Best of Digital – Netflix Movies

Icon-Movie-150Carrying on the series from last week’s Best of Digital – Netflix TV Shows, I’d like to highlight a few perhaps hidden gems of Netflix’s movie offerings.

Capote – Writer Truman Capote finds himself in a dance with the devil while researching the Clutter family murders for his masterwork, “In Cold Blood.” It won Philip Seymour Hoffman the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award in 2006.

Fargo  – When a car dealer conspires with dim-bulb criminals to kidnap his wife for a hefty ransom, a folksy — and pregnant — police chief is on the case. It won 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 1997.

Stand By Me – When four boys seek adventure in the woods while looking for a missing teenager’s dead body, they learn some truths about themselves along the way.

Vanilla Sky – A man who has everything — money, good looks and a gorgeous woman — seemingly loses it all when his face is horribly disfigured in a car accident.

Fish Tank – The life of a hot-tempered teen outcast takes an unexpected turn when her mother brings home a handsome and mysterious boyfriend.

The Raid – Trapped in a tenement building during a raid, a SWAT team must fight its way out against the forces of a drug lord they were trying to assassinate.

Battle Royale – The Japanese government introduces a system whereby randomly chosen schoolchildren are taken to an island and forced to fight each other to the death.

Carrie – An outcast teen with telekinetic ability lashes out with her deadly power when the high school “in crowd” torments her with a sick joke at the prom.

The Square – As the Egyptian Revolution unfolds, this 2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature immerses the viewer in the intense emotional drama of young people on the streets of Cairo claiming their rights and creating a society of conscience. As two governments topple, the personal stories of the freedom fighters unfold in an inspiring tribute to the power of citizenship.

Best of Digital – Netflix TV Shows

Icon-TV-150Digital streaming entertainment has come a long way in the last years, but what it sometimes struggles with is some form of curation. So, I’ll be working my way through the various digital TV and movie options, one at a time, and highlighting a few things.

This week, we start with Netflix’s TV offerings:

Justified – U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens takes the law into his own hands, frontier-style, as he faces off against crooks in the Appalachian town where he grew up.

The Returned – On returning home and finding they’re believed to be dead, a collection of near-strangers from the same village try to find a reason for their plight.Person of Interest

House of Cards – Kevin Spacey stars as ruthless, cunning Congressman Francis Underwood, who will stop at nothing to conquer the halls of power in Washington D.C. His secret weapon: his gorgeous, ambitious, and equally conniving wife

Orange is the New Black – Piper Chapman’s wild past comes back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper trades her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.

Black Mirror – This sci-fi anthology series in the vein of “The Twilight Zone” reflects on the darker side of technology and human nature.

The Bridge – When a body is found on the bridge between Denmark and Sweden, a Danish inspector and a Swedish detective must work together to find the killer.

American Horror Story – Exploring humankind’s unsettling capacity for evil, this darkly twisted drama plays upon the power of supernatural fears and everyday horrors.

The Thick of It – This award-winning fictitious reality comedy cleverly pokes fun at the intricacies — and ineptitude — of the modern British government.

Comixology and Frictionless Digital Consumption

I’ve long maintained that one of the things that increases consumption of digital entertainment is the reduction in friction. I don’t just mean the convenience of accessing digital media anytime and anywhere, but actually making it increasingly easy to keep consuming it; encouraging you to stay and consume more. Netflix does this very well. When you’ve finished watching an episode of a TV show, you don’t have to hunt down the next one. In fact, if you pause to consider for more than 15 seconds, the next episode will start to play automatically. Frictionless.

Breaking Bad Netflix Continue

I mention this because Comixology, the market-leading digital comics source, used to have the same thing, you’d get to the end of a comic and you’d be shown a screen with an option to read the next issue if you had it already, buy it if you didn’t, and if it was the end of a series you’d be shown similar comics. Again, frictionless. It was made easy to keep reading and keep buying.

The latter was the sticking point though. When Amazon bought Comixology, they decided to move to the same model as for Kindle books: Buying them as In-App Purchases cuts into Amazon’s profits as they’d have to give 30% to Apple or Google. So, as with Kindle books, Comixology purchases can now only occur on their website.

