Movie Rentals Made Easy

For years, movie lovers have been able to rent their favorite films and enjoy them in the comfort of their own homes. A number of major rental stores along with countless independently owned mom and pop stores have helped to make renting and watching movies a favorite pastime for many. This is a cost-effective and simple solution for those who prefer not to spend the time or money it takes to go to movie theaters.

The outstanding thing about renting movies is that a film can be watched over and over until the rental time is up. This is a preferred option for individuals who would rather spend one small price to watch a movie as many times as they want versus spending significantly more to watch it in the theater only once. Advances in technology have brought about several easy ways to rent movies.

One method of renting movies is to have them streamed to a television, cell phone, or computer device. This way of watching rental movies requires a wireless internet connection. Streaming movies to an electronic device means that individuals don’t have to deal with the hassle of keeping track of and returning movies on time. Movie-streaming services usually require users to pay a flat monthly fee in order to gain access to a library of films they can watch as often as they like. Several major movie-rental companies and countless other newer companies now offer this method to their customers. Many cell phone companies have jumped on the bandwagon and also offer movie-streaming services as well. This way of renting movies is attractive because it allows for streaming on portable devices that have wireless connections. Users can watch movies on their laptops and other portable devices wherever there is a wireless connection such as in coffee shops, bookstores or public libraries.

In recent years $1 movie-rental kiosks have made their way into grocery stores, outside convenience stores and in various other locations. The concept for most of these movie-dispensing machines is that you can rent a film at the cost of only $1 per day. In order to use this method, users enter their credit card information into the machine and select from a menu of films that are available from that particular kiosk. If the movie is returned after the first day individuals are only charged $1 per film. If it is returned later, then the credit card will be charged according to how many days it was out. Some prefer this straightforward method of renting because there is no contract required. Renting from a $1 movie kiosk is also attractive because of the low price of the rentals.

Cable and satellite television companies also provide an easy method for their customers to rent movies. Many premium television providers allow users to order films from their cable or satellite box remote controls. Movies are available for rental the same day they come out on video so users don’t have to feel that they have to wait longer than those who buy films from a store. Typically, customers who have movie-renting features also have the option to watch the film as many times as they want within a 24-hour period.

Having rental-movies delivered by mail is probably the oldest method of avoiding having to go to a rental store, and it is still an uncomplicated and convenient process. A lot of companies couple this feature with streaming programs. Often customers have access to a wider range of movies if they choose to sign up for a rental program that has both streaming and mail-order service. In order to encourage customers to use their mail-delivery service, some companies provide a limited amount of movies available through their streaming service while providing a much larger movie inventory through the direct-mail service. Many mail-order services allow customers to keep movies as long as they want within a 30-day period. Depending on the user’s account, customers can sometimes rent up to three movies at a time for one flat monthly rate.

Movie-rental, cable, and satellite television companies have made it simple to rent films. In recent years, many mobile phone service providers have also joined the movie-rental business. The variety of rental options available to consumers makes it easy for almost anyone to watch their favorite films on television and other electronic devices. Renting movies really is all about which method each person prefers.

Survival Movies – The Cream of the Crop and Those That Didn’t Shine

Survival Movies, Best to the Worst!

The popularity of survival movies has really grown over the past couple of years. I have rated these movies in three different categories. The categories are: realisticness, survival value and entertainment factor. Each of these is on a A – F Grading Scale with A being best and F being worst. These ratings are all based on my opinion so you may not feel the same.

Waterworld – Realisticness – D Survival Value – D Entertainment factor – C+
The Earth is now filled with water, but some people believe there is still dry land on the earth. This is one of the many survival movies about the fight over resources. As in many movies, this is a fight between the protagonist (Kevin Costner) and the antagonist (Dennis Hopper) and his cronies (called the smokers). This movie is fun to watch but I don’t feel it was realistic or offered much in the way of survival value.

