Ten Hidden Gems to Beat Isolation
We are all more than likely going to be using our Netflix and NowTV packages to full capacity in the coming weeks. While it is vital to find organic pursuits, both physical and mental, is implausible and grandiose to say you will not, at some point, press that button! Question is what to watch? There are some great answers. Blockbusters, top recent TV series and promoted items such as Ozark and The Mandalorian. However, here we have put together ten great treats that you may not otherwise have thought about. Remember, on Netflix, an awful lot does not get offered to you, you have to find it...or let us do it!
Here we go
10: Blue Iguana: 2018, 140 mins - NowTV
Do not be fooled by the average rating on IMDB. this crime-caper with the superb and massively underrated Sam Rockwell is a slowly absorbing treat. Snappy dialogue, funny twists, and a style not far from, but still individual of, Reservoir Dogs.
9: The Royal Tenenbaums: 2001, 110 mins - NowTV
Gene Hackman leads a start-studded cast in this Wes Anderson classic about a talented family. Shot in similar style to his Grand Budapest Hotel, yet with a narrative style reminding somewhat of Dogville. If you had to describe it, it sounds tedious, but as usual, Anderson makes the 'not much' into a pleasing yarn.
8: Hannibal- The Series - Netflix - dir: Bryan Fuller
With the lordly Mads Mikkelsen as the eponymous antihero, the firm sturdiness of Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, and the lesser known but drawing presence and square-jawed handsomeness of Hugh Dancy as Will Graham,
Mikkelsen recently revealed he actually plays Lecter as Satan, He does a stellar job. Especially refreshing in the shadow of the disappointment of Harris' piggybank, 'Hannibal Rising.'
The episodes are dramatic and the stories absurdly fantastical. Yet it evolves, from a killer-a-night into a character driven gore-fest. There are weak moments, the first half of season two dips, however, the second half is blistering. A late night must if a dark mood takes you. Mason Verger is bought to life in firework satisfying by the brilliant Michael Pitt, but he sadly does not make it to be cast in season three. It suffered for this
Fans complained when it was cancelled, but it was the right thing to do. No shark ramps
Would have been even better if it had the rights to the Silence of the Lambs story, but it did not. So, it always had a shelf life.
7. Munich: 2005, 164 mins - NowTV
Steven Spielberg takes the strangely little-known events of the Munich Olympics in 1972 to the silver screen. Palestinian terror group, Black September takes eleven Israeli hostages to demand release of prisoners. The subsequent mass-murder of all hostages causes Israel to send the Mossad into Europe to take revenge. The Jewish side is shown the most sympathy. The brutality and sadistic glee used by Mossad and the questionable choice of targets is glossed over, and the many innocent bystanders unapologetically killed is totally missed out. This led to claims of Zionism aimed at the creators and the studio.
Then there is the awesome performance of Eric Bana as Avner, the lead assassin. Oscar-worthy for sure. Future bond-baddie Mathieu Amalric is also a highlight as mysterious French Mr Fix-it, Louis. Forgetting the politics this is a captivating study of morality and history and leaves us in a state of wondering when this all began and who was truly to blame.
6. A.D the Bible Continues: 2015, TV Series - Netflix
Yes, Bible stories. Forget your bent of faith, whether you have one or not. these are admirable pieces that tell the stories with maturity and careful exposition. Nothing glamorous and nothing preaching. Good for teaching young children about biblical history (maybe one or two scenes aside) and entertaining for adults.
This section focuses on the crucifixion on Golgotha, the resurrection, the corrupt Jewish elders and the relationship with the rampaging Pilate. Also, the road to Damascus, where the previously brutal Christian-hunting Saul becomes Paul is handled with the usual screen magnitude you get with Emmet J Scanlan.
Until you have watched it, let he who is without sin...
There is an old testament version also.
5. That Mitchell and Webb Look: 2006, TV Series: Netflix
The natural successors to Fry and Laurie, and Newman and Baddiel, as well as Horne and Corden...HA HA HA just joking! Yet a worthy addition to the first two duos is these two self-deprecating postmodernist Brits with the acerbic take on media and the strains of daily social life.
Highlights include the honest best man's speech (not the cliché it sounds), the MI6 conspiracy discussions, and the pre-phoney Me too feminism send-up of the blatant sexism in advertising: "Shave and get drunk" There are the usual catchphrase type sketches for the brainless but plenty of quality to dilute with. Hours of fun to be had
4. About a Boy 2002, 101 mins - NowTV
The adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel about a feckless inheritance-funded thirty-something played by Hugh Grant. After a morally questionable dating technique and a near-tragic event he inherits an awkward teenage boy as a companion. He grows to appreciate him and finds meaning in his previously shallow and materialistically enriched commitment-free life. Nicholas Hoult is in his first role as geeky bullied teen Marcus.
The ending bears about as much resemblance to the book as it does to Casablanca, but I believe that was for reasons of date-stamping. Regardless this film sees Grant change from charming fop to likeable semi-streetwise everyday bloke
3. Northern Soul: 2014. 102 mins - Netflix
This low-budget Brit-flick is powerfully watchable. The main character goes from angry, awkward wordsmith teen to confident speed-gobbling dancing man as he discovers Northern Soul music with his new best friend.
The newfound lease of life clearly brings a downside. As happens in every drug-fuelled youth movement, drugs and petty crime take the place of drugs and music. Remember this is the seventies when a police caution was unlikely for narcotics. Wigan Pier provides a setting for a memorable all-nighter, girls, fights, overdoses and lots of 4-beat dancing.
The relatively unknown actors handle this with aplomb, and the odd cameos from Ricky Tomlinson and Steve Coogan are superfluous and distracting. Love, life, death, sex, drugs, music, friendship, dreams, travel, and ultimately understanding all cram in together for a simultaneously uplifting and downtrodden piece of Yorkshire drama at its best
2. The People Vs Larry Flynt
The king of sleaze is bought to life by the engaging presence of Woody Harrelson.
Encompassing his super-poor upbringing, his early club endeavours through to super-stardom and naked First Lady photoshoots. Once established it is then mainly focusing on his legal trials, shooting, and subsequent paralysis and his pain-led heroin addiction.
Ed Norton is wonderful as Larry's long-suffering attorney Alan Issacman, delivering a fine courtroom speech on civil liberties with unusual maturity and gravitas from such a young player. There is the wife, the tragic Althea, who is played by the always great and always underrated Courtney Love (yes the jokes about how she got to play a junkie wife have been made) the fact she is always convincing in roles and never fails to fill the space should be more the topic.
Harrelson provides the greatest ever response to the belligerent and unfair judge in the Cincinnati court (played by the real Larry Flynt) when asked if he has anything to say before sentencing. Just watch it for that if you want. I can guarantee you will stay.
We have Michael Keaton, Liev Schrieber, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo so the acting chops is ready, and the story is handled by the team of Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer. A story about the sex abuse scandal of the Catholic church broken by respected Boston news giant Spotlight it needs some class and ability. It gets plenty.
We have the newly appointed Jewish editor in the Irish-Catholic Boston paper, who sanctions a story that is trying to break the church, in perhaps the most Catholic city in America. Needless to say it is emotionally enveloping. The victim testimony, the gradual realisation, the shock of the truth and the level it reached, as well as the exposition which is a subtly drip-fed constancy that never soaks you or bores you either.
It is all masterstroke and an absolute triumph.
With no clichés of whispered threats from strangers in cars, missing pets, anonymous angry death threat calls, this team relies on actual storytelling and dramatic techniques in a lesson for all of us. The info in the credits at the end is truly chilling.
That is not me trying to convince you to watch to the end, you already will.