FYI :Rules of the Netflix List Blitz
- I’ll watch and write about every movie currently on my list. Pretty simple first rule there.
- I’m not obligated to finish a movie. I can’t think of any movie I’ve ever seen that started off horribly for more than twenty minutes and then ended up being worth the watch. A slow start or lull is fine, but if I get a sense what I’m watching is truly bad–in a completely uninteresting way–I reserve the right to abandon flick.
- I’m only watching movies on my list, not television series. Bates Motel, you’ll have to wait.
- I’m going in order of the current state of the list. Which, for the purposes of any smattering of readers who may start following along, is going to make this list appear quite random.
- I’m strictly going to write what I feel. Some entries may be in depth, some may focus less on the movie itself than on some outside thoughts the movie planted in my head, and some may entries may be improbably brief. (Given my propensity for longwindedness, don’t bet too much on that last one.)
I used to joke that if Netflix was a store that sold household goods and you bought kitchen knives from them, the clerk would ask at checkout if you’d like to get stabbed. “Because of your interest in knives.” In short, their recommendation system had some flaws.
It’s improved somewhat over time, but it’s still imperfect. You still get some ridiculous “related” recommendations, particularly when it comes to movies or filmmakers currently not on the service (Blood and Black Lace isn’t currently available for streaming, but Black Mirror and Blacklist are apparently related, because we know all Black-titled movies look alike).
I write all of this because I’m not sure how the film Rams ended up on my list. Obviously I added it, but I can’t imagine why. Netflix’s personalized rating system gives it 4.5 stars, which means that it thinks it’s the kind of movie I would love, but the provided premise doesn’t move me one way or the other: “Two estranged sheep-farming brothers must re-open dialogue with each other if they want to save their herds.”Doesn’t sound like something I’d go out of my way to watch or avoid. I’d never heard of the film before, I’m completely unfamiliar with its Icelandic cast and director. Nordic farmer family feuds and reconciliations aren’t a subject I’m actively into. To come clean here, Rams almost made me cheat on the basic rules of this Netflix List Blitz just three entries into the series.
I primarily write horror stories, and generally read a lot of horror fiction, crime novels and historical accounts, but I’m also a sucker for a good relationship story, or even a sappy relationship story, sometimes. Love Jones is one of my favorite movies and I have a huge soft spot for improbable romance road trip indy flick Take Me Home. On the platonic side of things, I really like the quirky relationship-building of The Life Aquatic, the core friendship in Swingers sustains the film, the ending of The Straight Story breaks and warms my heart every time, and Fried Green Tomatoes hits me right in the limbic system. So while I’m at a loss for what might have made me add Rams to my queue (if I had to hazard a guess, wine is probably to blame), it’s not as if it had no chance of entertaining or engaging me.
So how did I like the film? Well… well enough. The premise alone is somewhat quirky, but also a bit darker than what Netlfix offers. One of the estranged brothers, Kiddi, is not in the best place mentally, which is emotionally taxing on the other brother, Gummi. The film has jokes, but overall it has a darker sense of humor than I expected, as well. In fact, it has a darker, bleaker everything than I initially expected. Visually, it’s deliberately wan, even during some gorgeous wide shots of the Icelandic countryside. And, similar to The Straight Story, there are overriding conflicts with regret and time itself, acting as an unstoppable tag team. While the former can be managed, the latter always gets the win. Some movies just make this more apparent than others. As for how apparent Rams makes it, well, I did say the movie was bleaker than expected…
Some day down the road, I think I’ll give Rams another viewing to see if I like it more than I do now. As it stands, it’s a solid film, and I don’t regret the time I spent on it, but for the most part it didn’t do much for me. But once upon a time, I felt the same way about The Life Aquatic before re-watching it and discovering a new favorite, and Rams has planted just enough promise in my head on first watch for me to think that maybe I just didn’t come into it in the right mood.
Up Next: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night