Saturday, March 8, 2014

Netflix Needs

A year or so ago, my father was coaxed into one of the best decisions we've ever made: Netflix. Okay. So, "best decision" might be a bit grand. But I'm a huge movie lover! Movies are as much a passion for me as books. If I could, I'd have a book shelf dedicated to movies and television series.

As much as I love movies and television series, I also love getting stuff done. While I could waste my time zombie-watching my screen, I prefer to use it like a bit of spice to season a well-made dish. Multitasking for the win!

write to movies
clean to movies
do homework to movies
chill and hang out to movies
recover (from anything) with movies
scrapbook to movies
exercise to movies
draw to movies
blog to movies
craft to movies

In honor of the Oscars last weekend, I thought I'd share with you some of my recent Netflix watches over the past year.

Favorites: Must-haves
A dear friend got me hooked on this show awhile ago when she lent me her season 1 and 2 DVDs. Ever since I have been devouring episodes every school break I get, when I can afford time to do little else than sit myself in front of the television. (Until recently, I could only watch Netflix on my computer, which was a hassle as it always froze because of how many people we have using our internet connection. Then it'd get shelved for homework because I needed my screen. The short of it: Merlin watching was very, very slow.) Let me tell you: there is a reason I inhaled this show whenever I could. The show is addictive.

Even though I went in knowing how it would end, since it is Arthurian legend, and that it would rip my heart out, I fell right into the show, a glutton for punishment. The plot is complex and entangled. The characters are wonderful, deep, hilarious, dark, complex, flawed and perfect. The acting is amazing (I highly emphasize this - until the last episodes of the last season I failed to give proper acknowledgement to how strong these actors were).

Some of the episodes are creepy, others intense. The final episodes will break your heart. But the magic of Merlin is worth every moment.

New Girl
Word of mouth is everything! Another dear friend got me hooked on this particular show. While I had heard of it before, I did not know much about it. I had never considered it something that I would be interested in. But one evening of her raving later and I found myself watching episode after episode after episode!

The show is hilarious. The characters make and drive the show. They are unique and quirky. They are flawed, but, like with Merlin, they are lovably flawed. They weasel their way into your hearts and make a happy home there.

The only downside is that the episode are so short and Netflix only has two seasons! In two days of intense homework, I've gone through two seasons. I want more!

Sherlock (BBC)
It has come to my attention that I may have a love affair with BBC productions. (Merlin, Sherlock, Doctor Who....) Because of my love of all things Sherlock Holmes related, a librarian friend of mine suggested I jump on the Sherlock bandwagon. Many of my other friends were already in love with it and working their raving-magic on me. Bendict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are amazingly talented actors so I was more than happy to give it a shot. I wasn't disappointed.

Sherlock never disappoints.

Netflix has the first two seasons of Sherlock. The most recent, season three, I watched as it aired on PBS. I have only two words for you: WATCH THEM. (In this  case, caps-lock is appropriate.) The show is complexly written with intricately woven plot-lines. For me, though, as with any show I truly love, the characters drive my affections. The crazy-complicated plots of Sherlock would mean nothing without characters that draw the audience in - heart, mind and soul. Cumberbatch and Freeman bring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to life. The bromance between them is incredible.

Seriously, just watch it.

Murder, She Wrote
I have been watching this show for as long as I can remember. I grew up on old television shows (such as Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, and Perry Mason); Murder, She Wrote has always been a personal favorite.  It's lighthearted and entertaining while fulfilling my love of mysteries. There's also something endearing about the idea of a writer murder-solver - Jessica Fletcher is almost like the original Richard Castle! (If you are not watching Castle, you're missing out.)

I will forever recommend Murder, She Wrote. Each day I watch it while I clean my room and am thrilled that Netflix keeps it on instant streaming.

The Magic of Belle Isle
An older, disabled, cynical writer who is hardened by life is touched and impacted by the love of a family. I have watched this movie twice, and I would watch it a third, fourth and fifth time, too. The story is sweet, heartfelt and uplifting. It is a great family movie!

Morgan Freeman is wonderful. I also appreciate seeing an individual with physical disabilities in a movie, as there is not a lot of representation.

Brother Bear
The fact that Netflix added this to Instant just about made my day. I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid! If you haven't seen it, get on this. Brother Bear is a great movie, riddled with adventure and humor, dusted with life lessons. And filled with great music! (I've owned the soundtrack ever since it came out. Can Phil Collins do no wrong? I've a love affair with this music, I swear.)

A film to watch over and over and over and over again. Seriously. I have watched this film more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. It never gets old! The plot is exciting and well thought out. Penélope Cruz plays a hilarious, feisty, heart-driven World Health Organization doctor.  The interactions between Matthew McConaughey and  Steve Zahn's characters are the best. It is as much comedy as it is adventure, but with very little blood and actual violence. (There are a few scenes, but I choose to close my eyes at them. Overall, though, it is pretty viewer-friendly in the blood and "gross" scene.)

