Posts Tagged ‘netflix’

DVDs:

Bride and Prejudice: A Bollywood take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with lots of dancing and singing. Austen is a perfect fit for an Indian make over, and I think I prefer it to the monsterification which is the latest trend for Austen’s work. It’s a definite improvement on the Joe Wright – Keira Knightley flick which took it’s self far too seriously.

Valentine’s Day: Slightly embarrassed by this rental. It was bad, so very bad. But I was in need of a chick flick, and I thought it would be passable but it was a pure mortgage flick for all concerned. The tangled love lives of a bunch of pretty LA inhabitants as they celebrate or mourn their way through Valentine’s Day. It’s only saving grace was the 3 minutes of screen time that Bradley Cooper was given.

Stephen Fry in America (2 discs): A couple of years ago Stephen Fry drove a London cab through all 50 states and made a documentary about it. I was actually disappointed by the documentary – there were some interesting bits (like at the Body Farm). But in comparison to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations gastro-travel docs it came off as slow and dullish.

The Big Bang Theory: Season 1 (3 discs) We’ve completely fallen down the Sheldon et al  rabbit hole (or should that be black hole?). Love ’em all, and their quarky quirks. I started dipping into TBBT this year. Then thought we should go back to the beginning not that it really matters as you can dip in and out but it’s fun seeing how all the characters developed and their adventures. (Planning on doing a longer post as it has become apparent that I have married Sheldon-lite.)

Castle: Season 2 (1 disc) Again this is series I started watching this year, and have gone back to watch the first and now second season. On the surface it’s a fairly standard police procedural but it has Nathan Fillion on full charm offensive. What can I say?

Instants:

TV: The Good Guys (pilot episode), Top Shot (season 2 – 13 episodes) & The Glades (season 1 – 13 episodes)

Let’s skip over The Good Guys, and concentrate on the total awesomeness of The Glades and Top Shot. I have a soft spot for police procedurals especially quirky ones that aren’t too forumalic. The Glades fits that bill.  Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) is a Chicago cop who is forced to relocate to a different police force after an unfortunate run in with his boss and he choices Florida for the good weather, and golf. Matt Passmore is so charming as Longworth it is delight to watch him solve crimes, and flirt with Callie (Kiele Sanchez) the nurse slash medical student slash single mother slash jailhouse wife. I’m not quite sure how Callie manages to juggle everything but she is not annoying and you find yourself rooting for her and Jim to get together.  What I like the most about Callie is that she doesn’t whine. One of the reasons I stopped watching Nip/Tuck was that Joely Richardson’s character Julia McNamara drove me mad with her constant moaning about wanting to go back to medical school (amongst the many other things she moaned about), not doing anything about it, and then when she takes a pre-med class she ends up dropping out and goes back to moaning. Ugh.

I know that a reality TV show centered around gunman-ship is not everyone’s cup of tea but Top Shot it is one of the few skills-based reality show competitions. It’s really interesting as you learn about the history of different weapons and see the contestants pushed to their limits with difficult challenges. Generally the contestants are fairly respectful of each other there is bickering, and some plotting but you are saved drunken hot-tub antics.

Films: A Private Function, Possession, Maybe Baby, You Again, Weather Girl & I Capture The Castle

I’ve seen A Private Function many times over the years, and couldn’t resist this dry comedy of social climbing in the small northern town when I spied it on Netflix Instant. Possession is again a film I’ve many times – there is something about Aaron Eckhart and Gwynnie Paltrow as academics on the hunt for missing historical letters that I find charming. The Da Vinci Code this is not but a gentle romantic story unfolds with our academics, and the subject of their obsession.

Maybe Baby is a Brit infertility rom-com. Despite a strong cast the premise is as bad as it sounds. You Again is an awful awful rom-com and it makes you want to stage an intervention for Veronica Mars. What went wrong? Why does she get no decent roles? Weather Girl on the other hand is a quiet indie flick that went straight to Netflix Instant (I think). It’s slow in parts and overly earnest in others but a refreshing change from all the crappy rom-coms chocked full of stars doing mortgage flicks.

I Capture The Castle is one of my favorite books, and I love the film adaptation as well. An eccentric family living in a crumbling castle in the 1930s, and the cast is so good: Bill Nighy, Romola Garai, Rose Byrne and Tara Fitzgerald. Love it!

Stats for August: DVDs (8) & Instants (33)

Since my monthly Netflix payment is going up, and I need a push to review the stuff I’ve seen I figure that a monthly review is a good way of making sure I am still getting value for money from Netflix.

DVDs:

Nights in Rodanthe – Awful, awful film. It’s all about “old” people finding love post-divorce and medical malpractice suits in the midst of storm. I honestly only rented it because James Franco was in it but he is barely present. It’s one of his homeopathic films where you just get essence of Franco, and frankly it is not enough.

