A while back, one of the folks in our office mentioned a fun discovery they'd made on our website. One dedicated DVD Netflix member has been reviewing hundreds of movies through haikus! We interviewed Bradley Novicoff, the poetic force behind these three-lined reviews.
1. What made you want to start writing these haiku reviews, and what kept you going?
At first, it started out as a way to better remember what I've watched (my own writing seems to be preoccupied with issues of time and memory). At the time, Netflix DVDs were my sole means of consuming films and television, so I was really working that "get it in the mailbox, get a movie two days later" cycle. This was before streaming. Now, of course, with instant watching, I'm (largely) off that cycle.
But I still get and appreciate physical DVDs! After hitting a thousand or so haikus, though, I realized I was more hung up on formulating a good haiku than paying attention to what was happening onscreen. Not 20 minutes into a new movie, I would often start counting syllables in my head, clearly not the best way to appreciate, say... Fassbinder. That explains my "haiku hiatus" of the last year.
Now that I'm no longer compelled to count syllables in some crazy OCD way, I'm planning to resume posting haikus again.
2. How many do you write at once? Noticed that you posted a lot of reviews on April 3, 2010!
I'd write haikus down on my phone (shoutout to Google Keep) and transcribe them to Netflix when I had the time. Sometimes, though, if I saw a movie or two in the theaters or fell behind on posting them or if I had been stumped on a good haiku, I'd force myself to post them all in a single sitting. Thus, the more-than-periodic "clunker" haiku.
3. How long does it take you to write a haiku?
If there's been one takeaway from all this, it's that good movies can yield a good haiku in under 30 seconds; bad movies can make me take forever to formulate a crappy haiku. I'm not sure what that means, but it surely means something, right?
4. Which haiku reviews are you particularly proud of?
I'll mention one movie in particular, the one everyone is (rightly) talking about these days because it now seems so timely and prophetic. It's my 1380th haiku for Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men:
Might require trading shoes
For battered flip-flops
5. When did you become a Netflix DVD subscriber, and what do you like about it?
Yikes, I just phoned Netflix headquarters to find out... May 2006! As a by-now much older child of Los Angeles, I grew up with the Z Channel (a precursor to HBO, check the documentary made about it). I grew up with a steady viewing diet of Fellini, Kurosawa, Bergman, Herzog, De Palma, Boorman, etc. And while I wouldn't recommend, oh, Zardoz to a 10-year old, it definitely kickstarted my lifelong appreciation for film.
6. What are some of your favorite movies that you've rented?
Summer in Los Angeles is typically very hot. I will never forget the summer I spent watching all 931 minutes of Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz.
7. Your favorite...?
Poet: For the haiku angle, shouldn't I say Basho? But it's probably Rilke.
Actor: Warren Beatty
Actress: Monica Vitti
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Movie snack: Popcorn every day
8. What's next for you?
Writing and directing my first feature, DEAD BEDROOMS.
Here are some of our favorites from Bradley's long collection of haiku reviews. He really does a great job of capturing the essence of a movie, whether it's moving, dramatic, or humorous!
Communicate without words
That's young love, all right
Couldn't them eagles
Simply fly the ring-bearer
All the way to Doom?
Love, loss and regret
All in the first ten minutes
Better pack Kleenex
Things I won't be doing soon:
Vegas, Jäger shots
Am I still dreaming?
I'm up, no, wait... still dreaming?
Quick, where's my kicker?!
Drop these seasoned pros
In a Barstow Best Western
They'd still be smashing
Shifts away from literal
Saps this of wonder
Flesh has its limits
And so does Aronofsky
Portman, though, transcends
Think you're Cornell-bound?
Unplug yourself from streaming
Flashcard that vocab!
Yep, that's the '60s
Male hostility towards it
Incites Stewart's gaze
Moved me to paralysis
Robbed of Best Picture!
Two war-tossed siblings
Dodge bombs, scramble to survive
Hauntingly sad, real