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Netflix Instant Play: What We Watched, You Should Watch

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With summer fading and the summer movie season pooping out little nuggets of forgettable movies, it was time to turn to Netflix for entertainment. Though the service has gotten hammered over the last couple years, it still has a rich database of streaming movies as long as you’re willing to reach into the past. Here are a few movies and television shows that caught my eye…

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Emily Browning stars as Lucy in Sleeping Beauty, a drama about a college student who agrees to be heavily medicated at night so that old men can caress her milk-white naked body. Lucy is a drug addict and likes to sleep around, so this isn’t much of a change for her. She also makes a lot of money doing it.

It’s not quite clear what the point of the movie is, though Browning’s performance is very good and writer/director Julia Leigh at least shows she has an eye for visuals. Ultimately, though, Sleeping Beauty is emotionally cold and as unfulfilling as Lucy’s encounters with the men she never meets.

The movie also reminded me of Fox’s “Dollhouse”, only without all of the Joss Whedon awesomeness (also available on Netflix).

Watch it on Netflix

Tiny Furniture (2010)

Lena Dunham burst onto the scene with the underappreciated Tiny Furniture, a drama about a recent college grad named Aura who struggles with her next step in life. She moves in with her mother, gets a job as a hostess and starts dating two men, neither of whom are very interesting.

Dunham, who now stars in the HBO series “Girls”, which she also created, turns in a fine performance as Aura. As far as understated quirky dramas go, Tiny Furniture is relatively interesting, though far from spellbinding.

Nevertheless, the movie should be seen from a broader perspective: it’s the beginning of what should be a very long and intriguing career from the up-and-coming filmmaker.

Watch it on Netflix

Super 8 (2011)

I watched the J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg sci-fi thriller for the first time since seeing it in theaters, where my reaction was that it was “good but not great.” While I appreciated it for being an homage to early Spielberg movies and for essentially being about a very angry and more dangerous E.T., my friend, who sat next to me in the theater, hated the film for being a “less-good version of great movies.” She actually described it as one of the worst movies she had ever seen.

Super 8 holds up under a second viewing, and in some ways is better now that expectations have been brought back down to earth. Expectations are what killed Super 8 for so many people (J.J. Abrams + Steven Spielberg + aliens!), and with those removed, the movie is an entertaining little thrill ride the whole family can enjoy.

Watch it on Netflix

The Relic (1997)

The Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel The Relic is one of my favorite thrillers. It’s about a deadly monster that is set loose within a natural history museum. The movie, which stars Penelope Anne Miller and Tom Sizemore, took the basic premise and changed quite a lot of the details, but at the time of its release – I was still in junior high – I loved the movie.

My embarrassing original review, which is still online and was written when I was 15-years old, goes like this: “The Relic is scary. Real scary. If you see it at the theater, it’s the most awesome fright fest you’ll ever witness. Scarier than Scream, by far, you’ll be sitting on the floor, you’re eyes covered. The ultimate gore-fest, heads coming off like crazy, you’ll wish you hadn’t eaten that last handful of popcorn.”

Uh, yeah. The Relic really isn’t that good, but as far as horror movies go, it’s fast-paced and mildly entertaining. It’s a little harder to watch these days, primarily thanks to Tom Sizemore’s poorly written character, but I’ve seen worse.

Watch it on Netflix

Breaking Bad: Seasons 1 through 4

People kept telling me I needed to watch “Breaking Bad”. That I would love “Breaking Bad”. I kept putting it off, because I know that once I start watching a television show I will keep watching it until I have no more episodes to watch. Especially when it’s on Netflix streaming, where the system automatically jumps to the next episode unless you manually stop it.

I watched four seasons of “Breaking Bad” in under two weeks. Did I like it? Let me repeat: I watched four seasons of “Breaking Bad” in under two weeks. That is all.

Watch it on Netflix

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Drama Movies, Horror Movies, TV Series
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