FlixChatter Review – BOMBSHELL (2019)

Directed by: Jay Roach
Screenplay by: Charles Randolph
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow

Bombshell follows a group of female news anchors as they confront Fox CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) for sexual harassment and attempt to dismantle the toxic atmosphere he created as head of the network. Previously they all had served as clone-like soldiers in Ailes’ army of perfectly manicured blonde newswoman army. Each was complicit in and helped to build the culture, however they are eventually forced to decide which side they will take, pursuing the truth or following the network and Ailes.

From its opening scene, our lead character addresses the camera/audience directly (in news-like fashion) breaking the 4th wall. Bombshell toys with the “uncanny valley” hypothesis. While it is trying to warm you to the main characters by bringing you into the story both literally and figuratively (giving you a behind the scenes look at the inner workings at Fox) it leaves much unexamined. This choice was made to protect the Women whose testimonies were used to create this film, as all who participated in the settlement with Fox were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Director Jay Roach also wrestles with this through his characterization of real life people he is portraying. Charlize Theron is uncanny as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. She is well known for blending into a character and becoming unrecognizable and she once again does a stellar job as Megyn. There is a lot of empathy given to her character as she faces her many pitfalls over the course of 2016 which leads to this amazing performance. But at times it also feels a little creepy watching Charlize as Megyn.

The dichotomy of wanting to tell the story while protecting sources creates an underdeveloped narrative. The film isn’t able to fully delve into the complicated emotional nature of this subject as well as it should. Which in turn contributes to a lack of central structure throughout the film. This in no way affects how well the film is acted or how important it is to highlight these women but left me feeling like Fox was not being properñy held accountable.

Although it affected the film’s flow, I think this choice rang very true. Everyone who suffers sexual harassment suffers some silencing or minimizing of their experience. They must make a choice about how much they will share and how much backlash they can take when sharing their experience. In the end this film is very much about autonomy and commodification, selling sex as a brand, selling a candidate, as well as your identity/story, and the truth.

What Megyn Kelly did was very brave, especially in a pre-Weinstein, pre-#MeToo era. This is compounded because she is a hard working ambitious person who knew exactly what she was putting on the line by speaking up. The risk to her career and reputation was very real. There are so many moments that are so familiar, this film clearly portrays the way women have to navigate predators with power. It does a really good job of highlighting the grey areas of this morally complex issue. A person can be a mentor, a father figure, someone you respect and still act problematically. Each person ends up negotiating their limits and ultimately trying to do the right thing.

– Review by Jessie Zumeta


Have you seen BOMBSHELL? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: AQUAMAN (2018)

I’m not the biggest comic book reader, in my younger years I’ve only read Batman and The Punisher comics. So, I’ve only learned about Aquaman from the show Entourage. During that show’s second season, its star ended up playing Aquaman and fans of the comic were hoping an actual film based on the character would be a reality soon. That’s over 10 years ago and now fans can finally see the super hero from the ocean make a splash on the big screen worldwide.

In a long and very cheesy opening, we learned how Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) became a super hero known as Aquaman. One day his father Tom (Temuera Morrison) found his wounded mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) on the shore of the ocean. Atlanna told Tom she’s from an ancient city under the ocean called Atlantis, I didn’t really pay attention as to why she decided to come to the surface. Anyhoo, Tom and Atlanna fell in love and had a son and they named him Arthur. One day the army from Atlantis came and took Atlanna back to her home land.

Years later, Arthur is now a full-grown man and known to earthlings as Aquaman. The story took place after the events of Justice League. One day a princess named Mera (Amber Heard) came to the surface and asked Arthur to come to Atlantis and claim his place as the king of the ocean. She also needs his help to stop Arthur’s half brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) from starting a war that could wipe out everyone living on the surface of the ocean. Reluctantly, Arthur agreed to go with Mera and both must face many obstacles in order to save the world from a mad king.

