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We have a bumper issue this week, that’s why it’s so late in the week. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. We have Netflix nominations at the Golden Globes, brand new Netflix Original content and a host of new arrivals, so let’s get cracking:
Double Original Content
Great news for us bindgers, Netflix’s content chief has announced this week that, in 2016, Netflix will double the amount of original content for us to happily devour. From 16 originally scripted series this year to a whopping 31 in 2016, the undertaking might worry some viewers that the quality may thin out. But with growing stock price and plans to increase the 80 countries already availing of the service, Netflix’s budget to spend on this Original material is ever increasing. With an incredibly high standard of programming last year, including Narcos and Jessica Jones, the bar is set high for the new front runner in today’s modern world of series viewing.
Iron Fist Showrunner
After the huge success of the fantastic Jessica Jones and Daredevil series, the excitement surrounding the Marvel Netflix team-up is now palpable. Next year will see the second season of Daredevil and a solo series for Luke Cage, who fans of Jessica Jones will be already very familiar with. Following these two seasons is the final stand-alone series, Iron Fist. There is no news regarding the storyline or an actor yet for the mystical martial artist but Marvel Television’s Jeph Loeb has just announced its show runner, Scott Buck. Buck has worked previously as a show runner for Dexter as well as a writer and producer on HBO’s Rome and Six Feet Under. Along with the announcement Loeb commented, saying “Scott came in with a take on Iron Fist that quite simply knocked us off our feet”. This bodes well for the already impressive partnership and long may it last.
Is Netflix lessening Illegal Downloads?
The broadband analytical firm Sandvine have recently come out with some quite startling figures. Back in 2008, when Netflix had a measly 9.4 Million subscribers (compared to today’s figure of 33.3 Million), BitTorrent was where the world went to find its movies and TV shows, illegally downloading vast quantities of data on the peer-to-peer network. BitTorrent accounted for 31% of all internet usage. That’s a gigantic chunk of data. Today however, in the more honest times of actually paying for streaming services, this number has plummeted to 5%.
Streaming sites such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime now account for 40% of all internet data. So are we becoming more honest or are the best shows simply now available online? I’d plump for the latter.
The nominations are here for the 2016 Golden Globes, and Netflix have certainly done well for themselves. So much so, that they are the leading network for nominations, more than HBO, FX, The CW and everyone else, with 8 nods. Narcos is in the running for Best TV Drama Series while Orange Is The New Black is up for Best TV Comedy Series. Netflix boast two nominations in the Best Actor in a TV Drama category with Wagner Moura (Narcos) and Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) sharing the limelight. Ben Mendelson (Bloodline) also receives a nod in the Supporting Actor picks and Lilly Tomlin (Grace & Frankie) and Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, for a TV series. Idris Elba rounds off the impressive haul as he is up against the likes of Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) and Michael Shannon (99 Homes) for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his role as the tyrannical Commander in Beasts of No Nation.
Pat yourselves on the back, Netflix. That’s an impressive haul.
Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes
I haven’t watched the series Marco Polo, to be honest it looked kind of lame. I could be wrong but the reports back were fairly average and with the high quality of viewing available, I decided to spend my time watching the amazing Sense 8, Jessica Jones and many more. Saying that, this does look as if it could be a great watch.
One Hundred Eyes is a blind martial arts expert and a firm fan favourite of the Netflix Original show. The feature length standalone will tell the back story of the ass-kicking mentor. Featuring many of the original cast and brought to the screen by John Fusco, who wrote the Academy-Award nominated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Dan Minahan, whose previous work includes Homeland and Game of Thrones. Check out the featurette below. It streams in all territories on December 26th.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
Directed by renowned martial arts choreographer (The Matrix Trilogy, Kill Bill 1 & 2), Yuen Wo-Ping, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny stars Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Lady) as Yu Shu-Lien and Donnie Yen (Ip Man 1&2, Monkey King 3D) as Silent Wolf. As the trailer depicts, the heroic protagonists must keep the titular Sword of Destiny out of the hands of the evil warlord.