The Postman – Realisticness – B Survival Value – C Entertainment factor – B
I feel the reviews of this movie by critics don’t give it justice. In this film, the United States is a very different place with little order. Many people have gone back to a dark ages style of living with no electricity, very little law, and a tyrant thug (Will Patton) trying to gain power. The protagonist (Kevin Costner), a drifter, finds a way to make a difference in the world even though he is originally only worried about his own livelihood and well – being. This was a very long movie, but I really enjoyed it and liked its sense of hope. I thought this movie offered decently realistic insight on what could happen with a breakdown of society and numerous years of lawlessness. It had a few areas that I think gave it some survival value, but overall, it was just one of the entertaining survival movies.

The Road – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – C
While I didn’t feel this was one of the survival movies that lived up to my expectations, I feel it accurately portrayed the emotional rollercoaster that an end of the world situation would create. The characters in this movie were not able to trust anyone around them, and they lacked the resources necessary to carry on a normal life, which could be an accurate outcome in a real societal breakdown. I think this movie, while being boring in some spots, felt very realistic and showed the dreary outlook of the main character (Viggo Mortenson) in a post apocalyptic world with no hope. On the survival value front, I thought there were some topics to take away from the story line that would be useful in real life. I felt that this movie allowed me to realize that striving for happiness and wishing to live life to the fullest despite terrible circumstances is key to beating the end.

I am Legend – Realisticness – C Survival Value – B –
Entertainment factor – B This is another of the survival movies that I think showed great emotion. The main character (Will Smith) and his dog attempt to survive throughout this film despite the constant threat of zombies. I will say this movie has one of the saddest scenes in any movie I have ever seen, which makes the whole movie worth watching. This survival movie really shows you how important a companion is when you are lonely. Other than the importance of companionship, there were only a few survival lessons to be learned.

Book of Eli – Realisticness – C Survival Value – C
Entertainment factor – B I felt Book of Eli with Denzel Washington and Mila Kunis was worth the watch. This survival movie showed how important being aware of your surroundings is. Also in a disaster ridden world it shows how there will be people that will take power any way they see fit. The use of religion to control people is what the antagonist (Gary Oldman) uses to gain power. If you are a Christian or are religious this is definitely an important movie to watch because it shows how people can use religion and the Bible for good as well as evil to push their own motives. Even so, in the end, this movie didn’t show the Bible or Christianity in a bad light. I thought the lesson of being aware was the best survival value it gave.

Jeremiah Johnson – Realisticness – A
Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – B Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) is one of the best survival movies. This movie is about a man who wants to live as a hermit living off the land, who wishes to be left alone to do his own thing. This is the oldest movie on my list and also one of the best. I believe it has great survival value and is quite realistic. In one scene, Jeremiah Johnson finds a man who has been dead for a while with a note on him saying, “I, Hatchet Jack, being of sound mind and broke legs, do hereby leaveth my bear rifle to whatever finds it, Lord hope it be a white man. It is a good rifle, and killt the bear that killt me. Anyway, I am dead. Yours truly, Hatchet Jack.” How can you not love this movie with a scene like that? This movie is great at depicting how to live off the land and be self – sufficient.

Castaway – Realisticness – B Survival Value – C Entertainment factor – B
Castaway, starring Tom Hanks, is a family survival movie. There is some survival value to this movie like starting a fire or taking an abscessed tooth out with an ice skate. The main character is involved in a commercial UPS type plane crash that leaves him stranded on an island with no other survivors. It illustrates how ingenious people can be when they do not have the conventional tools for survival.

Into the Wild – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – B
Into the wild is the true survival story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) who gives up his ordinary life to roam the US and live in Alaska. This is an ultimate adventure movie that shows how Christopher lived all by himself in the Alaskan wilderness with only what he could carry on his back. This film offered good survival value, and it taught me something very important: never eat wild plants unless you know exactly what they are and if they are safe to eat.

Zombieland – Realisticness – D Survival Value – D Entertainment factor – A –
This is really a comedic approach at the survival and zombie genre. While there is really no realisticness or survival value to speak of it, is very funny. This survival movie stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Emma Stone. During the film, they all come together to help each other survive a zombie infested world. In my opinion, one of the best cameos of all time occurs during this movie. Just watch and see!

