Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Media: Netflix - Yes We Can: House Of Cards

The media industry is in transition. Traditional media companies like publishers, TV-networks and Hollywood studios meet a rising competition from Internet arrivistes: Apple and Google are streaming movies via iTunes and YouTube. started publishing e-books and producing TV-shows (businessinsider  digitaltrends) .

This month "House of Cards" appeared, produced and exclusively streamed on the Internet by Netflix (imdb). The Online lender of DVDs and supplier of movie downloads invested $ 100 Million in this project and gained David Fincher ("Social Network", "Seven", "Fight Club") to produce the 2 seasons with 13 episodes each ( Fincher also directed the first 2 episodes. 

According to Wikipedia the director was not just attracted by the ample budget, but also by the "long form", meaning that the TV series would give the possibility to develop a complex characterization which the usual 2 hours movie does not (wikipedia). Netflix further gained the 2-times Oscar winner Kevin Spacey ("Usual Suspects", "American Beauty") as leading character and co-producer.

"House of Card" shows what the combination of smart money, experience and talent is capable of doing these days.  Although the series has the same title as a British TV series from the 90s, "House of Cards" is a modern "West Wing", but with much more pep than that somewhat dull American political show.

Sex in the Capital City

The story focuses on fictional congressman Underwood, who is labelled as "House Majority Whip". Underwood is a modern Machiavelli. The sly and tricky ways Underwood uses to manipulate and to push his interests is highly entertaining and much more believable than the West Wing characters, who always seemed "to walk over the water". The Netflix show is spiced with frequent sex scenes and sprinkles of nudity which make the series more real and enjoyable, another difference from the rather uptight "West Wing".

I also appreciate that the show is free of annoying commercial breaks. Furthermore, being free to watch it whenever I want to is a great advantage. You could watch  all the 13 episodes form series one in one piece if you are up to it!

Kevin Spacey is the ideal Underwood. It is fun to watch how the  2-time Oscar winner transfers the political scene of Washington DC into his own puppetry.
Robin Wright, as Underwood`s wife, is as well, a great gain for the series and for the audience. The exquisite actress blends a sharp intellectual quality with erotics.
Kate Mara, as an ambitious journalist, also delivers a mixture of smartness & sex appeal and is an integral part of the show.

The rest of the cast also meets the high Hollywood acting standards and is worth their money, especially Corey Stoll.  His character as a political tool for Underwood while struggling with his past as alcoholic and drug addiction makes the show more authentic.

The cutting edge cinematography adds to the pleasure of the series. I especially indulges the opening credits which display the beauties of the U.S capital. They remind me of my visit to to Washington DC in 2011 which impressed me with elegance and the visibility of her wealth & power.

I am looking forward to the further evolution of the new media which should lead to more high quality entertainment to come.

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