Netflix Regrets

By Beacon Staff

Last month, I paid $8.99 (a month’s dues for Netflix) for the pleasure of having the DVD “Munich” sit on my coffee table for three-and-a-half weeks.

When I put the film at the top of my Netflix queue, I had every intention of watching the semi-fictionalized drama, which depicts the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the Israeli government’s ensuing response. At the time, it seemed like the perfect choice – a historical complement to the events of this year’s Olympic games.

But each time I contemplated sitting down to watch the nearly three-hour Steven Spielberg film, I found an excuse to avoid it. I wasn’t in the mood for something so “serious” or “depressing.” Too long. Too boring. I could watch the current Olympics, instead. By the time I realized that I was never going to watch the film, I’d lost the return envelope, prolonging the movie’s departure another week.

It turns out I’m not alone.

Slate author John Swansburg asked readers last month to reveal what Netflix rental had languished on their coffee table the longest without getting watched. More than 1,000 people sent in “e-mails confessing to having sat for days, weeks, months, and even years on everything from All About Eve to Z, the Oscar-winning French drama starring Yves Montand,” Swansburg wrote. “Renee from North Carolina has conceived and carried a child to term in the time since Fracture, the Anthony Hopkins thriller, arrived in its red envelope.”

The movie people had the hardest time actually watching, though, was Hotel Rwanda (a movie I actually rented and watched earlier this summer and would highly recommend). As Swansburg and Slate readers point out, Hotel Rwanda and Schindler’s List – a close second on the unwatched list – are both movies about devastating subjects that you feel you need to see. “Both appeal to the lofty sense of ourselves that comes to the fore when we’re managing our queues,” Swansburg wrote. “Neither feels especially appealing after a long day at the office.” Sounds familiar.

With around 8.4 million subscribers, Netflix is widely popular. My favorite part: No late fees. But with that perk, I think, comes the “Munich dilemma:” At what point should you just let go?

Last night, I sat down to watch The Manchurian Candidate, a 2004 remake about a brainwashed army unit and vice-presidential candidate. Admittedly a huge weenie when it comes to any sort of suspense, thriller or horror movie, I turned it off partway through. (While watching the animated movie Ice Age, I once jumped so hard I spilled pizza on the floor. What? The water dinosaurs were a little creepy and I was unprepared.) While I obviously haven’t perfected my queue choices yet, maybe this time I’ll put the movie in the mail sooner rather than later.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.