28 Days Later – Realisticness – B Survival Value – C Entertainment factor – B
28 Days Later is a survival movie starring Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins). After a virus wipes out almost everybody on the planet, a few survivors come together to try and find a safe place to live. This was a good movie that portrayed what could happen if an epidemic were to spread very quickly. This survival movie does not have tons of survival value, but it still provides insight on the possibility of a nation or worldwide epidemic.

Mad Max/Road Warrior/Beyond Thunderdome – Realisticness – D Survival Value – D Entertainment factor – B
Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Beyond Thunderdome are very entertaining and fun survival movies to watch, but they are very unrealistic. Mel Gibson stars as Mad Max, a man who lives in a post apocalyptic world who also tries to improve life for himself and others. There really was not much survival value in these movies, but there are cool vehicles with many types of weapons, which makes them entertaining.

Red Dawn – Realisticness – B – Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – A+
Red Dawn is not just one of my favorite survival movies, but also one of my favorite movies It has quite a few stars before they were household names (Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey). The Russians and Cubans have taken part of Colorado and are rounding people up, whom they believe to be threats, into camps. A group of high schoolers get together and live in the woods. They badge themselves the “Wolverines” and try to take back the land that was previously theirs. This is a great movie that provided survival value in the way of outdoor living, hunting and fishing. The other thing I love about this movie, that others have also expressed, is that when you finish watching this movie, you feel extremely patriotic and proud of the great people that live in the United States.

Rescue Dawn – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B Entertainment factor – C
This survival movie is the true story of Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a German American fighter pilot whose plane is shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War and captured. I believe this film gives you a picture of how the living conditions in prisoner camps were. Additionally, it shows how important having a strong – will is when you need to get out of a seemingly dead end situation. There are many scenes in this film that have survival value, especially when they escape from the camp and must live outdoors and survive in the wild.

Alone Across Australia – Realisticness – A Survival Value – B+ Entertainment factor – B+
This is survival documentary is not well known, but still provides pretty great survival value. The only reason I saw this was because I attended a small independent film festival in my town. This is the story of Jon Muir and his dog that set out on a trip across Australia with only him, his dog, and what he could carry on his homemade cart. This is a great look at survival and has the highest survival value out of any of the survival movies I have reviewed. Out of all the movies I’ve ever seen, this film probably has the saddest scene because what happened in the movie was what happened in real life. If you get a chance, definitely watch this documentary. The only problem is it is difficult to find and usually expensive because of its rarity.

My 2010 Movie Awards

So, we have finally closed the book on 2010. Now, as we transition into the new year, this is when most people reflect back on the year before. In the movie world, this is also when critics and movie lovers take the time to review the past year. Not to mention, this is awards season. With the Critics’ Choice Awards in just a couple of weeks and the Oscars less than two months ago, suffice to say the red carpet is officially out.

Today, I’m going to throw myself into that very ring as we bring you Couch Potato Club’s 2010 Movie Awards. Up front, though, I would like to go ahead and say, I’m going to do this different than those big award shows. For one, you’ll see some of the typical categories, but likewise there will be some off-beat ones. Also, call me crazy, but I believe the biggest factor in judging a movie is its entertainment value. Granted all of the other little facets of making a movie help to make a movie better, however I believe entertainment succeeds a movie’s technical prowess in order to define whether it is good or not. So, you won’t be seeing me awarding these “artsy” movies just because of their “cinematic achievement” (whatever the hell that is). Instead, I’ll be judging on good ole entertainment value (with acting, story, etc. playing factors).

So, without further ado, here are the winners of the first annual Couch Potato Club Movie Awards.

