Netflix Pix – August 2011

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

How do you do, August? I can’t be too sure on how much we want to welcome you with open arms, my friend. The heat that your friends June and July has provided has been borderline unbearable at times, and we can’t expect much relief from you. In fact, August, you have become infamous for providing uncomfortably hot weather for years now. When will you learn that we just can’t love you as much as the other months when you keep putting us through this torture?

With that said, this month usually means the peak of the heat, the beginning of the end of summer and the promise that the leaves will begin to sadden us all as they turn colors and begin to force those beautiful trees to become bare. It’s the final window for vacations and it’s also the last bit of freedom all of those younger, far more intelligent kids are able to enjoy before being locked up for the next nine months within the confines of drab educational walls.

Considering how hot it’s been (honestly, though. I never thought I’d live in a place where I was begging for 90-degree temperatures), the option of spending an enormous amount of time outdoors has become increasingly less appealing. What’s the remedy, you ask? Netflix, friends. The higher rates began to kick in recently, and because I opted for the DVD package over the streaming/DVD combo, there is an awfully good chance this will be the last installment of such a feature (the site won’t even let me search for programs that are available to stream anymore). So kick off your shoes, stay within the air conditioned walls of your own living area and enjoy what may be the final group of five suggestions for you lovely readers who are still capable of streaming programs on Netflix.

Onward and upward …

1. “Mad Men” — New to Netflix this month, the best drama on television is streaming its first four seasons, and I know there are plenty of you who have never actually seen the show, though claim you “have heard so much about it.” That said, what better time than now to take a few hours and lose yourself in the incredibly complex world of Don and Betty Draper, 1960s-era advertising and the funniest character on television, Roger Sterling? On the flip side, for those of us who are used to a brand new season beginning during this time of year, this is a good fit to hold us over until next year, when we finally find out how great (or not-so-great) Mr. Draper’s most recent life decision is turning out. I know it’s slow, and as many have pointed out to me, “Mad Men” is not for everybody. But if you indeed find yourself immersed in the way Joanie trots up and down the hallway or the evolution of Ms. Peggy Olson and her rise to copy writer, you’ll never want to miss another second of this particular program. Besides — at this point, what harm could streaming a few episodes really do, anyways? The show’s awards collection is worth giving it a chance, right? Who knows? It might be the best chance you take all summer. Oh. And even if you simply can’t figure out how to allow yourself to like the show, at least you’ll find this utterly adorable …

2. “The Fighter” — Also newly available to stream this month is last year’s “The Fighter.” You can’t argue those best supporting actor and best supporting actress Academy Awards, now can you? I actually only recently saw this movie, and it’s pretty good. Melissa Leo, as always, is fantastic. Amy Adams, as always, is wonderful. And as someone who inherently dislikes Christian Bale, I can fully admit that this is the best performance he’s ever offered on screen. Even Mark Whalberg is pretty good. The flick made me cry twice and if you stick around long enough, you’ll see exactly how spot-on Bale and Walberg were in their portrayals (interviews with the real-life personalities accompany the credits). It’s everything anyone could want from an Oscar nominated movie: Dramatic, sweet, action-packed, sometimes funny, an element of soul that jumps from the screen and great — not good — acting. Why are you even still reading this? Hop over to Netflix and check it out.

3. “I’m Still Here” — OK. So it bombed. I get it. Joaquin Phoenix’s Kauffman-style pet project wasn’t nearly as successful as he (or so many others, for that matter) hoped it would be. No one could tell if it wax a hoax. And then it became clear that it was a hoax. And then people dismissed it as idiotic and a film with no depth. Me? I stand on the other side of the aisle. What the picture truly represents is a portrait of how insanely out of hand Hollywood and today’s definition of “celebrity” has become. It’s an indictment on modern day pop culture. Phoenix’s friend Casey Affleck drives the movie and, for all intents and purposes, does a great job of selling the mockumentary as real. Diddy is wonderful as the rap producer who just doesn’t have the heart to tell Phoenix he should steer away from a career in hip-hop. Ben Stiller is brilliant as always as he pitches his “Greenberg” to the actor at his house. And David Letterman. Well …

4. “The Office” (American version) — While taking a glance at the history of my Netflix account recently, I was reminded that I used the steaming service to watch the entire fifth season of this particular show online. And you can do the same, if you so desire. It doesn’t even have to be the fifth season. You could take some time to revisit the second season and Jim and Pam’s first kiss. Or maybe even the third, to remind yourself of how gorgeous Rashida Jones is. Either way, Netflix offers multiple seasons for you to devour. Ironically enough, the fifth season may be the show’s best, as the introduction of Amy Ryan’s Holly Flax is memorable for all the right reasons. In fact, the love affair she creates with Michael Scott easily trumps Jim and Pam’s for the title of best on-screen love duo “The Office” will ever see. Besides, each episode runs just over 20 minutes. Even if you think the U.K.’s version is better (which it is), you could spare 20 minutes for an American substitute, right?

5. “Exit Through the Gift Shop” — The darling of all hip films last year, I knew absolutely nothing about it when I finally sat down to watch the movie about a month ago. Because of that, I refuse to reveal any detail here. I will only offer the trailer and allow you to make the decision yourself …

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