As our local Blockbuster store goes out of business, I drive by their abandoned corner with a bit of a heavy sigh in my heart. Being a movie buff, I’ve spent countless weekend nights searching through their videos, then DVDs and eventually Blu-ray discs. I feel horrible about it closing, especially since I know I’m part of the problem.

Me and streaming videos; we’re the culprits.

It all started when our Sony TV went on the fritz and started showing programs all green-like, as if shot through an algae filter. Even though the television was five years old and way out of warranty, it was a really good one back in the day. Sony, bless their corporate hearts, has a secret program allowing dissatisfied consumers to get a brand spanking new set, even bigger than the old one, for just the price of shipping.

Don’t mind if I do.

Then one of the three competing cable providers in our area knocked on our door, as they do every couple of months. “Switch to us and save …” And as if by magic, my in-laws were looking for a good Christmas gift and settled on a Netflix subscription.

Rounding the deal out, Marci somehow agreed to a sound system to go with our new “purchases,” and bought me a Blu-ray player too.

So everything’s in place and I’m recuperating on the couch when I decide to try one of the gimmicky features of my new setup. Via the internet, I’m told, I can download and watch movies instantly. But I’m a visual guy, I’ve been a photographer since Jimmy Carter was president and have been making movies since the first Bush. I can’t stand low resolution, herky-jerky movies stopping every few minutes. This would have to be impressive.

Pow! Holy Tarantino, the movies look and sound great! When I’m waiting for the lightning quick Netflix to send me my next disc, I watch stuff instantly over the net. Bye bye Blockbuster.

This is all a very long-winded way of sharing my latest find. It’s crazy when people claim to discover new restaurants or books or movies because we’re not really adventurers traveling the Seven Seas. But in some ways I feel like I discovered the 2007 movie, The Man From Earth. It was made for very little money, has a rocking premise and all of three obscure critics reviewed it on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Imagine a group of college professors sitting around a fireplace trying to disprove that one amongst them is a caveman who has somehow survived 14,000 years. Think of the academic arguments and emotional debate surrounding the possibility that this paleolithic man witnessed the birth of many of the world’s great religions. And, of course, there’s the heresy and bewilderment floating through the scandalized professors.

Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer this is not. Even though the dude from the early 80s Greatest American Hero plays a skeptical prof., the movie is neither kitchy nor funny. But it’s infinitely intriguing.

It was directed by Richard Schenkman, whose done many projects with Jon Cryer, (and maybe more to come now that Cryer’s Two and a Half Men co-star has left this planet). Schenkman actually went to some of the illegal movie download sites and thanked the pirates for sharing his movie and getting it out there. Wild eh?

I’ve found many high quality, instantly viewable movies out there and it’s no wonder Blockbuster is closing up shop. Like what happened in the publishing and music business, among many others, the internet has fundamentally changed our entertainment habits, with the emphasis on “fun.”

Look, I realize I should be bemoaning the loss of the old days and ways. I can attest to what it’s like being the victim of progress, having gotten the boot from old school newspapers a few times now. But I just can’t muster up the strength to fight those battles any more.

If it weren’t for progress, we’d all be sitting around the fire like our aforementioned caveman, watching shadows on the wall and trying to flip over from CNN to the Food Network using a lump of coal as a remote.