Best Film: Inception

For me this came down to Inception and Black Swan. I’ve honestly spent days mulling it over in my head which would be my movie of the year. However, in the end, Inception wins out. Inceptionwas also perfect in a sense. With intelligent writing, good acting, fun action, great cinematography and so on and so on, the movie proved to be awesome style with great substance. Nolan proved once again here why he is one of (if not THE) most sought after filmmakers today. A narrative genius. After watching this movie, it made me realize what a god-send Nolan is to Hollywood really. Everybody in Hollywood should be taking notes. This is exactly how a blockbuster movie should be done. Let’s not kid ourselves, blockbuster action movies will continue to be the bread and butter of Hollywood for some time to come. While this is alright, the problem usually lies in that they’re so shallow and cliche and just “eh”. They usually just rely on cool action sequences and awesome looking special effects. Not Inception, though. This movie provides all that, but then actually brings substance to that style giving us an engaging and mind-bending/intelligent storyline to go with it. This perfect blend makes Inception my movie of the year.

Best Actor: James Franco – 127 Hours

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you want to test the merit of an actor? Throw him in a movie where he is pretty much the only one ever on-screen and he has to carry the entire movie himself. Where the whole weight of the entire movie rests most assuredly on his shoulders. Will he shine? Will he crumble? This is the test. Others have proven themselves in the same way (Will Smith, Tom Hanks). And truly I believe this (and the “retard role”) is one of the biggest ways to test an actor and see if he’s one of the greats. So, enter James Franco and 127 Hours. Playing a mountain climber that gets trapped under a boulder and is all alone, Franco is left to carry an entire film on his own. Does he succeed? Damn right he does. With flying colors at that. Keeping it interesting, conveying a range of emotions throughout the film and sucking you in all on his own, Franco clearly shows he had the mettle to tackle such a daunting task and come out on top. For that reason, he’s my actor of the year.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Natalie’s performance in the Aronofsky psychological thriller is absolutely brilliant. Her best work to-date in my opinion. Playing a role that requires her to eventually transition from sweet little naive princess girl to girl-gone-wild (in a dark side kinda way), she hits every beat without missing a step. I believe the biggest factor for a good actor/actress is range. Anybody can shine in a part that was just made for them (in line with their natural persona), but range and playing different personas/characters is where an actor/actress can show their true prowess. In Black Swanalone, Natalie Portman has shown, in just the 2 hours, that she has more range than most actresses around. She exhibited more range in one performance than most do in their entire career. For such a brilliant performance Natalie Portman gets my vote as actress of the year. I don’t think this is even up for debate.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale – The Fighter

Here’s another that I feel is just a given and isn’t up for debate. Bale absolutely stole the show in every scene he appeared in The Fighter. The weight loss alone shows Bale’s dedication to his craft. Furthermore, the way he was able to lose himself in that crackhead persona and into the role of Dicky Eklund just further proved what an amazing actor Bale is. To really show you how brilliant his performance was, the video clip of real-life Dicky during the credits showed you just how well Bale nailed that performance. It had to almost be like looking in a mirror for Dicky.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo – The Fighter

Yes, the supporting cast of The Fighter was just great. They’re the ones that kept this movie afloat. Leo’s turn as the “white trash” overbearing mother was great and was another (along with Bale’s performance) that really helped this movie shine. Without these two, The Fighter bombs.

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

Like I said, best film was down to Black Swan and Inception for me. Aronofsky’s work here was damn near perfect. This was a brilliantly directed movie. From the camera shots to the music to the story-telling to what he got out of his cast, Aronofsky did a great job in conveying this thriller story very aptly on all levels. As one of my favorite modern directors, it’s no surprise that Aronofsky continues to impress year after year.

Best Screenplay: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin – Black Swan

For me, screenplay/story is probably the biggest factor in determining whether a movie is entertaining. Afterall, without an intriguing and entertaining story, then your movie is just going to suck. That being said, it’s no surprise that this, for me, came down to Black Swan and Inceptionagain; the two movies vying for my Best Film award. However, in the end I have to go with Black Swan edging out in this category. The story was great in my opinion. Very thrilling and intriguing story that left you on your seat the whole while through. To top it off, though, was all the subtext present throughout the film. From the “life imitates art” to the “greed can consume us all” to the commentary of how much pressure can be put on an entertainer and the risks they ensue when losing themselves in a performance in order to be “perfect”. This script had it all and fired on so many cylinders. Truly was a great story and I loved how the main character’s life began to mirror the very character she was attempting to play on stage.