Five screenwriters were credited with the story, yet the plot of the film is a very simple one. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and some of the dialogs were very cheesy. Now maybe that’s the goal of this film, many people have complained that DC films are way too dark and serious, so they’ve decided to make this one a very light and cheesy. Director James Wan took inspirations from many films including Star Wars, Avatar, Indiana Jones, Tron: Legacy, Batman Begins and countless others that I couldn’t think of right now. And that’s my main gripe with the film, I don’t mind when a director decided to copy other films, but I expect them to re-interpret it as their own. Wan decided to just copy films that I mentioned, in fact there were two sequences in the film that he stole from Tron: Legacy and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. His pacing is also a bit off, at almost 2 and half hours long, a lot of scenes could have been cut out.

Performance wise, Momoa is definitely the main draw. He looked like he had a great time playing the silly super hero and his charisma really help made this film watchable. Veterans such as Kidman, William Defoe, Dolph Lundgren and Morrison also looked like they had a good time in the film. Unfortunately, the other leads Heard and Wilson looked too stiff or bored in their respective roles. I didn’t really see any chemistry between Heard and Momoa, mostly because I thought heard just looked too stiff in the role. Wilson’s villain is another long line of one-dimensional superhero antagonist and he looked bored.

I think the only saving grace for this film is its beautiful effects, with limitless budget, Wan and his team did a great job of creating the underwater world. They also did a great job with the 3D effects, heck I thought this film might have been one of the best I’ve seen in 3D. I didn’t really hate Aquaman, it’s just too long and kind of a mess. With more originality in the script and action scenes, it could’ve a been a fun superhero film.

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So have you seen AQUAMAN? Well, what did you think?

Movies coming to Netflix in June – here are the ones I recommend & look forward to

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Hi folks, I’ve been meaning to post this for sometime as every weekend my hubby and I always spend way too long browsing Netflix on what to watch. Yes I know, that’s what the queue [or My List] is for but for some reason we still browse the new releases and decide which one appeals to us at that given moment. Well, at the start of the month, some sites are listing which movies get added to Netflix so I thought it might be mutually beneficial for us movie fans if we could give each other recommendations 😀

Ok, so this site breaks it down by genre and list the exact date of the month it’s going to be released, including TV shows. Well, I barely watch any TV so I’m only focusing on film recommendations. So here are

Newly Added in June

The Aviator (June 1)
I’d think most people have seen this Howard Hughes’ biopic from Scorsese by now, but if not, well what are you waiting for? To be honest though, I’m much more enamored by Cate Blanchett’s performance as Katharine Hepburn than Leo’s.

Words and Pictures (June 7)
Saw this last year at MSPIFF – stars Juliette Binoche & Clive Owen. Worth seeing just for those two alone. [full review]

Beyond the Lights (June 24)
I can’t recommend this film enough simply for the sublime performance of miss Gugu Mbatha-Raw. I’ve raved about her several times on my blog, and for good reason. The music is terrific as well, which I have also featured on my music break post. [full review]

Nightcrawler (June 10)
I saw this rather late but now that it’s on VOD, Bluray AND Netflix, really you have no reason to put this off any longer if you haven’t seen this yet. Trust me, it’s worth your time. SO good that I’ll be rooting for Jake Gyllenhaal come award season for Southpaw, it’s criminal that he was overlooked for his performance here. [full review]

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (June 27) 
Very cool that TWO of Riz Ahmed’s films are released on Netflix in the same month. He’s a darn good British actor who’s really quite versatile. His role here couldn’t be more different from the one in Nightcrawler and he’s quite mesmerizing. I wish he’d get more leading roles in the future! [full review]

Newly Added in May

I figure I’d include a few from last month that just got released, especially since it includes one of my favorite dramas of the year I’ve seen so far [Girlhood].

The ones I most look forward to seeing

I wasn’t just on the lookout for female-centric stories, but hey, no matter how [seemingly] numerous there are, it’s still not enough.

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Two Days, One Night (June 16)

Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.

