Netflix Streaming Recoomendations

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  • We are halfway through Grace and Frankie, and it's good.  You have to be patient through the first 2 "wacky setup" episodes, but rapidly hits stride after that.  Delightful to see Lily Tomlin again, of course.  Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are the newly out gay couple, and Waterston in particular is a hoot.  June Diane Raphael as the uptight daughter of the Fonda/Sheen "power couple" is emerging as one of the best characters.
  • My wife just watched that whole series and liked it. I enjoyed what I saw of it, particularly Lily Tomlin.

    If anyone is interested in comic strips and web comics, the Kickstarter documentary "Stripped" is up there. Interesting look at the changing world of comics from the days when they were celebrities, to the more modern Sunday comics, and ultimately to the idea of "web comics." Lots of cool interviews inside people's workshops, and even some audio from Bill Watterson himself.
  • I enjoyed Grace and Frankie.  I had an annoyingly tedious data entry project to slog through the weekend it was released so just put it on and watched all the episodes.  I laughed a bit although it could have been better but really just a great pleasure to watch the four leads work.
  • Here is a list of "15 Fascinating music documentaries you (probably) haven’t seen." Not sure how many are on netflix, but worth a look anyway. 
  • Of those 15 documentaries, I've seen exactly one, The Punk Singer.  It was on Netflix, and it was really good.
  • On Netlix; This Ain't No Mouse Music"
          The story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie records.  It has some great concert footage.
  • On Netflix "The Wrecking Crew" is an enjoyable documentary about the studio musicians who played on records by the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Phil Spector and lots and lots of others.
  • Technically it's on Hulu, but I have been enjoying Deutschland 83. It's on a topic I've long been interested: the European anti-nuclear movement driven by the sense of being the battleground between US and USSR rather than a threat of global destruction. The twist is that the main character is an East German spy who is very much into western consumerism in spite of his political loyalties.
  • Man, I need to get people caught up on my viewing habits on this thread.

    A series I finished just a little while back is "Romanzo Criminale."

    It's like an Italian version of The Sopranos. It takes place during the 70s and really weaves itself into the fabric of the politics, the drug scene and pop culture. It goes two seasons before ending. The first season is really good, the second not so much but it's not terrible or anything. Acting is solid, the storyline isn't complicated which allows the writers to have some fun with it, and the music is appropriate and pretty cool.

    It has subtitles, which I mention just because some people just won't watch anything that has 'em.

    There's another series that has some of the same actors and goes about sculpting the show with the same sensibilities as Romanzo Criminale. It's called "1992" and it's about operation "Clean Hands" to fight Italy's political corruption. I've watched the first two episodes and liked them, but put it on the back burner for awhile. I needed a different kind of show. But if you like Romanzo Criminale, definitely check this one out next.

    Cheers.
  • I watched the first season of Better Call Saul.  I absolutely adore it and think it's one of the best things I've seen in a while.  It shows a maturity in storytelling that its forebear Breaking Bad sacrificed for pacing and suspense (not a criticism; just an observation).

    Bob Odenkirk has been excellent in that role and shows he has more acting chops than just comedic wit.  Though, speaking of that, it was Odenkirk that kept me watching Breaking Bad around the time I was thinking it had gone stale and predictable in its (IIRC) penultimate season (or it could have been two seasons before the end)... whichever season had the episode where Walter's wife is screaming at Saul on a pay phone and he can't get a word in and she's revealing all of these things you're not supposed to say over the phone, so Saul switches between speaking to "any FBI or law enforcement who happen to be listening in" and calling the wife a "chatty Kathy."  Anyways, I was thrilled when they gave him and his character a feature role.

    The b-roll and scene locations really bring the city and sunlight into the frame add all kinds of richness to the story.  I like how, crap, what's his name, Mike? How they're splintering the story off a bit to cover Mike's life, and how they did it after the show was already in the thick of it with Saul.

    I know I'm forgetting a bunch of things I really enjoyed about that first season.  I watched the last episode about two weeks ago and should have written something right away.  I'm looking forward to when Season 2 shows up (probably in October).
  • edited February 2018
    Began watching the (I think) Netflix original, Peaky Blinders.

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    It takes place in post-WW1 Birmingham, England, and is yet another reminder of why I'm glad I wasn't living during the Industrial Revolution... there's nothing pretty about the setting of this period piece.  The Peaky Blinders are a (supposedly based on a true story) area gang from that time.  Some hard-ass IRA fighting inspector comes in to fight them, Communists and the corrupt police force.

