The Best Movies I Have Seen on Netflix Instant Streaming

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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.

Cashback

“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.

Reality Bites

“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.

Restrepo

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,

Ann

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There is no such thing as a “conservative” health care mandate

Recently I had a conversation with a Romney supporter, and they were defending “Romneycare” – the individual healthcare mandate that Mitt Romney implemented during his term as governor of Massachusetts in 2006.

It seems to me that several Republicans have this mentality: if a conservative does it, and says they’re doing it for conservative reasons, then that means it’s ok!

The reasoning for defending Romneycare went something like, forcing people to pay for their own health care and not letting them leech off the system is a way of teaching people personal responsibility. There was probably more to the argument, but that’s what stuck out to me.

I see something very wrong with this reasoning. Republicans supporting Romneycare would never support a similar program if it were coming from a Democrat. Exhibit A: All of the Obamacare backlash. (Obamacare and Romneycare are really not all that different)

Just because a “Republican” defends it, does not mean it’s “ok.”

Here is what the Republican National Committee has to say about health care in their platform:

We support common-sense health care reforms that would lower costs, preserve quality, end lawsuit abuse, and maintain the healthcare that Americans deserve. We oppose government-run health care, which won’t protect the physician-patient relationship, won’t promote competition, and won’t promote health care quality and choice. [source]

…Except if Mitt Romney supports government-run health care and offers “conservative” reasons for it. Then we’re all for it.

Republicans, conservatives, and everyone in that canon of political ideology need to get a grip on what it really means to be conservative. Do we support the government forcing the individual to buy a product or service, or do we not? Or do we only support it if a charismatic ex-Governor calling himself a “Republican” says so?

This is one of the many reasons I don’t support Romney for president.

What do you think? Could government-run health care ever be “conservative”?

Peace, Love and Liberty,

Ann

Stuff Neocons Say

I HAVE to repost this! It’s a genius video made by libertarian blogger, Julie Borowski.

You might be wondering, “What is a ‘neocon’?” A definition that I believe sums it up best can be found on merriam-webster.com :

“A conservative who advocates the assertive promotion of democracy and United States national interest in international affairs including though military means.”

Neocons are generally not receptive to libertarian ideas, and thus the ideas of Ron Paul.

Which is why I enjoyed this satirical video…

I have a new resolution to BLOG MORE. So expect more posts soon 🙂

Peace, Love and Liberty,

Ann

Sorry I’m Not Sorry

[coming soon: a post about my awesome birthday and a post about my super-fun trip to New Orleans!]

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The title of this post is from an awesome post by Rachel Wilkerson. Read it. Now!

Here’s the deal.

It has taken ~20 years of having the same habits and the same reactions to certain situations to make me want to change.

Like many people, I am guilty of being overly concerned with what other people think of me. In many cases, I have changed for other people. I have put certain beliefs of mine on the back-burner in order to be more accepted. I have tried to change what I believe in order to be more accepted by other people.

Have I liked doing this? No. But my rationale was that I would like having friends more.

But if someone doesn’t want to be my friend because of how I really am, then that’s their loss.

I’m open-minded enough to befriend people of different belief systems than my own.

I should expect the same open-mindedness back; as long as I’m not being pushy with my beliefs. Which I never am.

I believe in having a filter from what goes from my brain to my mouth, but there’s a difference between filtering something and changing something altogether.

I’m going to be who I am for nobody but myself.

I’m not going to change the way I present myself in order to not offend anyone or to increase my chances of “being accepted”.

There are things I believe that I should not be apologetic about!

So from now on…

I’m going to own everything I do.

Sorry I’m not sorry!

Peace and Love,

Song of the Day: Country Lane by Telekinesis

I’m not Scared of Positivity

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I realized recently that I have a bone to pick with negative people.

I understand having a bad day. I understand wanting to consider things from a “realistic” perspective.

I don’t understand people being needlessly negative and nay-saying, and trying to bring others down while they’re at it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s easy to be negative. It’s easy to look around this world and find something to be pissed off about.

It takes real energy to be happy, thankful, and positive despite all of the bad things!