Best Ensemble Cast: The Fighter

I guess after the previous supporting awards, this should come as no surprise. However, I will say I was also seriously considering The Town for this award which had a very good all-around performance from its entire cast. However, the cast of The Fighter performed well in all areas. Even Mark Wahlberg was decent enough (and I don’t particularly care for him). Though, he was the weak link and his actual character was boring. However, everyone else turned in fine performances that, as a whole, really pulled you into the family in the film. Then the performances of Bale and Leo really just pushed the overall ensemble over the top. Meanwhile, Amy Adams delivered a very good performance as well standing out.

Breakout Performance of the Year: Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone

The movie itself, I found was fairly overrated. However, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone did an absolutely wonderful job of playing the role of Ree Dolly. If not for her, the entire movie would have been a wash. However, her performance was very nice to watch. It made it even more worthwhile as I got to witness that this girl is actually a very adept actress. Before this, I had only seen her in ‘The Bill Engvall Show’ where she plays the typical cliche ditzy teenage girl. Which, honestly, there are a million and one girls in the nation that could pull that off. Watching her go from that ditzy teenager to this gritty and convincing performance was definitely a treat for me and showed me her worth. For that, she receives my Breakout Performance of the Year award.

Best Action Movie: Inception

Inception wins here. Of course being my Best Film of the Year, it’s going to also win in its specific genre category. The movie fires on all cylinders for an almost nonstop joyride, especially for the last half of the film. The last half especially, with the gun fights and chases and fights, etc. prove to be an adrenalin rush of action. Again, this is pretty much the Hollywood-action-blockbuster film perfected.

Best Comedy: Get Him to the Greek

Ok, here’s where some might disagree with me (if they haven’t already). However, it’s my belief that Best Comedy movie should mainly be based on which movie was the funniest. Granted, there were movies I liked better overall that fall into the comedy category (Scott Pilgrim), but on the laugh scale they didn’t touch Get Him to the Greek. Russell Brand is just hilarious. And his part as the typical rock star was great and hilarious. Even “P Diddy” (who I hate) had me cracking up during this movie. For me, it really was the funniest movie of the year.

Best Animated Movie: How to Train Your Dragon

Yep, I’m doing it. I’m kicking Pixar to the curb this year and letting someone else have Best Animated prize. Granted, I really enjoyed Toy Story 3, but for me How to Train Your Dragon was just the better movie and was more fun. It was cute, funny, inspiring in its own way and refreshing. I really enjoyed the movie. How to Train Your Dragon was one of those that had heart and depth and was really beautiful (both story-wise and animation). One that truly appeals to both adults and kids alike.

Best Horror Movie: Paranormal Activity 2

I loved the first one and the sequel proves no different. Paranormal Activity has been something of a savior for the horror genre I believe. And part 2 makes it a saving grace for Hollywood as the franchise goes mainstream. With good pacing and ‘storytelling’, Paranormal Activity 2, like its predecessor, brings the art of tension and suspense back to a seemingly hollowed out genre. It does a great job of really getting into your imagination and letting it run wild, in turn terrorizing yourself. Really a refreshing movie in the genre, I can’t wait for part 3 this fall.

Best Thriller: The Town

Yes, I realize Black Swan is a thriller, and I absolutely agree that it’s the better movie. However, like the comedy movie, I feel the Best Thriller movie should be judged pretty much solely on the “thrill” aspect. And while Black Swan did engulf me and keep in thrilled, The Town pulled that aspect off a bit better. Maybe because the action of it catered to that, I don’t know. However, The Town just had me really on the edge of my seat from start to finish pretty much. The action was good, the movie was so intense and the whole of it just never let up once it took off running, that I couldn’t help but be enthralled as I went on that thrill ride.

