It’s that time of every-other-month-ish again! I’ve got some super awesome films for you to stream, all available through everyone’s favorite significant other replacement system, Netflix! This batch spans from watch alone in bed during your hormonal times to watch whenever with your social awareness hat on. What a span! Let’s get right to it, shall we
For some reason, when I first sat down to watch this movie, which boyfriend loves heartily, I was a little unsure. I have no idea why, and as soon as it began I realized that this was straight-up Kayla-fodder. This film is absurd and extravagant. Everything is incredible and hilarious, from the costumes to the hairstyles to this leg-opening-circle-leap that the protagonist wants to do every five minutes. The story is fun and there are some crazy cinematic sequences. This movie specializes in what I might call “refined camp.” It isn’t fully campy, but it isn’t scared to go to the extremes. Also, look out for the 3 minute commercial for Coca-Cola that happens in the middle of the film, punctuated by the song “Time After Time.” You’ll find yourself asking, “Is this really happening?” You bet your bloomers it is. And it’s damn perfect. And it probably financed a hefty chunk of the film. Who knows.
Thank you, my dear friend Cassandra. I miss our girls nights so deeply. This british rom-com was brought to my attention by Cassandra at one such hang sesh. If you like a good (and I do mean good) rom-com, look no further. Why is it so awesome? Let me count the ways. 1. David Tennant. For myself, I never have to go past number 1 when number 1 is David Tennant. But if you need more convincing: 2. Really bizarre yet heartwarming subplots. They feature crazed paparazzi snipers, castles made of foam board, and old people who love music, even if they can’t hear it. 3. Calling bullshit on writers everywhere. There’s so much BS called on writers, which was all obviously written by a writer. I love this sort of thing. There’s a whole lot of Google-shaming, casting a judgemental eye over today’s means of “research.” There’s also a bunch of telling it like it is, especially about a text that is pretentious AF. Just because it’s acclaimed doesn’t mean that it’s good, something important for us all to remember. There are many nice messages in this film, but it is also genuinely funny. My assessment: absolutely worth the watch (especially with wine in hand).
Happy Christmas and/or Drinking Buddies
Thus the 6. Personally, I liked both of these films. I love the actors and think the performances were great. That being said, if you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of the super-indie, you should probably start out with just one of these. Probably Drinking Buddies. Both films are directed and “written” by Joe Swanberg. This dude makes his films in a very interesting way. He writes down what he wants to happen in each scene, then has the actors improvise to get there. This approach makes each of his films feel very true to life. He is one of the original kings of “mumblecore.” If you’ve ever wondered what mumblecore actually means, this is it. Additional fun fact: Joe and his son are in Happy Christmas. His son is the baby and DAMN that baby can make you laugh onscreen. Good improv, baby!
Do you like the Coen brothers? If you aren’t a cinephile, you may like them without knowing who they are. Some of their most celebrated works include Raising Arizona, Fargo, No Country For Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the new True Grit, and of course The Big Lebowski. Chances are that you’ve seen at least one of those, right? Intolerable Cruelty is the Coen bros' take on a rom-com, and it’s super well done. The plot is full of unexpected twists, something sadly lacking in the majority of modern film. Especially in the genre of romantic comedy. I was truly surprised several times, which doesn’t usually happen to me during a Netflix stream. The film stars George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who do a great job, but honestly it is the periphery characters who shine. The PI is endearing and hilarious. Clooney’s partner at the law firm is a gem in every scene and delivers some of the funniest lines and moments. Even if you don’t like the rom-com genre, there is a very good chance that you will like this particular take on it.
This will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it is sadder than most things that I include in my lineups, but Tangerine is absolutely worth a watch for anyone. I think the film is important for many reasons and interesting for others. I’ll do the interesting first: The entire film is shot on iPhones and edited with a software that costs less than $10. It was made on a shoestring budget and financed/produced by the Duplass brothers, who I love (watch Togetherness on HBO if you have the hookups). By shoestring, I mean in terms of the film industry, because it was made for $100,000. For a feature film, that is ghastly small. Where did the money go? To the actors and the crew. That fact makes me smile. Now for the important: Both of the leads of this film are black trans women who are played by black trans women. You also encounter countless other trans women throughout the film. Most of these women have not had any surgery. Now, I do not want to accidentally phrase things the wrong way, so I will link you to a blog post by Laverne Cox. Here is an important point about this film, which Cox brought up long before Tangerine was released. Cox wrote a blog in response to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, in which she points out that many trans women do not embody “certain cisnormative beauty standards,” and that many do not want to. She calls for “diverse media representations of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities.” The women in this film reflect many facets of these beautiful diversities. They are strong, beautiful women. They have strong, interesting performances. They tell a story that you haven’t heard, one that has a truly unique aesthetic. The final scene literally gave me all the feels, and I totally wasn’t ready for it. One thing to note: Yes, the first scene is kind of meh. Stick with it. The narrative gets good and interesting, I promise ye that.
Whew, so much info this time around! But I think that we’ve covered a good range of genres here. There’s really something for everyone and every mood. Happy streaming!