FlixWorthy Unearths Secret History, Quentin Tarantino, And Kevin Smith
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.
(1994, Rated R, 154 min., HD)
Apparently Netflix and Miramax just became best buds, because the Instant Watch catalogue is positively bursting with old-school Miramax titles. Where to begin? Where else but with the film that made Quentin Tarantino a household name (and let's face it, it's kind of an odd name to begin with). Sure, Reservoir Dogs came first, but without the success of Quentin's chronologically fractured crime opus, we probably would never have seen the Kill Bills or Inglourious Basterds, and that's reason enough to respect it. Fortunately, it's also pretty damned entertaining. The convoluted story of hit men, boxers, gangsters, adrenalin syringes, memorable wallets, red-herring suitcases, foot rubs, Fonzies, and ass-smuggled gold watches may have spawned a thousand inferior imitators, but it's still a ripping good yarn. Pay a nostalgic visit to John Travolta's less bloated days, and marvel at Samuel L. Jackson, who has never been more Samuel L. Jackson-y than as Jules Winnfield.
Double-Feature It With:
(1992, Rated R, 99 min., HD)
Full disclosure: I hated this movie the first time I saw it. Hated. And while it's still not among the Tarantino offerings likely to be found lurking in my Blu-ray player, there's no denying it's become a cult classic for a reason. Of course, I suppose you could watch From Dusk Till Dawn if you really wanted to...
Brad Meltzer's Decoded
(2010, Not Rated, One season, HD)
You might know Brad Meltzer if you've perused your local bookstore shelves recently. He's made a name for himself over the past decade with a string of political thrillers, including The Tenth Justice and The Book of Lies. Meltzer's novels tend to revolve around secret histories and byzantine conspiracy theories, and he's translated that same addictive mixture to his History Channel series, Brad Meltzer's Decoded. While the History Channel is glutted with interchangeable faux-documentaries involving ancient astronauts and Nazi mysticism, Decoded is a different beast. The show assembles a team including a trial attorney, a mechanical engineer, and a journalist, and tasks them with investigating historical urban legends such as the idea that John Wilkes Booth escaped and lived to old age, or the identity of legendary bank robber D.B. Cooper. Some of the theories are far out, but they're just lucid enough to make for compelling viewing, and the team's mixture of passion for the subject matter and healthy skepticism is hard to resist. Decoded may not make you a believer, but it makes asking "What if?" a helluva good time.
Double-Feature It With:
(2011, TV-14, Eight episodes, HD)
Speaking of historical conspiracy theories, you're unlikely to find any one event that has more speculation hovering around it than the assassination of JFK. That moment is covered by this controversial mini-series, as well as the history of the dynasty leading up to it. Good or bad, accurate portrayal or smear campaign; watch it and make up your own mind.
(1994, Rated R, 91 min., HD)
Alongside Tarantino, Kevin Smith was one of the golden boys of Miramax's heyday, the feel-good story of a Jersey kid who sold his comic collection and maxed out his credit cards to make a movie, then became a geek/stoner/indie film icon. While Smith's career may have floundered somewhat in recent years (unless you count podcasting), his early films are still his best, from a time when his voice was sharp and Jay and Silent Bob hadn't yet evolved into cartoons. Clerks may be unpolished and look like every bit of the $27 grand it cost to make, but all the hallmarks that earned Smith his fan base are here: the world-weary characters in jobs they despise, the casually hilarious vulgarity ("Thirty-seven?!?"), and the wordy dissections of pop culture. Just be thankful the "lost" ending where Dante is shot dead during a robbery remained on the cutting room floor, otherwise we would never have gotten the excellent Clerks II.
Double-Feature It With:
(1997, Rated R, 113 min., HD)
Even almost 15 years later, Chasing Amy is still Kevin Smith's best movie. The emotions are raw, the characters well-crafted, the dialogue snappy, and the ending appropriately messy. Ben Affleck was still an actor, not yet having evolved into would-be action hero, tabloid punchline, or talented director. Jason Lee was still an incandescent ball of charisma and acrobatic verbal scathe, far from his sad destiny of settling into mediocre TV and piss-poor family films. It was a happier time, and it's streaming now for your enjoyment.
The Netflix '80s Cartoon Extravaganza
Children of the '80s, take heed. Netflix has dumped a huge slice of your childhood into their Instant Watch catalogue. You want He-Man? Click the above link. Your wife or girlfriend in the mood to revisit the girl-friendly spin-off, She-Ra? No problem. Craving some robotic lion action? Got your back. Howzabout a lovably inept cyborg? You betcha. Hell, they've even dug into the deep cuts and posted friggin' BraveStarr. Get your nostalgia on. (FlixWorthy is not responsible for any damage to your fond memories caused by revisiting these relics of your childhood.)
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