Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Italian movies through Netflix

Bergman and Antonioni have left us. In their place we have The Simpsons Movie. If this leaves you in despair over the current state of cinema, you might console yourself by immersing yourself in the classics. For those of you who don't know yet, Netflix is an online movie-rental service. It claims a database of over 80,000 movies, including foreign movies. It has an ample selection of Italian films (of my top ten, only the Moretti was missing), ranging from the classics to more modern fare. Although personally I agree with Quentin Tarantino that (with the exception of Moretti himself) contemporary Italian cinema is nothing special.

To get an idea of its Italian offerings, see the listings under the appropriate sub-section of the Foreign category. Perusing this, I noticed that a director search will not yield all the titles that are actually in the collection, e.g. I searched under Pasolini's name and came up with relatively few titles, while the sub-section itself had others as well. The above listings are helpfully in the form of an annotated filmography, and seem to be ranked by the number of stars. For those of you who want to see these films to practice the language, remember that not all of them will be in Italian- some are dubbed, some were shot originally in other languages (like Antonioni's Blow up, in English, or Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, in French and Arabic).

Netflix sends out DVDs in red envelopes with no delivery charge, in about one business day. They are returned in pre-paid envelopes supplied by the service. There is no time limit or late fee, but you cannot get another choice until you return the previous film. Plans range from $4.99 to $23.99, and a free two-week trial is now being offered.