Therefore, if someone is constantly negative, I may assume that they are just being lazy.

And FYI: When people tell me that I can’t do something, it only makes me want to try to accomplish said thing even more.

I wrote this in my Facebook “25 Things” list a while ago, and I still mean it:

22.I’m an optimist and an idealist. I have many unrealistic hopes and goals that I fully intend on keeping and pursuing. Some would say that I’m setting myself up for disappointment, but I don’t look at it that way. I’d rather put up with being called naive than become a jaded pessimist. I encourage you to do the same 🙂

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I find the above image amazing and encouraging!

Today, take the time to count your blessings.

Peace and Love,

Song of the Day: If You Want to Sing Out by Cat Stevens

“There’s an election in 2012…you know that, right?”

At my “Mass Communication and Society” class this morning, my professor asked our class who we thought would be the Republican presidential nominee in ’12.

The asking of this question commenced the chirping of crickets in the lyceum.

(And yes, I’m still beating myself up about the fact that as a Republican political nerd, I was too intimidated by the huge number of people in the room to raise my hand and call out “Mitt Romney!” or something)

My professor then broke the silence by saying, “There’s an election in 2012…you know that, right?”

Several people then began murmuring “Sarah Palin.”

I shuddered.

“Sarah Palin! That’s right! And you all probably said that because of how prominent she is in the media!” My professor said. Then he asked, “Who here knows who Tim Pawlenty is?”

There was a good chance that I was the only person in the room who knew who this man was…and I had seen him give a speech at CPAC last year to boot. I meekly raised my hand, probably in the same manner that the SNL cast members depict students in Jerry Seinfeld’s SNL teacher skit.

“Ok, so two of you know of him.” The professor points at me, “Who is he?”

My mind blanks. “He’s the governor of…Indiana?”

“Governor of Minnesota. Close! Anyway, he’s a possible Republican nominee for 2012…”

OKAY, so I’m not the best at impromptu speaking. Hardly. BUT, I learned this morning that conservatives need to rev up their PR for the election in ’12. Especially among the young’uns.

One of my friends wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the NT Daily today in which he claims that there is no “Republican Superstar” that stands out as a probable GOP nominee.

Here’s my two cents: It’s early, but someone needs to stand out, offer conservative perspectives, and get noticed.

Here are my picks for the Republican nominee in 2012 (in no particular order, subject to change):

1. Mitt Romney

2. John Bolton

3. Tim Pawlenty

My pick for 2016:

1. Paul Ryan

Lesson of the day #2: I need to be more outspoken (story of my life).

What are your thoughts on the 2012 election?

Peace and Love,

Ann

Song of the Day: King of the Beach by Wavves

The Social Network

Last night I went to a free screening of “The Social Network.” Here is what I took away from the film:

  • If you have an idea, e.g. “intellectual property,” that you think may turn you into a millionare (or better) do whatever you can to turn that idea into reality. Use whatever means necessary, no matter how many people you have to trample over or friends you have to betray.
  • If someone starts being a pretentious, condescending d*uchebag toward you, the only proper way to respond is to try to one-up them in being a pretentious, consescending d*uchebag jerk (excuse my language).
  • If you are rich and successful, girls will throw themselves at you…sometimes in the stall of a public restroom. Classy. (Actually, this may be true, but the kinds of girls who are going to throw themselves at you are the ones whom you would probably catch something from).
  • Wealth and success trumps everything else in life.

This was a good, well-made film. It had great acting, a great screenplay, a great soundtrack, etc. However I did not enjoy this film. In my opinion, it embodies everything that I dislike about my generation.

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Perhaps I am being a Downer, but whatever.

Did you see “The Social Network”? What were your thoughts?

Peace and Love,

Ann

Thoughts about Saturday

I don’t know where to begin in adressing the Tuscon shooting on Saturday.

Sunday morning, I sat in church with my family and boyfriend. During the “Prayers of the People” part of the Episcopal service, specific people are mentioned for prayer.