Just Go With It – An Aniston-Sandler rom-com that isn’t actually as bad as it should be, and the kid actors are the least annoying I’ve seen in a long time (they are actually clever, manipulative and funny).

Macross: Vol. 3 – This was an Alex rental so I dozed through it.

Leverage: Season 3 (disc 2, 3 & 4) – More adventures from our con men with hearts of gold. Still not as good as the first season but helped me dodge the heat.

Battle: Los Angeles – LOVE IT! All those reviews trashing it were obviously expecting a sci-fi movie rather than a straight up war film. It is really good war film. The soldiers methodically figure out how to defeat the enemy (aliens).

Mamma Mia! – What can I say I needed a hit of Greece and ABBA. Blue skies and catchy lyrics made not being able to go on vacation this summer bearable.

Unknown – AWFUL! I thought this was going to be cool fightie film like Taken instead it’s dull. There is zero chemistry between Liam Neeson and January Jones before, during and after amnesia.  Avoid it like the plague as you will never get those hours back.

The Adjustment Bureau – Not bad. It is of course based on a Philip K. Dick short story than the powers that be decided to romanticize.

Source Code – Definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Kudos to Duncan Jones for producing a solid follow-up to Moon. It’s so much more than “Jake on a train”. It is a much smarter and layered film than the trailers had presented. Like Moon I don’t want to give any thing away but by the end you will be craving coffee and donuts.

How Do You Know – Terrible film about a women (Reese Whitherspoon) with low self esteem who is still playing soft ball professionally into her 30s (or is it late 20s I forget when women are over-the-hill), and then gets cut from the national team or something. She dates a man who treats her badly, and Jack Nicholson keeps randomly appearing but doesn’t really aid the plot.

Instants:

TV: Hoarders (1 episodes), No Reservations (6 episodes), Firefly (2 episodes), Farscape (1 episode), Sherlock Holmes (3 episodes), Coupling: Season 4 (1 episode), and Sports Night: Seasons 1 & 2 (33 episodes)

Wow I watched a lot of Sports Night last month. I must have been on a serious Dan Rydell and Aaron Sorkin high after all of that. No Reservations is Alex and I’s go to Instant on the weekend when there is nothing to watch, and Bourdain’s adventures are always amusing. Everything else I watched must have been whilst I was overheating on the sofa is something of a blur.

Documentary: Art & Copy

In honor of Alex going to work for a branding agency we thought we should watch this documentary about movers and shakers of the industry and how it’s evolved. It’s pretty interesting and worth a watch.

Films: America’s Sweethearts, Blue Crush, & Blue Juice,

These were “vacation” substitute films. America’s Sweethearts is set in a lush hotel, Blue Crush is in Hawaii (again with a lush hotel), and Blue Juice is set in Cornwall (the Hawaii of the UK). Roll on next year when we can have an actual vacation – even if it is to my mum’s in Scotland.

Stats for July: DVDs (12) & Instant (51)

Looks like July was a really heavy Netflix month thanks to the soaring temps and limited mobility. Source Code and Battle: Los Angeles were definitely the best things.

Like most people I am not a fan of price hikes. Every time I book a flight back to the UK I weep for days because I remember the time when I could fly there AND back for less than $400 (and you wouldn’t land hungry). But, there is not much I can do as the prices are comparable across all airlines flying that route, and there aren’t any other viable transportation options. I just have to suck it up, and try to fly in the cheapest periods.

Earlier this month Netflix announced that they were separating out their streaming and DVD rental businesses and this re-shuffle would have an associated price hike. And oh my the internets and the twitter went bat shit crazy about the $6 increase (based on if you had unlimited instant and one disc rental), and how Netflix Instant is not worth $7.99 because of its limited offerings.

My plan (unlimited streaming plus two discs) has gone up to almost $20 per month, and whilst there are other things I could spend that $6 on (three bags of Haribo cola bottles or two iced lattes or 3.4 trips on the PATH train) I’m okay with the price hike because it’s still great value for money – especially when you compare it to the alternatives (e.g. premiere cable, movies on-demand, etc).

In an average month we’ll get through 10-14 DVDs, and umpteen hours of Netflix Instant. (Am too scared to look up this exact figure otherwise Alex will tell me off but I’m at home and pregnant during the hottest months of the year so by 3pm AC and collapsing on the sofa look good.) So for our household Netflix is still great value for money especially when you consider that three years ago we quit premium cable and said bye bye to $60 a month, and then a year ago we quit going to the movies and said bye bye to $24 for two tickets (and that’s the cheap end given the horrible trend for turning crappy movies into even crappier 3D movies).

I don’t care about seeing films when they open (or premiere cable shows when they air). I’m happy to wait a couple of months and see them in the comfort of my own home cinema where I can watch ’em when I like,  pause ’em for pee breaks and eat my own snacks that aren’t going to induce adult onset diabetes or drain the cylons’ college fund.

