FlixWorthy Expects You To Die, Mister Bond
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your guide to Netflix streaming! Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's Instant Watch catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.
First, a PSA. If you haven't perused your Netflix Instant Watch catalogue in a few weeks, don't be alarmed when you log on looking to continue watching your favorite queued TV shows. Netflix has recently been implementing a clever and long overdue change in how they list TV content. Namely, rather than having shows broken up into individual seasons, they now appear in a single entry containing every available episode of the show. In other words, you're not going to have to keep 10 separate seasons of Stargate SG1 cluttering up your queue; now they're all located in one convenient location. It's a great change, but it is a little disconcerting when you log on and your queue has shrunk by half. Don't panic!
Now onto the week's picks...
Bond. James Bond
The future of the James Bond film franchise may still be in flux, but Netflix has your back if you want to revisit the series' past. You can now stream 14 classic Bond flicks at your whim, spanning from the latter days of Connery all the way up through Dalton's final outing. For whatever reason, the earliest and most recent entries are not available, which has its negatives (no Dr. No, From Russia with Love, or Goldfinger) and its positives (there's no chance of accidentally queuing up Die Another Day or Quantum of Solace). While I'm a fan of the new direction for 007 (at least assuming the next movie is better than QoS), there's plenty of fun to be had by visiting Bond's various less angsty incarnations. There's something to be said for ridiculous gadgets, over-the-top villains, and suggestively named seductresses. And hey, maybe I'll finally get around to watching On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Here are the individual links for the movies:
The Other Guys
(2010, Rated PG-13, 107 min.)
The Other Guys was an iffy proposition for me. My tolerance for Will Ferrell is hit-and-miss at best. Anchorman has grown on me over the years, but I still can't stand Talladega Nights. I loved his turn in Stranger Than Fiction, but I'd rather swallow a nail gun than watch most of the rest of his filmography. And then there's Mark Wahlberg, who is often hilarious, but rarely when he's trying to be. (I'm still convinced his performance in The Happening was some sort of brilliant performance art.) So the combination of these two guys in a buddy comedy about two inept cops could easily be an unmitigated disaster. But damn if that trailer didn't make me chuckle. Then the flick opened, Katey gave it a decent review, and I gave it a shot. And damn if it didn't make me chuckle. The one problem with The Other Guys, however, is that it peaks early. Once Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson) take their pursuit of a criminal to the next, poorly considered level, the movie never gets any better. But hey, that's not a bad bar to set.
Double-Feature It With:
The Naked Gun
(1988, Rated PG-13, 84 min., HD)
Why not pair Ferrell and Wahlberg's dim-bulb cops with the original, much imitated, never equaled Officer Frank Drebin? It's just one of life's little jokes that a man who could play straight-man like nobody else became most famous for doing so in broad comedies. Revisit one of the best spoof films ever and raise a toast to the late Leslie Nielsen, who passed away last November. I would have recommended this earlier, Mr. Nielsen, but you weren't dead then.
(2006-2008, TV-14, Two Seasons Available, HD)
Of all the shows that tried to jump on Lost's serialized bandwagon, Jericho was one of the most intriguing, and one of the few that survived to see a second season. Skeet "Pull!" Ulrich stars as Jake Greene, a wayward son who returns to his home town of Jericho, Kansas for an awkward reunion with his father, the town's mayor (Gerald McRaney). Unfortunately, his family tensions are superseded by a mushroom cloud that heralds the destruction of Denver. It soon becomes clear that Denver was not the only target -- America has been hit hard, with cities across the country swallowed up in nuclear fire. In the episodes that follow, the townsfolk must face an uncertain future and try to discover the truth of what has happened to their country. During its two-season run, Jericho combined well-written tension and plot twists with sharp social commentary about the things we allow to divide us from our common humanity...a message that is sadly still very timely five years and several elections later.
Double-Feature It With:
(2006, Not Rated, 13 episodes, HD)
Another of the 2006 Serialized Drama Boom/Apocalypse, Kidnapped had all the makings of a hit. It's got a bang-up cast, including Timothy Hutton, Dana Delany, Delroy Lindo, and Jeremy Sisto. It was created by writer Jason Smilovic, whose Lucky Number Slevin is, in my opinion, vastly underrated. It's got a perfect-for-TV plotline involving -- surprise -- the kidnapping of a millionaire's son. It's got twists and turns aplenty. It may not have been a ratings hit, but it's well worth a spin if you're looking for a quick, self-contained story to kill a week or so.
(1971, Rated G, 89 min.)
If you've ever said to yourself, "I need more hippies in my science fiction!" and your copies of the original series of Star Trek aren't at arm's length, allow me to direct you to the 1971 cult classic, Silent Running. Bruce Dern stars in this meditative vision of a future where Earth's last remaining plant life has been relocated to orbiting spaceships, with the planet's surface having become a polluted, overpopulated cesspit. Dern plays botanist Freeman Lowell, charged with tending to the plants along with several boxy robotic companions. When orders come along that the plants are to be destroyed so the ships can be refitted for commercial use, Lowell rebels and goes AWOL along with his forest. Those who prefer their science fiction full of nonstop action need not apply, but those with a taste for a story that's actually about something may well find themselves charmed by Silent Running even at its cheesiest.
Double-Feature It With:
A Boy and His Dog
(1975, Rated R, 90 min.)
Another gem from a time before Star Wars came along and changed cinematic SF forever -- for good or ill -- A Boy and His Dog is based on a novella by none other than Harlan Ellison. Don Johnson stars as a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, his only companion a telepathic dog named Blood. Together they hunt for the necessities -- food, water, and sex -- and eventually stumble upon a subterranean society that isn't nearly as welcoming as it initially seems. If you're interested in this one, watch it quick: it's being yanked off Netflix on 4/21.
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