I understand their reasoning for this, nobody likes the idea of giving away 30% of profits, not when there’s another option. And there’s a strong argument for the fact that creators will get a bigger cut of profits. However, in my view it’s a bigger cut of a smaller pie. Because it’s no longer frictionless.

Now, if I want to read the next comic in a series, I have to put my tablet down, load up my computer, browse to the Comixology website, search for the comic, check out, enter my PayPal details… When previously, all I had to do was press the button marked Buy, then OK then start reading. Frictionless.

Time will tell whether Comixology really does take this predicted hit in sales, whether people will adapt to putting their tablets down, shift to buying Kindle Fire HDs or whether Amazon will cave in. But however you spin it, by adding friction Amazon and Comixology have fumbled this and lost a lot of goodwill.

Twenty Dollars Worth of Comics

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

To commemorate the recommencement of work on Broken Gears, it’s time to do a list for comics, similar to my £50 Worth of Movies. Perfect for those in possession of a shiny tablet, a ComiXology account, a desire to get back into comics and 20 digital dollars burning a hole in their Paypal account.

Just like the movie list, where TV show box sets were prohibitively priced for the restriction, graphic novels and collected editions aren’t going to be able to make the cut here. So I’m going to focus on individual issues that I think are good samplers or otherwise worthy of note.

And the final caveat: This list is going to be contentious, but it’s my wholly unsophisticated and personal opinion. There’s not a person in the world who would agree with every single option on this list. I hope the list is at least interesting, even if it’s not good.

Saga #1  $-  Image Possibly one of the best new comics in the last years; inventive, touching and exciting, a space opera with a difference
Young Avengers Volume 2 #1  $1.99  Marvel What happens when YA doesn’t mean toned down, but turned up? Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie at the height of their powers.
Phonogram  Volume 2 #1  $-  Image By the same team as Young Avengers, these series is wonderful, unless you hate music and comics.
Hellblazer #143  $1.99  DC A one-shot by Warren Ellis and a decent introduction to the character of John Constantine.
All Star Superman #1  $1.99  DC In my view, All Star Superman is the only Superman comic anyone needs to read.
The Sandman #1  $1.99  DC Launching the career of a young Neil Gaiman, this masterpiece is required reading
The Mire   $0.99  Indie A beautiful and heartbreaking indie comic.
Detective Comics #871  $1.99  DC The start of the Batman: Black Mirror storyline
The Walking Dead #1  $-  Image Thanks to the TV show, The Walking Dead now has worldwide renown. It started here.
Planetary #1  $-  DC Warren Ellis again, this time a high-octane meta-comic, unearthing the archaeology of comics while mocking the Fantastic Four.
Sex Criminals #1  $-  Image Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is a strangely sweet tale, and my current favourite comic.
Mouse Guard: Fall #1  $-  Archaia Bravery! Adventure! Tiny Mouse Warriors! Written and laboriously illustrated by the talented David Petersen.
Civil War #1  $1.99  Marvel I think they wimped out at the end of the series, but Civil War is important in Marvel comics lore.
Immortal Iron Fist #1  $1.99  Marvel A sideline character, barely worthy of note. But nobody told Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, who spun an epic tale.
American Vampire #1  $0.99  Image Gunslingers and vampires and lots and lots of blood!
30 Days of Night #1  $-  IDW Source material for the film, this showcases Ben Templesmith’s beautiful art.
Nightly News #1  $-  Image Can you trust what you read? What you hear? It’s time to take the messengers to account
Fables #1  $1.99  DC Fairy tale characters escape to New York, to flee a war that has robbed them of their homelands.
Nextwave #1  $1.99  Marvel Warren Ellis yet again, who somehow convinced Marvel to let him spend a comic mocking The Avengers and all things Marvel.
Chew #1  $-  Image A Cibopath can take a bite from anything and get a  sensation of what has happened to that object. Which can get gross if you’re a detective.
The Invisibles #1  $0.99  DC Magic and rebellion, this is Grant Morrison’s magnum opus and grimoire.