A few years ago, my parents ditched our satellite TV subscription in favor of a Netflix membership. At the time, I thought it was a dumb idea. But now, it makes more sense to me and I’m glad they made the change. Most TV shows, especially the ones I like to watch, are available to watch on Hulu or can be downloaded on iTunes. And Netflix provides just about every movie or TV show you can think of through DVD order, and fewer are available instant streaming.
95% of everything I watch through Netflix is instant streaming. Many people would argue that most of the “good” movies/shows are not available on instant streaming. Actually, it can be a challenge finding something worthwhile to watch, but the options are out there! I have watched several movies through instant streaming that I have enjoyed, and I thought I would share them with you.
So here they are – in alphabetical order.
…And it should be noted that I’m no Roger Ebert, so these “reviews” might not be of professional quality. Judge me. Check out the New York Times if you want something fancier.
“It takes approximately 500 lbs to crush a human skull. But the human emotion is a much more delicate thing.”
This film is about a college student, Ben (Sean Biggerstaff, AKA: Oliver Wood in the HP films), who is newly single after an ugly break up with his longterm girlfriend, who he believed was the love of his life. He becomes depressed and loses the ability to sleep. To find something to keep him busy at night, he works the graveyard shift at a local grocery store. It’s there that Ben realizes he has the ability to stop time. He also has interesting encounters with his co-workers. Ultimately, Ben finds ways to move on and be happy with his life after his relationship.
Before the full-length feature film, Cashback was first made as a short film in 2004. Apparently, the short appears in the movie – so at one point the scenes were shot three years before the rest of the movie. The short film blends so seamlessly with the rest of the scenes that you can’t tell.
When I began watching this movie, I didn’t really know what to expect. But it exceeded my expectations. There’s a lot of nudity in this film, so if you’re prudish when it comes to that then this might not be your cup of tea.
Chasing Amy [While searching for this movie on Netflix, I was alerted that it is no longer available for instant streaming, even though it was when I enjoyed it. So it looks like adding this title to your mail-order queue is your only option. For those of you who lack patience, SORRY.]
“If this is a crush, I don’t think I could take it if the real thing ever happened.”
“Chasing Amy” takes an interesting look at human relationships. The film is about Holden (Ben Affleck), who authors a comic book with his best friend, Banky (Jason Lee). The film opens at a comic convention where the two friends are promoting their comic book, Bluntman and Chronic. Everything is going along swimmingly until they meet another comic book artist, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). Holden becomes infatuated with Alyssa and is really happy when she invites him to a club. He believes she is trying to pursue a relationship with him, and then he finds out Alyssa is actually a lesbian. Holden decides to pursue a friendship with Alyssa anyway, and is hopeful that he can have a relationship with her eventually even though she insists she is not attracted to men. Banky doesn’t like Alyssa and discourages Holden from pursuing a relationship with her. Holden’s relentless attraction to Alyssa threatens Holden and Banky’s friendship. Many more twists and turns occur in the plot, but I won’t give any more away.
This movie is a Kevin Smith movie (enough said). Clerks and Clerks 2 are some of my favorite films. I had never seen a Kevin Smith movie outside of the Clerks franchise, so I decided to try this one. It did not disappoint. Now, this IS a Kevin Smith film, so keep that in mind if you prefer more of a G – PG-rated fare in your films. Literally no subject is off topic in the dialogue, or no word too offensive. But if that doesn’t bother you, ENJOY!
Exit Through the Gift Shop
“There’s no one like Thierry, even though his art looks like everyone else’s.”
Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary about street art, or “art developed in public places and mainly done in an illegal way,” (definition). The director Thierry Guetta is a French immigrant living in L.A. with his wife and children, and owns a successful vintage clothing store. He’s a bit of a local celebrity where he lives. Thierry discovers that his cousin is a widely-known (but anonymous) street artist, “Space Invader,” in France. This causes Theirry to become obsessed with the concept of street art. He grabs hold of another anonymous, famous street artist named Banksy. Thierry follows Banksy around, films him doing his art, interviews him, etc. Eventually, Thierry becomes inspired to become a street artist himself, and gives himself the name “Mister Brainwash.”