    I've only seen episode one, but as long as it doesn't take some awful turn into Dawson's Creek melodrama, I'm in it for the duration.  That first episode really brings The City into the mix, and even if the writing is only so-so and the acting not much better, it'll still be fun to watch as if a time-traveling tourist.

  • edited May 2016
    Grace and Frankie is back. Fairly gentle satire/comedy, though not completely without an edge. There is a moment in episode 2(?) involving a dictated text message that made me laugh more than anything I've seen on TV in a while. A nice break from people getting the hell beat out of them on Daredevil (which we also liked).
  • I'm watching this new Sherlock special... it takes place in 1895... and it is off to a bad start.  Not sure I'll give it much longer.  This show started out so promising in season one, and then just went downhill from there.  Last season was just terrible, and now this show seems like it's picking up where it left off.  This show is just too in love with itself, and allowed itself to get too cute thinking it was clever, but ended up just becoming vapid and oh so precious.  Guh.  What a disappointment.
  • Okay, here's a show I really enjoyed...



    "Ascension"

    I know, I know, it was a SyFy show, but so was Battlestar Galactica, and this show definitely has some of that vibe.  And one of the actresses, the blonde Cylon.

    I can't really explain what it's about for fear of revealing anything.  But it sort of starts out like a Twin Peaks in space (which might not really help selling this show), but then it begins revealing new things one layer after the other.  It forces you to keep adjusting your perspective on the scope of things.  Very cool.

    Apparently SyFy canceled it after one season, which actually is pretty good evidence that the show is pretty good.



  • If you bailed on that Sherlock special, you needn't regret it. 
  • Thanks. I turned it off soon after finishing that post.  There was some stupid scene of a woman shooting people and all the actors being in love with themselves and how clever their "period piece" was. Gag.

    Just finished the fifth episode of Peaky Blinders, and while there's nothing particularly exceptional about it, I do enjoy the scenery and filmwork and, hey, they keep using all my favorite Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds tunes for the soundtrack, so I keep watching.  And there are some genuinely funny and heartwarming scenes to balance out the schlock.
  • I just finished the second season of the sketch comedy show The Birthday Boys. I would recommend it if you like Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, or just sketch comedy in general. 
  • It was on Amazon Prime, don't think Netflix has it, but I caught a documentary called Stevie Ray Vaughan - Rise of a Texas Bluesman, 1954-1983 that was very informative and had some great clips too.  Recommended, and highly for SRV fans.
  • If we're broadening the thread to include video recs on Amazon Prime, I watched A Band Called Death on Prime a couple of weeks ago. It was excellent, and highly recommended for any punk fans out there.
  • We just started "Crazy Ex Girlfriend," and it is pretty, well, crazy. Maximizing the degree of difficulty, they include two full-on musical production numbers every week, like this:



    We'll see how long they can keep it up. I guess this was dreamed up/written/produced by the star, Rachel Bloom. Very fun and original idea
  • Stranger Things is a tribute to many many 80's horror movies. Worth checking out. 
  • So the Showtime series, the very dark and gruesome Penny Dreadful has the first two seasons on Netflix now - possibly influenced by the cancellation of the series after Season Three.  Not for the squeamish but the first two seasons were pretty entertaining and I've only seen the start of the third yet.  

  • Okay, a series I just finished on Netflix that I think some of you Wire (and related kinds of shows) would like...



    "Top Boy"

    Think of it as an alternate story of the Wire's "Boys of Summer" or Simon's outstanding non-fiction book "The Corner."  It follows several young kids (and some adults) in a housing projects on the outskirts of London in the middle of drug territory.  It's really well shot, the pacing of the story is excellent, and it (for the most part) avoids any melodrama, which sometimes seems pervasive in any tv show/movie from a kid's perspective.  The script does a good job of presenting the story in a realistic level-headed fashion, and mostly avoids any obvious pulls at heartstrings or poking of outrage buttons.  The interconnecting storylines thread nicely.  The music is fantastic.  Brian Eno did some work for it, and at one point, they use the music of Terry Callier, which made me very happy.  It doesn't glorify anything or fall in love with itself, and no stupid slow motion to hip music scenes like in Peaky Blinders.  Top Boy isn't raw, but it exists close to that territory.  Nothing about the show is "slick" (thank god).  It comes off as sincere.  All of the acting is solid, some scenes are seriously touching or intense.  Again, when it's a kid-heavy tv show/movie, it's pretty typical to have a bunch of actors whose performances can make you think, well, with some experience, he/she might become a pretty good actor.  Everything solid from that standpoint... or, at least, nobody's performance was distracting because of amateurism or anything.

