Friday, December 23, 2011

Streaming Wars: Amazon Prime

By Teacup

Streaming movies and television online is the next step in entertainment, so it's not surprising that many websites are now offering paid subscriptions to streaming content. Netflix, until recently, was on top of that throne, but their recent decision to split their previously combined lending and streaming service lead to the collapse of their monopoly on mainstream streaming content. They still may be on top, but their lead is nowhere near what it once was. Coming in closely behind are websites such as Hulu and Youtube, but a curious new contender has shown itself in the past year., international shopping behemoth, added a video streaming service to the list of features for users with an Amazon Prime account.

After receiving so many emails in my inbox about this new service, I finally caved and purchased myself a Prime account. But I let it sit for a good couple of months, because I had a thesis to finish and a pile of school books to read, which took precedence. Finally, thesis turned in and pile of books demolished, I started at the beginning of the content Amazon had acquired and went all the way through to the end.

Surprisingly, I hadn't heard of a lot of what they had to offer at that time, but I was game to find out. (When most opportunities like this are just starting out, they don't usually get big releases until they've earned enough money to pay for those big releases.) It's been quite a while since then, and the selection has improved. Therefore, my goal is to watch every single movie and at least one episode of each TV show offered on Amazon's streaming account and review it. I won't discriminate between things I have seen already and things I have not watched, but I'm going to focus on those that I haven't because there's no fun in reviewing something you've seen already. I plan on keeping a loose schedule, one movie and one episode of television every couple of weeks or so.

And just as I lay out one set of rules, I'm going to smash them to pieces with my first selection. The first movie I'll be focusing on is a film I watched when I first looked through Amazon's selection months and months ago, and yet it's somehow worked its way into my top ten list of films.

'Les Chanson d'amour,' or 'Love Songs,' is a 2007 French musical, written and directed by Christoph Honoré, and starring Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Clotilde Hesme, Chiara Mastroianni, and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet. There will be spoilers for the movie in the paragraphs below.

I've seen other reviews describe this movie as the story of three people dealing with their decision to enter into a relationship together, but that's only touches the surface of what the film is actually about and in fact, the threesome in question is dissolved very early in the film. Julie, the point of the triangle in this odd relationship, dies within the first twenty minutes. The rest of the film shows how the people who cared for Julie (her family, her boyfriend and girlfriend) deal with their loss.

The filmography is beautiful, showing the gritty and dark Paris I remember from my visit to the city a few years ago and not the romantic 'City of Lights' that the media promotes. It helps that the film was created by actual French people, and not someone from Hollywood. The soundtrack is catchy and fun, and the actor's voices fit the music perfectly.

Most importantly, the movie feels real. I'm a fan of musicals and movie-musicals, but I have different criteria for judging both. For a musical taking place on stage, Anything Goes. (Pun definitely intended.) For a filmed musical, it needs to feel real, like it could actually happen in real life. Despite, or perhaps because of the presence of the music, Love Songs is grounded in realism. You could take away the songs and still have a decent film, but the singing gives the film and its characters depth, helping to portray the very real emotions they feel throughout the course of the film.

If you're looking for something new, something different, something heartfelt, heartbreaking, and fun, you definitely need to watch Les Chanson's d'amour, which is currently available on Amazon's Instant View service, as well as available for purchase on the same website.

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