Now that October is (almost) here Fall is definitely upon us. The days are now getting shorter daylight-wise and the nights are beginning to turn chilly. And alas, with the end of baseball season we’ve got 3 hours or more to fill every night until Opening Day.
If you’re like the Chop, you’re going to be dedicating a lot more nights to Netflix in the next few months, so we’ve decided to put on our movie-critic cap and fill you in on the good, bad and ugly movies we’ve been streaming lately in a new monthly feature we’re going to call Netflix Queue Review.
Of course we can’t get underway with this series without talking about the 900 pound meth smoking gorilla in the room that is Breaking Bad. The series had its on-air finale last night on AMC and there is near-universal agreement that it’s going down in history as one of the best dramas of all time. If you haven’t watched it there’s no better time than now to start: currently 4 1/2 of 5 seasons are available on Netflix and the second half of season 5 is available through Comcast On-Demand, and should hit Netflix soon. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It’s been the rule over the last 10-15 years that TV shows do live up to the exact amount of hype they generate. It started when the Sopranos re-set the standards for what could be done in a TV show. Ever since then we’ve had more choice in shows and more opinions being generated about those choices, which have been surprisingly accurate. We all know people who wouldn’t shut up about the Wire but once even the latest of stragglers managed to watch a season or two everyone has agreed that it’s at least as good as everyone said it was, and even better after repeated viewings as great drama usually is. Likewise shit that is unwatchable like Dads or 2 Broke Girls is awful and everyone knows it.
Another Baltimore-filmed show that’s living up to its exact amount of hype is House of Cards. Now, you may be saying Hey Chop, 3 Emmys might have been a little much for that show don’t you think? Yeah, we do. But we expect that’s probably just the Emmys wanting to appear relevant. The truth is that House of Cards is good but can be slow at times. Part of that is inherent in shows that focus on the inside-baseball nature of beltway politics, but part of it is just that it’s a slow show. It’s got some great moments, but just as often a heated scene will end with a character delivering a line so contrived and hammy that it induces an audible groan from the viewer. If you like politics and Baltimore location spotting it’ll keep you coming back, but won’t have you watching 2-3 episodes in a row. ★ ★ ★
Netflix excels at television, but their streaming selection leaves something to be desired. And the nature of their displays can insure that hidden gems stay hidden. One such gem we watched recently was 1980′s Ordinary People starring Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland and directed by Robert Redford. Maybe it’s just us but we tend to give the Academy Awards a lot more credence before the Titanic era of movies, and this film received 4 of them. Being Best Picture of 1980, it’s best known as ‘the movie that beat Raging Bull.’ We’re not here to argue which movie is better, but we thought it was every bit as good as any winner you’d care to name for 10 years either way (excepting the Godfather movies). ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Another old classic which deals with disaffected youth is the Who’s Quadrophenia. We’ve never paid much attention to the Who but as a grown-ass adult we are beginning to develop a much better appreciation for what their music meant, and the great impact it had in its time and place. Quadrophenia can be a bit slow at times, but much like Withnail and I there’s not a single moment that’s not visually and culturally interesting. Plus in the end Jimmy steals Sting’s scooter and drives it off a cliff and we like it when bad things happen to Sting. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Speaking of Withnail and I, if you like that then it stands to reason that you like movies about shiftless, worthless alcoholics. So you might be tempted to check out Tree’s Lounge. After all, it’s written by, directed by and stars Steve Buscemi so it’s got to be good, right? Not really. The whole isn’t equal to the sum of the parts on this one and we turned it off in less than half an hour because it’s that boring. Kind of the way Everything Must Go was boring. Watch Factotum instead. ★
Finally, for what Netflix lacks in movie selection it makes up for in standup comedy specials which are (we guess) cheaper to get the rights to. We like a good hour of standup as much as the next guy, and we’d always heard that TV’s Danny Tanner actually had a non-family friendly standup act, but when we watched Bob Saget: That’s What I’m Talkin About recently we were blown back in our chair. We were expecting like Chris Rock level dirty but without the N-words. This show is actually Don Rickles in 1958 level Filthy with a capital F. But it’s also Funny with a capital F. Saget plays to adults, and with adults you reach a shock value filth saturation point pretty quickly. And while this is absolutely raunchy throughout, it’s got the punch lines to keep you ell oh elling for a solid hour. Highly recommended. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★