As Seen on Netflix (December).


Sorry for not making a Christmas post. Still very jet-lagged, I seriously struggled to keep awake during dinner and essentially passed out soon after. Regardless, I am awake now and here are the things I saw this month on good ol' Netflix:

BATTLE ROYALE (2000), 4/5
I have been meaning to see this for the longest time ever since The Hunger Games trilogy were accused of plagiarizing BR. I like the books well enough for what they were, but was deeply disappointed at the way the film watered down the brute violence and the resulting ethical implications for that vaunted PG rating. Battle Royale on that end completely delivers and more. For sure, the blood and violence were more comical than realistic, but it managed to show how ordinary people react in extraordinary circumstances. It reminded me of the Stanford Prison Experiment, which demonstrated that we all share a certain capacity for "evil" — whether we act upon it depends entirely on the situation. After watching this film I am not sure why anyone bothers with The Hunger Games films at all. Except for maybe Jennifer Lawrence.

For those familiar with film adaptation of manga 'Death Note', the male protagonist of the film Nanahara here is played by the same dude who plays Kira.

SOMM (2012), 3.5/5
My only real exposure to wine has been from popular Japanese manga 'Drops of God' (what is with my manga references in this post? I digress). Thus, I greatly appreciated how this particular documentary has opened up this world of mystery to me, which charted the journey of several young sommeliers as they prepare for the Master Sommelier exam (and hopefully pass). Despite not knowing anything about wine (only that I like pinot grigio and I am sticking with it!), their struggle and their ambition is easily relatable. It's always inspiring to see someone as passionate as these guys are and you end up really rooting for each and everyone of them to obtain what is supposedly one of the hardest accreditation to get in the world.

TOP OF THE LAKE (2013), 4.5/5
After watching this series, I was left wanting to book a flight to New Zealand ASAP. This crime miniseries is excellently crafted by the talented Jane Campion, who had won an Oscar and a Palme d'Or for directing The Piano twenty years ago. Clearly she is still in her A game. Exceptionally well paced from beginning to end (arguably not too hard with only 10 episodes to spare but I have seen those who falter with less), one remains entirely riveted and committed throughout to solve the rape and subsequent disappearance of young Tui, as well as the dark past of Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss). By the way, Moss was completely ravishing in her role here and it makes you wonder the lengths to which the Mad Men staff went to uglify her for Peggy. The ending completely shocks you in the best way possible and GJ remains one of the weirdest character I have ever seen on the small screen.

FARGO (1996), 5/5
I don't know what took me so long to see this film either, since I quite like most of the Coen Brothers' works. Supposedly the plot is based on "a true story": a man hires two bozos to kidnap his wealthy wife for ransom, except of course it goes horribly wrong. You know a dark comedy is well done when it cracks you up and then leaves you wondering "oh shit I am going to hell for this" the next. As everything unravels, it feels at once entirely implausible and plausible. Fargo truly deserves the hype it gets as a cult classic.

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Everyone must be wondering what I must be watching now that I am left Netflix-less. While I will most certainly mourn the loss for the entire month I am away from my beloved, I am making do by re-watching the third season of Veronica Mars (on old fashioned DVD), which is so far just as good as I remembered it. A tough feat to accomplish by any means. There is also Sherlock's own season three to look forward to in just a few days (and I ain't not Cumberbitch!). Happy Boxing Day to all that celebrate it!!!

P.S. Apparently Boxing Day is just a Commonwealth thing that is not celebrated in the US. Go figure.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the recommendations, Joy. I started watching Top of the Lake and got distracted. I think I'll go back and finish it now.

    Lilah

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    1. Finish it pronto my friend and your welcome!

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  2. I took onboard your November Netflix recommendation of A Royal Affair and ended up reading about that period of Danish history to see how accurate it was. During the movie I was like "Ha! Sure! As if Streunsee actually vaccinated Caroline Matilda's son!" but wow, he actually did vaccinate the baby prince, and before Edward Jenner developed the "first" smallpox vaccine!