It only just came to my attention that this film is based off of a book (Sahara by Clive Cussler). If anyone has read it, tell me how you liked it in the comments! If you've read the book and seen the movie, I'd love to hear how you think they compare. My curiosity is sparked!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
There isn't much to say other than this was my favorite children's movie as a kid. Dick Van Dyke will forever be a favorite actor of mine. He never disappoints! This story, centered partly around an  inventor's beloved and magical car and the imaginary adventures it takes his family on, is funny, at times frightening and wholly heart-warming. I can promise it'll have you singing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you" by the time it is through! 

Treasure Planet
One of the most underrated Disney films, along with Meet the Robinsons and countless others. When I originally saw this film it was in a northern one-room, old fashioned movie theater. Perhaps my love of atmosphere influenced me passion for this movie. Perhaps it was Star Wars that sealed it. Whatever it was, this futuristic adventure-story is a favorite of mine. If I didn't want to travel the stars already, I did after seeing this. It is funny and sweet, with loveable characters and filled with incredible depth and a wonderful moral.

Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
Oh. My. Goodness. Stop what you are doing and go to Netflix. Right now. Go. Watch this. I am a lover of the Arts, without shame. Theater and musical theater captures my heart, sucks me in and refuses to let me go. This show is no exception. I have watched it twice, fallen in love with it twice. Now I truly understand why people love and adore it as much as they do; without having seen this stage production, I am not sure if I would have fully understood or appreciated the magic of this story. The stage brings it to life. It adds complexity and depth. It's just so good.

The Adventures of Tintin
First: the animation is incredible. It blew my breath away it was so realistic! (In that way, it reminds me a bit of The Polar Express.) I hadn't been acquainted with Tintin before seeing this movie, so I cannot speak as a lover or follower of the comic series. However, I have looked up pictures from the series. I am impressed by how they were able to stay true to the original artist's character design and artistic style while translating it into a 3-D animation.

Now the actual movie. The mixture of fantasy, action, adventure and flawed, loveable characters - such as Captain Haddock - sold me. Who would have thought that buying a simple model ship would lead to a grand adventure! (Not to mention I'm a bit in love with the relationship between Tintin and his pet companion, Snowy. Snowy is truly man's best friend.) I have only watch this movie once but it is worth multiple viewings. It won't disappoint!

Men in Black
So, okay, confession time. I have seen this before it was on Netflix. But, it's Men in Black! Aliens coming to attack planet Earth, secret government agency there to save the day, talking animal aliens, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones - it doesn't get better than that.

Crazy on the Outside - Tim Allen is amazing. I loved him in The Santa Clause movies. I loved him in Home Improvement. I love him in Last Man Standing. This movie about an ex-con's quirky rehabilitation into a better life is no different. I've watched it over and over and over again.

Play the Game
I am seriously bummed to say that this is no longer on Netflix Instant. (Though you can get it via DVD!) A heart-warming, funny, watch-on-repeat romance story. I adore it. Andy Griffiths does a great job at playing a grandfather to the main character. There is a "game" to dating and a way to play it right. Or, maybe not.

Others that I have watched and enjoyed:

The Host - While I was skeptical because of my disappointment with Twilight, I am happy to report it was actually pretty good! The concept of two people - or species - having to come together, understand one another and develop compassion to work together for the greater good won me over. And there weren't any vampires, so.

Daddy Daycare - Clueless dads trying to run a daycare makes for a hilarious plot line. It's all-around fun. Plus, there is a great underlying message about letting kids be kids and the importance of spending time with your kids. Daddy Daycare is totally on my To Buy Someday (TBS) list.

The Mistle-tones! - Confession: I mostly watched this because of Tia Mowry. I'm a lover of Sister, Sister and Twitches. But it is worth it for far more than that! It's one of those fun, cute made-for-television holiday movies that is great for passing the time.

Snowglobe - Another great holiday movie that is fun and cute and good for passing time. Sometimes what we think we want, isn't really what we want. The perfect holiday, family or world may not be as perfect as we think. A great reminder to be grateful for what you have.

Failure to Launch - A quirky, kind of unconventional romance movie. No explanation. Just watch. It is Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Bartha. The cast is so good it needs no description.

The Switch - Should-be tagline: what happens when your best friend (guy) hijacks your medical insemination. It is funny as heck while at the same time pulling on all of your heart strings. Totally worth a watch!

Christmas Angel - One of my new favorite Christmas movies about little kids who think a neighborhood angel is looking out for them.

First Wives Club - A total feminist, fight the power movie with a strong, star-studded cast. (Including Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker.) There is something great about seeing a group of women take back control of their lives!

The Avengers - Because I am a sucker for all kinds of superhero movies. X-Men, Man of Steel, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk - I love them all! (Admittedly: the only one I haven't seen is Iron Man) If you love Superhero movies, especially all of the above mentioned, and you haven't seen the Avengers get on it!

Mirror Mirror - My favorite twist on Snow White that I have seen. It is hilarious and definitely a great family night movie. Super cute, out of the box, filled with great actors, crazy-fantastical costumes, and plot twists I've never seen before - I'd definitely watch this movie again. 

Check back in again for my Movie Misses/Flubs and my Wishlist.

What movies and television shows have you been watching? 

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