Netflix is a sea of choices in which it’s easy to drift or get lost (case in point- The Onion’s proposed “$5 Browse Endlessly Plan“). Here are eight film/TV recommendations taken from its new releases within the last month. Half of them are Netflix Originals, so they’ll be around forever (I guess). The others? Per usual, try to catch them while you can.
Note: click on film titles for a direct link to its Netflix page.
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GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (2012) and GLOW (2017 – )
GLOW has quickly gained traction with my family and friends as well as critics and music lovers, but like many viewers I had no idea GLOW was a real thing. Along with this new series Netflix is offering a documentary on GLOW’s history from 1986 – 1989. Watching it makes the series all the more remarkable, especially once you realize how it’s closely modeled on its original players, routines, personal histories and anecdotes.
And for the record the new GLOW has a bright future, mostly because is so much material to pull from and the casting is incredibly dead on. From Alison Brie to Marianna Palka to Marc Maron and everyone in between, they’re nailing it.
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How often are horror films directed by women? I had to think about this but came to the same conclusion I would reach with other genres: not very many. It’s the female perspective that gives XX an edge I haven’t experienced before. All of the stories in this anthology are rooted in everyday female anxieties and approached from a female point of view. Sadly I haven’t seen that anywhere else.
I don’t want to play favorites, but the short by Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent) has a wonderful twist at the end and a flawless performance by Melanie Lynskey (as always). Don’t miss it.
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Paris Is Burning (1990)
Can you guess how much terminology and cultural influence has been taken / stolen / appropriated from Paris Is Burning? To be honest I lost count after a while. Everything from “Vogueing” to “Realness” to “Throwing Shade” began with a cross-section of the black and latino queer community in New York City over thirty years ago. Burning captures a time and place where it didn’t matter how poor, misunderstood or “crazy” people though you are- you could be anything at a drag ball. Participants were free to push the limits of fashion, gender and self-expression.
Although it’s an entertaining rush of wit and action, there’s a dark side to this world. Burning also captures a time where these people were at risk to drugs, HIV and homophobic violence, which are always lurking in the background. Even while watching I knew most of the participants didn’t live long, giving the film a tinge of unfairness and tragedy. Although each of them are vibrant and one-of-a-kind, they were in a community that had no societal protection.
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The Keepers (2017)
The Keepers is a bottomless well that makes its true crime predecessors look like episodes of Care Bears. To keep a long story short (and fairly spoiler-free): a long neglected, hushed-up case about a murdered nun is re-examined by some badass older women who were former students. To say the least they find so much more than what they were seeking, revealing the sexual brutality and corruption within The Catholic Church, the police and government of Baltimore. It’s enough makes your head spin.
This isn’t for faint of heart, but if you care about these issues and have a strong stomach, it’s required viewing.
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Oh, Hello On Broadway (2017)
I love John Mulaney’s stand-up while Nick Kroll has never made me laugh, so I’d assume my reaction to this would be “meh.” I had also seen the Gil Faizon/George St. Geegland characters before and hardly gave them a second thought. So why try Oh, Hello On Broadway?
Well I did. And I’m so glad I did. It was brilliant.
Mulaney and Kroll mine a very specific, crotchety kind of humor out of these characters, who are basically two failed artists who never made it. They share their story and their dreams, hold hands (until Mulaney breaks character and makes it stop) and occasionally make bizarre observations about life’s minutiae (Kroll: “Werther’s Originals is the Amber Alert of the caramels”).
I know, they are the kind of jokes where you kind of have to be there, but that’s why you should watch it.
There are some special guests who drop in as well. And Nick Kroll craps his pants.
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God help me, I didn’t expect much from Masterminds but I ended up laughing a lot anyway. Whether it’s the loony plot (based on a true story), Zach Galifianakis’ terrible horrible wig or a brutal fight scene with mannequins and Vag-away, this movie succeeded at what it set out to do: be a comedy. It’s not a masterpiece but enough to entertain you for an hour and a half.
My favorite gag is when a shirt somehow explodes off of Ken Marino’s body in the middle of a scene, leaving him unscathed and looking somewhat bored. It’s one of the most random and fucked up things I’ve seen in a comedy, and there’s no explanation for why it happened. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.
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Sense8 (2015 – ??)
If you haven’t already watched this IT’S YOUR FAULT IT WAS CANCELLED. Sense8 is the most diverse and queer-friendly show I’ve seen, like something from a better future. I would tell just about any adventurous viewer to give it a try because there isn’t anything like it. It takes place in eight different countries with eight different characters, storylines and the crossed telepathic connections running between all of them at the same time. The fact that The Wachowskis manage to keep all of this straight boggles my mind.
Netflix cancelled this at the beginning of the Pride Month, but fans rallied and protested for a happy ending. Eventually Netflix agreed.
Now you have plenty of time to catch up before the two-hour finale is due next year.