“Lord, we commend to your mercy all who have died; that your will for them may be fulfilled. We pray especially for the souls of the victims of yesterday’s shooting in Tuscon; and we pray especially that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”

There’s nothing I could say that could fully articulate how I feel about Saturday’s events. I know that I can never understand what happened.

All the finger-pointing that has commenced, quite frankly, makes me sick; and not because most of it is fixated on Tea-partiers (whom I largely do not identify with, anyway). This issue is not about Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck. The blood of the six innocent citizens is on the hands of a deranged man who committed a heinous act of evil.

I suggest that everybody read this article.

I know that tribulation has been guaranteed to humankind since the fall of man. This kind of news, even though killings happen all the time, is never easy to endure. I always hear of terrible things happening, but major catastrophy has never touched my life personally. My life has never been turned upside down by a catastrophic event. I hope it never is. But even if it does, I never want to lose my faith.

I had to get that off my chest. Happier post coming soon.

Peace and Love,

Ann

Why I am a Republican

If you know me well, you probably know that I am an active member in UNT’s College Republicans chapter.

Some people have asked me (some sincerely, some out of interest, and some in a concerning manner) “How did this happen?” What made me become…Republican?

I definitely wasn’t born Republican…while I have grown up in Texas, a red state, I spent the majority of my childhood in Round Rock, Texas. Round Rock is an interesting place to be, politically. It is a suburb of Austin, but far enough away to be a distinct city. The liberal politics of Austin influenced the political attitudes of the citizens of Round Rock. However Austin and Round Rock are members of different counties: Travis and Williamson, respectively. While Round Rock may have been influenced by the liberalism of Austin, Williamson county was conservative overall.

I don’t remember the community I grew up in being tilted to one side of the political spectrum or the other. It was pretty evenly balanced.

My parents didn’t sway me one way or the other too much, either. I would describe my mom as an overall moderate. Her voting record includes Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. My dad is a capital “L” Libertarian. I can remember him campaigning hard for Harry Brown, Michael Badnarick, and Ron Paul, among others. While my dad had strong opinions, I never felt them forced onto me.

It has been my observation that during election season, especially Presidential elections, people are quick to shape up each candidate and “pick a side.” I have been the same way. Growing up, I wasn’t thinking of politics 24/7, but the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections influenced my political beliefs a great deal. The 2004 election got me interested in politics, but I didn’t really have my personal beliefs/preferences sorted out. The 2008 election was when I researched both candidates and parties more than I ever had. Before my research, I had been under the impression that I would identify more with the Democrats. But once I became more educated, I realized that I was much more conservative than I thought I had been. I found myself preferring McCain over Obama, who, needless to say, was very popular among my peers.

However, I was hesitant to call myself a “Republican.” For me at the time, this label carried a stigma with it.

When I got to college, the fall semester of my freshman year I was invited by an acquaintance to come to a College Republicans meeting. I was very apprehensive about going, for several reasons…the main two being that 1) I was incredibly shy and knew nobody who was in this club, except for my acqaintance whom I had never actually met in person, only interacted with through email and facebook, and 2) I wasn’t even sure if I was a Republican.

I decided to go to a meeting to see what it was like, and to help me fulfill an English paper assignment in which I had to observe an environment, meeting, person, animal, etc. that I was not familiar with and then write a paper about my experience.

I went to the meeting, and the next one…and the next one…

What resulted from these meetings was, among other things: 1) My English paper, which I titled “The Best Party on Campus” (clever phrase but not my original idea), 2) Meeting a lot of cool people and making awesome friends, 3) Learning more about the GOP and realizing that I do, in fact, identify as a Republican.

This account is incredibly abbreviated, for time’s sake. I’ll save the details for my memoir, should I ever write one 😉

So, as a Republican, what exactly do I believe? I found a summary of “Republican Values” on the myspace page, The Republican Club. I’d venture to say that most Republicans would agree with these; some probably deviating idealogically from a couple of them:

What are Republican values?

Republican values may be characterized as a belief in smaller government, fewer taxes, moral leadership, incentive driven economics, a strong military, as well as a respect for the right of each citizen to choose their own course without government interference, because they have the dignity and the ability to do so.