    Each episode showed improvement.  There's a big jump in quality from season one to season two... some combination, I'm sure, of the actors and writers getting a better handle on the characters and their story-lives, and maybe the first season was successful enough to get the producers, etc, to put more time and money into the show.

    The show went two seasons, four episodes per season and each episode is a standard hour long type thing.  There's some talk (I think) about Netflix picking it up and doing a season three (I'm really not up onto that kind of topic).  That said, you can watch both seasons and not feel like it drops off with a ton of stuff unresolved.  Even the way they end season two as a way to define season three isn't like a cliffhanger... it can be viewed more abstractly as a "this is how life is for him and always will be" kind of thing.

    Thick British accents.  I actually used the subtitles, but that's just me.

    Good stuff.

  • I watched the first episode of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."  It's definitely something different.  Very nice rec @Doofy - Haven't yet picked it up as a regular thing, yet, but it's just a matter of time.  That first episode was funny, but the character's barely concealed nervous breakdown is really unsettling.  That show makes you laugh not "at," but more "around" a sick person in a way.

    Just finished the first season of Stranger Things.  I typically shy away from shows that feature kid actors, but I really gravitated to each of their characters.  The show had some real heart.  None of the laughs seemed cheap and none of the emotion came off as syrupy or vapid.  Also, some really creepy fun moments.  I'm a little nervous about them wrecking thing with a second season, but I'm looking forward to it all the same.  Nice to see Wynona Ryder get to sink into a new role.  The sheriff was a real magnetic personality.  The way they threaded some of his flashbacks into those tense moments in the final episode were done very well, were really touching.

  • Jonahpwll, I'll look those up on Netflix, since your reviews are so amusing.

    I enjoyed Grace and Frankie, also; I'm not through all the episodes. One of my best friends from high school turned me onto it. It's really helped her, since her hubby finally told her the truth about his being gay. So we not only get Lily Tomlin & neti pots, we get some working through the process with extended family & kids.

    Lemony Snicket has been downloaded for an upcoming road trip. Loved, loved, reading the books to my son.

  • Plong42 said:
    Here is a list of "15 Fascinating music documentaries you (probably) haven’t seen." Not sure how many are on netflix, but worth a look anyway. 

    Thanks, I did have a look at Netflix documentaries while I was adding Lemony Snicket. Netflix has quite a few documentaries, the one on design looked esp worth exploring.
    Some of those music ones look cool.
  • I've been working through "A Series of Unfortunate Events." Not having any children to read the books with, I didn't know much about it aside from the movie based on it was not considered especially good and the series author didn't care for most children's books and had some unconventional ideas about children's lit. I really enjoy its quirkiness, liberal literary references, and Neil Patrick Harris is a great choice for the main villain, Count Olaf. The Netflix series has a look to it that reminds me a bit of Wes Anderson. Attention to detail, but also a certain effect that subtly reminds you that you're watching a created thing. 
  • edited February 2017
    Y'know, I'm pretty irritated that Neflix is ditching all the old movies & tv shows I joined for and subbing it with a bunch of lets-see-what-sticks original programming.  Really almost to where I'm gonna drop my Netflix sub and do the Amazon Prime thing instead.

    But first, I'm gonna watch a whole bunch of random Netflix original programming, but just the first episode of each.  Gonna see if there's enough promising stuff to keep hanging around.

    First up:

    Frontier

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    Never a good sign when the very first thing on the screen is some damn-ass Wikipedia entry about some boring historical period.  Guh.  Guess I'll read the shit.

    Also not a good sign that I'm saying the lines before the characters.

    Great, some dude is doing his best impression of Psycho Barbarian from Game of Thrones.

    Spoiler alert:  Lots of people die in the first five minutes.

    HEY!  That is the actor who played Psycho Barbarian dude from Game of Thrones.  Y'know, that guy really pissed me off.  He had so many chances to kill Daria, and yet, here we are, eight seasons into Game of Thrones, and Daria is still running around the fucking set reciting her lines dully and staring moodily out across the Westrop landscape.  Guh.  Oh, hey, right, I'm watching Frontier.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! HOLY SHIT, the opening theme song is even more annoying than Game of Thrones!  But what's awesome are the awful graphics and set pieces they use for the show theme.  Imagine yourself back in the fifth grade.  It's the Science Fair.  Someone, you know it was someone, maybe it was even YOU, someone built a homemade volcano.  It looks like it was put together with playdough, dirt, duct tape and fishing wire.  And then, of course, the money shot of the lava.  Take all of those ingredients and the same fifth grade craftsmanship, and that's your opening sequence for Frontier.  It's insane, but in a Mr. Bill kind of way.

    Okay, I will give some bonus points to the show.  Lots of characters with awful dental hygiene.  Probably realistic, if unpleasant to look at.