Best Docudrama: The Social Network

Social Networking has been spreading like wildfire in the past years, so it comes as no surprise that it would eventually become the basis of a film. The Social Network isn’t just any film though. Becoming one of the most talked about movies of the year and making a real movie to be movie of the year, the movie is a great all-around film that everybody should see. And it might be one of the most significant films of modern day (that or its counterpart ‘Catfish’).

Best Indie Film: Buried

Another thriller that just keeps you enthralled throughout (yes it seems I have a thing for thriller type movies). With such a minimal set and minimal story and cast, Buried just seems like it’s set to disappoint. Despite all these risks though it manages to succeed and become a very thrilling and captivating movie, with Reynolds carrying it well.

Best Fight: Zero-Gravity Hallway Fight – Inception

The visuals and special effects was just one facet of what made Inception so awesome for me. And this fight scene was one of those that stood out above the rest. Creative, cool to watch, action-packed, it really was just a really fun fight and pretty awesome.

Tearjerker of the Year: Toy Story 3

Did I personally cry? No. However, Toy Story 3 I feel is the movie of the year that will most likely make someone cry. Maybe it’s the connection after having grown up with the series. Maybe it’s just the depth of emotion created in some scenes that hit home for most people in a real-life way. Whatever it is, Toy Story 3 is sure to get the waterworks running for quite a few people. With scenes like the incinerator scene and Andy’s final time with the toys (especially when he realizes Woody is in there and he ends up parting with the toy that started it all), Toy Story 3 definitely has its moments that truly tug on those heart-strings.

Best On-Screen Couple: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

Both of these actors are some of the better young actors around today (Gosling being my choice for best actor under 30 even). They really show their worth here in this movie as well. Giving great and powerful performances the two shine on the screen together. The chemistry between them is absolutely marvelous and the genuine/real emotion they convey over the course of the movie provides for a good watch.

Best Villain: Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman) – Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Jason Schwartzman is just unconventionally hilarious most every time I see him. His appearance in Scott Pilgrim was just icing on the cake for a very good movie. Classic Schwartzman provided humor and intelligence to the role, standing out as my favorite villain of a movie filled with villains.

Worst Movie of the Year: The Last Airbender

I’m not even going to say anything. Everybody knows it sucks. Shyamalan again proves, that despite his last movie (The Happening being horrible) that he can still outdo himself and make a surprisingly worse film than he ever has. The guy is spiraling out of control straight down the drain.

Most Overrated Movie of the Year: The Kids Are All Right

I’m sorry. It wasn’t that good. The acting was decent. Mark Ruffalo was pretty much the saving grace of the movie. Other than that the movie was so pretentious and contrived and just flat out boring. Not nearly as good as people made it out to be (not even the performances). Wasn’t funny or humorous at all. And the movie definitely does not deserve even being considered as a Best Film nominee.

Most Underrated Movie of the Year: Kick-Ass

Sure, the movie got decent reviews, even did moderately well in its opening weekend. However, I feel Kick-Ass was just underappreciated for the year. Quite frankly, the movie, well….kicked ass. In fact, it may go down as one of my Top 10 or 15 favorite movies of the year. It’s one of the best comic book adaptations I’ve seen in a long while. For me, it was even better than it’s competitorScott Pilgrim. A truly awesome and fun movie that should have been given more credit. Very entertaining and more people should give it a shot.

Best TV Show (Drama): The Walking Dead

Admittedly, my typically TV show viewing consists of sitcoms/comedies. However, there are a few dramas I watch here and there. This year’s The Walking Dead proved to be one of those new shows that drug me in and made me love it. Making me eager to see the next season, and disappointed I’ll have to wait so long.

Best TV Show (Comedy): Modern Family

With a funny ensemble cast and very funny writing, Modern Family has proven to be one of my favorite new TV shows recently. And with ‘The Office’ being hit or miss anymore, Modern Familyis the one that consistently has me laughing the most. Most notably, Eric Stonestreet as “Cam” always makes me laugh and really steals the show almost every time he appears. His performance is what puts this one over the edge for me. Though, Big Bang Theory and Jim Parsons performance do come in a very close second for me.