    Looking forward to Season 3 of Sherlock, although my enthusiasm has been somewhat dampened with all the criticism of the writing and storylines of the first two seasons over the past year or two (e.g. despite how well he can spin a compelling story, I've seen lots of sociological analysis of how Moffat in particular can't write a decent female character to save his life, particularly if you look at his Doctor Who writing, so despite the fact that he can obviously spin a very exciting story, my opinion of him in general has turned a bit more critical and a bit more sour...)

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    1. Re: A Royal Affair, it's the only reason why I forgave it's rather trite story line...because it did happen. Similarly, I also started reading a lot on Danish history (if Wikipedia counts) and I realized just how interesting modern Scandinavian history is compared to just Vikings as you learn it in primary school. Aarrrrh.

      Re: Moffat and Sherlock, I never got into Doctor Who (typing that already scares me). I don't think it's necessarily bad but I am scared entirely shitless by its rabid fandom (both IRL and online) so I rather not touch that can of worms if I can avoid it. Now that you mention Moffat's writing skills and the kinds of criticisms launched against him, I am looking forward to seeing Sherlock under this new lens, which I must thank you ahead of in advance. Should I end up disliking Sherlock after the third season, it will at least spare me the pain of another possible two years of waiting.

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    2. I've never gotten into Doctor Who either, but I feel like the DW and Sherlock fandoms overlap a lot, so there's a lot of rabid fangirling/fanboying in both that's kind of terrifying (e.g. people tweeting Mark Gatiss to tell him to make sure that John and Sherlock get together and that Gatiss obviously should want that himself because he's gay, or people sending abusive messages to Amanda Abbington because she's playing Mary Morstan and people are rabid John/Sherlock shippers, etc). So Moffat himself is a ridiculous troll who can only write female characters who fall in love with the male protagonist and he seems to enjoy baiting the fandoms, but the fandoms have some very immature and obsessive people in them, so it's just a huge clusterfuck really. But I will be watching Sherlock with a more critical eye this time! Also did you watch the "Many Happy Returns" Sherlock mini episode? I felt it was kind of lame and almost a parody of the previous seasons (like "lolz only Sherlock would measure the distance a Flake had sunk into some ice cream, right? wink wink lolz that's our Sherlock!") but hopefully the full episodes themselves won't be quite so trite!

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  3. Oh..I didn't love Top of the Lake so much and really only ploughed through because I miss the NZ landscapes so much, and also because I really liked Elisabeth Moss, even with her abysmal Kiwi accent. I'll still go back to Forbrydelsen for a kickass detective heroine, I think.

    Battle Royale is such a classic! But I do think the people who think The Hunger Games was a plagiarisation of Battle Royale are a bit harsh - the same idea is approached so differently and although the Hunger Games is so cheesy in parts it packs more punch emotionally for me. I'm with you about the movies, but I liked the second Hunger Games movie a lot better than the first - it's far better made and Jena Malone is great as Johanna Mason.

    A Royal Affair is still on my to watch list!

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  4. Ah, you finally watched Battle Royale! I really love that film back then. I don't really agree with the Hunger Games comparison though. I mean, yes, in both cases it is about children put together in an arena to kill each other. And the comparison may be valid for the first Hunger Games book/film.

    But reading the whole trilogy, the purpose of the story is very different from Battle Royale. As you said, I saw Battle Royale as seeing how ordinary people react to extraordinary situations. I see Hunger Games as a criticism of our society with people working hard for our comfort. But I guess you have to take all 3 books to be able to make a judgement on Hunger Games.

    I haven't seen any of your other recommendations, but I'll definitely keep it under my sleeve for long cosy evenings...

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  5. Now you make me want to re-watch Fargo, it's been a few years since I last saw it. I recently watched O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and really enjoyed it, have you seen it? Also, did you watch Sherlock last night? I never use OMG, but seriously OMG. I'm still in a state of shock from last night's episode, I'll probably have to watch it again tonight. I have no idea how I'll be able to wait for the next season!!!

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