Skip to content

Bella, Netflix, and the Monster on the Wall

June 3, 2008

You MUST see the movie Bella.

But more about the movie in a moment…

My wife, Laura, and I are huge fans of Netflix. We bought, as Laura calls them, a “monster on the wall” (56-inch HD TV) with the “Okinawa” (Onkyo 7.1) sound system and now almost never go out anymore to the movies. With Netflix, we’ve gone from watching one movie a semester to as many as four a week (though we have finally slowed down a little). We love

  • keeping a dozen movies in our queue, seeing previews of everything online,
  • Netflix’s intuitive attempts to guess what movies we would like,
  • keeping a couple movies in our house at all times for what seems like an entirely reasonable price,
  • never going to the local video store (which is a orgy-like, sensorybella nightmare),
  • and the 3-day turnaround from the time a movie is placed in our mailbox until we get the next flick on our list.

I’d love to see what Customer Experience guru, Scott McKain, says about Netflix, but from our experience, it is the kind of operation that other industries should be replicating.

But most of all we love the quality of movies that Netflix delivers. If it hadn’t been for Netflix, we wouldn’t have seen “Akeelah and the Bee,” “The Secret of Roan Inish,” “Cars,” “Black Snake Moan,” “Bridge to Terabithia,” “Children of Heaven,” or any of a closet full of (mostly) independent and foreign films that have made us think and cuss and cry because of their power. Aside from the occasional John Sayles movie that I would splurge on, it was hard to get me to a theater. The heavily promoted mass market films just couldn’t get our hard-earned dollars and the theaters that housed them haven’t earned our even more precious time. Now our brains and hearts and souls are richer for Netflix (and if we happen to pick a real boner of a film, we turn it off and send it back with the gratifying sense that it cost us nothing to experiment).

Which brings me to Bella.

I wouldn’t know of the film were it not for the fact that my company is publishing the novelization of the movie. But am I glad Thomas Nelson brought it to my attention. A small film done by Latino producers and directors (produced in English and Spanish languages set in NYC) it is the story of two people with individual stories that in themselves aren’t all that uncommon (you may know both these characters personally), but whose choices were at once ordinary and heroic. The slug-line “True Love Goes Beyond Romance” captures the film’s essence, but does not prepare you for this feast of recklessness and redemption, earthiness and hope, emptiness and determination.

Bella is well-acted, with attractive players, well-written, not manipulative, not preachy, perfectly edited, richly-layered. No blood, no cussin’, no flesh, no drugs…yet fully adult, fully human. To pigeon-hole this film as pro-family or pro-life–as some have done–is to completely miss its point and cannibalize its intent. Yet it’s not hard to figure out why Hollywood and Cannes largely ignored it when they were handing out the awards, since their formulas for success insist that viewers swim in a sewer before being allowed to smell roses (and the French just leave you in the sewer). Still the world has recognized this film for the beauty that it is.

Do yourself the biggest favor of the year. Set aside an evening and 5 bucks for Bella.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 15, 2008 12:53 pm

    Excellent call, Brother Dave. Lovely Bella plopped out of the Netflix queue last night and was a quiet gem. Very nice play with time sequencing: wonderful that scene in the restaurant and simultaneous forward flashes to the clinic, and other places, too. Nothing flashy or showy about the approach, just an inner truth to time’s ways. Best to you all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: