How Apple TV Saved the Miserable Month of January January 18 2011

So it's mid-January already, thank Gawd. I am not a fan of January. I literally just brace myself, grit my teeth and push through it. I don't even want to focus on keeping New Year's resolutions -- I just want to close my eyes, plug my ears and lalalalalala my way through it. It's especially crappy now that we live in a place where there's a real winter and there are some weeks where I have to trudge in the snow/sleet or black slush to work. I saw two kids slip on the ice in front of my house on their way to school this morning. Fun! Oh, and the sun is still setting by 5:30 p.m. so by the time I get home it feels too late to do anything. Wah, wah, wah, I know.

BUT ... I gotta say this January has been so much more tolerable since we got Apple TV. It's my official winter savior. Actually, I gave it to my husband for his birthday late last year. It was $99 -- more than I usually spend on gifts, but this seemed really worth it since we could download Netflix movies (and since I suck at returning Netflix movies and leave them on my dining room table for months on end). Apple TV is a little device that hooks up to your TV that lets you stream movies, TV, music or photos to your TV. You can buy or rent new movies from iTunes or watch the network shows. Or watch YouTube videos til your brain rots. Or listen to podcasts. Or scroll through yours and your friends' Flickr photos.

We've watched a ton of movies over the past few weeks via Netflix via Apple TV. Most of that is after the toddler K has gone to bed, but she's seen a few, too -- Annie and James and the Giant Peach. Of course, I know better and that I shouldn't let my child get sucked into TV wasteland, but a little bit won't hurt, plus she loves the singing and dancing. I'm know for a fact that most of the current generation of parents watched way too much television. And it gave us something interesting to talk about.

So this weekend we watched a couple of great movies (using Apple TV) that I totally recommend. I had been resisting watching The Hurt Locker because for some reason everytime I'd see it listed on Showtime my mind interpreted it as saying The Blind Side -- which is just an awful, condescending movie, and I had to endure it on three different flights. But anyway, the Hurt Locker is not like that. It's intense, keeps your adrenaline going and a fascinating perspective on a war that has too quickly settled into the backs of our minds.

We also watched Exit Through the Gift Shop which is brilliant and features a fantastic splash of graffiti art and artists. It tells the story of a French filmmaker who develops an obsession with filming street art, and basically how that whole world swallows him up. He's a bit of a spaz, and yet, he ends up the victor.

Sin Nombre is a story about the dangerous trek taken by thousands from Central America to the U.S., and the brutal pull of gang life in the homeland. Maybe it's because this story isn't new or in any way surprising to me that I was less than impressed. Still, it's a good film and an important story to tell. It's not you, Sin Nombre. It's me. I think I'm just craving something I haven't seen before.

And forget about all those movies I just mentioned, because THIS IS THE ONE YOU NEED TO SEE ... We just finished watching this one tonight -- Catfish, which has been hailed as the other, better, the real Facebook movie. I haven't seen the Social Network yet, but this story had us on the edge of our chairs, cringing behind the sofa pillow, covering our face with embarrassment, gasping out loud, etc. This is the basic premise, from A.O. Scott's review:

Anyway, the story goes like this: A few years ago Nev Shulman, the younger brother of one of the filmmakers, was befriended by a girl in Michigan named Abby, who seemed to be an artistic prodigy. She wanted permission to use one of Nev’s photographs as the basis of a painting, and in the course of their correspondence revealed that she was, at the age of 8, exhibiting and selling her work online and in galleries in her hometown. Nev’s fraternal friendship with Abby led to a warm rapport with her mother, Angela, and also to a blossoming cyberflirtation with Megan, the girl’s 19-year-old sister, who posted enticing profile pictures on her Facebook page.

I don't want to be a spoiler, so watch the movie then read the whole review. And never think of Facebook in the same way again.

Whew -- and those movies I just listed were just this weekend. Might as well get it all in now, because in two weeks, it'll be February -- the month of love, supuestamente. All I care is that it's one month closer to spring!