 3 shipping?

I think it explains my problem well. I have DVDs available, they are not shipping. Here is the response I got:

I am sorry if we haven’t ship your DVD. I’ve reviewed your account and see that you are waiting for one DVD to be shipped. Here’s an explanation of why this happened. I noticed that your queue mostly contains box/series sets, which if added as a set (with the padlock), they are considered a as a group and treated as a single request when the system searches for available DVDs to ship.

In looking at your queue, this appears to be the case. “X-Files: The Complete First Season” is not shipping due to its availability of disc number disc one. Unfortunately, this prevented anything from being shipped. Based on the way our system searches for movies, we suggest keeping at least 15 “Available” titles in your queue at all times, keeping in mind that each set is considered as “one” during this process. I really hope this information helps, Mike. Please let me know if I can answer any further questions.

Ok, I would understand this answer if two things weren’t a factor:

  • 1. I didn’t have movies that were available to ship that weren’t part of a boxed set at the top of my queue. I do. Why not ship them?
  • 2. They already shipped 2 discs of The X-Files season 3 (the first season that is currently available). Since they’ve already started shipping those discs (last week) why not pick back up with shipping them since I have an empty slot? This makes no sense.

So basically I’m paying for a plan to ship 3 movies and Blockbuster only wants to ship 2. Great job Blockbuster. Maybe it’s time to go back to Netflix.

Update: I have canceled my Blockbuster account. Not just for this reason, but also other reasons (no streaming service, queue page problems, etc) and moved back to Netflix.

Blockbuster Online launched a new design today. The look isn’t bad but there are some things that concern me. First, each new page I go to I see a welcome back message at the top of the screen under the navigation. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but every time I go to a new page it welcomes back a different name. I’ve been Ken, Brandy, Daniel, Walter, etc. I just hope personal information isn’t readily available to other users during this design launch period.

The second thing that bugs me is Blockbuster launched the download service. You can buy and download or rent and download movies now. They are late to the game with this. Netflix has allowed streaming for a year now. Blockbuster seems to have more new releases available to download than Netflix but you have to pay for them, even if you’re already an Online subscriber. With most plans on Netflix you get unlimited streaming as part of your plan. Like Netflix, Blockbuster’s download service only works with Internet Explorer on Windows. I’m tired of major companies not supporting other browsers and operating systems. I want to watch on my Mac and I want to watch using Firefox. With Apple systems gaining in popularity and Firefox having a 20% market share, it’s time to show some support. Netflix is rumored to support Macs by the end of 2008 so maybe I’ll switch back to them when that time comes. For $1 more a month than Blockbuster I’ll have unlimited streaming, which comes in handy at work.