Netflix Is My Therapist
It took watching a couple of excellent movies about therapy, Shrink and The Treatment, to realize this was the case. I don't usually pay attention to the red envelope in the mail, the streaming internet half of the service gives me hundreds of options on my computer and PS3, and if I'm in the mood for a movie, chances are I can find one to fit the mood.
When I'm feeling thoughtful, the documentaries on Netflix never disappoint. This is a category of film I've never been into before, but have been astonished at its power to make me see the world around me differently. The Botany of Desire, which takes the narrative of evolutionary choice (species favoring the traits which help them survive and thrive) to plants, whose beauty, deliciousness, and mind-expanding power are presented as overt appeals to the human appetite, allowing them to piggyback on our success as the dominant species on the planet, and spread their gene seed to more plots in more corners of the earth than they ever would otherwise.
When I'm feeling creative, I watch fantasy movies. I play Dungeons and Dragons and other dice-filled roleplaying games, so I love picking apart plots for pieces I can steal for my own games. Often a movie I like doesn't investigate a certain theme well enough, or doesn't realize some of the broader implications of a feature. For instance, the struggle for food takes a backseat to the struggle for sex in the post-apocalyptic landscape of the 1975 cult classic A Boy and His Dog, and the ways people compromise in the face of desperation is downplayed in favor of outlandish characters and dark humor.
When I'm confused or doubtful, I usually watch a Romance or Drama, which typically involves confused, doubtful people making a huge mess of their lives with some eucatastrophic ending. You really have to watch people making the same mistakes over and over again to catch yourself just once. I see it in the way people sedate and distract themselves from self acknowledgement in Shrink, or evade self-judgement in The Treatment.
Mostly, it's a mirror for me. Therapy for the therapist. It's so easy to yell at your television and tell these people what they should be doing and to stop feeling sorry for themselves, because it's just dreadful to watch up till that point. Well it isn't any more fun to live it either, and when you find drama that sucks you into the shoes of a character, you gain insight and resolve you'd otherwise lack. A conviction that some courses of action are right and need doing that is so easily evadable when you're sitting in the director's seat.