Finally through the slog of (actually a pretty damn nice) summer and onto bigger and better things. If we can rip our attention away from the gridiron and Chip Kelly’s miraculous offense and those endless back-to-school sales, we can settle in for some pretty engaging stay-at-home entertainments.
All Is Lost: A well-to-do solo yachtsman tries to survive after the hull of his boat is pierced on the Indian Ocean. A nearly wordless film has Robert Redford struggling to keep body and soul together after a series of setbacks put him on the edge of survival. Filmmaker J.C. Chandor (whose previous film, the under-appreciated Margin Call, was anything but wordless) finds a way to tell his story in deceptively simple and deeply affecting tones. In a season of bombast and melodrama, this flick plays like a Zen koan dropped into a bath of brine.
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“I swear Netflix said this was supposed to be funny.”
Recently I was looking for a way to pass a rainy day and turned, as I often do, to Netflix. It then came to my attention that its “Comedy” section includes some questionable choices. You won’t laugh if you select any of these movies, but the fact that Netflix dubs them all comedies is kind of a joke in itself.
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So it has come to this, would-be blockbuster summer: You’ve spent all your big shells, the heavy casings. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sex Tape, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street all lie spent and useless at your feet. With one last gasp (Guardians of the Galaxy, which is actually a whole bunch of fun) or two, we’ll be done with you at last and can look forward to movies actually intended for adults. But for now, here’s some good stuff you can go ahead and watch at home to tide you over.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1: A young woman retells her story of a lifetime of intense sexual gratification to a man who rescues her from the street. Lars von Trier is the kind of director you either enjoy being challenged by or dismiss as a pretentious, sadistic boor. This film, which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgard, features some of his signature agent provocateur material — a young woman with a serious daddy fetish having indiscriminate sex with a great deal of men in a variety of ways—but cuts it with many intellectual discourses on subjects ranging from fly-casting to obscure religious orders.
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The cast of City of God.
Fittingly enough, July is named after Julius Caesar, another entity that came to a sticky end. The faint, rumbling reverberations of giant, mechanized robots doing damage to one another in inter-galactic battles you hear emanating from the multiplex might steer you clear of the theaters for while — a wise choice. In their stead, here are some home-viewing options that you can take advantage of just whenever you feel the need. Read more »
You won’t be seeing E! talk show host Chelsea Handler on prime time, but Out magazine reports that she has signed a rather intriguing deal to host a talk show on Netflix. More:
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I love a good Netflix marathon, and I really love a good Netflix documentary marathon. But I hate when I get started on a documentary, only to make it halfway through and realize that it’s the Worst. Documentary. Ever. At that point, I’ve already watched half of it, so I feel like I need to watch the whole thing, and before I know it, I’ve wasted two hours of my life. So to help you avoid this totally frustrating fate, we watched a bunch of healthy-eating documentaries offered on Netflix and summed them up for you here.
We’ve given you each film’s star rating on Netflix (out of five), along with our own personal “preachiness” rating, a 1 being “I kind of felt like this documentary was trying to get me to change” and a 5 being “Oh my God, if I don’t change my eating habits, will they FIND me?” Because in case you haven’t noticed, health-related documentaries tend to a bit a bit preachy. Now, all you’ve got to do is grab some popcorn—butter-free and lightly-salted, obviously—and get your marathon on.
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After what seems like an eternity in isolation, smash Netflix series Orange is the New Black season 2 will be available to stream tomorrow, Friday, June 6th. So what can we expect? Show creator Jenji Kohan offers a few hints on Entertainment Weekly: “We had a theme for season 2. A little darker, a little more fractured. We wanted to explore the groups one at a time. It was getting a little summer-campy, and we wanted to address the realities that this is prison. We needed a little more drama.”
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Here we are in that glorious sweet spot of the year — finally beyond all that damned ice and snow and right before the execrable heat and humidity of deep summer. The sensible thing to do would be to go outside! Over and over! Soak up all of Philly’s splendid spring before things turn damp and dire. But, failing that, there’s always the option of holing up in your living room and watching movies. Here are our picks for the best new movies on Netflix streaming for the month of June.
Breakdown: A neurotic comedian falls in love with a stylish woman, and endures the consequences.
What's the Rumpus? Yes, like all Woody Allen movies these days, one must put his personal baggage off to the side if you wish to enjoy one of his films. But this 1977 Oscar winner remains one of his most sparkling and enduring efforts. Funny, poignant, and strewn with seminal moments (Annie's brother — played by a young Christopher Walken — has a particularly hilarious cameo). It recalls happier times in the House of Allen.
Breakdown: An older woman and her dog team up with an elderly song-and-dance team to locate her grandson, who was kidnapped as he was competing in the Tour de France.
What's the Rumpus? Sylvain Chomet's hallucinatory animated spectacle is like watching a twisted Disney movie while strung out on a powerful psychedelic. And I mean that in the best way possible. Witty and charming — and uniquely visionary — it found an enthusiastic audience in children, film critics, and discerning visual aficionados alike.
Breakdown: A supremely gifted secret agent is forced to hunt down a sadistic arms dealer who kidnaps his wife and tortures him in the process.
What's the Rumpus? Any doubts of the late, roly-poly Philip Seymour Hoffman's insane range (he was the acting equivalent of diva who can sing in eight octaves) were well put to rest here. He plays a villain so smugly evil and terrifyingly under control that we truly fear for Ethan Hunt's life, even though we should know better. J.J. Abrams, a TV wunderkind, was perhaps the perfect choice to revitalize this franchise after the vastly disappointing original sequel, made by action stalwart John Woo.
Breakdown: The fight for the preservation and display of Philly's Barnes Foundation, a $25 billion art empire, is documented.
What's the Rumpus? In a story well-known to a Philly audience, the often bitter back-and-forth between the Barnes' purists — who wanted the collection to remain in its cramped original location in Merion, as Barnes himself so decreed before his death, and those city officials who insisted the priceless collection be moved to a suitable facility in the city is incredibly engrossing. Don Argott's documentary meticulously lays out the battle lines between the art activists and the power-player politicians who simply couldn't let a dead man's last wishes stand in the way of a reputable revenue stream.
Breakdown: A middle-aged former composer arrives at a school for troubled boys in late-'40s France and starts a chorus singing group for the students as a way of encouraging discipline.
What's the Rumpus? Nothing wrong with a bit of sweeping, emotional uplift now and again, especially if it's as well-presented and non-saccharine as this French drama from director Christophe Barratier. It was compared favorably to other such melodramatic musical fables as Mr. Holland's Opus, but, thankfully, it does not share that film's penchant for weepy indulgence. Instead, it earns its heartening inspiration with well-rendered characters and a certain kind of emotional honesty.
GOOP does leopard in ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Confession time: I have really bad taste in movies. Like, really bad. I adore rom coms and when I find a movie that I like, I’ll keep it in rotation for months. But what I lack in cinematic eye, I make up for with my ability to pick out the most aesthetically pleasing movies out there. Hey, they might not all be Oscar winners (some are!), but they’re definitely the most fashion-forward movies available on Netflix Instant Watch. Now, go grab some popcorn and veg out; there are about 22 hours of movies to watch here.
Click here for fashion film heaven.
Robert Drake revisits Ireland for the first time since his attack.
Where I Am — Pamela Drynan’s 2013 documentary concerning Philadelphia writer Robert Drake — is now available to stream instantly on Netflix. The film catches up with Drake 15 years after he was severely beaten and left for dead by two men he met in a bar in Sligo, Ireland. More from G Philly:
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