About a Boy (Season 2)
In case you missed the end of the second season after it was unceremoniously cancelled… Here ya go.
From Richard Curtis, the master of transparent emotional manipulation, About Time is a time-travelling romantic comedy starring Canada’s own Rachel McAdams and General Hux himself, Domnhall Gleeson.
The (New) Adventures of Figaro Pho
This show, about a boy who has every phobia known to man, has been favourably compared in style and substance to Tim Burton. It’s refreshing to hear that phrase used as a compliment.
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer / Aileen Wuornos: Selling of a Serial Killer
With the massive success of Making a Murderer, Netflix has tapped, incredibly successfully, into the genre of true crime. It’s become sexy to investigate real murders and while the actual appeal of Making a Murderer is in its examination of injustice, that isn’t going to stop them from tapping the true crime well as hard as they can.
Angry Birds Toons
In case you didn’t know, Angry Birds is still very much a thing. Not only is there this 7-episode cartoon series, there’s also a feature film coming in May for which there is sure to be a disgusting deluge of marketing.
Before Michael Bay was an easy punchline for people trying to sound smart on the Internet, there was Bad Boys, a fun, if mindless exposition of masculine banter and stuff getting blown up.
Possibly the biggest personal treat of the week, Big Fish is my favourite Tim Burton movie. It taught me about whimsy when I was trying so hard to be a misunderstood teenager.
Biggie & Tupac
Yet another Nick Broomfield documentary (he also directed the two Aileen Wuornos movies above). This one investigates (albeit problematically) the murders of the Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac Shakur. Broomfield’s Kurt Cobain documentary, Kurt and Courtney, was also added this week.
This little-heard-of British film is about a man whose family livelihood is wiped out by disease. After abandoning his former life, he’s given one last chance to recommit to his family, while the past creeps up to haunt him. I would have passed this one by if not for the 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the 7 critics who got around to seeing it.
Detective Conan / Case Closed (Season 1)
It just goes to show how far Japanese culture falls from my purview that I have never heard of Detective Conan, despite it apparently being the fifth-best-selling manga of all time. So it comes as no surprise that I would be equally ignorant of its anime version. Nonetheless, the premise sounds cool: it’s about a teenage detective who is poisoned and transforms into a child. This is an enormous series. Netflix claims to have just added Season 1 but what they actually mean is that they’re starting at episode 748, which is about 2/3 of the way through Season 23.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha
This is the first of the Indian movies we’ll look at this week. This one is about a man who gives into his father’s wishes and marries a heavier-set woman. The movie makes a point to demonstrate how his disappointment is a failure of his own unrealistic and cruel expectations.
Far From the Madding Crowd
This is the 2015 version, starring Carey Mulligan, who critics have said is appropriately electric in her performance as Bathsheba Everdene.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Season 2)
This is another anime I was ready to discount but, once again, the concept drew me in. Amateur magic-practitioners are invited to participate in a tournament, in which the trophy is the Holy Grail.
The Fifth Estate
I was absolutely ready to adore this movie when it was announced. The world will likely never be as high on Benedict Cumberbatch as it was when he was called upon to play notorious journalist Julian Assange – unless, of course, the trailer for Doctor Strange looks badass – although unfortunately The Fifth Estate movie failed to live up to hype.
Forensic Files (2 collections)
Continuing in the vein of true crime, Forensic Files actually seems like a great buy for Netflix. With 80 half-hour episodes, between the two acquired collections, the show has a reputation for being a tasteful exploration of the processes that go into determining guilt from evidence.
Futurama (Seasons 3-6)
Apparently we just can’t get all of Futurama at once anymore. Once upon a time you could watch it from beginning to end. Now, we have Seasons 3 – 6, which actually appear to start near the end of Season 2 and establish totally different season structures. Oh, and Season 6 is the movies. On top of it all, Seasons 6 & 7 (or I guess Netflix would call them 7 & 8) are now gone. What a gongshow.
Gunslinger Girl – Il Teatrino –
Another batty-sounding anime premise: cybernetic orphans trained as assassins. Take it or leave it.
I, criminally, have never seen Her, and have been hoping forever for it to drop on Netflix. I love everything I’ve seen Spike Jonze direct, especially Where the Wild Things Are, so I hope I can temper my expectations before going into what is supposed to be one of the best films of 2013.
This movie seems to be dripping with schmaltz but I’m sure there are people who are going to have strong feelings of nostalgia and joy when they see that this was added.
I’ll See You in My Dreams
I get a strong Grace & Frankie vibe from this film and its lead performance by Blythe Danner is apparently quite the sight to see.
The fascinating part about Inshallah, Football, is not necessarily its content. I really couldn’t care much less about professional soccer. But when it tells the story of an Indian man who is prevented from going to Brazil because of father’s militant pass, and then the film itself is blocked from certification, the irony is not lost. The movie’s Wikipedia page is a fascinating read about problematic censorship.
This well-reviewed and respected documentary, while claiming to be unbiased, puts a spotlight on some of the most shocking aspects of childhood indoctrination by American Evangelical Christians.