This film delves into the art world, and what makes art art. It can also be seen as a farce on the art community, because the success Thierry finds as “Mister Brainwash” can be seen as humorous. He mostly takes on the project in order to see if he can do it, and ends up wildly successful.
“There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a… a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know… a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle… and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt.”
This movie follows a group of friends who are generation-X recent college graduates. As IMDB puts it, the friends are “looking for work and love in Houston,” (1,000,000 brownie points for being set in the best state ever!). Lelaina (Winona Ryder) was valedictorian of her college class, but is frustrated that her academic success is not translating to the professional world. She spends the majority of the movie filming her friends to eventually make a documentary, which she has entitled “Reality Bites.” Lelaina and her friends Vickie (Jeneane Garofalo), Troy (Ethan Hawke), and Sammy (Steve Zahn) gripe to the camera about their disappointment with the “real world,” struggles with relationships, quarter-life crises they are experiencing, etc. Furthermore, Lelaina becomes caught in a bit of a love triangle between Troy, a facetious but caring slacker, and young professional Michael (played by a very young Ben Stiller, who also directed the film).
I thought the relationships, situations and problems presented in this movie were very honest and realistic. That being said, if you enjoy more escapist movies, or movies in which things occur that could never happen in real life, this movie isn’t for you. I really enjoyed this film, probably because I found it relatable. I’m still in college and not out in the “real world” yet, but this film still presented some of my concerns, that I’m sure are resonating themes with 20-somethings everywhere.
Also, I did NOT find Ethan Hawke attractive in this movie. I have found him attractive in other roles, such as his role in the movie Gattaca, but not this one. It’s probably because his character epitomizes a product of the 90s grunge movement – flannel shirts, unkempt hair, 5 o’ clock shadow and membership in a garage band. The men I find attractive generally don’t look like cousins of Kurt Cobain.
I can’t seem to find the words to describe this film. I think it needs to be watched before it can fully be understood. Restrepo is a documentary that follows the 15-month deployment of an Army platoon in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan. As a whole the film is incredibly violent and dark, but most importantly powerful. My view on the war was altered after seeing this. It’s not an easy watch, but I would recommend that everyone see it at least once.
Wet Hot American Summer
“Well guys, we’ve made it to the end of the summer in one piece, except for a few campers who are lepers.”
“Wet Hot American Summer” follows the events of the last day at a Jewish summer camp in 1981. The plot focuses on the stories of the various adults working at the camp. Camp director Beth (Jeneane Garofalo, again) develops a crush on astrophysicist Henry (David Hyde Pierce), and the two have an awkward romance. Several camp counselors pursue romance…Coop (Michael Showalter) tries to kindle a romance with Katie (Marguerite Moreau), but she unfortunately is infatuated with Andy (Paul Rudd). Meanwhile, Andy is looking for romance with literally every other girl at the camp. Gail (Molly Shannon) is teaching an arts and crafts class, and then suddenly
has an emotional break down over her impending divorce. The 9 and 10-year-olds give Gail relationship counseling. As Henry is teaching the nerdy campers about astrophysics, he discovers that a piece of NASA’s skylab will fall directly on the camp grounds, and he and the campers must devise a plan to save the day.
There are more plot lines than just the ones I listed. If you have ever seen Dazed and Confused, the film is set up exactly like that – multiple plots occurring at once, all taking place in the span of one day.
This film is completely nonsensical and ludicrous. While watching it with my boyfriend, he said multiple times of the film “Oh my God, this is so DUMB.” …It is, and that’s the point. If you prefer “smarter” humor, you might not like this movie. Personally, I find it hilarious. I also like the fact that the film was made on a very low budget; and that several then-obscure now-successful actors make up the cast: such as Amy Poehler and Michael Ian Black.
Feel free to comment with your favorite Netflix instant streaming films
Peace, Love and Liberty,