We can expect all the great fight choreography from the first movie with a glimpse of some epic scenes during the trailer. My only concern is the use of very obvious CGI; one of the fantastic aspects of classic kung fu movies is the use of wire-work instead of computer aided graphics. There are a few scenes in the trailer that make me wince but hopefully they’ll be few and far between. Either way, once this hits Netflix on February 26th next year, I will be getting my popcorn at the ready and settling in for the long awaited Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel.
F is for Family
Next week will see something completely different than the previous two; a cartoon series from Bill “fucking” Burr. Excuse my expletives but if you are in any way offended I must insist you never watch the trailer or this show. F is for Family, and if the trailer is anything to go by it is also for a large amount of the language in the brand new Netflix Original. My first impressions are 1) this looks nice, 2) Bill Burr has an amazing voice for cartoons and 3) I am definitely going to watch this. There are many people comparing it (already) to another Netflix Original cartoon, Bojack Horseman. I didn’t watch it because I thought it looked terrible, but the critics seemed to have enjoyed it (once they went past the first six episodes that is). I’m a huge fan of Burr and if you are too then you’ll probably love this. He’s the kind of guy who people either love or hate, he’s not PC, he doesn’t come across as friendly, he’s crass and he curses an awful lot. But he’s also incredibly funny and he loves to rant, so he gets my vote.
All episodes of F is for Family stream on December 18th.
New To Netflix:
The Ridiculous 6
An outlaw who was raised by Native Americans discovers that he has five half-brothers; together the men go on a mission to find their wayward, deadbeat dad.
If you are a fan of Grown Ups, Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy or anything with Rob Schneider in it, then you might just like this film. I won’t lie to you, I probably won’t ever watch this film. I watched the trailer, twice in fact, and I have wasted enough time on the matter already. Even writing this feels like a chore when it is affiliated to the latest offering from Adam Sandler. I’m done.
A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and reconnects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watch-dog assigned to him.
Cameron Crowe has directed some great movies, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky. Aloha is not one of these great films. Slated by critics, bombing at the box office and surrounded by controversy over “white-washing”, the stellar cast unfortunately does not make up for everything that is wrong with this movie.
As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, the rulers insist the key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer human sacrifices. Jaguar Paw, a young man captured for sacrifice, flees to avoid his fate.
Mel Gibson may be a crack-pot but he knows how to make a movie. Apocalypto is a chaotic, adrenaline-fuelled roller-coaster full of beautiful sweeping jungle scenes and visceral visuals that leave your heart pounding and mouth agape. Not for the squeamish or timid viewer, the violence throughout is often brutal and realistic. Whether or not the movie represents the Mayan people accurately is widely debated but we’re not watching this for a history lesson and it is truly an epic adventure.
The Passion of the Christ
Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.
Two Gibsons for the price of one this week as The Passion of the Christ is also available to stream right now. The Passion is not only more violent than Apocalypto, it was far more controversial. Let’s start with the violence; it is brutal, and I mean brutal to a point where it is sometimes hard to actually watch. The torture that Jesus (Jim Caviezel) endures is at times too realistic, and the film was described as a “two-hour-and-six-minute snuff film” by one critic. Then there is also the controversy of the representation of the Jewish characters in the film. Gibson couldn’t possible be anti-semitic though, could he? But in all seriousness, I didn’t notice it when I watched it in 2006. Granted that could be mainly my young naivety. I might throw it on over the Christmas period, just to celebrate the big man in all the blood and glory. I mean JC, not MG.
The Butterfly Effect
A young man blocks out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life.
I just looked at the critical reviews of this and they stink, but I remember really liking this. The premise is interesting and although sloppy in parts, I felt the movie did a decent job at pulling it off. I remember liking Kutcher and being pleasantly surprised at his acting capabilities. Altogether I’d throw a recommendation on this – you can fax me with all complaints if you don’t like it.