Many Americans are able to discern that large-scale government bureaucracies have a significant history of inefficiencies. Republicans acknowledge that by keeping government as small as possible not only does it keep wasteful spending to a minimum, but it also creates incentives for government to become more efficient in the process.

Republicans simply recognize that having fewer taxes creates more freedom for the individual and more incentives for economic growth. Through the increased economic growth as a direct result of the increased incentives actualized by not only fewer but lower taxes more tax-revenue is actually produced by the government (reference the Laffer Curve Theory) premised on the principle that because more economic growth has been created there is in actuality a larger taxable economy to evoke revenue from. High tax-rates greatly diminish incentives for economic growth in the market-place, and long-term will generate far less taxable revenue as a resultant of the smaller taxable economy that such tax-rates manifest.

From the foundation of the party Republicans have valued moral leadership in the GOP. That is not to say that all Republican leaders have lived up to this standard, but it is one of the most valued traditions of the Republican Party regardless. Republicans take pride in their heritage as the Grand Old Party that preserved the Union and freed the slaves; affirming in a universal morality at the heart of which are the inalienable rights of man as recounted by Thomas Jefferson.

Republicans appreciate that economic prosperity is dependent on incentives. Incentives are elucidated in the market-place by allowing few restrictions in the application of government interventionism and taxes. High taxes defeat the incentive to get-ahead, because they take away the most from those who have succeeded the most. There is less incentive for an American to get-ahead if they realize they will be taxed substantially more by doing so. Also, as a consequence of government de-regulation economic growth will develop at the most efficient rate because more incentives will be created to start businesses as well as invest. Further the market is endowed regulation as a result of the free-market dynamic through natural competition.

The GOP believes that much of America’s political influence around the world is a resultant of the strength of the U.S. military. Without the due diligence maintenance of a strong Army, Navy, and Air Force the U.S. will encourage aggressors from around the world to attack American interests at home and abroad. Due diligence maintenance requires more than adequate funding, and maintaining high standards.

The belief that every American has the dignity, the competency and the right to choose their own destiny without big government looking over their shoulder. Republicans believe freedom of choice and opportunity should not be restricted, because they are central to the American dream.

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A major thing I have learned on my political journey is that there are many types of Republicans. So before you go lumping them all together, realize that just because somebody calls themselves a “Republican” it does not mean that they will agree with everything that another “Republican” believes. There are neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, the religious right, libertarian-Republicans, and more.

Bottom line: I am a Republican because it makes the most sense to me. I believe it makes the most sense for me to make decisions for myself and not let the government make them for me, because I know what’s best for me better than the government does.

I plan on blogging more about politics and the Republican party in the future 🙂

Peace and Love,

Ann

What do you think about politics? Political parties? Etc.?

The Future

If “worrying” took human form, he/she and I would be best friends. But not the kind of friend that one actually looks forward to seeing. The kind of friend that you go ahead and invite to your wedding because you’ve known them for so long and it would be rude not to. The kind of friend that, when you feel isolated and alone on a Friday night, you call up because being with someone (anyone) on a Friday night would make you feel like less of a loser, even if you had to suffer through a visit with said friend. The “frienemy”.

You know. That kind of “friend.”

Well, my Best-Frienemy-Forever, Anxiety, and I go back…way, way, back. I always vow to ditch Anxiety for good, but somehow they sneak back into my life and I let them. I have taken Anxiety many places and consulted Anxiety many times before making decisions. Admittedly, Anxiety has brought nothing positive into my life. It’s the fact that I can always count on Anxiety to tell me something, to have an opinion…perhaps that’s why I always meet Anxiety again and again.

Recently, Anxiety has been offering me his/her thoughts on my future. I’m not listening.

I don’t know every specific, minute detail about my future. I do know that I want to help those with Anxiety and Depression.

^Some people insist that, nowadays, there is a made-up “mental disorder” for just about any habit that could be considered a “quirk.” But if you are very bothered and you think you need help, you probably do.

Expect more from me about this subject in the future.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” -John 14:27

Peace,

Ann