With Netflix DVDs I manage our list like some people manage their stock portfolios. Pushing the new releases to the top, and alternating with the TV series we are working through. I always try to make sure we have some that Alex will watch come the weekend.  But really he loves Netflix Instant because of all the documentaries they have on offer, and the access to back seasons of No Reservations, Top Shot and StarTrek. Also, using Netflix Instant on Apple TV is a dream so much better than via the XBox 360 or DVD player.

Sure I’d love for there to be more new content on Netflix Instant, and I’m excited that they are going to develop their own programming but all this costs $$$, and I am sure this is where the price increase comes in. There is a lot of competition in this space but as far as I am concerned Netflix is still the best value for money and has a great user experience.

The Killing

I haven’t seen the original Danish series that AMC’s The Killing is based on but given the amount of buzz it got when it aired in the UK earlier this year I am guessing it’s better than the lackluster adaptation that just finished airing over here. I’m holding out ordering it from Amazon.co.uk in case Netflix gets the rights to stream it – which I think would be a REALLY good idea.

For a taut police drama there was a shocking lack of you know police work. The first few episodes built the tension and there were some nice twisty-turny bits but then it slowed down into a rainy kitchen sink drama about what a crap mother and finance Linden was and how shady her police partner Holder was acting. Ugh. The political sub-plot was far from gripping. Did we really care if the current mayor stopped the funding his rival candidate’s (Richmond) after school sports program? Er no.

Not even cameo appearances from Battlestar Galactica’s Leoben (Linden’s fiance who is waiting for her in Sonoma) and Helo (her errant ex-husband) could pep things up. Perhaps it was all the overcast skies and rain that brought the writers and cast down as it was set in Vancouver Seattle. My take away highlight from the entire series was that for one scene they filmed in the gorgeous house that the Graystone’s lived in in Caprica – I was holding out hope that I might see Serge.

The pace did finally pick up in the last episode but the ending was so awful – it was not a cliffhanger it was a cop out. I don’t care who killed Rosie Larsen or is setting up the politician. I’m done especially since AMC cancelled last summer’s Rubicon which had a much more engaging cast and complex plot I guess they decided to dumb things down this year.

Top Chef Masters: Season 3

I love Top Chef, and the past two seasons of Top Chef Masters have been pretty good too but this season lost it’s mojo. There was a lack of contestants with personality – they are all good people but there were no Jonathan Waxman like characters. A big deal was made of Curtis Stone taking over hosting duties from Kelly Choi but let’s be honest neither of them are in Padma’s league so it’s something of a moot point. The challenges were interesting enough but what I think really let the season down was the changes to the panel. Happy that Gael Greene was parked but dropping the scoring was a mistake. In previous Top Chef Masters seasons the panel had to give proper critiques and score the chefs’ efforts. Maybe it was the editing but it felt like there was less talk of the food and techniques. I think it might be time to retire this spin-off.

Treme

Oh god Treme was just too fraking slow,  jam packed with really annoying characters, and felt like a dull social studies lesson. Set in New Orleans post-Katrina it follows way too many people as they rebuild their lives. We made it through three episodes and then decided to quit before we slipped into a coma. Didn’t care about John Goodman’s angry English professor or his wife (the overly earnest lawyer using her car as a mobile filing cabinet) or their daughter whingeing about having to go to boarding school in Baton Rouge.  I do hope the lady who owns the bar gets her roof fixed but she should probably stop paying the errant roofer until he finishes the job, and her ex-husband is such an arse why are all these women lining up to make him their baby daddy? And don’t even get me started on the hipster musician with ironic facial hair who treats everyone with contempt because they do not truly appreciate NOLA culture, and music like he does. Arrgghhh.

I’m focused on three things at the moment: keeping warm, studying & Netflix! You’d think after a zillion winters on the north-east I’d be use to the cold and the snow, and more cold and more snow. But, no. Sure the snow is fun at first, and since the UK got snow before us this winter my reality practically imploded. But now we’ve had lots of snow I’m bored of it. Unfortunately, the Weather Channel didn’t get my memo because there’s yet another snowstorm heading our way this week, and it will drop 12ft of snow or something like that in the next few days. The only upside of all this snow is that they keep salting the sidewalks so that should keep the demons at bay for a bit though the salters need to pay more attention to thresholds.

Studying is going well. It’s bliss being able to make it my main focus, and other than being a wee bit stressed over having three essays due next week I feel like things are falling into place. I guess we’ll see how frazzled I am next week.

