Netflix logoA friend of mine wrote to me today asking if I was familiar with Guy Maddin‘s film My Winnipeg. He’d seen it on an Air Canada flight, and as he put it, “Just the fact that Air Canada would put such a weird film on their movie list makes me want to immigrate there.” And he’s an immigration attorney. I think I’ve seen three of Maddin’s films — Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary, Cowards Bend the Knee (or The Blue Hands) and The Saddest Music in the World, and it would be fair to say I’m a fan.

My friend told me that the film is available at Netflix, so I popped over there. While I still consider myself a cinephile (cineaste, movie buff, whatever you want to call it), the fact is that I don’t see nearly as many films as I used to. Consequently, I don’t log in to Netflix that often. Before I checked on the Maddin film, I figured I’d look over some of their suggestions for me, based on my ratings — the famed “Movies You’ll ” page. I had thought that the recommendations were based on ratings from friends in addition to my own ratings, but apparently it’s all me.

Some of the recommendations and the reasons behind them seemed sensible enough. Samurai Rebellion was recommended because I liked Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and The Hidden Fortress. No problem there.

Ace in the Hole (also known as The Big Carnival) was recommended because of my positive ratings for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Annie Hall and Blue Velvet. I’ve seen Ace in the Hole, and I recall liking it, but it was a long time ago. It was one of the films we studied in my very first film studies class. The class was an English department elective in my high school, and basically involved memorizing the glossary at the back of Louis Giannetti‘s Masters of the American Cinema (a book I ended up buying for a film class in grad school some six years later), and watching films while the teacher, the inimitable Miss Lily Achille, would shout out in her Eleanor Roosevelt/Margaret Dumont voice, “The framing! Look at the framing!”

Where was I? Oh, yes — Ace in the Hole. I appreciated being reminded of it, and may in fact add it to my queue. But I have no idea what it has to do with those three other films.

At the bottom of the recommendation page was a big surprise, with a few surprises attached. Under the heading Sports and Fitness Suggestions were the following three titles:

Netflix recommendations

Now, just for starters, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to recommend anything to me from the Sports and Fitness category, unless you happen to be my doctor. I am, after all, a fat, lazy slob. This just isn’t my thing. But look at the films I liked, which led Netflix, in its infinite wisdom, to offer up these suggestions.

Lost in Transition is recommended because I enjoyed Lost in Translation

What do these two films have in common, apart from the similarity in their titles? Well, here’s the blurb for the recommended film:

Take an unforgettable journey in this action-packed film shot in multiple locations around the world, documenting snowboarding’s top athletes at the peak of performance. Facing off on some of the planet’s steepest slopes, featured boarders include Mark Landvik, Frederik Kalbermatten, Dave Downing, Eero Ettala, John and Eric Jackson, Markku Koski, Jeremy Jones, Mads Jonsson, Dave Downing, Benji Ritchie and more.

It’s just the similarity in the titles.

Crunch: Candlelight Yoga is recommended because I enjoyed Lilya 4-Ever

If you’ve never seen Lilya 4-Ever, you really should, but only if you think you can handle it. It’s very, very unpleasant. For someone in my condition, yoga (by candlelight or not) would also be very, very unpleasant, but I don’t think that’s the connection. I recall that there was a yoga show on PBS when I was a kid, called Lilias! Yoga and You, and the show’s host, Lilias Folan, is still at it. Maybe she’s on the disc, and Netflix made a Lilias/Lilya connection… Nope, that’s not it. The host of the yoga video is one Sara Ivanhoe (yeah, right). Lilya does find herself in a number of uncomfortable positions over the course of the film, but that just couldn’t be the connection. I’m at a loss on this one.

Finally, the most confusing recommendation of them all:

Billy Blanks: Bootcamp: Ultimate Bootcamp is recommended because I enjoyed The Short Films of David Lynch

What? Does Lynch do Tae Bo? Do the Ultimate Bootcamp workouts somehow involve running sores, or fear of sexuality and biology? Maybe during breaks they bring on a couple who bark like dogs while abusing their tuxedo t-shirted child.

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