Tag Archives: Netflix

Westport: A Town Of “Darkness And Pain”

Last week, I posted a story about “Land of Steady Habits.”

The movie — based on 2001 Staples High School graduate Ted Thompson’s debut novel about a Westporter seeking something beyond his soul-crushing marriage and job — has just been released by Netflix.

The New York Times‘ A.O. Scott gave it a strong review yesterday, calling it “unpredictable and fresh.”

He begins:

The American suburb is zoned for ambivalence. Neither city nor country, suburbia — at least in the imagination of too many novelists, filmmakers and songwriters to count — yokes affluence to alienation. Beyond the well-kept lawns and hedges are seething hives of adultery, anomie and addiction. These pathologies may not actually be more common along the commuter rail lines than anywhere else, but there is an imposing body of literature that insists otherwise.

He adds of director Nicole Holofcener: “The darkness and pain haunting Westport are more pronounced …than the melancholy and quiet rage that figure in Ms. Holofcener’s other movies.”

Fortunately, that “darkness and pain” refers to the film, not life in our actual town.

I think.

(For the full New York Times review, click here. Hat tips: John Karrel and Fran White)

 

Ted Thompson’s “Land Of Steady Habits”

In 2014, Ted Thompson’s 1st novel was published.

“The Land of Steady Habits” follows Anders Hill. In his early 60s and seemingly comfortable in Fairfield County, he suddenly abandons his career and family for a new condo and a new life.

It doesn’t happen the way he expects, of course. But that makes the debut book from the 2001 Staples High School graduate so intriguing.

The novel earned its author comparisons to Updike and Cheever. Now it’s been made into a Netflix movie.

Ben Mendelsohn (“Rogue One”) plays the lead. Edie Falco (“Sopranos”) and Thomas Mann also star, while Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”) directs.

“The Land of Steady Habits” premieres at the Toronto Film Festival this month.

Here’s the trailer — with a special nod to Thompson’s home town.

It features a shot of Main Street.

(Hat tip: Kerry Long)

Zelda!

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald spent just a few months in Westport — way back in 1920.

But it made a lasting impact on their lives.

Now Netflix and Amazon Prime viewers can relive that crazy time through a new series called “Z: The Beginning of Everything.”

Christina Ricci plays Zelda, “the brilliant, beautiful Southern Belle who became the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age.”

In episode 9, “Scott and Zelda work through rising marital tensions at their Westport house.”

Sounds interesting.

Even if it was filmed on Long Island.

Zelda today...

Zelda today…

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, in front of what appears to be their Westport home.

and yesterday, with F. Scott Fitzgerald in front of their Westport home.

(Hat tips: Erica Peale and Jeff Mitchell)

Blockbuster Goes Bust

The recent “06880” post on the local BP station “gas sale” drew nearly as many comments as the number of gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, across the street, another financial story is unfolding.

Blockbuster is about to file for bankruptcy.  (The chain, that is — not the local outlet, which saw the writing on the wall a while ago and shrunk by half.  The rest of the building now houses a big-and-tall men’s store, which for some reason I never patronize.  Go figure.)

Some see the demise of Blockbuster as a sign that the company failed to adapt to changing technologies and tastes.  It was done in, they say, by Netflix, Redbox and streaming video.

Others see it as market payback for a company that charged usurious late fees, advertised “2-day rentals” that were really 1 night only, and did not stock indie films or controversial documentaries.

As someone who avoids chain outlets whenever possible — Doc’s vs. Starbucks is a no-brainer — I see Blockbuster’s bye-bye as karma.

Back in the pre-Blockbuster day, Westport was awash in mom-and-pop video rental stores.  A funky hole-in-the-wall place next to Westport Pizzeria carried 1 copy of every film ever made, in countries even the UN never heard of.

There was a shop in Westfair, and others sprinkled around town.

Blockbuster drove them all out — and such was its domination, I can’t even remember their names.

I do recall Circuit City, Caldor and Sam Goody — area stores that Blockbuster may soon join in that great retail graveyard in the sky.

If you remember any Westport video stores — from that long-ago era of the 1990s — click the “comments” link.

In the meantime, if you’re not a Netflix, Redbox or streaming video fan — or you just want a change of pace — I’ve got 2 words for you:

Westport Library.

Blockbuster On The Chopping Block?

Blockbuster is closing hundreds of stores — over 500 this year, on top of 374 last year.  In the most recent quarter the once-swaggering company lost $435 million — on top of a $360 million loss a year ago.

I hadn’t thought about Blockbuster in years — in today’s world there’s Netflix (the old-fashioned mail way, plus its streaming service), Hulu, and 5  new technologies that were announced just last night — but the news made me think about my old (very old) friend on the Post Road.  It shrunk to half its size last year, ceding the east end to a big-and-tall clothing store (not my cup of tea).

I couldn’t imagine Blockbuster’s business model working in Westport anymore.  Particularly when the library offers DVDs for the fairly low price of free.

I called the Westport store.  A chirpy voice answered — a ringing phone was probably the most excitement she’d had all day.

“Blockbuster is shutting lots of stores,” I said.  “Is Westport one of them?”

“We’re fine,” she replied.

“Well, how’s business?” I asked.

“Do you need something?” she countered.

“Like someone else I can talk to there?” I said.  I was thinking like, you know, a manager.

“Like a DVD?” she wondered.

No.  I did not need a DVD.

And I don’t know anyone else in Westport who still needs anything from Blockbuster.

Which is why I’m not sure business really is fine, over at the local “video rental store.”

You Be The Judge

A discussion I had yesterday with a Westport  friend soon turned into a bet:

Is it better to keep a Netflix movie for an absurdly long time — say, 6 months — if you think you might watch it someday, or should you send it back because you probably won’t?

One side said:  “How selfish can you be?”

The other side argued that keeping it is actually better, because  it reduces shipping and sorting costs for Netflix, as well as all the energy it takes to transport each DVD back and forth.

“06880” readers:  You be the judge.  Payment for an actual movie is on the line.  Though of course we’ll have to leave Westport to find one.