So that just leaves Netflix. Ah Netflix, the auburn haired siren that tries to lure me from my studies everyday. Since I am on a extremely limited budget (beginning to feel like Flora Poste from Cold Comfort Farm who only has 100 pounds a year to sustain her in stockings and cakes) Netflix is my only way to consume films so I manage my Netflix list like a Wall Street trader. As soon as I read about a film I add it to my queue, and then regularly check my queue to see release dates, and move things up accordingly. It’s all about monitoring the markets… I mean the DVDs. There’s a few films I want to do proper reviews on because they really blew me away, but until I get to that here’s a few bullet points on what I’ve watch this month:

  • The Special Relationship: This is the third outing for Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, and this time the focus is on the “special” relationship between Blair and Clinton. It was an interesting trip down memory lane, and surprisingly puts Blair-Bush in context.
  • The Town: Loved it, and it gets it’s own post later this week.
  • The A-Team: In the spirit of the recent Star Trek re-boot this also nails it. Strong cast (especially Sharlto Copely as Murdock) that embrace the silliness of this franchise. A solid popcorn flick, and I hope they make a sequel.
  • Buried: I was blown away by this film, and it will get it’s own post because it’s a smart film that not many people have watched.  You think it’s a film about a man trapped in a box but it is actually a political statement about the state of the US economy and the war in Iraq. So clever, and thrillingly entertaining.
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Yes, it’s silly and Cage wears a very silly wig but it’s fun.
  • Dean Spanley (Netflix Instant): I don’t know how to describe this film but it is a gem of a movie. An Edwardian tale of stiff upper lips coated in whimsy. The gentle tale of a strained relationship between a father (Peter O’Toole – Yes Lawrence of Arabia in his best part in decades) and son (Jeremy Northam), and their quirky friends from the colonies (Bryan Brown and Sam Neill). Such a strong cast. They must have had a blast filming.
  • Love & Other Disasters (Netflix Instant): Aviod. Aviod. Aviod. Only watched this because Netflix had billed Paltrow on par with Brittany Murphy. Blatant false advertising as Paltrow only appears at the end of this hideous mess of a movie. Ugh.
  • Death at a Funeral (Netflix Instant): This is a remake of the 2007 British film of the same name that I watched a few years ago. It’s a scene for scene remake, and I fell asleep.

1. Study hard & aim to get firsts in final exams: Greek Drama, Nero to Hadrian & Women in Antiquity
2. Start to learn “dead” languages: Latin & Greek
3. Start to learn a “live” language: German, French or Italian
4. Look for a part-time job in May to pay for language courses & perhaps a MacBook Air
5. Volunteer somewhere that will help with getting into grad school & the next stage of my “career”
6. Take self-defense & first aid courses
7. Bake my own bread
8. Become a Jedi master in icing Star Wars cookies
9. Visit Hadrian’s Wall
10. Write more
11. Use Evernotes & other helpful techie tools (if only to keep Alex quiet)
12. Read thirty-four books
13.  Learn how to butcher a chicken
14. Figure out some topics to do weekly blog posts about
15. Become a Netflix ninja & get through more DVDs
16. Cook at least one new recipe every week
17. Learn to love Roman writers
18. Plan a trip to utilize my new language skills (see 3)
19. Attend the Williamstown Theater Festival (dependent on productions – please no ‘Our Town’ in 2011)
20. See the US Air Force Thunderbirds
21. Plan day trips to explore the tri-state
22. Send a care package(s) to the troops
23. Read some poetry (other than my old dead poets, & beloved W.H. Auden)
24. Learn how to bake French macaroons
25. Start knitting for Christmas 2011
26. Comment on more blogs
27. Learn to use Alex’s old manual camera
28. Get inked
29. Darn my socks
30. Clear out my closet & don’t live in yoga pants
31. Apply for citizenship
32. Eat at WD-50, Daniel, Craft & Annisa
33. Floss!
34. Join a book group

It speaks volumes to the state of my life that I was excited to discovered that ‘New in Town’ was available through Netflix Instant. A new chick flick – praise the gods and pass the ambrosia. Who cares if it is any good, it’s a fairly recent movie and given that I am currently giving movie theaters a wide berth (combo of cash flow and risk of bed bugs *shudder*) I’ll take anything. Plus, I am trying to give my day structure (till I get my course materials and classics takes over once again) and I find myself getting restless around 5pm to Alex getting home and a little Netflix Instant action fills the void.

‘New in Town’ wasn’t that bad though fairly cliched and the tapioca subplot was a little heavy handed. City girl (Renee Zellweger – a successful Bridget Jones if you will) is relocated to small town America to downsize the local factory. She doesn’t understand their ways but they know how to make darn good tapioca, and eventually she finds love (Harry Connick Jr.) and renounces her big city ways.

What I really want to watch is ‘Let The Right One In’ but I am too scaredy cat, and I am not sure if I can convince Alex to sit through Swedish vampire movie. Maybe I’ll try today or tuck into Nip/Tuck.