For some reason I missed this film last year but the premise sounds intriguing and surely would show Marion Cotillard’s acting chops!

Cake (June 20)

Claire becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group while grappling with her own, very raw personal tragedy.

I’m mostly curious to see Jennifer Aniston’s performance. Somehow I just realized Sam Worthington’s in this movie also, wonder what role he’s playing.

Grace of Monaco (June 8)

The story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly’s crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco in the early 1960s.

This one also piqued my curiosity because supposedly it’s such a train wreck. One thing for sure, not matter how much makeup they put on Nicole Kidman, she still wouldn’t hold a candle to the luminous Grace Kelly in real life.

On the Road (June 6)

Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.

Well, now that I’ve finally warmed up to Kristen Stewart thanks to Clouds of Sils Maria, I just might rent this one.

Definitely going to avoid …

The Best of Me – it’s one of those Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation, ’nuff said.

 …


So which of these movies have you seen? Recommendations are always welcome too!

FlixChatter Review: The Railway Man (2013)

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This may sound harsh, but I’m growing tired of WWII films that have a singular focus on the Nazis and Jews. There have been so many wonderful films successfully depicting the horror and tragedy that befell the Jews, but at the same time, there are so many untold stories from different perspectives that are worth being shared. This is one of those stories. The Railway Man is a film about Eric Lomax, a British Army Signals Engineer, who was captured as a prisoner of war and tortured at a Japanese labor camp during World War II. In Lomax’s later life, he discovers his torturer is still alive and sets out to confront him. The film switches between Lomax’s present day (1980s) and his past at the camp (1942).

I went in to this screening not really knowing much about the film. As the opening credits started to roll, we were informed The Railway Man was based on true events and an autobiography of the same name. The film opens on a train crossing a bridge and a young soldier, who looks out of time, as we hear Colin Firth’s voiceover reciting a nursery rhyme. As it turns out, it was a limerick of Lomax’s own creation:

“At the beginning of time the clock struck one. Then dropped the dew and the clock struck two. From the dew grew a tree and the clock struck three. The tree made a door and the clock struck four. Man came alive and the clock struck five. Count not; waste not, the years on the clock. Behold I stand at the door and knock.”

The director, Jonathan Teplitzky (Burning Man), cuts from the railroad tracks to a dark and confusing scene of Colin Firth lying on the floor, twitching and shaking in what appears to be paralyzing terror. This rhyme reappears several times throughout the film, and is used as a way for Lomax to ground himself during his episodes, in addition to Lomax’s ironic affinity for trains.

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I must say, I think this is the darkest role I’ve seen Colin Firth (Lomax) portray. While he’s experiencing an episode, he looks calm and collected on the outside but unexpectedly lashes out.  And his eyes are filled with such intense and varied emotions: love, malice and fear. However, we do see his tender side, as Patti (Kidman) pulls him back to reality. She truly is his anchor throughout the entire film. Honestly, I was both surprised and impressed by Firth’s performance. This was the most animated I’ve seen him in a role, especially during the flashback episodes.

Jeremy Irvine (Young Lomax) is no stranger to delivering moving performances as a soldier. My first encounter with Irvine was in War Horse and I am embarrassed to admit, I completely forgot who he was. However, his performance in The Railway Man is something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. At first introduction, it seems Lomax was relatively untouched by the war. However, after the British surrender to the Japanese, his life changes forever. 

Fair warning, the torture scenes are very intense and involve water boarding, cramped bamboo cages, starvation, and regular beatings with bamboo logs. After viewing the film, I learned Irvine actually became ill after taking too much water. As his time as a POW lengthened, you could see Lomax’s (Irvine) body start to deteriorate. He grows overly thin, and his body is constantly broken down and beaten. Somehow, through it all, he still manages to keep some semblance of his old life intact. He’s bright, imaginative and a true hero. And to the far right is a shot of the actual young Eric Lomax. They could be twins!