    Okay, so three friends are up to some shennanigans with the Red Coats, get caught, and the writers conveniently kill the brother so now the main dude can get it on with his sister (eventually, I'm sure).

    And there's some other port city and a priest is a spy and so is a bar owner and now this is starting to get like someone wrote the script while absently watching Turn.

    And so kid gets out of his mess by befriending a sadistic General who is doing a moderately good dinner theater version of Hannibal Lecter.

    Okay, now our main dude kid has a mission.  He's a (yes, you guessed it) a spy.  Apparently dinner theater Hannibal Lecter wants to kill Game of Thrones Barbarian dude even though they used to be mentor and student but GoT Dude betrayed him and so now main character kid has to track him down or Dinner Theater General will kill his girlfriend.  Or something like that.

    (What is probably going to be a) Spoiler alert.  If this show is as lazy as it appears it is, the kid will wind up being the son or cousin or nephew of GoT Barbarian dude.  Guh.  This is tedious.

    The drunk priest does a really bad job acting as though he were drunk. Huge points deducted for that.

    Man, the young dude (I don't even know what his name is or even how to refer to him) comes face to face with GoT Barbarian.  I thought that would take several episodes to happen... maybe spend some time character building as they searched for him.  But nope... god, I don't even want to write about this show anymore.

    Nothing about this show makes me want to watch a second episode.

    Some decent sets in the wilderness.  Some of the port cities were cool to look at.  I like scenes of olde tyme people walking down dirt road Main Street alongside geese and chickens.

    I was cooking while watching the show.  The show was enjoyable accompaniment for the first half of the episode, cratered after that.

  • edited February 2017
    Okay, I was gonna limit this exercise to one show a night, but Frontier was so damn dull it actually annihilated my creative drive.  No way I can get any writing done now.  Plus, I still have some tuna steaks to cook.  So, something short.

    Next up:

    BoJack Horseman


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    Not exactly excited about checking out one of their animated shows, but I figured it would be a half-hour thing... and it is!

    Whoa, okay, this is starting out kind of funny.

    Hey, that's Will Arnett's voice!

    Okay, now the episode is over (and so are my tuna steaks!).

    I guess that's a pretty good sign, that the show was able to keep my attention away from typing about it.

    Episode one was pretty charming.  Didn't really take off like I was hoping, but it might not be that kind of show.  Definitely think I'll be catching more of these and see how it shakes out.

    It ended with a horse puking up cotton candy over a Hollywood balcony.

    A horse who used to be the father of three adopted kids on a bad sitcom is dealing with life long after the show is over.  And he's doing it poorly.  All he does is watch reruns of the show while procrastinating getting started on his biography.  He's got a slacker roommate and a girlfriend (a cat) who is also his agent.  They break up, they get back together, and something about getting fat on bread.

    Oh, and the horse had an anxiety attack that they thought was a stroke.

    A half-hour show and probably going to be my substitute for Archer, now that I've watched the entirety of that show like five times in a row.

    I guess we'll put this one in the win column (so far) for the Netflix original programming.  But we'll pretty much just have to see.

  • edited February 2018

    Okay, next up:

    Marseille


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    So, the show writers make it very clear right from the beginning that this port marina project is a Big Fucking Deal.  Ok, got it.

    Strange opening credits sequence.  A bit too overdramatic and then some.  It’s like a very special episode of American Horror Story brought to you by the producers of Project Runway.

    Oh, hey, it’s Gerard Depardeu.  Again.  Sigh.  Well, maybe not sigh.  Because here’s the thing about Gerard Depardeu.  Whenever he shows up on something I’m watching (and if it involves France or French people, inevitably he’ll show up), I’m like, damn, why does it always gotta be Gerard Depardeu on some French thing?  Can’t they find someone else?  Don’t they have any other actors in France?  What about that old judge dude or the hot chick cop from that show Spiral?  That takes place in France.  They speak French.  But then I’ll watch the show anyway, even though it has Gerard Depardeu and eventually I remember, like, hey, this Gerard Depardeu guy is alright.  I really don’t mind him so much after all.  He’s an enjoyable actor to watch.  It’s just, y’know, it’s like he’s always showing up to the party uninvited.  It’d be nice if he gave us a break from his presence now and again.

    There’s something odd with the audio here.  Either my Netflix stream is off or it’s that way on the film or maybe the actors are speaking French and they dubbed in some English language because, y’know, subtitles are evil apparently and destroying America.  Okay, not sure what the deal is with this, but it’s kind of distracting.  I’d actually turn the subtitles on, but I’m pretty sure all they would say is THE PORT MARINA PROJECT IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL.  Ok, got it.

