I find your joke about trading building materials for farm animals highly illogical, Captain.
And because everyone will be walking around with fancy new wireless communicators welded to the sides of their faces. There really was only choice for this weekend’s traipse through the streaming queue. That’s right, it’s time to put on your red shirt (or dye your skin green if you’re that kind), shave that evil goatee, and tell the spouse that they should prepare themselves for the Pon Farr; we’re streaming “Star Trek: The Original Series!”
This is classic sci-fi at its best – the set values are minuscule, the acting horrid, but the stories that they brought to the table engaged, nay, spawned, a generation of geeks like no other television series ever has. So pay some respect to Kirk, Bones, and their pointy-eared friend. And if you can’t muster that, just take a shot every time they have to lean back and forth like the bridge is tilting; you’ll be hammered by the third episode.
So what happens when you combine a Spielberg coming of age story with a JJ Abrams dimly-lit potboiler? You get “Stand By Me”…with explosions and pissed-off E.T.’s hungry for human flesh.
“Super 8” should be a great example of “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” filmmaking. But ultimately, it separates into its component parts, the military conspiracy/Area 51 plot shoehorned into a genuinely touching coming of age story. It’s well worth your time though, as each element is expertly handled (except where they intersect). You care about Joe and Alice and the shit hand they’ve been dealt; saddled as they are with parents who are barely keeping it together (each in their own way). And the alien plotline is a slick treatment of the Area 51 myth. The casting is brilliant as well, using unknown (but quite talented) child actors who don’t get in the way of the story. Really, the only true misstep is saddling the plot with an early-80s setting. You can almost see the struggles between Spielberg and Abrams as they keep searching for contemporary analogues for modern conveniences (Didn’t everyone in ’83 have a walkie-talkie that magically worked with a large network of friends? And didn’t everyone have the ability to view videos no matter where they were?).
I know I’m not doing the best at selling this, but it’s because, with the creative pedigrees attached to “Super 8,” you expect something transcendent. But even if it’s not, it’s still solid entertainment and is one of those rare movies that will stick around in your streaming queue for more than one viewing.
Walter doesn’t give a good god damn about your excuses for not watching his show.
My singly most satisfying television addiction of the past year has to be “Breaking Bad.” Found it on Netflix after half-listening to a review of the Season 4 finale on NPR. I had previous knowledge of the show: “Chem teacher gets diagnosed with cancer, makes meth to provide a financial cushion for his family…” Interesting; but darker than what I wanted at the time. Then, in the review, I started hearing terms like “super-villain” and “transformation” thrown about and my Nerd-dar started to perk up. Maybe there was more to Walter White and his trip down the rabbit hole than I’d assumed. Now, I don’t need spandex fisticuffs or insane powers in every fictional universe I peruse (it helps, but I dont need it); but if you can give me a solid story where a character stands out as if he wassomeone from a comic, while still existing in a realistic simulacrum of our reality, well then I’m yer Huckleberry.
So I started with the first episode. And Walter made me cringe. His milquetoast attitude, his seemingly ridiculous decisions…but there was something in Cranston’s portrayal of the titular character, something sharp and multi-faceted just under the surface, that I stuck around for the second episode. Then the third. Then the fourth.
I woke up halfway into the fifth episode, paused it, slept, and hit the queue the very next day; picking right up where I left off. You won’t want to watch this series, you’ll want to mainline it like one of Walter’s bags of blue meth. The action is horrifying. The motivations worse. The characters are all reprehensible. But you just can’t stop watching. You’ll ally yourself with one set of characters, then another, then back to the originals. And you’ll know you’re being manipulated grossly by a superb creative team. But you’ll keep watching anyway because you’ll be totally addicted by then and you’ll need your next fix.
Honestly, I was going to write this one on “God Bless America” also by writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait (yea, that guy. He didn’t die in the ’80s, apparently). But then I realized that “World’s Greatest Dad” was streaming now as well. “God Bless America” was good but it had one huge, glowing flaw: It wasn’t “World’s Greatest Dad.”
That may seem mean, that I only judge a film by another by the same creative team. Unfortunately, that’s the position that Bobcat put me in by creating, quite possibly, the darkest comedy ever made with “World’s Greatest Dad.”
Darkest Comedy ever? Yeah. How dark? Imagine a episode of “Breaking Bad” as a comedy. And then, make it so you feel dirty watching it. That dark. It’s so dark that I’m not even going to tell you what it is about. Go into it totally innocent.
Wait… should you watch it? If you can handle darkness – then I recommend it. If you are not easily offended (because you will be offended) – then I recommend it. If you… hell, I don’t recommend this movie to “just anyone.” If you think you can handle it – I recommend it. If you think, at all, that based on this paragraph, that you shouldn’t watch it – you’re right. But, if you’re intrigued enough… It’s Streaming Now.
Stop what you are doing. Go to NetFlix Instant (however you best connect) and start watching “Warrior.” Go ahead. I’ll wait. Go. Start it. There ya go. Now, I admit, at the start it is a bit uneven. But wait, wait. Be patient. You’ll be rewarded. “Warrior” takes the best parts of all the Rocky movies and boils it down to one fantastic movie. (Seriously, it has the drama of “Rocky,” the redemption of “Rocky II,” there’s a bunch of fights like in “Rocky III,” there’s a cold-war villain like “Rocky IV” and (essentially) street fighting like in “Rocky V”).
That isn’t to say that this is a Rocky knockoff. It isn’t. It’s its own movie completely. And, honestly, it shouldn’t “work” as well as it does. It is blatantly manipulative (as sports movies often are) and you’ll notice it. You’ll start cheering out loud and think “I’m being completely controlled into this action – and I don’t care.” First time I watched this I was worried I’d wake up my wife and kids as I was cheering so much.
Bonus for watching this now – Tom Hardy. His character here doesn’t have the agenda that he does as Bane in “Dark Knight Rises” but it doesn’t matter. He conveys so much rage in his eyes that you’ll be fear for the safety of the actors in the ring with him. It’s an amazing display of intensity.
This is the type of “little film” that makes Netflix Instant so great. Their catalog often gets criticized for not having “current movies” but then people don’t watch the outstanding current movies Netflix does carry – because they have “heard of that one.” You’ve now heard of “Warrior.”
Mom wasn’t home from work yet, my brother and I had let ourselves in (Oh, the horror of the latch-key children! The horror!), and afternoon cartoons were on. Channel 40 had Transformers and G.I. Joe reruns, which were by far superior to all other offerings. Giant transforming robots! Military action/adventure! Red and blue lasers! As far as we knew, this was as good as it got.
Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.
One day, for whatever reason, we were on channel 13 (probably because we were playing “Russian Roulette” with the TV dials…dear Lord, how fucking old am I?) and we saw a commercial for something called “Robotech.” It had giant transforming robots! And military action/adventure! And spaceships! Obviously, we talked about nothing else until we tuned into the premier that Friday morning (oh yeah, 8 AM cartoon blocks ruled too).