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I was underwhelmed by Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Patti Lomax. For some reason I found the way she tried to comfort Eric as patronizing and more selfish to her own end: “I want my husband back!” It also didn’t help that Teplitzky didn’t really show any scenes of them trying to work through his PTSD. There’s just a few glimpses of Lomax (Firth) shutting down or rearranging rooms Patti (Kidman) had decorated, but nothing where they really address his symptoms head on. Patti instead goes to Finlay, (Stellan Skarsgård) for answers about Lomax’s past.

Generally speaking, the film felt a bit confused. At times, it was gearing up to be a really great historical drama, and then it abruptly switched and felt more like a horror film (and I’m not referring just to the torture scenes). Maybe this was Teplitzky’s interpretation of what living with PTSD feels like. Although, as a viewer, whenever Lomax (Firth) appeared on screen I felt my flight or fight reflex take over. I never knew if I should cringe or go about my regularly scheduled viewing. Additionally, I wish we could’ve seen more of Lomax’s (Irvine) life after he was liberated from the POW camp. There seemed to be such a discrepancy between Irvine’s outlook as opposed to Firth’s. It leads the viewer to believe Lomax’s symptoms developed over time, along with his bitterness, which I’m not entirely sure was the case.

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The Railway Man is a very intense film and touches on dark material.  Even though the torture took place nearly 70 years ago, eerily enough, it hits close to home (think Zero Dark Thirty). However, the overall message is really quite beautiful. After everything Lomax endured, he rose above the atrocities he faced and forgave Takashi Nagase. What’s even more uplifting is Lomax and Nagase ended up becoming great friends. Here’s a picture of the real Eric Lomax and Takashi Nagase. Eric Lomax passed away in 2012 as the film was in post-production. This truly was an incredible story, and it’s definitely worth a watch.

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Thoughts on The Railway Man? Would love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Stoker

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Though this film was not on my radar until a few months ago, I was quite intrigued when I first saw the trailer. If you haven’t seen this yet though, I’d say stay away from the latest trailer.

As you’ve perhaps read my Asian directors post, this is Chan-Wook Park‘s English language debut. It’s not only a first for Park, this is also Prison Break‘s Wentworth Miller’s debut screenplay. I’d say he’s quite a talented writer. The film centers on India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), who’s mourning the sudden death of her father. As if that is not a major life-changing event for the reclusive teen, her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) who she never knew existed now comes to live with her and her unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Right of the bat we know there is something strangely peculiar about Charlie and India thinks so too, right from the moment she noticed him standing on a hill at her dad’s funeral. The Stokers certainly gives a whole new meaning to dysfunctional family, one that’d make your blood turns cold.

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Much to India’s chagrin, Evelyn seems to be fascinated by her long-lost brother-in-law who claims he’s been traveling all over the world. India is naturally suspicious of Charlie, and he gives every reason for her to be with his creepy mannerism and frequent glances towards her. Initially, she tries to ignore his unhealthy attention, but Charlie is quite relentless. Despite the warning of one family member, Evelyn doesn’t mind her brother in-law staying with them and let’s just say Charlie intends to keep it that way, and would stop at nothing to keep his secret safe. I’m going to stop giving you the synopsis as the less you know about the plot the better. Not that Park is too concerned about plot twists however, I feel that he’s more interested in building a certain state of mind for the audience as they watch things unfold.

To say this movie is unsettling would be a giant understatement. The sinister atmosphere practically ricochet off the high ceilings of the secluded woodsy estate where the Stokers live. The tension intensifies every time Charlie appears and Park is able to establish suspense with minimal frills. Even the seemingly ordinary event such as two people playing the piano or having dinner is so eerie and you’re at the edge of your seat waiting just what’s going to happen. Even the humorous parts are not without tension, such as the part when the Ray-Ban-wearing Charlie stalks India on her way home from work in his black convertible whilst the girls on her school bus are giggling and fawning over him.