City of God
Two boys growing up in a violent neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.
Nominated for four Academy Awards and sitting in #21 of the the highest rated movies of all time on IMDb, City of God is a critical and visual success. With a terrifying rawness and breathtaking beauty, this unashamedly grim epic is an absolute must watch.
How I Met Your Mother
A father recounts to his children, through a series of flashbacks, the journey he and his four best friends took leading up to him meeting their mother.
If you own a TV, or have been near one in the last ten years then you have probably watched at least one episode of How I Met You Mother. Jason Segal and Neil Patrick Harris steal the show in this paint-by-numbers-but-still-pretty-funny sitcom. It doesn’t rock the boat, I neither loved or loathed the whole thing and it’s always good for a mindless 22 minutes of wastage before something better is on. The first 8 seasons (out of 9) are now streaming.
Men in Black 3
Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.’s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.
Men in Black was crazy and delightful when it came out in 1997, yep 18 years ago. Five years later the world was left disappointed as MIB2 fell short in the expectations of its original. Ten years after that we were gifted the sequel we shouldn’t have had to wait so damn long for. Men in Black 3 is a lot of fun and Josh Brolin gives an inspired portrayal of a young Tommy Lee Jones, so good in fact it is worth watching if only for that. With a great story and even a few touching moments between laughs and explosions, MIB3 is definitely worth a watch.
Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for twenty years without reason.
Okay, so I didn’t watch this. I absolutely love the original, which is also available on Netflix and should definitely be watched, and the idea of remaking the Chan-wook Park 2003 thriller a decade later just seemed preposterous to me. Like, why? Why do it? I really want to know. Anyway, Spike Lee helms the Americanised remake and it really split people’s opinion. Some critics praised its homage to the original while others thought that “Oldboy isn’t just Lee’s worst movie, it’s practically his “Wicker Man”.”
I recommend watching the original, but it’s nice to know the remake is there, if you are one of those people who “don’t like subtitles” AKA people who I immediately think less of after they make such a ridiculous statement.
In New York City’s Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enrol in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you won’t believe that it’s Mariah Carey. Precious is a heartfelt emotional roller-coaster, backed up by incredible performances and an amazing story. You will need more than one box of Kleenex for his one, but it’ll be worth it. Winner of two Oscars, and nominated for an additional four, Precious stole the hearts of cinema-goers in 2009 and now it will surely steal yours.
Two young Americans with special abilities must race to find a girl in Hong Kong before a shadowy government organisation called Division does.
This is not an amazing movie. It is however thoroughly enjoyable if you can get past the fact that the plot makes very little sense. If you dive in with this in mind, you have yourself a quality popcorn movie. Reminiscent of TV’s Heroes as well as X-Men, Push features lots of different super-enabled folks duking it out in this high-energy bundle of fun.
A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Critically adored, Still Alice is next on my Netflix must watch list. I unfortunately haven’t gotten around to it yet but it promises to be a memorable watch. Julianne Moore picked up the Academy Award (and Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild etc etc) this year for her portrayal of Alice Howland, and by all accounts she fully deserved it. We are taken through the tragic arc of Alice’s diminishing mind and identity in this moving drama.
Last Chance To See:
It is your last chance to see some great movies this week as Rick Rowley’s hard-hitting political documentary, Dirty Wars, leaves the catalogue on Sunday 13th. Following that shortly after is the brilliant Dom Hemingway on the 15th. Jude Law portrays the titular wise-cracking gangster in a performance like no other in Law’s career. Finally on Dec 17th Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening will be taking its last laugh as the hour-long debut stand-up special will be gone forever. Fret not though, there is still Dangerously Delicious, Buried Alive and Live at Madison Square Garden available, and of course Master of None. Plenty of Aziz to go around.
Okay, that’s it. Congratulations on making it all the way through this week’s huge edition. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have and something has grabbed your attention.
Until next time, happy watching.