    They’re clearly going for a House of Cards kind of thing.  They’re dishng out all kinds of teasers for future political intrigue.

    Oh my, Gerard is the mayor and he has a health problem, which may or may not be code words for his cocaine problem, but y’know, it’s probably just to take the edge off the stress from this whole port marina project, for which people keep randomly coming up and congratulating him on it and telling him it’s his legacy and shit.

    I wonder what the odds are that the episode will end with his port marina project going into the crapper?

    Some dudes just robbed a jewelry store.  They kind of just jammed that scene in between a bunch of city hall meetings.  Killed whatever flow the show had generated up to that point.

    What’s up with this vaguely misogynistic act of comparing everything to women and mistresses? Lame, lazy or both.

    Ah, here we are at our local newspaper editor’s desk.  We’ve got ourselves a young whippersnapper who’s trying to shake her father’s omnipresent reputation and make a name for herself.  At least, I think that’s the cliche they were going for there.  Scene didn’t last too long.  Weird pacing to this show, and not in a good way.

    Oh, look at that, we’ve got some love birds.  Whoops!  Spoke too soon.  Actually, it’s Unrequited Love Bird and We’re Just Friends Bird.

    That looked like blackmail to me.  I think.  Eh, I faded out, briefly lost interest there.  Something devious happened, not compelling enough for me to undergo the great ordeal of hitting the rewind button.

    Oh hey lesbian action.

    And now we’re having a cup of tea.

    This show is doing its damn best to force me to buy into this whole tension thing they’ve got going on.  Not happening though.  There is not one character here that I give a shit about.  The writers are so damn pushy with wanting me to care about these people or THE PORT MARINA PROJECT, WHICH APPARENTLY IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL.

    Oh hey more blackmail-y looking stuff.  Now we’re back to the dudes robbing the jewelry store.  Not sure why this is important, but I’m sure it has something to do with some Very Important People who are involved with a certain port marina project that you may have heard about.

    His wife is playing cello.  I like that.  That’s nice.  I would like for more shows to have scenes where some minor character begins playing a string instrument.  I would probably have liked Frontier more if some of the barbarian renegades suddenly stopped killing people and played Satie’s Gymnopedie in a string quartet.

    Man, they sure do fit a lot of meetings into their day.  Nothing says action like snippets of boardroom discussions.  I guess if you can’t write compelling dialog, there’s always the fallback of vague little hints of something that the writers hope your imagination will mistake for compelling dialog.

    Gerard’s okay, though.  Not minding him so much anymore.  I guess it’s okay that he’s sticking around.

    Now some people are getting agitated about some stuff.  Boy, I sure hope it’s got nothing to do with the marina.

    There’s this dude who keeps showing up and wandering through the crowd while taking photos of people surreptitiously.  I think the director wanted him to give off a menacing hitman vibe, but it really just looks like a member of the Black Crowes got left behind by the tour bus and just needs to pass the time before they come back to get him.

    This weird thing happened with a missed call and a found phone.  It all happened really fast, and it’s not worth explaining, but it’s bad writing, and you can tell because when you see the scene, you’re gonna mumble at the tv screen, “Why aren’t you just calling her back?”

    More people getting agitated.  Oh the tension is overwhelming.  For them, at least.  Me, not so much.

    Lots of shots of the city from above.  I can sense the director thinking, “Let’s make the City like it’s one of the characters.”  Sorry, dude, that takes more than a bunch of slow pan horizon shots.

    What the hell, it just happened again!  WHY AREN’T YOU JUST CALLING THEM BACK?  DOES YOUR PHONE ONLY RECEIVE CALLS?  ARE YOU NOT ABLE TO CALL OUT?  WHAT KIND OF JACKED UP CELL PHONE PLAN ARE YOU ON?  AND DO THEY NOT LEAVE VOICE MAIL MESSAGES IN MARSEILLES?

    Ah, nice, more cello from the wife.  I like her.  I mean, she’s pretty annoying actually.  But she plays the cello, and so I’m pretty forgiving for all her other faults.

    Great.  Another boardroom meeting.

    Okay, someone just got thrown off a cliff.  That was kind of random.

    Awesome, some boardroom politician looking types are voting about something.  Again.

    Gerard Depardeu is making angry faces in a conference room at his golden boy protoge.  I think this is supposed to be A Very Big Moment.

    OMFG… the port marina project just landed in the crapper.

    I think I’m gonna write that off as a happy ending and pretend there are no more episodes of the show.  I might keep it in my List however, just in case I’m shut-in with a cold and get desperate for something to watch.


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