Netflix Roulette is gambling with entertainment

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Netflix Roulette was a totally foreign idea to me until last week.

This website randomly selects a movie or TV show for you to watch from the Netflix database.  You can narrow results based on TV or movie, star rating, directors, actors and keywords.

In a world where it is easy to fall into a rut with TV and movies, Netflix Roulette is a creative method to expose yourself to new content on the streaming service. Although I am pretty particular with the films I watch, it was an interesting experience being completely at the mercy of random selection.

I was directed to roll a movie at random and watch the film all the way through. I’m not a gambler, but I got a little tingle of excitement before pushing the button. The first “movie” I rolled was “Aquarium for Your Home: Saltwater Reef.” For an hour all that was shown were fish swimming around coral and seaweed in a tank. After sitting through about two minutes of this, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach another 58. 

To spare my sanity, I was allowed another roll. The website rolled two movies that wouldn’t allow streaming in the United States. This was an eyebrow raising problem, so I decided to look into it. Apparently Netflix has some licensing limitations on certain titles they can stream, but are available through DVD-by-mail. It would be nice if Netflix Roulette would only roll options that are available to stream instantly.

After a few filter adjustments that narrowed the results,  I came up with “Wolf of Wall Street” directed by Martin Scorsese. Although I’ve seen this movie before, I watched it again because I wanted to have it fresh in my brain for a short review.

The film is about Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Belfort is a New York stock broker who starts out poor and becomes insanely rich through some questionable business and trading tactics. Eventually his wealth and drug use get chaotically out of hand, and Belfort’s life is completely ruined. He loses his family, most of his money, and eventually his freedom.

The film draws to mind themes of money, power, happiness and obsession. This is definitely not a family-friendly movie because of nudity, excessive drug use and swearing.  After about 30 minutes, you just become numb to the swear words. “Wolf of Wall Street” got a lot of controversial attention when it was released in 2013 because of the questionable content and 506 F-words. I firmly believe Scorsese didn’t put loads of profanity, nudity and drug use into the film just for fun. A good director like Scorsese has a direct purpose for what is shown in the movie; it is interesting to think about why he decided to include so much mature content. Without really witnessing Belfort’s life in explicit detail, we wouldn’t be able to fully empathize with his situation. During the last half of the movie, and witnessing how Belfort’s decisions had thrown his life out of control, I actually started to feel sad for him. If you are open-minded to mature content, I would highly recommend watching this movie.

The experience of not getting to choose my movie was completely out of my comfort zone. When it’s time for a movie, I usually know exactly what I’m in the mood for. I was skeptical about having a website choose a film for me to watch but was happy that it was one that I was familiar with and wasn’t completely awful. It will be a fun to continue using Netflix Roulette to discover new films.