One of these days, the powers that be in the entertainment industry will realize how valuable a robust offering online will be to their bottom line and their audience share. Until then, we’ll just need to keep an eye out for the more enticing furtive steps in their slow toddle toward the inevitable. As someone who doesn’t have cable and relies mostly on Netflix for their movies, the web is the obvious choice. And, over the last month or so, Hulu has been my destination of choice for TV and movies.
Hulu, for the time being, appears to be primarily NBC Universal- and Newscorp-owned content, including some older stuff. There are some great full-length movies on there, such as The Big Lebowski, Ghostbusters, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as some classics. But there’s also a bunch of junk, both contemporary and B-movie. My biggest gripe is that there are so many good movies listed at Hulu that only exist as clips, which makes no sense to me whatsoever. Why tease me with movies I can’t watch? Why keep the good content offline? It’s just frustrating and I can’t figure out the pattern as to what’s fully available and what isn’t. I suspect it’s either someone being foolishly cagey about their content, or a bit of market testing to see if people will watch clips on Hulu like they do on YouTube. Frankly, I think they should not try to be YouTube, and focus on their strength: full content at a better resolutions, with minimal interruptions.
If you’re willing to accept that current TV shows seem to have a strangely limited shelf-life and a few ads (usually 3 or 4 per episode/film), Hulu is a great spot for finding full-length content.
I’ve recently been working my way through the two seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, a great precursor to the Twilight Zone. If you’re not familiar with Hitchcock’s work, you owe it to yourself to check it out, at the very least for his introductions and closing monologues. His humor is very devilish, and his distinct dry delivery makes it twice as effective.
To digress for moment, this got me thinking about :
My own favorite memory of Hitchcock comes from an incident at the St. Regis Hotel in New York in 1964. After some frozen daiquiris had left me a bit tipsy and Hitch quite red-faced and cheerful, we got on the elevator at the 25th floor and rode in silence to the 19th, where, when three people dressed for the evening entered, he suddenly turned to me and said, “Well, it was quite shocking, I must say there was blood everywhere!” I was confused, thinking that because of the daiquiris I’d missed something, but he just went right on: “There was a stream of blood coming from his ear and another from his mouth.” Of course, everyone in the elevator had recognized him but no one looked over. Two more people from the 19th floor entered as he continued: “Of course, there was a huge pool of blood on the floor and his clothes were splattered with it. Oh! It was a horrible mess. Well, you can imagine . . . ” It felt as if no one in the elevator, including me, was breathing. He now glanced at me, I nodded dumbly, and he resumed: “Blood all around! Well, I looked at the poor fellow and I said, ‘Good God, man, what’s happened to you?’#8221; And then, just as the elevator doors opened onto the lobby, Hitchcock said, “And do you know what he told me?” and paused. With reluctance, the passengers now all moved out of the elevator and looked anxiously at the director as we passed them in silence. After a few foggy moments, I asked, “So what did he say?” And Hitch smiled beatifically and answered, “Oh, nothing — that’s just my elevator story.”
For kicks (and further digression), here are some screen caps of the title cards for a few episodes:
Looking at these, I suddenly realized where the designers for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button likely got their inspiration (partly, at least) for the title design. I’m quite enamored with the consciously awkward type and typesetting. It feels right for many reasons. I even like the low hook of the J, which serves no purpose but to add an oddly foreboding form to the design. I’m not sure what the typeface is, but it’s complimented by the titling italic of Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ exquisite Requiem, a celebration of 16th-century Renaissance humanist forms. An interesting pairing, to be sure.