What I’m Watching: Netflix recommendations

I’ve been neglecting my next TV World post since there are so many crime/thriller type shows that are so good. Ideally, I’d like to break up the post according to serial vs procedural shows but it’s a bit difficult since many procedural shows tend to have a serial drama aspect. Hmm… I’ll have to think a bit more about this.

While I’m thinking about that post, I thought I’d share a few movies that are on Netflix that I’ve enjoyed that might not be recommended enough. All of these can be streamed on Netflix as of 7/20/14 (click on the posters to go to the Netflix page), and all of these were made within the last seven years.

1. TiMER (USA)

A romantic comedy with a minimal amount of fantasy/sci-fi to set up the plot. Charming and sweet but also sad (the ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and not “crying forever” kind of sad) moments. Great if you want to watch something lighthearted but still dramatic enough to keep you on your toes. Themes that are explored include sibling relationships (sisters), family, love and trust.

Netflix description: “In this comedic fantasy, biotechnological implants count down to the moment one is supposed to meet his or her soul mate.”

2. Departures (“Okuribito“) (Japan)

A beautiful and moving drama. Not going to lie, I cried. I’ve only cried due to a handful of movies like Blue Valentine and Marley & Me (lol but also ๐Ÿ˜ฅ ) but those are the only ones I can remember.

Departures is about an aspiring cellist and his family as he begins a job as (someone similar to) a mortician and the stigma against those who work with the dead. It’s an incredibly touching movie and really beautiful and poignant. There are funny moments and I really like how the film isn’t afraid of stretches of no dialogue. It’s also has a spiritual aspect as the main character is going through many personal changes due to his new occupation. I’ve found that many Japanese films/shows are deeply emotional and psychological (I, for one, refuse to watch an Japanese horror movie because I know I’ll never be able to sleep again), and this movie is no exception; the movie has resonated with me for years and I haven’t rewatched it because I’m not sure I want to cry again. Won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and I think it’s completely deserved.

Netflix description: “Young cellist Daigo realizes he’s been heading down the wrong career path and trains to be a nakanshi, one who prepares the dead for burial.”

3. Sidewalls (Medianeras) (Argentina/Spain/Germany)

I. Love. This. Movie. That being said, I always forget to recommend this one because it’s a subtler rom-(com)-esque movie. Nothing crazy exciting happens because it’s a movie snapshot of two people’s lives. I used to describe this as a less romantic (500) Days of Summer where the guy and girl don’t meet until the end of the movie, but I think by relating it to (500) Days of Summer put people (aka my friends) off it. But seriously, it’s better than (500) Days. Watch this movie. It’s a bit quirky but who doesn’t have quirks?

The main characters are an agoraphobic website designer and an architect who currently creates store window displays. The movie shows us snippets of this period of their lives and how they end up meeting. It’s not that emotionally gut wrenching, but still deals with heavier themes like loneliness, fear, identity, etc. The two main characters are not entirely satisfied with the way their lives are going, and I think that’s something many people have experienced and can relate to. I love the use of voiceovers and how their occupations actually add to the characters’ identities instead of just being a detail the writer added in last minute. But what I love most is how the director uses the architecture of Buenos Aires to add to the movie and storyline.

Netflix description: “Separated by the wall their apartments share, Mariana and Martรญn are without question the perfect couple. There’s just one problem: They’ve never met.”

4. Phoebe in Wonderland (USA)

You should know this movie made me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . The main character is 9-year-old girl Phoebe (played by an excellent young Elle Fanning) who has OCD-like tendencies as well as symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome but her parents don’t or don’t want to acknowledge that their daughter is behaving out of the ordinary. Honestly, the storyline of the movie is a bit meh and the ending is a bit wonky, but the acting of Elle Fanning, Ian Coletti (Phoebe’s friend) and Patricia Clarkson (Phoebe’s drama teacher) more than makes up for plot.

It’s possible that I find this movie so great due of personal reasons. In high school, I realized I had developed a number of rituals, and I still haven’t been able to break free from my hand washing one aka I have to go to sleep with “clean” hands. After washing my hands before going to bed, I’m only allowed to touch the light switch, the door handle and my bed. If I touch anything else, I have to go back to the bathroom and wash my hands again. Otherwise I just lie in bed obsessing over how my hands are sticky and dirty even though they’re not.

I know it makes no sense, but I can’t help it. I’ve been improving on this, but I watched this movie a few years ago and many of the feelings Phoebe describes brought back many of my memories of not being able to stop myself from getting out of bed in the middle of the night and washing my hands. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling not being able to control yourself, and I thought the movie did an excellent job of portraying this. Hopefully people who watch this movie are able to get a sense of what it’s like for people (maybe people they know) to live with these obsessive tendencies and be a bit more understanding.

Netflix description: “When trouble-prone young Phoebe is cast in a production of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ she begins to receive advice from the play’s wild characters.”

5. Dredd (UK/USA/India/South Africa)

For those who want a straight forward action/semi-post-apocalyptic/sci-fi movie. This is a remake and many people seem to think this one is way better. I went in with low expectations but was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s definitely on the violent side, so be warned. The storyline is about taking down a drug ring and the dialogue/acting can be a bit expected, but I love the world-building and action sequences. The visuals made me feel like I was in this decaying world, fighting alongside the main characters. Also, great cast and BAMF female villain.

Netflix description: “In a catastrophic future, the remaining population is crowded into megacities, where all-powerful and ultraviolent cops are hunting for terrorists.”

6. Goon (USA/Canada)

Movie about (ice) hockey. Hilarious dialogue (My friend and I kept pausing the movie; we were sometimes laughing so hard). Great characters. Some violence (… it’s hockey. and it’s about an enforcer aka goon). Lots of swearing. Goon has a lot of inappropriate jokes that I actually don’t find that funny, but all the other jokes are hysterically funny. This movie (and TiMER) might be one of the more recognized ones on this list since it seems like it’s gained a sort of cult following in the recent year or so. And omg the Canadian accents. Have to use internet speak to describe it… IDEK.

I think this would be a great movie to watch with friends since it’s about sports, romance, family and lots ofย  friendship/teamwork/trust. And it’s funny. Another one with a (surprisingly?) great cast.

Netflix description: “When he’s seen dispatching a rude opposing hockey player in the stands, Doug Glatt is hired by a rival team … for his fighting skills.”

That’s it for now… these are some of the more accessible movies I’d recommend. There are a bunch of (mostly foreign) movies that I have on my Netflix list, so I’ll be going through those and posting the ones I feel need to be shared.

Happy watching!

-amy

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