In praise of online movies: My favorite discoveries

Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime help one discover movies one wouldn’t otherwise find, like Jodhaa Akbar. (Photo by Flickr user pupilinblow used under CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Brad Crofford, Editor-in-chief

I love movies, and what a time to be a movie-lover! When my friends and I want to watch a movie, we have so many options.

We can watch a DVD or Blu-Ray we already own. We can borrow a copy from the public library. We can rent a copy from Family Video, 7-Eleven or another store. We can go to one of the three Redbox kiosks at the intersection of 39th and MacArthur. We can watch one on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu.

And, if these options are enough, we can go to a store and buy a movie.

Of all of these methods though, my favorite is watching movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Because there is one regular fee instead of a fee per use, I am more adventurous in terms of the films I choose to watch. When I rent a movie, it is typically a widely-known film, and I read reviews ahead of time to ensure I will like it.

When I watch on Netflix or Prime, however, I am less limited, and I have discovered many great films I would not have otherwise watched. Here are some of my favorite discoveries.

Jodhaa Akbar– Part love story, part historical epic and part lesson on historic Muslim/Hindu tensions, this Bollywood films succeeds on many levels. Be forewarned, though: its 205 minute running time is not for the faint of heart. (2008; NR; 205 minutes; Hindi with English subtitles; available via Netflix)

Ek Tha Tiger– This spy movie about an Indian secret agent who falls in love with a Pakistani agent is an intriguing mix of James Bond-type action and Bollywood conventions; for example, a high-speed chase may be followed by a brief musical interlude. With action taking place from India to Ireland to Cuba, this film, the second-highest grossing Bollywood film of all time, is worth a look. (2012; NR; 132 mins.; Hindi with English subtitles; available via Netflix)

The Warlords– This Chinese epic is part war movie and part historical drama. While some movies in this genre sacrifice story for action (e.g., Bodyguards and Assassins), The Warlords manages to combine intense action with a touching storyline. It contains one of the most powerful, moving scenes I have seen in film. (2007; R; 113 mins.; Cantonese with English subtitles; available via Netflix and Amazon Prime)

Lumumba– This understated film chronicles the final days of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically-elected leader of the Republic of the Congo. (2000; NR; 109 mins.; French with English subtitles; available via Netflix)

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog– This quirky short film stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) and Felicia Day (The Guild). It is a hilarious, musical satire of the superhero genre.  Its catchy tunes and wit will stick with you. (2008; NR; 42 mins.; English; available via Netflix)