A few reviewers say this film is not as bloody as Park’s other films and I’m certainly glad for that most of the violence happen off screen. That’s not to say there are no brutal scenes, it’s certainly not in short supply for my taste, but it’s not so gory that it makes my stomach churn. What really strikes me about Park’s direction is his creative camera angles and how he frames the scene. It’s truly a gorgeous film and beautifully-shot by Park’s longtime-collaborator Chung-hoon Chung, both clearly have such keen eye for detail that enhance the mysterious ambiance of the film. There are also some interesting metaphors used here, such as the choice of Charlie’s car, a Jaguar, seems to signify that he’s a predator on the lookout for his next prey.

Clint Mansel‘s foreboding score also works very well here, I quite enjoy the classically-tinged music used throughout. The music certainly enhances the mood, but it also plays a role in the story. There is one memorable scene where Charlie and India playing piano together that perfectly captures the disturbing nature of their relationship.

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The three main actors did an excellent job, particularly Wasikowska who manages to be convincing as a 17-year-old despite being five years older than her character. The talented Australian has this otherworldly presence that is perfect for the role and she has proven to be a capable leading lady. Goode is so perfectly creepy as Charlie, his preppy good looks makes him all the more menacing. I read that Colin Firth had been cast in the role but dropped out, I actually think Goode’s youthfulness is perhaps more suitable for the role than Firth, plus he resembles Dermot Mulroney who plays Mia’s late father Richard, who appears only in flashbacks. Kidman’s icy demeanor is put to good use in depicting a selfish and detached mother. I like the International flavor of the film. The director and cinematographer are Korean, the composer, screenwriter and lead actor are from the UK and the two main actresses are Australian.

Being that this is my first Chan-wook Park’s film I saw, I’d say I’m quite impressed with his direction and style. I do think that the filmmaker perhaps place aesthetics above narrative that it felt like the film’s on the brink of style-over-substance. It’s also a cold film that appeals more for the brain but little for the heart as all the characters are impossible to root for. That said, Stoker definitely works as a cerebral, atmospheric psychological thriller. Thriller fans looking for a spooky and suspenseful roller-coaster ride should not be disappointed.


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What are your thoughts on this film? I’d love to hear it!

Top 3 Favorite Nicole Kidman Roles

This post is for the current LAMB Acting School 101 on Nicole Kidman.  As I haven’t got a chance to catch up on a ton of her work (as I’ve mentioned here), I decided to just choose the top three favorite roles of the 11 films I’ve seen her in so far.

I actually include Nicole in my Movie Alphabet I did recently as I generally quite like her and I think she’s one of the most glamorous Hollywood actress working today. I included her in the Honorable Mentions in my Top 10 Hottest Aussie Actors, but in hindsight, I’d probably swap Sam Worthington with her as I’m not too fond of him lately.

I do think Nicole should lay off on the Botox and not be so obsessed with looking perfect as she ends up looking so plastic with scary lips! I mean the statuesque 5’11” actress looked so fresh when she was starting out, with her freckles and glorious curly red hair. I mean just look at her photos from then and now…

In any case, she is a talented actress and I give her props for trying out different genres and not afraid to portray morally-ambiguous, even down-right evil characters. I thought she was pretty good in the far-more-watchable Joel Schumacher Batman movie Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. An interesting trivia – She has co-starred with four actors who’ve played Batman in a movie: In My Life (1993) with Michael Keaton, Batman Forever (1995) with Val Kilmer, The Peacemaker (1997) with George Clooney and The Portrait of a Lady (1996) with Christian Bale.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work, especially her Oscar-winning performance in The Hours, as well as her most recent ones such as Hemingway & Gellhorn with Clive Owen and her role as the eternal beauty Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks of Nicole’s Top 3 performances:

To Die For (1995)

I saw this years ago but was impressed by her fearless performance as a ruthless TV personality who’s willing to get what she wants, no matter what the cost, even killing her own husband! She’s the ultimate femme fatale: seductive and dangerous! Apparently she fought to get this role and was quite relentless in that pursuit, even tracking down director Gus Van Sant & calling him personally. Well, it paid off and I think she won a Golden Globe for her performance. Joaquin Phoenix turned in a memorable performance as well.


Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I adore this film and it stands as one of my all-time favorite musicals. I wasn’t sure about the pairing of Ewan McGregor and Nicole at first, but they both wowed me here. Not only did they sound fabulous singing together, they also have excellent chemistry here. Nicole was appropriately sultry as an elite courtesan, but she also displays her comic timing in the scene where Satine first met Ewan’s character whom she thought was the Duke in her bedroom! She also conveys believable pathos towards the third part of the film, displaying her versatility as an actress.

Far & Away (1992)

She’s done three films with her ex-husband Tom Cruise but I pick this one as I don’t think I’ll be seeing Eyes Wide Shut and I barely remember Days of Thunder. I actually saw this on the big screen with my brother years ago and I remember really enjoying it. Ok, the Irish accent is all over the place but I like the feisty chemistry between her and Cruise, she was quite feisty in her role and she still has that fresh-face look with her red curly hair.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

NINE – She’s not my favorite female actress in this film (that would be Marion Cottilard) but I thought she was pretty good as Claudia, as the muse of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Guido. She has a beautiful voice and definitely suits the glamorous but icy demeanor that her role requires.


Well, that’s my favorite list so far, I might update this once I see more of Nicole’s films. What do you think of my picks?

A Rant and a Question: Where do you get your movies?

This is what the Random Thoughts category is for. I haven’t actually posted anything under that in a while but what happened today prompted me to this rant I rarely do on my blog.

Before I get to my rant and question, let me give you a quick background. Well, yesterday I found out that the next subject of the LAMB’s Acting School 101 is Nicole Kidman. I really want to participate in this, maybe do a Top 5 Fave Roles of hers, but after looking at her filmography, I realize there are some of her films from the past few decades that I’ve missed. I figure since the blogathon isn’t starting until the end of the month, it might be good to catch up on a few of her past movie One of them that caught my attention is The Portrait of A Lady by Jane Campion. I quite like period dramas and this is based on a novel by Henry James. Alas, as you can see on my tweet below, it’s NOT available to rent anywhere!!

In fact, neither Netflix DVD NOR Streaming has the movie available to rent! I even went so far as searching my local library for it! Zero. None. Zip. Nada. Basically my only option to watch this movie is to BUY the darn thing! Gah! Now after seeing the trailer I’m even more curious to see this movie, I mean it’s also got John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey (who was nominated for Oscar’s Best Actress in a Supporting Role), plus Christian Bale and Viggo Mortensen in smaller roles!

Now, a few other of Kidman’s movies I’m hoping to check out this month are Fur, The Hours, and Rabbit Hole. Ted is going to lend me The Peacemaker this weekend. I have no interest in seeing Dogma, The Others, nor Eyes Wide Shut. Those who know me probably know those films aren’t my cup of tea. I haven’t checked yet if those movies are readily available to rent.

Truthfully, I’m dismayed that there are some movies are practically impossible to see unless you have Netflix DVD subscription (except for The Portrait of a Lady as I’ve mentioned above, the date of availability is listed as UNKNOWN!). Two other films my hubby and I had been wanting to watch are The Guard and The Whistleblower.

Yes I know they both have super generic, uninteresting titles but the premise and cast of both of them are quite appealing. But unless I’m willing to buy them, it doesn’t look like I have any option to see those two! Right now I just can’t justify paying $15 bucks a month for both Netflix DVD and Streaming option, so I guess that’s my problem, eh?

All right, enough about my rant. I’ll find a way somehow to rent those titles, but I’m curious now if any of you encounter the same issues about not being able to rent the movie you want. So my question to you is…

Where do you get your movies from?

Is it through iTunes, Netflix or (LOVEFilm if you’re in the UK), Amazon on Demand? If you get your movies through illegal means, you don’t have to answer, ahah.