To the unitiated (like myself), Indian cinema is easy to stereotype. When I read that Kshay was a black-and-white psychological thriller about a housewife who becomes dangerously obsessed with a statue, as well as being created by just the director and a single crew member, it suddenly became important to not only see the movie, but also to understand what else Indian cinema has to offer.
The Last Kingdom
A Netflix-distributed BBC show, The Last Kingdom is based on The Saxon Stories series by Bernard Cornwell. In the show (and I hear it’s great), a Saxon-born orphan is raised by vikings but has his loyalties tested when the time comes to conquer his homeland.
The Lazarus Project
Just in case you wanted to see Paul Walker do something that is neither Fast nor Furious, The Lazarus Project is about a man who awakens after receiving a lethal injection to be told he’s been given a second chance at life… or has he?
Letters From Iwo Jima
This film is the Japanese counterpart to Flags of Our Fathers (not on Netflix Canada), telling the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese side of things.
Life’s Too Short
I have no idea what this show is about but I like Ricky Gervais and if the hilarious clip of Liam Neeson’s appearance is anything to go by, this series is a must-watch.
The Matrix Reloaded / The Matrix Revolutions
It’s the movies that immediately squandered all the goodwill the Wachowskis built up with The Matrix! To be fair, I should go back and watch them again before casting too harsh of an indictment but it’s easy pickings.
Mo’Nique: I Coulda Been Your Cellmate!
It’s like if a comedian pulled a Folsom Prison Blues. Stand-up Mo’Nique visits the Ohio Reformatory for Women to tell jokes and talk about her life and what it coulda been.
Monster House is one of the first times I remember thinking that I specifically didn’t want to see a movie because I’d seen it advertised too much. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is in the 70s but I doubt that’s enough reason for it to his My List.
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project
This is one I feel a bit bad about. I feel like I should have a clue who Don Rickles is. Perhaps this documentary is a way to assuage that guilt and see what I’m missing
Naruto Shippuden (Seasons 1 – 4)
Naruto became a thing once I’d intially stopped paying attention to cartoons. But if your second TV series is already up to 443 episodes (with the first 200 or so now being on Netflix), you’re probably doing something right.
New Year’s Eve Countdown shows
When I saw that Netflix had added a bunch of New Year’s Eve countdown shows based around their original content (All Hail King Julian, Care Bears & Cousins, Inspector Gadget, Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, Project Mc², and my personal favourite, the adorable Puffin Rock), I thought the idea was that it was a 30-minute special you could put on to trick your kids into thinking it was New Year’s and they could go to bed. They’re actually 1-3 minute blips that include a countdown at the end. The Puffin Rock one is about 45 seconds of clips from the first season before the characters adorably ring in the new year.
The Office (U.S.: Seasons 1-9)
It’s kind of shocking that The Office wasn’t here before. It’s an incredibly bingeable show. I know this because I watched the whole thing on DVD before catching up with live TV right around the departure of Steve Carrell. I may not get to the show right away but it’s comforting to know that it’s there.
Like I said earlier with Kshay, it’s good to broaden my understanding of what Indian film can be. This includes Piku, about a young architect as she butts heads with her elderly and increasingly needy father. According to some reviews, the film is notable because of its solid script and its simplicity, and for being “unlike other Hindi films.”
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Did you ever wonder where Maggie Smith got her Best Actress Oscar? It was in 1969 for the title role, Jean Brodie, a troublesome and possibly queer teacher in a prim boarding school for girls.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
There’s a reason Rotten Tomatoes is my first stop when looking into these titles. Sometimes you get gems of consensus reviews like this one: “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is about as original as its title — but with a cast this talented and effortlessly charming, that hardly matters.”
Sid the Science Kid (Season 1) & Sid the Science Kid: The Movie
I try to be conscientious about what my kids put into their brains when they’re watching TV. Sid the Science Kid seems like something worth a try. The show moves in 5-episode units, with each group focusing on a particular field of science.
Something’s Gotta Give
If nothing else, Something’s Gotta Give gave us a genre of seemingly soft-lobbing mature rom-coms with full sentences as the titles.
In an earlier podcast, I once used Spymate as a prime (primate?) example of the kind of insane film that has come from the mind of the creator of Air Bud. Now it’s here, the story you didn’t know you needed about a chimpanzee spy who comes out of retirement to solve one last case.
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
Comedy is often “funny because it’s true.” With Stewart Lee, comedy is funny because it’s true in a way it may take a little while to acknowledge that it’s true. Cutting and insightful, this sounds right up my alley.
Not to be confused with an identically-titled 2011 movie about Millenials, Trophy Kids is a documentary about parents pushing their kids way too hard in sports. Maybe they should send them to Jesus Camp instead.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Wrapping up the unexpected flurry of Indian movies for this week, we end with What’s Love Got to Do With It?, a documentary about people whose social status would allow them to marry for love but choose arranged marriages instead. The movie challenges the concept of marrying for love but is also questioning of the perpetuation of an institution that continues to separate people by castes.
When Animals Dream
While not entirely original (it’s about a young woman whose sexual awakening reveals that she is a werewolf), the movie is garnering applause for debuting Danish filmmaker Jonas Alexander Arnby.